What actually became of the indentured servants and bonded immigrants who arrived in America during the colonial period? Were they able to cast off the shackles that had brought them here in the first place, and how long did it take? For his latest book, genealogist Robert Barnes traces the fortunes of more than 500 Maryland debtors. His findings will interest genealogists and historians alike.
The main purpose of this work is to chronicle and categorize the life experiences of 519 persons who entered Maryland as indentured servants or, to a lesser extent, as convicts forcibly transported. Mr. Barnes, who is more familiar than anyone else with the families of 17th- and 18th-century Marylanders, describes his objectives this way:
“One of the major areas of interest was what happened to these servants after they arrived. I tabulated how many: 192 men and 2 women could be located in a specific county; I found 144 men and 11 women who were married; 142 men and seven women had children (in or out of wedlock); 60 of the men and one woman were creditors to someone else, which meant that they had reached a degree of financial stability enabling them to loan money. One man was found to have served as a vestryman, and eight men held civil office. Three served in the military. Fifty-eight men and two women performed some neighborly service, such as witnessing a will or serving as guardian to minor children; 38 men performed some community service, such as signing a petition or appraising estates; 49 men and seven women were summoned to civil or criminal court; 108 of the men left an estate at death, and eight moved to another state.
Lest genealogists conclude that this work is a mere recitation of statistics, we hasten to add that the text itself comprises solidly researched sketches of Maryland servants and convicts and their descendants, including 102 that are traced to the third generation or beyond.
2007, (2008), paper, 310 pp.