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[genpcfr] Indentured Servants

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  • Janice Gurganus
    Lifted from Roots-List In Virginia, the vast majority of indentured servants were simply immigrants. They signed articles of indenture with a ship s captain in
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 7, 1999
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      Lifted from Roots-List

      In Virginia, the vast majority of indentured servants were simply
      immigrants. They signed articles of indenture with a ship's captain in
      England, promising a certain number of years of work in exchange for passage
      to Virginia. Some of those indentures still exist in Bristol, but that is
      only a fraction. The ship's captain, of course, had no use for these
      indentured servants himself. He was going to recover his expense by selling
      the indenture in the colonies. Upon landing, the indentures were sold to the
      colonists (in Virginia usually planters), who then had the use of the
      servants' work for the term agreed upon. At the end of the indenture, the
      servant was to be given a set of clothing, some utensils or equipment, etc.
      In Maryland he also qualified for a grant of land. In Virginia, the land
      grant went to planter who owned his indenture.

      The planter who bought the indenture had the right to claim 50 acres of land
      for each person he had paid for. He had a certificate giving their names,
      which he presented to obtain a warrant to obtain a land grant. It wasn't
      long before the certificate itself became a valuable commodity, and was
      bought, sold, traded, and given as a gift of value. Many of the planters who
      claimed land patents based on transportation never set eyes of the people
      named in the certificate.

      But whenever the 50 acres per person was claimed, this certificate was
      included and the names were often written in the original land grant. This
      is the primary source for the names of indentured servants in Virginia. The
      land grant (or patent) books have been published in several volumes under
      the title *Cavaliers and Pioneers: Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and
      Grants* by Nell Marion Nugent and others. After 1700, there were fewer and
      fewer grants based on importation rights, and more that were based on
      payment of a fee, so most of the indentured servants are in the first three
      or four volumes of the series.

      Criminals were also transported to Virginia, and they also served terms of
      indenture. Look in PeterWilson Coldham's various titles, such as:

      The Complete Book of Emigrants (4 vols.)
      Emigrants from England to the American Colonies, 1773-1776
      The Bristol Registers of Servants Sent to Foreign Plantations
      Child Apprentices in America, From Christ's Hospital, London, 1617-1778
      The Complete Book of Emigrants in Bondage, 1614-1775 (Revised edition of
      Bonded Passengers to America)
      The King's Passengers to Maryland and Virginia

      Many indentures were entered into between private parties in the colonies.
      Some were recorded in deed books, but most were not. Many were similar to
      apprenticeships. Others were instances of bastard children, who were bound
      out until adulthood.

      Most of these names are lost to us.

      Carol P. Martoccia
      903 East Fifth Street
      Greenville, NC 27858
      Pridgen Home Page: http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~pridgen/
      Rootsweb Archives: http://searches.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/listsearch.pl
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