"Fond of liquor, dancing and gaming": New-York Runaways, 1769-1783

“Fond of liquor, dancing and gaming”: New-York Runaways, 1769-1783. Joseph Lee Boyle. 

This work marks the second and concluding volume of New York runaway servant ads compiled by Joseph Lee Boyle from contemporary newspapers. From the genealogist’s standpoint, the runaway poses a methodological problem, since it was in the runaway’s best interest to conceal his/her identity after making a successful getaway. In other words, even if the runaway kept the same name, it is quite likely that the link to his original residence in America and to his country of origin was lost–lost, that is, unless his/her identity was uncovered in the thousands of, often very detailed, runaway ads placed in colonial newspapers by the disgruntled “owners.And this is precisely where the research and publications of Joseph Lee Boyle come in.

Mr. Boyle assembled this list of New York runaways for the period 1769-1783 from The New-York Gazette, The New-York Weekly Journal, The New-York Chronicle, The New York Mercury, The New York Morning Post, The New York Packet and American Advertiser, and 40 other papers published from New England south through Maryland. Among those are the Boston Gazette, The Connecticut Gazette, The Maryland Gazette, and The American Weekly Mercury. In all, Mr. Boyle has transcribed upwards of 1,400 ads for missing persons, referencing about 3,000 persons with New York connections.

Each ad conveys a number of details about the runaway and his/her master, including names and aliases of the runaway, physical description, personality quirks if any, location in New York, and where to contact the advertiser. Besides indentured servants and runaway slaves, Mr. Boyle includes ads for military deserters, horse thieves, counterfeiters, burglars, jail breakers, an occasional murderer, enemies of the United States, in this collection. 2020, paper, 406 pp.

ISBN: 9780806359113