Re: [IrelandOldNews] History Scrapbooks - Runaway Indentured Servants or Redemptioners
- Dear Cathy, Could you remove from your list please?
I have really enjoyed your Irish postings but am now on to other areas.
Well done: it's a great service,
----- Original Message -----
From: "Cathy Joynt Labath" <labaths@...>
To: <ireland-l@...>; <email@example.com>
Sent: Saturday, September 03, 2005 6:29 AM
Subject: [IrelandOldNews] History Scrapbooks - Runaway Indentured Servants
> The next series of articles I will run for "History Scrapbooks" will be
> articles on runaway Irish indentured servants or redemptioners who came to
> America before 1800.
> Before I start running the ads - first a little background on
> or indentured servants as taken from a variety of sources.
> Definition: Redemptioner
> From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
> A redemptioner is an immigrant, generally from the 18th or 19th century,
> that gained passage to America by selling themselves as an indentured
> Indentured servant
> From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
> An Indentured servant is an unfree labourer under contract to work (for a
> specified amount of time) for another person or a company/corporation,
> without any monetary pay, but in exchange for accommodation, food, other
> essentials, training, or passage to a new country. After working for the
> term of the contract (traditionally seven years) the servant was then free
> to farm or take up trade of his own. The term comes from the medieval
> English "indenture of retainer" - a contract written in duplicate on the
> same sheet, with the copies separated by cutting along a jagged (toothed,
> hence the term "indenture) line so that the teeth of the two parts could
> later be refitted to confirm authenticity.
> Roe, Melissa. "Differential Tolerances and Accepted Punishments for
> Disobedient Indentured Servants and Their Masters in Colonial Courts."
> Indentured Servants. http://www.eh.net/Clio/Publications/indentured.shtml
> (30 Aug 2005)
> Indentured servitude first appeared in America a little over a decade
> after the settlement of Jamestown in 1607. Labor was scarce; land was
> abundant and transportation costs to America were high compared to wages
> England. An early economist noted that ...industry is limited by capital;
> but, through lack of labor, its limit is not always reached in older
> communities and seldom if ever in newer countries. Capital is an
> accumulation of labor and, like land, yields most when quickened by human
> toil. So dependent is capital upon labor that what is taken to new
> settlements often wastes away through lack of a labor supply. One obstacle
> to migration was the high cost of transportation. The Virginia Company,
> attempting to overcome high transportation costs, developed various
> to increase migration; these schemes resulted in indentured servitude. The
> indenture system allowed for labor mobility from England to
> made available the cultivation of vast amounts of new land that would
> satisfy the demands of the large English market resulting in a marginal
> productivity of labor in agriculture exceeding that in England. The
> Company eventually sold the labor of the servants to individual planters,
> forcing the planters to incur all costs of supervision and enforcement of
> contracts, including risks of escape or death of the servant. The
> system, although initiated by the Virginia Company, was quickly utilized
> private planters and merchants. Because this system worked so well in
> attracting labor to America, it remained in use long after the Virginia
> Company went out of business in 1624. Market efficiency occurs when the
> marginal revenue product of labor is equal to the wage. In other words,
> price paid for the servant equals the value of the servant contract
> Although the typical servant contract in England was for a period of one
> two years, those in America were considerably longer. This was because the
> transportation costs were high, and the lender needed to recover his
> investment, forcing servants to enter into longer contracts. Contracts
> usually four to seven years long depending on the details. If a servant
> contracted to be taught a specific trade or skill or an education, the
> contract length would increase. Economists such as Farley Grubb and David
> Galenson have examined indentured servitude in colonial America and
> suggested that the system was efficient and, thus, fair. Historians,
> however, have looked at various practices of physical coercion and abuse,
> well as punishments prescribed by law for criminal and runaway servants,
> have claimed the system to be exploitive and cruel.
> Novak, George. "Negro Slavery in North America." Negro Slavery in North
> America. http://www.marxists.org/archive/novack/works/1939/oct/x01.htm (30
> Aug 2005)
> At first the landed proprietors relied upon the importation of white
> bondsmen from the mother country. England and the continent were combed
> servants to be sent to America.
> Some of these indentured servants came of their own accord,
> agreeing to serve their masters for a certain term of years, usually four
> seven, in return for their passage. Many others, especially German serfs,
> were sold by their lords to the slave merchants and ship-owners. In
> the overflowing prisons of England were emptied of their inmates and the
> convicts brought to America to be sold into servitude for terms ranging
> four to fourteen years.
> The Cromwellian conquest of Ireland in the middle of the seventeenth
> century made slaves as well as subjects of the Irish people. Over one
> hundred thousand men, women, and children were seized by the English
> and shipped over to the West Indies where they were sold into slavery upon
> the tobacco plantations. In The Re-Conquest of Ireland James Connolly
> the following instance of the methods used.
> "Captain John Vernon was employed by the Commissioners for Ireland to
> England, and contracted in their behalf with Mr. David Sellick and the
> Leader under his hand to supply them with two hundred and fifty women of
> Irish nation, above twelve years and under the age of forty-five, also
> hundred men above twelve years and under fifty, to be found in the country
> within twenty miles of Cork, Youghal and Kinsale, Waterford and Wexford,
> transport them into New England." This British firm alone was responsible
> for shipping over 6,400 girls and boys. . . .
> As a result of the insistent demands of the planters for labor, the
> servant trade took on most of the horrible features of the slave trade.
> Gangs of kidnappers roamed the streets of English seaports and combed the
> highways and byways of Britain and Ireland for raw material. In the
> rapacious search for redemptioners the homes of the poor were invaded.
> promises could not persuade, compulsion was brought into play. Husbands
> torn from their wives, fathers from their families, children from their
> parents. Boys and girls were sold by parents or guardians; unwanted
> dependents by their relatives; serfs by their lords-and all this human
> was shipped to America to be sold to the highest bidder.
> Thus the bulk of the white working population of the English colonies
> was composed of bondsmen and criminals, who had been cajoled or coerced
> emigration and had to pass through years of bondage before they could call
> themselves free. These people and their children became the hunters,
> trappers, farmers, artisans, mechanics, and even the planters and
> who were later to form the ranks of the revolutionary forces against the
> mother country.
> These white bondsmen however provided neither a sufficient nor a
> satisfactory supply of labor. They could not be kept in a permanent
> condition of enslavement. Unless they were marked or branded, if they ran
> away they could not readily be distinguished from their free fellows or
> their masters. As production expanded, it became increasingly urgent to
> new, more abundant, and more dependable sources of labor.
> Morris, Richard B. "Emergence of American Labor." US Department of Labor.
> http://www.dol.gov/asp/programs/history/chapter1.htm (30 Aug 2005)
> Regardless of the lures offered to working men and women to emigrate
> the New World, free labor remained in short supply throughout the colonial
> period. As a consequence, the English settlers innovated several forms of
> bound labor for white Europeans and adopted a long-established coercive
> labor system for black Africans. One form of bound labor, indentured
> servitude, included all persons bound to labor for periods of years as
> determined either by a written agreement or by the custom of the
> colony. The bulk of indentured servants comprised contract labor. White
> immigrants, called redemptioners or "freewillers," in return for their
> passage to America bound themselves as servants for varying periods, four
> years being the average length of service. This amounted to a system for
> underwriting the transportation of prospective emigrants.
> It has been estimated that the redemptioners comprised almost eighty
> per cent of the total British and continental immigration to America down
> the coming of the Revolution. Virginia and Maryland planters who assumed
> transportation charges received a head right or land grant for each
> immigrant. In the main, though, the business was carried on by merchants
> specializing in the sale of servants' indentures. Recruiting agents called
> "Crimps" in England and "Newlanders" on the continent were employed by
> merchants. They hired drummers to go through inland towns in England or
> along the war-devastated Rhineland areas crying the voyage to America;
> the help of a piper to draw crowds, they distributed promotional
> at fairs.
> On the positive side, it should be said that the redemptioner system
> provided the bulk of the white labor force in the colonies. On the
> side, it must be acknowledged that it was riddled with fraudulent
> and that prospective servants were lured to detention houses to be held
> shipment overseas through coercive procedures which often gave rise to
> charges of kidnapping. The redemptioners were packed like herring in
> unsanitary ships; the mortality rate could run in excess of fifty percent
> for a typical voyage. The survivors, served inadequate rations, generally
> arrived in a seriously weakened condition. Once, ashore, families might be
> broken up. Husbands and wives could be sold to different masters, and
> parents not infrequently were forced to sell their children. The latter
> could be bound out for longer terms of service than adults, even though
> were shipped at half fare. Girls, ostensibly bound out for trades or
> housework, were at times exploited for immoral purposes.
> Durkin, Michael. "Lesson 5: How the Irish Fled" Suite University. Irish
> Emigration to America. http://www.suite101.com/lesson.cfm/18819/2329/3
> Aug 2005)
> Redemptioners was a name recognised in Pennsylvania for servants who
> had signed as bond servants for a period of 5 years. Slavery itself would
> have been more acceptable than the prevailing conditions in Ireland.
> Masters also were in a position to show smaller numbers of passengers on
> their manifests than were actually carried which has proved to be another
> reason for hopelessly inadequate information on the numbers who fled the
> country. They could also profit from the supply of food which they were
> obliged to offer their passengers. This often was of the worst available
> sort and even more frequently portions were inaccurately weighed out.
> Stratford Hall Plantation. "Indentured Servants and Transported Convicts."
> Indentured Servants and Transported Convicts.
> http://www.stratfordhall.org/ed-servants.html?EDUCATION (30 Aug 2005)
> White indentured servants came from all over Great Britain. Men,
> and sometimes children signed a contract with a master to serve a term of
> to 7 years. In exchange for their service, the indentured servants
> their passage paid from England, as well as food, clothing, and shelter
> they arrived in the colonies. Some were even paid a salary. When the
> contract had expired, the servant was paid freedom dues of corn, tools,
> clothing, and was allowed to leave the plantation. During the time of his
> indenture, however, the servant was considered his master's personal
> property and his contract could be inherited or sold. Prices paid for
> indentured servants varied depending on skills.
> While under contract a person could not marry or have children. A
> master's permission was needed to leave the plantation, to perform work
> anyone else, or to keep money for personal use. An unruly indentured
> was whipped or punished for improper behavior. Due to poor living
> conditions, hard labor, and difficulties adjusting to new climates and
> native diseases, many servants did not live to see their freedom. Often
> servants ran away from their masters. Since they often spoke English and
> were white, runaway servants were more difficult to recapture than black
> slaves. If runaway servants were captured, they were punished by
> their time of service.
> O'Malley, Mike. "Runaway from Freedom?" Runaway from Freedom.
> http://historymatters.gmu.edu/blackboard/OMalley/runaway.html (30 Aug
> Benjamin Franklin estimated that at the time of the American Revolution,
> roughly one half of Pennsylvania's labor force was legally unfree-bound to
> someone else as property, for many years or for a lifetime.
> Examples of Ads for Servants from Ireland - 1751. Sounds like they were
> as a commodity!
> June 27, 1751
> The Pennsylvania Gazette
> Just imported from Ireland, in the ship Sally, lying off
> Market street wharff, and to be sold by JOHN ERWIN, In
> Strawberry Alley, A Parcel of likely servants, men and women.
> August 8, 1751
> The Pennsylvania Gazette
> JUST imported from Ireland, in the ship Cumberland, capt.
> Macilvaine, a parcel of likely men and women servants, whose
> times are to be disposed of by CONYNGHAM and GARDNER. Amongst
> which, are the following tradesmen, viz. coopers, joiners,
> house carpenters, blacksmiths, shoemakers, taylors, weavers,
> woolcombers, sawyers, peruke makers, butchers, skinners,
> breeches makers, stay makers, masons, bakers, coppersmiths and
> painters, and a number of very good labourers.
> Cathy Joynt Labath
> Ireland Old News
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