University of Chicago Library

Guide to the Indentured Persons Collection 1766-1785

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Descriptive Summary


Indentured Persons Collection




2.25 linear feet (2 boxes)


Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago Library
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.


Contains several documents pertaining to indentured persons (1766-1785), primarily rosters or lists of people immigrating to the United States as "redemptioners" in 1785. The collection also includes a 1766 indenture of apprenticeship for a nine year old boy.

Information on Use


The collection is open for research.

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When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Indentured Persons Collection, [Box #, Folder #], Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

Historical Note

After the Treaty of Paris ended the American Revolutionary War in September 1783, business owners and merchant traders in the newly established United States looked for ways to start or re-start their businesses and livelihoods after eight years of war. Some merchants engaged in the transport of people as voluntary or semi-voluntary immigrants.

Indentured servitude had been a practice in the American colonies from the time of their earliest settlement by colonists in Jamestown in 1607. In the older form of contracts of indenture, an individual would be committed to work for a specific sponsor for a set period of time in exchange for the passage to the colonies, room, board, clothing, and potentially even training that he or she received. The terms of the indenture and the person(s) holding the indenture were determined before the indentured persons set sail, often with the people holding their indentures. Indentures could be traded, sold, or bought out before their terms were completed.

In the redemptioner system, however, individuals or families who wanted to immigrate to the colonies would commit themselves to a merchant or middleman who would take them over to the colonies on one of their ships, often on the return from a trade voyage. Once they arrived at the destination, the obligation was typically settled in one of three ways: 1) the redemptioners could "cash out" or pay off the expenses of their voyage with cash on hand and could then make their own way free of obligation, 2) their indentures (often simply the expenses accrued during their voyages) could be redeemed by a relative, a correspondent, or an acquaintance upon arrival at their destination, or 3) their indentures could be sold, or even auctioned off, by the shipping merchant or another business contracted to handle the sales or transfers of indentures.

Both systems suffered from abuse. Both the kidnapping of unwilling individuals for indentures and the use of indentured servitude in the colonies as a means of serving penal sentences are documented. The misrepresentation of contracts for redemptioners has also been documented as well as the frequent occurrence of robbery as merchants and their crews sifted through the personal possessions of the passengers. In 1717 the English parliament enacted legislation including a clause requiring an indenture involving a minor to be officiated by a single magistrate in London or two magistrates in any other location. This was intended to protect children from being kidnapped to sell for indentures and also to protect merchants who were transporting legally indentured children from charges of abduction.

An indenture of apprenticeship, otherwise known as an "apprenticeship indenture" was the practice of committing and training children, usually boys around the age of twelve, to a trade in which they could earn a living in their adult lives. The practice was widespread in Great Britain until the Eighteenth-Century when it started to decline, but it was also carried over to the colonies in North America.

Pauper apprenticeships are a specific type of apprenticeship indenture in which a poor or orphaned child is placed with a trade professional by a charity or parish. Pauper apprenticeships continued in Great Britain and the United States after other forms of apprenticeship began to decline.

Scope Note

The documents in this collection cover the period 1766 to 1785. Although acquired by the University Library from diverse sources they have been gathered together as a collection as a matter of convenience.

The collection contains documents for various types of indentured servitude dating from 1766-1785. These include an indenture for apprenticeship for a nine year old boy and several documents for the ship, Favorite, which sailed for Stewart, Nesbitt, & Co out of Philadelphia. In 1785, the date of most of the documents, the Favorite, under Captain Nicholas Vallance, was periodically transporting redemptioners from mainland Europe to America. Also included in this collection is a 1785 list of indentured persons on board the ship, Vigor. The roster for the Vigor is extensive and in some cases includes the vocation or skillset of the individual listed as well as some of the additional fees the individuals accrued in transit. The documents are handwritten in English with the exception of the roster for the Vigor which has a few notations and drafts for messages written in French.

These materials were part of a previous collection “Slavery and Indentured Servitude.”

Related Resources

Browse finding aids by topic.

Slavery in North America Collection

Mariners’ Museum (Newport News, Virginia): Records of Stewart, Nesbitt, and Company

Subject Headings


Box 1   Folder 1

Letter from C. Bishop to Captain Nicholas Valance [Vallance] on board the ship Favorite [also called the Favourite], concerning the passage of the redemptioners on the Favorite, Corck [Cork], October 10, 1783, autograph letter, signed, 1 page

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Box 1   Folder 2

Sales of redemptioners of the Ship Favorite from Amsterdam, September-November, 1785, document, 9 pages.

  • Michael Shubart was employed as a linguist, P.J. Schlosser is listed as a recipient of some clothing, and F. Scheinhaultz is listed as a passenger who ran away. Indentured persons listed in the document include: Nichals Beyer, Barbara Baustin, Anna M. Bernhardin, John Muller, Hendrick Muller, John Voglerin, John Hendrick Offenstein, Catharine Weberin, George Kurst, Margaret Hupperin, Maria Eliza. Arnold, Herman Wind, Thomas Kraft, Jacob Volmer, Margaret Volmer, Nicholas Volmer, Christian Guttel, Dorothy Wirtz, John Dittman, Christopher Dittman, John Fuller, Anna M. Dittman, Martin Ruiter, John Bartholomer Ruiter, Godfrey Ruiter, Barbara Gulchin, Matthias Holzel, Jacob Mercker, Catharine Hollebachin, John Fausser, George Graul, Rosina Graul, Christina Graul, Jacob Eller, John Brede, Engeltina Brede, Conrad Naas, Eva Maria Naas, Anna Maria Naas, Anthony Moll, Cristopher Arboth, Magdalena Benzin, Nicholas Dielh & family, GeorgeHornung & family, Christopher Fensche, David Weber, George Saal, George Wirtz, Henry Muller, George Mark, Hendrick Guttle, Johannes A. Reis, Michael Schott & Wife, family of George Wirtz, John Beyer & family, Nicholas Baus & Wife, John Muller family, Charles Gunther family, John P. Mark family, Valentine Flegler & family, Andreas Bott & family, Johan Adam Snellbacker family, Nicholas Hertle family, Conrad Dittman family, Frederick Moll family, Joseph Vinger family, George Kock family, Johannes Baus family, Nicholas Schreider family, Nicholas Dunckel family, Simon Steinmetz family, Martin Goetz family, Godfrey Conrad family, Andreas Schenger family, Conrad Propheter & Wife, Catharine Wirtz, Matthias Wirtz, Anna Barbara Beyer, Wilhelm Beyer. Redemptioners who were “cashed out” include: John Beyer, Frederick Buller, Killian Scherger, Aga Ruckertin, Dona Bayerin, Regina Kaufmanin, John M. Erhard, Anna M. Ruttigen, Barbara Catharine Lechin/Techin, Eva Maria Merckin, Maria C. Kissenelter, Eva Catharine Yunkin, Anna Bayerin, Michael Eckhard, Volmar, Anna M. Mullerin, Philipina Gottel, Anna Ruiter, Charlotta Gottel, Frederick Arnold, Christopher Romich, Elizabeth Gunther, Mary Yung, Barbara Jeckelin, Mary Bott, Barbara Bott, Casper Bott, Anna Catharine Bott, John Beyer, John Snellbacher, Nicholas Hertle, Michael Hertle, Barabara Scherger, Catharine Fersche, Margaret Saal, Michael Naas, Catharine Naas, Anna Dorothy Schott, Magdalene Dielh, Frederica Gottel, Nicholas Weber, Paul Ruckert, Dorothy Timmermanin, Conrad Schott, Ferd. Charles Dunckel, Anna Gebhard, Nicholas Wilhelm, Maria C. Krammers, John George Gebhard, Charles Gunther, John P. Korn, Ino. George Eckle, Anna B. Snellbacher, Hendrick Hauffman, John M. Schuman, George Mark, Jacob Kraushaar, John Roos, John Dielh, Christopher Gaat, John Adam Schumaker, John Schmutz, John Weigel, Margaret Weigel, Frederick Gram, George Adam Muller, Juliana Matthessin, John Miller, Gertrude Deickmanin, Catharine Hornin, Eva Elizabeth Wirtz, George Adam Schimp, Peter Gottman & Wife, John Port & Wife, Leonard Yung & Wife, P. Arnold Orem & family. Indenture holders or purchasers include: John West, Wiliam Clifton, Wager & Habacker, Charles Pettit, William Sheaff, Richard Wistar, George Bickham, Joseph Burns, McCulloh Peterson, Mordecai Lewis, Woodrop & Joseph Sims, M. M. O'Brien, Doctor Clarkson, William Blake, John Lesher, John F. Whelper, Bernard Buck, George Green, David Nice, George Adam Sneider, John Graul, Charles Eller, John Stout, George Horn, Abraham Carpenter, Frederick Reinboth, Capt Nicholas Vallance, Jacob Hank, Stephen Balliet, Abraham Heer, John Cronise, Samuel Coates, Robert Mattocks, Forbes & Morris, George Wirtz, Daniel Rothermel, Thomas Maybury, Mordecai Lewis, Adam Foulke, Hillary Baker, John Muller, Charles Gunther, John P. Mark, Zacharias Endress, Turnbull, Marmiet & Co, Johan Adam Snellbacker, Nicholas Hertle, Jacob Moses, Conrad Dittman, Frederick Moll, Joseph Vinger, George Kock, Johannes Baus, Nicholas Schreider, Nicholas Dunckel, Simon Steinmetz, Martin Goetz, Godfrey Conrad, Andreas Schenger

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Box 1   Folder 3

List of Indentured Servants on board the Vigor, January 30, 1785,document, 32 pages.

  • Indentured person listed in the document include: James Bettens, Wm. Ditchets, Jno. Edge, Jno. Hendricks, Edwd. Hendrix, Fleneden Baily, John Thomas, John Baker, John Crayton, Joseph Buxton, Ady Giles, Joseph Ponch, Jno. Morgan, James Green, Wm. Coleman, Thos. Lewis, Richd. Watkins, Richd. Newman, Nich. Franklin, Robt. Patten, Willm. Edwards, Willm. Wexam, Joseph Frye, Willm. Brown, John Down, Abra. Davis, John Goddard, Martin Chard, Howel Williams, Willm. Church, John Williams, Jno. Parker, Wm. Bevan, Willm. Haynes, John Mills, Geo. Thomas, Thos. Street, Jna. Jones, Jna. Barnett, James Bond, Thos. Willcox, Wm. Sawyer, Assheton, Ralph, Annely, Edward, Allen, Richard, Alrick, Harmoners, Aubrey, John, Bolton, Robert, Becket, William, Baynton, Peter, Brown, Jethro, Camm, Henry, Carrman, George, Carter, Henry, Carr, William, Cane, Anne, Comb, Henry, Clifton, Thomas, Carter, Joseph, Dingee, Charles, Danford, William, Ellis, Robert, Ferris, John, Fox, James, Green, David, Green, Mark, Grainger, Jos., Goodyear, Robert, Goeforth, George, Grisloy, Samuol[sic], Holt, Ryves, Harry, David, Henderson, Hannah, Holmes, Richard, Holland, John, Henderson, John, Hopkins, John, Jenkins, Aaron, Jones, Jacob, Kollock, Jacob, Lawrence, Henry, Leech, Thomas, Lewis, Edmund, Morgan, Benjamin, Mayne, Benjamin, Monington, William, Murroy, John, MacCrokin, John, Mackeny, Samuol[sic], Morris, Anthony, Nicholas, Edward, Nicholas, John, Noble, Joseph, Oliver, Arthur, Oneal, Bryant, Peters, John, Piller, James, Philips, William, Parvin, Silas, Purnel, John, Parker, George, Prichard, Joseph, Peters, Reese, Peters, Thomas, Polegreen, Elizabeth, Palmer, Nathaniel, Pratt, Henry, Pearson, James, Pierce, Mary, Pratt, Thomas, Parr, Samuel, Paschall, Joseph, Pusey, Caleb, Roberts, Elizabeth, Rixhardson, Jos., Roberts, Hugh, Roberts, Edward, Reed, William, Rudford, Thomas, Stewart, Peter, Staples, Cathrine, Stiles, Edward, Stretcher, Edward, Shoemaker, Jacob, Stewart, Peter, Sandwith, William, Smith, Benjamin, Shute, Jacob, Story, Robert, Topham, Christopher, Toms, Robert, Vanaken, Henry, Underwood, James, Watson, John, Williams, Isaac, Wharton, Joseph, Wright, Samuol[sic], Watson, John, Wheelbank, Abr., Way, James, Henry Van Nean, Ed. Roberts, Alrick Hermanns, Ed. Nicholas, [illegible] Roberts, John Leecherfall, [illegible] Staples, James Miller, Joseph Prichard, Joseph Noble, Robert [illegible], Hugh Roberts, Jacob Shoemaker, Jacob Kolloch, Arba. Wheelbank, Wm. Wherrington, John [illegible], [illegible] Roberts, Mary Calvert, Wm. [illigeble], Bryan Oneall, Saml. Browndye, Polegreen, Mary Pierce, Jacob Jones, Theor. Griffith, Ed. Roberti, Peeter Bayeron, Sam. Laycock, Capt. Nirchard, Isaac William, Ed. Nicholas, Car. Staples, John Famis, Wm. Merrington, Ben. Morgin, Robt. Rotton, Christopher [illegible], Wm. Beckett, John Goodwin, Eliz. Stone, Mary Gordon, Simon Smitt, Jacob -usher. Hans W. Sallomon, Laurent, Henry, William Chadwick, David Murrey, Monsieur Laurent Daubre, Andrew Bradford, and Ralph Ashton are also listed or mentioned on the document but without any indication of their functions or positions.

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Box 1   Folder 4

Indenture of apprenticeship for Lewis Hewitt to James Averill, Preston, Conn., January 6, 1766, document, signed, 1 page:

  • Roger Sterry, John Tylor, Jonathon Brewster, Ezra Kinne, Aaron Gnary? were the aldermen approving the transaction, Samuel Morgan was the official for the document, and Samuel Tylor/Tyler was the witness

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Box 2   Folder 1

Messrs. Vaughan Hamilton & Co. in Account with The Owners of Ship Favorite, [1785] document, 3 pages:

  • An account of the expenses of a voyage of the Favorite which includes expenses from Captain Vallance, a debt of Gibs. Rosses, and expenses related to Mr. Bishop of Cork

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Box 2   Folder 2

Ship Favorite to Messrs. Vaughan Hamilton & Co. [1785], document, 2 pages:

  • Includes pay expenses for Captain Vallance and monies paid to Luke Mayne(s) to provide clothing to the servants/passengers

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Box 2   Folder 3

Account of Germans delivered from the Ship Favorite, August- September 1785, document, 4 pages.

  • Indentured person listed in the document include: John Ditman, Anna Rutter, John Muller, Anna M Barnhardin, Christopher Rimrick/Rimrock, Al. Ruterkin, Martin Earhart, Agat Ruckerten, Eva Catharine Younkin, Volmar, Phildrina Gottel, Dona Bayeren, Charlotta Golel, Mary Bott, Barbara Bott, Casper Bott, Anna Catharine Bott, Dorothy Wisby, Christ Guttel, Regina Kaufman, Elizabeth Gunther, Mary Gunther, Maria Clisscwetter, Michael Hertle, Eva Maria Marken, Margaret Young, Jn. Snelbaker, Nicholas Bayer, Barbera Baustin, John Gunther, Margaret Zall, John Bayer, Michael Herbit/Hertit, Ziggin, Henry Offenstein, Catharine Weaver, Michael Naas, George A Schimf, Eva M Naas, Luisa Voglerin, Barbara Jachlin, Frederick Arnold, I./J. N. Vogler, Henry Muller, Margaret Kupperin, John Han. Windt, Catharine Fersche, Anne Bayerin, George Kunsky, Henry Haufman, John Roos, Elizabeth Roos, Elizabeth Roos (daughter), Henry Hartman, Johannes Bayer, Charles Rod, George Laur, Adam Thun, Jacob Thun, George Horn, George Bauman, Adam Gephart, Frederick Gault, Balthazar Bayer, Anna Dorothy Schott, Magdalene Diell, Christopher Ditman, Michael Eckhart, George Thomas Kraft, Anna Maria Mullerin, George Ehrlick, Maria Sarah Ehrlick, George Ehrlick (Junior), Michael Goetz, Barbara Scherger, John Beyer (Son) Ind. Muller, Nicholas Weber, Paulus Ruckhart, Dorothy Timmermannin, Frederica Gotttel, Conrad Schott, Henry Hoffman, Ferdinand Charles Dunckel, George Graul, Rosina Graul, Christina Graul, George Casper Ruiter, Martin Ruiter, John Bartholomew Ruiter, Geofry Ruiter, Anna Gebharo, Anna Martha Dittman, Barbara Gulchin, Nicholas Wilhelm, Maria Christiana Krammers, Jacob Mercker, Matthew Hobyle, John George Gebhard, Charles Gunther, Anna Catharine Hollebacher, John George Eckle, John Philip Korn, Johannes Frausser, John Filler, Henry Hauffman, Ino. George Marck, Maria Catharine Marck, Ino. Michael Schuman, Jacob Kraushaar, Gerardus Moll, Jacob Eller, William Beyer, Margaret Beyer, Balthazar Beyer, John Schmutz, John Dielh, Conrad Naas, Eva Maria Naas, Anna Maria Naas, Christian Gaat, John Adam Schumaker, John Schmutz, John Weigel, Margaret Weigel, Anthony Moll, Christopher Arborth, Frederick Gram, George Adam Muller, Juliana Mathessin, James Volmar, wife, and children, Parnold family, Martin Michael, his wife and children, William Bayer & Wife. Passengers who paid their own way include: George Horner - himself, 5 children and wife, John Brede, and Englet Brede. Indenture holders or purchasers include: Joseph Sims, Andrew Giffenbach, William Clifton, Colonel Forrest, Casper Snyder, Henry Hill, Richard Winter, George Da. Sickle, McColloughy/William Colloughy Peterson, F./T. Atteggar, George Goatman, Jacob Wimmer, Adam Foulke, William Cooper, George Bickkham, Mordecai Lewis, Gerald Forrester, Godfrey H--inck, William Bell, Godfrey Menin, Christopher Crawford, Jacob Fry, Bernard Fife, Colonel Miles, George Lauman, Limon Stedycom/Stedycorn, Samuel Coals/Coalis, Peter Bedford, Gilbert Rodman, James Rose, Andrew Petit, William Shef, David Setters, Jacob Barge, Chris Kauck, Samuel Vaughan, Cornel Helman, John Lamery, Matthew Taylor, Wager & Harbacker, George Bickham, Daniel Williams, John Bubb, Rich. Writar/Writer, Za--- Andrews, Charles Roos, Jacob Sneyler, Andren Epple, M. M. O'Brien, Eli Yarnall, Joseph Burns, Peter Kurts, Daniel Vardon, David Deshler, Peter Miller, Jacob Beninghoff, Nillery Baker, Alexander Todd, Samuel Leamin, Caleb Lippincot, John Graul, John Lesker, Caleb Lippincott, William Blake, John Frederick Whelper, Adam Ordh, Isikel Evans, George Green, Barney Buck, Adam Gebhard, Guy Bryan, David Nice, Leonard Jacoby, Frederick Shamcastle, Adam Schneider, Doctor Clarkson, Abraham Moyer, Adam Gebhard, Henry Carson, Michael Domine, Charles Eller, Charles Roos, Sharpe Debany, Samuel Eyre, George Horn, Michael Forner, Abraham Carpenter, John Curwen, Abraham Carpenter, Frederick Reinboth, William Gram, Frederick Wagoner, Richard Wall. Francis Ant. Metzger and Caspar Rubish are also listed on the document without an indication of their position or function.

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