White Slave Children of Colonial Maryland and Virginia: Birth and Shipping Records


Picking up where he left off in his acclaimed book Without Indentures: Index to White Slave Children in Colonial Court Records, Dr. Richard Hayes Phillips has now taken the story back even further — back to the scenes of the original crimes–kidnapping of children to be sold into slavery (ca. 1660-1720).

In his original book Dr. Phillips identified 5,290 “servants” without indentures, transported against their will. He culled that evidence from the Court Order Books of colonial Maryland and Virginia, where the county courts were authorized to examine the children, adjudge their ages, and sentence them to slavery for a number of years. The younger the child, the longer the sentence.

In this book, compiled from shipping records found in the Library of Congress, the Bristol [England] Record Office, and elsewhere, the author has identified 170 ships that carried white slave children to the plantations of colonial Maryland and Virginia. The shipping records itemize the unfortunate kids as “cargo” and specify the import duties paid to the Royal Naval Officers for each child. The white slave ships sailed from no fewer than seventeen ports of departure in England.

The places from which the children were taken and their adjudged ages on the dates of their court appearances have enabled Dr. Phillips to conduct a targeted search of the birth and baptismal records. In all, he has matched more than 1,400 children with the parish or town records. The book also contains an exposé of the colonial shipping industry. Among the child traffickers were the Mayors of Bristol and Bideford and the Governor of Virginia.

Birth and Shipping Records–which begins with a detailed discussion of the author’s sources and detective-like methodology and concludes with a surname index–is arranged according to the localities in the British Isles from which the victims were confiscated. It is a volume that will help researchers trace their white slave heritage back even further than before, and it cries out for correctives to be written in American history books regarding our colonial origins and our treatment of one another.

Richard Hayes Phillips

2015, paper, 416 pp.

ISBN: 9780806320304