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‘Wears His Own Short Ill Grown Hair’
Two Slaves of the Middle Class

It was a fact that any man who lost his fortune or faltered in his trade was liable to be sold as a first principal. As illustrated by these fellows below, skill and promise was no security against enslavement. One must be lucky as well to remain free.

August 3, 1769

The Pennsylvania Gazette

Philadelphia, August 3, 1769.

RUN away from the Subscriber, on Sunday, the 16th of July last, two indented servants, viz.

JAMES SAMUEL GORDON, by trade a jeweller, [1] was born in Scotland, but went to England with his parents when a child, so that he retains nothing of the Scots dialect; he has been long in France, the language of which country he speaks well; he said he is about 24 years old;

he is a small neat man; about 5 feet 1 inch high, small lively black eyes, smooth face and fresh coloured;

had on, and took, with him, a good coat, jacket and breeches, of superfine laylock coloured cloth, besides a striped damascus jacket, lapelled; the coat is rather large for him than otherwise, and is trimmed with 4 buttons on each pocket flap, 4 on each hip, and 4 on each sleeve, wears a half worn castor hat, lately dressed and cocked smart, wears his own short black hair, but sometimes a false tail, which he has now taken with him, a white shirt, the sleeves finer than the body, a white cravat, brown thread stockings, a pair of halfworn turned pumps, with plain Pinchbeck buckles.

The other named JAMES LOGAN, a well set boy, about 16 years of age, was born in the North of Ireland, is fond of liquor and dancing, very talkative, has a sour down look, and is exceedingly impudent, wears his own short ill grown hair, of a yellowish colour, sometimes tied, and sometimes loose;

had on, when he went off, a castor hat, much worn, but lately dressed, and cocked smart, the one which he wears foremost is remarkably broad, a snuff coloured cloth coat, with yellow metal buttons, a white linen jacket, leather breeches, a check shirt, blue and white cotton stockings, half worn, shoes and a pair of carved Pinchbeck, buckles; he has worked some time at the silversmiths [1] business, and will, no doubt look for employment at said business, though no wise qualified for it.

Whoever takes up the above two servants and secures them in any goal, so as I may have them, again, shall receive as a reward the sum of FORTY SHILLINGS for each, besides reasonable charges, paid by EDWARD MILNE.

N.B. All masters of vessels are hereby forbidden to take the above servants off, at their peril.


1. Clearly, artisans were more often enslaved in later colonial times than in earlier periods, which was no indication that slavery would ever be abolished. Indeed, the very first slaves in English America, were Welsh survivors from Roanoke, used as jewelry-making slaves by an Indian tribe.

So Her Master May Have Her Again

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

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