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‘He Has a Foul Disorder’
John Wilson, Runaway Weaver

January 19, 1769

The Pennsylvania Gazette

Chester county, January 9, 1769.

RUN away from the subscriber, in Uwchland township, Chester county, on the 8th instant, a servant man, named JOHN WILSON, by trade a Weaver, about 22 or 24 years of age, 5 feet 6 or 7 inches high, about 5 months from Ireland, [1] well set, fair hair, cut short before, has a scar on one of his cheeks, and is of a dark brown complexion; [2]

had on a short coat of a dark yellowish colour, a blue and white striped jacket, with old blue stockings for sleeves, new cloth breeches, of a whitish colour, white ribbed yarn stockings, an old check shirt, a new felt hat, bound with tape, half worn shoes, and carved brass buckles.

Whoever takes up said servant, and secures him, so that his master may have him again, shall have Forty Shillings reward, and reasonable charges, paid by me WILLIAM DENNY. [3]

N.B. He has a foul disorder, which appears on his right arm and side, which will be an indisputable mark that he is the person described, for which he was under a course of physick. [4]

All masters of vessels are forbid to carry him off.


What was it about weaving that drove so many to runaway?

1. Just being transported at the age of 22-24 marks John as being sold for the second time at least.

2. Dark complexion among Irish is noted more often in later years.

3. Forty shillings or merely 2 pounds, is a small reward for a man with six years and more left to serve. Might his ill health have affected his value?

4. Afflicted by a skin disease of some kind, John seems to have been getting treatment, which would have been paid for by his owner, indicating a certain compassion.

So Her Master May Have Her Again

A History of Runaway White Slaves in Plantation America: Part Two

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