Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     In his latest book, Joseph Lee Boyle maintains his focus on laborers in what became the Keystone State. Like his earlier volumes, Boyle’s seventh publication, “MUCH GIVEN TO LIQUOR, AND CHEWING TOBACCO”: WHITE PENNSYLVANIA RUNAWAYS, 1763-1768, extracts data from eighteenth-century newspapers about white male and female colonists in the servitude category (indentured servants, redemptioners, political exiles, and convicts).

     In his interesting and informative introduction, the author points out the fact that white servitude was a major part of the social and economic fabric of the British American colonies. More than half of the whites who settled in the colonies south of New England were originally servants. The utilization of bound whites preceded the use of black slaves in every colony. Estimates pertaining to servants imported up to the year 1776 range from 350,000 to 500,000. Despite the increase in the importation of black slaves, the number of bound whites remained significant until the American Revolution.

     Many of the indentured servants were eager to build a better life in the New World. After fulfilling their period of servitude, they welcomed the opportunities for advancement, which were more plentiful in America than in Europe. Some servants, however, were exiled criminals sent to America to work off their prison sentences.

     Since the majority of the indentured servants, including some who were born in the colonies, were indigent, they were willing to labor for a colonial master. Although the length varied over time, most of the indentures lasted from four to seven years. If their master treated them well, the bound servants utilized their years of servitude to prepare for their future life in the colonies by acquiring new skills and making contacts with people who could help them after they fulfilled their term of service.

     Other indentured servants, however, encountered harsh treatment and cruel conditions that led to their running away from their master. Approximately eighty percent of the fugitives were males.

     Fleeing from their master causes research problems for genealogists since it was in a runaway’s best interest to conceal his or her identity after making a successful getaway. Even if the runaway kept the same name, the link between his or her former residence in America and country of origin may be lost. To help overcome this obstacle, Boyle seeks to fill in the gap by furnishing information provided by disgruntled masters in eighteenth-century newspapers ads.

     Most colonial American newspapers regularly printed advertisements that offered rewards for the apprehension of runaways and/or notices about their capture. From several New England and Mid-Atlantic newspapers (all English language except for one German paper), Boyle gleaned all legible references pertaining to white fugitives who lived in Pennsylvania or had contacts there. (If ads listed names of blacks and whites together, Boyle identifies the blacks separately in the index.) By transcribing verbatim the ads published during the years 1763 - 1768, Boyle identifies several hundred escapees and their masters.

     Although details may vary, the notices generally provide the names of the runaways, the person or persons offering the reward for their return, captured fugitives, and who had them in custody; a location; and the name and date of the newspaper reference. Additional information may range from a few sentences to a long paragraph. Details may include the individual’s age, occupation, country of origin or nationality, a description of the clothes worn at the time of the escape, and a summary of his or her physical and personality traits.

     The eighteenth-century newspaper notices and advertisements concerning fugitives often supply valuable information not found in other resources. As a result, details in the ads may provide clues for new avenues of investigation. An important research tool for genealogists seeking forebears in the Mid-Atlantic area, “MUCH GIVEN TO LIQUOR, AND CHEWING TOBACCO”: WHITE PENNSYLVANIA RUNAWAYS, 1763-1768 also provides fascinating reading about life in colonial America.

     The 521-page book has soft covers, a lengthy introduction, a list of the newspapers consulted by the author, a bibliography for further reading, and a full name index. To the book's price of $45.00, buyers should add the cost for postage and handling charges. For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $5.50 for one book and $2.50 for each additional copy; for FedEx ground service, the cost is $7.50 for one copy and $2.50 for each additional book. The volume (item order #8132) may be purchased by check, money order, MasterCard, or Visa from Clearfield Company, 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, Maryland 21211-1953. For phone orders, call toll free 1-800-296-6687; fax 1-410-752-8492; website at

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