Letters of Abigaill Levy Franks

Town Life,
page 9 of 15

apparell, that is to say, apparell fit for to have and to wear as well on the Lords Day as working days, both linning and woolen stockings and shoes and other Necessarys meet for such a servant to have and to wear, and for the true performance of all and every of said Covenant and Agreements the said parties bind themselves unto each other by these presents.”

This indenture was signed and sealed in the year 1710, and varied little from those of previous years. Sometimes the apparel was fully described, and was always good and substantial — and Sunday attire was usually furnished. Sarah Davis, bound out in Albany in 1684, was to be taught to read and knit stockings; was to have silk hoods and a silk scarf for church wear, and substantial petticoats and waistcoats, some of homespun, some of “jersey-spun,” others of “carsoway,” which was kersey.

“Redemptioners,” bound for a term of service as domestic and farm servants, also came from the various European States; and good servants often did they prove, and good citizens, too, when their terms of service expired. There also opened in this emigration of redemptioners a vast opportunity for adventure. In the “New York Gazette” of March 15, 1736, we read of one servant-girl adventurer:—

“We hear that about two years ago a certain Irish gentlewoman was brought into this province a servant, but she pretended to be a great fortune worth some thousands (was called the Irish Beauty). Her master confirming the same a certain young man (Mr. S***ds), courted her; and she seemingly shy, her master for a certain sum of money makes up the match, and they were married and go to their country-seat; but she not pleased with that pursuades her husband to remove to the city of New York and set up a great tavern. They did so. Next she pursuades her husband to embark for Ireland to get her great portion. When he comes there he finds her mother a weeder of gardens to get bread. In his absence Madam becomes acquainted with one Davis, and they sell and pack up her husband’s effects, which were considerable, and embark for North Carolina. When they come there they pass for man and wife, and he first sells the negroes and other effects, then sells her clothes and at last he sells her for a servant, and with the produce returns to his wife in Rhode Island, he having made a very good voyage.”


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