LOWER-DELMARVA-ROOTS-L ArchivesArchiver > LOWER-DELMARVA-ROOTS > 2000-11 > 0974101586
From: "Family Tree Bookshop" <>
Subject: Re: [LDR] Indentured transports- Marchant
Date: Mon, 13 Nov 2000 07:46:26 -0000
In answer to your questions, there were two primary methods of
indenture. The majority were made before leaving England and were usually
made between the individual who was to be transported over here and those
acting as agents for the planters in the colonies. There was room for
bargaining, so that it was not a hard and fast deal. An individual who was
older and possessed some sort of skill or trade usually could bargain for a
shorter period than one who was younger and lacked a skill. The contract
would be drawn up, and the transportee brought over where they served for
the specified time.
The other avenue was for those who came over here without an indenture.
Where possible and in response to market conditions, some sailing masters
who had room aboard ships would bring individuals who wished to come over
here, paying their passage, and once over here the sailing master would make
a contract with a planter for the services of the transportee thereby
recouping his costs of the passage. In many cases these transportees were
much younger in age and served for a longer period of time. Once the
indenture was made, the planter was required by law to bring the servant
before the County court to have his age judged and the time of his servitude
set --thereby insuring that the indenture or "contract" was on the up and up
and that both parties were protected.
The average indenture was for about 7 years, but for those who came over at
a younger age or lacked a skill, the indenture could be of longer duration.
Time could be added to the indenture for a variety of reasons. If a servant
ran away from his master, then for each day he/she was gone 10 days would be
added to his time of servitude. Women who became pregnant during their time
of servitude were required to make up the lost time during their pregnancy
and after the child's birth (there was no family leave in those days).
The best sources for tracking down someone who served as a servant on this
side of the Atlantic are the county court records --for those who came in
without indentures---and through the late 1600s, the Certificates and
rights which was part of the headright system which gave the planter who
transported an individual or groups of individuals 50 acres per head. The
problem with the latter, and particularly in Virginia, was there was much
fraud in which people were reported being transported over here more than
On the other side of the Atlantic, the best source appears to be two
lists--one being the London List, which is only a partial list of those who
set sail for the colonies with indentures already signed and a much more
complete list from Bristol which was throughout the period the major port
from which many of the indentured servants left.
There are two books that are excellent in their look at early Chesapeake
history and contain a good treatment of servants and servitude--one being
"Colonial Chesapeake Society" and the othe being "Adapting to a New World"
(both of which we stock).
Sorry for the brevity of this, but tis still early in the morning and my
caffeine level has not yet risen to its normal range.
From: Pat Milne <>
Date: Sunday, November 12, 2000 6:37 PM
Subject: [LDR] Indentured transports- Marchant
>I am new to list and really enjoy it. I have followed
>the recent discussion on indentured service. I am
>seeking information on what happened to the indentured
>people after arrival. Were they assigned a place to
>work to pay off their passage? If so who did the
>selection , was it contracted before the ship left its
>port,how long was the indenture and is there a good
>book on this information. I am searching the name
>MARCHANT/MERCHANT and find them transported to Va. and
>then lose them for some years. I would appreciate any
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