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‘Judged Out of New Castle Goal’
Another Runaway Weaver in Plantation America

Another barefoot Irishman.

March 29, 1770

The Pennsylvania Gazette


RUN away the 16th instant, from Isaac Bailey, living in West Marlborough, in Chester county, one THOMAS LITTLE, who was judged out of New Castle goal, for a debt due to one John Underhill, living in Kennet;

he was born in Ireland, is about 5 feet 8 or 9 inches high, of a sandy complexion, wears his own hair, of a sandy colour, cut short on the top of his head, a thick well set fellow, and talks good English;

can do something at the weaving business;

had on, when he went away, a grey homespun jacket, grey yarn stockings, velvet breeches, and supposed to have with him a velvet jacket, and light coloured broadcloth coat, a lapelled striped jacket, black knit breeches, and a grey surtout;

he is supposed to have gone towards the Lower counties, or the Jersies.

Whoever takes up the said Thomas Little and brings him to the said Bailey, or Underhill, shall have the above reward, and reasonable charges, paid by JOHN UNDERHILL.


Translation to modern English:

Thomas Little was in debt to John Underhill.

According to a speech by Benjamim Franklin given a few years later, these debts were most often owed to grocers and clothes importers, as most goods were imported from England and were too expensive to purchase outright. At whatever time a county court came into session, all of those owing debts for such everyday purchases would be auctioned off as servants at the county courthouse. In such a manner might Thomas have been judged rentable by the magistrate, whereby he fell into the service of Mister Bailey who seems to be on good terms with Mister Underhill and has no money himself to purchase a servant or to pay for his return.

One wonders what shall come of Mister Bailey if he does not profit enough off of employing [from the French for “use”] Thomas.

Will he be gaoled and sold as well?

America in Chains

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