Book Review: Maryland Runaways, 1775-1781

The following book review was written by Bobbi King:

Maryland Runaways, 1775-1781Maryland Runaways, 1775-1781
“Sly and artful rogues”

by Joseph Lee Boyle. Publ. by Genealogical Publishing Co. 2014. 481 pages.

Joseph Boyle continues in his series of Runaways books.

Early American history records the vast numbers of white Europeans and black Africans who came to the colonies as indentured servants, transported convicts, and slaves. Transportation costs were borne by the planters or, more often, by the English merchants who specialized in the sale of indentured servants.

By the 1750s, Maryland was receiving increasing numbers of convicts over the importation of servants, with a ready market for “His Majesty’s Seven-Years Passengers.” “Soul drivers” shepherded coffles of convicts from town to town from the seaports into the interior, selling them off as the march advanced. Court records document a distinct lack of increased crime from the imported convicts.

So many Irish Catholic servants came to Maryland that a duty was imposed upon them, while the Protestant servants came in free.

One example from the book:
“RAN away last night from the subscriber, an indented servant man, named JOHN TEASDALE, an Englishman, about twenty years of age, five feet six or seven inches high, well set, of a fair complexion and good countenance, wears his own short streight hair of a dark brown colour, and is by trade a Cooper:…”

The compiler extracted the notices from colonial newspapers, including The Maryland Gazette, Essex Gazette, Dunlap’s Maryland Gazette, and numerous Massachusetts and Connecticut newspapers. Resources for further reading are listed.

Involuntary servitude was an important factor in the rise of the landed aristocracy in the Chesapeake colonies.

These records remember the names and circumstances of the unfortunate souls who looked to America for an improvement in their circumstances.

Maryland Runaways, 1775-1781 is available from the publisher, Genealogical Publishing Company, at: and from Amazon at:

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