“Wasteing my Substance by Riotous living”: New-England Runaways, 1778-1783


Author: Boyle, Joseph Lee
Publication Date: 22-Jul-22
Pages: viii, 310 pp.
ISBN: 9780806359472


This work marks the fifth and concluding volume in Mr. Boyle’s series of colonial New England runaways, as identified in contemporary newspaper ads (the first four volumes covered the periods 1704-1754, 1755-1768, 1769-1773, and 1774-1777). The majority of the persons in this compilation are runaway servants and slaves, as well as apprentices, military and naval deserters, horse thieves, counterfeiters, burglars, jail breakers, and murderers. A number of the runaways  were skilled, including butchers, bakers, coopers, carpenters, joiners, farriers, paper makers, shoemakers, and tailors, no doubt reflecting New England’s more settled society.

Mr. Boyle examined thirty newspapers, from New England to Maryland, including The Vermont Journal, The Boston Evening Post, The Boston Gazette, The Connecticut Courant, The Connecticut Journal, The Essex Gazette, The Massachusetts Spy, The New Hampshire Gazette, The Newport Mercury, Pennsylvania Ledger, The New York Journal, The Norwich Packet, and The Maryland Gazette.

Each ad gives a number of details about the runaway and his/her master, including names and aliases of the runaway, physical description, personality quirks if any, location in New England (including the future states of Vermont and Maine), and where to contact the advertiser. This book contains about 1,200 ads and names over 2,200 persons.

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