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‘Lockings O!’
‘At the Sign of the Breeches’ John Jones’ Master is Missing His Services

July 28, 1768

The Pennsylvania Gazette


RUN away from John Jones, breeches maker, at the sign of the Breeches, near the prison, an apprentice lad, named JOHN NELSON, about 21 years of age, 5 feet 6 or 7 inches high, of a sandy complexion, sandy hair, born in Ireland, has a little of the brogue on his tongue, very apt in his talking to make use of the expression, Lockings O!

Had on, when he went away, a dark fustian coat, a broad check shirt, brown thread stockings, new shoes, leather breeches, new wool hat.

It is supposed he is either gone up Lancaster road, or into Bucks county. Whoever takes up and secures the said apprentice, so that his master may have him again, shall receive the above reward, and all reasonable charges, paid by JOHN JONES.

N.B. All masters of vessels are forbid to carry him off, at their peril.


I’d like to think that John made that pair of breeches specifically for his escape. This has been oft reiterated, but bears repeating. Being a seaman was the worst job in the world and was not engaged in freely, but represented a bond, either forced or voluntary, to serve. That so many men with relatively easy jobs would be expected by those who knew them best to head to sea, is telling, at the least demonstrating that being an apprentice or servant was not an act of social or economic mobility, but a payless pit.

Stillbirth of a Nation: Caucasian Slavery in Plantation America: Part One

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