Click to Subscribe
▶  More from Ancient Combat
‘Whoever Takes Up the Said Servants’
Two Human Sewing Machines, Barefoot and on the Run

April 4, 1771

The Pennsylvania Gazette

March 24, 1771.

RUN away from the subscribers, living in Salisbury township, Lancaster county, two servant men, natives of Ireland, both taylors by trade; [1]

one of them named Matthew Carney, about 5 feet 9 inches high, of a fair complexion, wears his own hair, cut short;

had on, a short whitish coloured bearskin coat, a spotted flannel jacket, and a coarse white shirt. [2]

The other names John Corbett, about 5 feet 8 inches high, of a dark complexion, sulky look, talks with a good deal of the brogue, and wears his own short hair, sometimes curled;

had on, a whitish coloured coat and breeches, a black linsey jacket, a coarse white shirt, and a wool hat. [2]

Whoever takes up the said servants, and secures them in any goal, so as their masters may get them again, shall have FOUR POUNDS reward, and reasonable charges, paid by JAMES LEECH, and JAMES McDILL. [3]


1. These involuntary servants were natives of Ireland, but not newly arrived and had probably been auctioned off for debts incurred after gaining freedom, a comm. Practice of the late colonial period in English America.

2. Both men were barefoot, on the run in, apparently as soon as the ground had thawed.

3. Again, Irish ownership of Irish points to economic drivers for servile conditions rather than racial hatred. Just as blacks who gained freedom trafficked in blacks, Irish also trafficked in Irish.

America in Chains

Add Comment