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Proceedings of the Provincial Court, 1670/1-1675
Volume 65, Preface 33   View pdf image (33K)
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                          Introduction.              xxxiii

       Maryland show this (volumes LIII and LIV). But many also came up in the
       Provincial Court, though the amount involved was often exceedingly small.
       Most of the indentured, or indented, servants came from the British Isles,
       if their names and their stories are proof. Several cases presented in this
       record arose from an indented servant's petition to the Court for his or her
       freedom. Always they were presented by way of petition, for servants had
       not the capacity to present them at law (post, p. 279). Christopher Batson
       told the Court that he had apprenticed himself to Abell Londgen, to serve him
       four years and be taught the art of navigation. Londgen, co.ntrary to the inden
       ture, had sold his servant's time to John Stevens, and Stevens refused to set
       him free, though he had served the time agreed on. The Court “Adjudge the
       said Christopher Batson to be set free” (ibid, p. 95). But Stevens or Stephens
       still refused to free Batson, so that now Batson, free by the decision of the
       Court, sued him for 4000 pounds of tobacco in a plea of trespass upon the
       case. Stevens had kept him eight months after his time was served, and had
       refused to give him “his freedom Corne and Cloathes,” that is, three barrels
       of corn, a suit of clothes a pair of shoes and stockings and a shirt. Of tools
       there were due him two hoes and an axe. Stevens denied that Batson was
       properly free, but the jury found for the plaintiff. Therefore the Court ordered
       that Batson recover from his former master his clothes and his tools in kind,
       450 pounds of tobacco for the corn, and 920 pounds for his costs and charges
       (ibid., p. 511).
         When Elizabeth Hiccoks asked to be free from Edward. Skydmore, she
       showed the Court a certificate from an English office “for Enrolling consents
       of servants in England & th[eir] agreemts with their Masters undr the seale
       of the said office” which showed that she was to serve but four years. The
       Court went fully into the matter, said she was free, and ordered her master to
       pay her her corn and clothes accordingly. Elizabeth Thompson also asked to
       be freed from a master who ignored the fact that she had finished serving her
       time, and when her master's wife could show nothing to the contrary, she, too,
       was freed and was to have her corn and clothes (ibid., p. 179). Henry Everitt,
       being twenty-one years old, and having already served his master George
       Beckwith, for eight years, asked the Court to say how long he must serve for
       six weeks he had failed to serve. The Court ordered that he serve according
       to the act in force when he arrived in the Province. Since the act of 1666
       required ten days of service for every day of absence, and required also that a
       servant under fifteen —and some were under ten— must serve at least until he
       was twenty-two (Archives, 11, 524), that meant that Henry had to serve sixty
       weeks for six, or a year and two months after he became twenty-two. Why
       the Court did not give a more explicit verdict does not appear. Henry Everitt
       appears no more in this record..
         As to the corn and clothes, that was a matter of law. An act of Assembly of
       1638/9 (Archives, I, p. 80) declared that a servant at the expiration of his
       time was to be given by his master, three barrels of corn, two hoes, an axe and
       some clothing. A man servant got a cloth suit, a shirt, shoes and stockings and
       a cap, all of them new. Women got a pettycoat, a waistcoat, a smock, shoes and

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Proceedings of the Provincial Court, 1670/1-1675
Volume 65, Preface 33   View pdf image (33K)
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