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Re: [IrelandOldNews] History Scrapbooks - Runaway Indentured Servants or Redemptioners

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  • Susan Patterson
    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,
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 2, 2005
      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,
      Susan Patterson
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Cathy Joynt Labath" <labaths@...>
      To: <ireland-l@...>; <irelandoldnews@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Saturday, September 03, 2005 6:29 AM
      Subject: [IrelandOldNews] History Scrapbooks - Runaway Indentured Servants
      or Redemptioners

      > 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
      > servant.
      > 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
      > http://www.IrelandOldNews.com/
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