........ Conjecture, noun, the formation of judgments or opinions on the basis of incomplete or inconclusive information. Source: Encarta Dictionary

Friday, May 31, 2013

What is an Indentured Servant?

An indentured servant was a person who signed a contract (also known as an indenture or a covenant) by which he agreed to work for a certain number of years in exchange for monetary compensation upfront. The term was often four to seven years for adults and younger for children if they were apprenticed to learn a trade. Often the monetary compensation paid off a debt or paid for transportation to America. I was not previously aware that indentured servitude was common in England at the time but that explains why no one thought it unusual for bringing workers to America.

Below is the format that Lord Baltimore recommended to use for indentured servants coming to Maryland. He suggested 5 years as a typical length of service.

The Indenture made the ____ day of ____ in the ____ yeere of our Sovereign Lord King Charles, etc between ______ of the one party and ________ on the other party, witnesseth that the said _____ doth hereby covenant promise and grant to and with the said ____ his Executer and Assinge, to serve him from the day of the date hereof, untill his first and next arrival in Maryland, and after for and during the term of ____ years in good service and employment, as the said ________ or ssigns shall him empoy him, according to the custome of the country. In consideration whereof, the said _______ doth promise and grant, to and with the said ______ to pay for his passage and to find him with Meat, Drinke, Apparell and Lodging with the necessaries during the said term; nad at the end of the said time, to give him one whole yeeres provision of Corne, and fifty acres of land, according to the custome of the Country. In witness whereof, the said _____ hath put his hand and seale, the day and yeere above written.
Sealed and delivered in the presence of __________
The most common problem with the whole process was cruel treatment (such as whippings and poor food) by the master (owner of the contract), thus leading to numerous runaways. The common punishment for runaways was more beatings and extension of the period of service.

1 comment:

  1. Indenture is still alive and well in many parts of the world. In the 1960's, from age 7- 17 my wife(Vietnamese) spent a lot of her childhood as an indentured servant and the practice is still alive and well in today's Viet Nam.