Indentured servants from England were a large part of the Colonial immigrant body. If the migrant could not afford to come on his own accord, he could create a bond or contract with a sponsor. The sponsor would pay for the transport in return for seven years of service.
While indentured servants can be found in all of the Colonies, the majority settled in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, where the need for labor was in high demand.
Presented here is a collection of works on indentured servants in Virginia. These are typically 20th Century publications and therefore not out of copyright. As a result they will not be found online. However, if your local library does not have a copy, ask if they subscribe to WorldCat, which is an interlibrary loan service. There you can have the book transferred to your local library usually for free.
Indentured Servants in Virginia | Bibliography
- Cavaliers and Pioneers – Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants by Nell Marion Nugent. Long regarded as the pre-eminent work on Virginia Land Grants, this book also serves as a virtual encyclopedia of indentured servants brought to Virginia under the “headrights” system. “Cavaliers and Pioneers,” who brought servants to Virginia to work the plantations were given 50 acres of land per servant transported. This landmark book not only lists who got what land, but often the names of the servants brought with him to merit the 50 acres/servant given, e.g. “100 acres for transporting 2 persons: Mary Parr, Eliz. Allier.” “Negros” listed, too. Every name indexed. Nearly 600 pages.
- White servitude in the colony of Virginia : a study of the system of indentured labor in the American colonies by Ballagh, James Curtis.This brief book provides a nice overview of the nature and condition of indentured servants in Virginia during the period of the London Company (1619 – 1788). Topics addressed include land tenure and social and legal status of the servant. Extensive bibliography.
Accomack indentures, 1798-1835 by Walczyk, Gail M. Walczyk has transcribed a document of the same name as the book, which contains 38 years of indentures that bound a child to an individual to learn a trade. She notes that many free black indentures are included. Further, besides the name of the child and employer, the name of at at least one parent and the terms of the indenture are included. The indenture was often between the “Overseers of the Poor” and the employer.
- Records of indentured servants and of certificates for land, Northumberland County, Virginia, 1650-1795 by Haynie, W. Preston Preston has attacked the question of indenture research through the court records. He focused on one county – Northumberland – and abstracted the deed and order books for any references to indenture or servitude. Know that in Virginia at this time “headrights” were a means of distributing land to ship owners or investors based on the number of servants they brought to the Colony and would “employ.” These records, too, are abstracted. Fascinating. Every name index.
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