Sunday, December 29, 2013

Book Review: "Without Indentures: Index to White Slave Children in Colonial Court Records"

Did your ancestor just "appear" in colonial Maryland and Virginia in the 17th and 18th century?  This book may provide an answer for you.

Richard Hayes, Phillips, Ph.D., Without Indentures: Index to White Slave Children in Colonial Court Records (Maryland and Virginia) (Baltimore, Md., Genealogical Publishing Company, 2013).  322 pages (soft cover), Price: $29.95.  ISBN: 9780806319797, Item #: GPC4606.

The publicity for this book says:

In this groundbreaking work, Richard Hayes Phillips has collected the names of more than five thousand children kidnapped from Ireland, Scotland, England, and New England, and sold into slavery in Maryland and Virginia, c. 1660-1720. By English law dated 1659, it was lawful for justices of the peace to kidnap children found begging or vagrant and ship them to the plantations as servants without indentures. The younger the child, the longer the sentence, and the colonial county courts were the judges of their ages.

These five thousand names, culled from the Court Order Books, some of which have not been examined for centuries, have now been compiled into one genealogical index. In almost every case the entries provide the name of the child, the name of the owner, the date they appeared in court, and the age assigned by the judges, many of whom owned the very children they were sentencing to servitude. For ease of use, the volume contains an index to the ships--and their captains--that imported these kidnapped children, as well as a surname index to guide the researcher to alternate or incorrect spellings as found in the Court Order Books. The Introduction to Mr. Phillips’s book describes the history and conditions of white servitude in colonial Maryland and Virginia, along with an annotated list of the sources he consulted.

Families who have traced their ancestry back to a name that appears in this index will know for the first time how their progenitor got to Maryland or Virginia. In other cases the kidnapped child will be the sibling in the family chart for whom there is nothing but a birth record.

We have long known about indentured servants, who agreed in writing, by indenture, to work without wages for a number of years to pay off the cost of their passage and lodging, after which time they were free. We were never told--until now!--about white slaves, who did not consent and who never contracted in writing.

The Preface to the book describes the background for this situation, and how it came about.  The book has guides for the indexes.  Records from each county in Maryland and Virginia are listed in separate lists.  There is an index for the over 5,000 names that appear in these lists.  

This book costs $29.95 plus $5.50 shipping costs from Genealogical Publishing.  You can order it here.

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Disclosure: contacted me recently and asked me to provide a review of this book. They mailed me a review copy for my personal use as remuneration for this review. 


Densie said...

In my Clay and Bedinger family there is a story about Elizabeth Hooker and Robert Povall. They were supposedly kidnapped as children, brought to Virginia and eventually married.
Elizabeth Hooker was found to be the missing daughter and heir of "Lord Hooker" of Malvern Hill. They went to England, received her inheritance and returned to Virginia, where they named their home Malvern Hill.
I have not been able to prove any of this, so don't know if it's true.

Renate Yarborough Sanders said...

Very interesting post!

I actually live just a few miles away from Colonial Williamsburg, but I've never even heard of this.

Thanks for posting!