White Slave Children in Colonial America: Supplement to the Trilogy

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Author: Phillips, Richard Hayes
Publication Date: 2001
Pages: xx, 88 pp.
ISBN: 9780806321141


Richard Hayes Phillips is the author of a landmark trilogy of history books documenting the enslavement of more than 5,000 white children in colonial Maryland and Virginia. They were taken against their will from England, Scotland, Ireland, and Massachusetts, beginning in 1659.  Arriving without indentures–that is, without a written contract–they were brought to County Court to be sentenced to servitude for a term of years according to age brackets established by law. The younger the child, the longer the sentence.

In his previous books, Phillips identified these children by name and listed their ages and dates of their court appearances. He searched all available birth and baptismal records and, where possible, cross-checked them with marriage and death records to identify the parents of 1,400 of these children. He also examined all available shipping records to identify 125 white slave ships and, if possible, the names of the captains who commanded them.

Since the publication of the trilogy, many records that were previously unavailable have been posted online. The parish registers for London and for Essex, downstream on the Thames, are now complete, as are the parish registers for Wiltshire, Dorset, and Somerset, thus enabling Phillips to complete his search for the birthplaces of the children. The marriage and death records for Bristol, where only the baptismal records were previously indexed, have now been examined, thus clarifying cases of mistaken identity. One more parish register from Ireland, previously omitted, is included here.

Dozens more captains of white slave ships have been identified from colonial records of Virginia. More than forty indictments for kidnapping have been found in the court records of London. And more than 100 white children sold into servitude along the Delaware River have been identified, some of whom have been matched with their baptismal or marriage records, despite the fact that the records from Philadelphia have not survived.

All of these records are compiled in this supplement. So far as is known, this completes the data set for the trilogy.

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