Non-indentured Child “servants” in Baltimore County, 1683-1715

Posted by on Feb 28, 2014 in | Comments Off

When: Back to Calendar May 4, 2014 @ 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Where: HSBC Almshouse Headquarters
9811 Van Buren Lane
Cockeysville,MD 21030
Cost: Free to HSBC & BCGS members. $5 for non-members.
Categories: HSBC Event

Event Flyer – Click Here (PDF)

Speaker Richard Hayes Phillips, Ph.D. will talk on his research into 27 child “servants” without indentures appear in the Court Proceedings of Baltimore County.  The records from that time period are fragmentary, covering 1683-1686, 1691-1696, and 1708-1715.


“This is every family’s worst nightmare: the disappearance of a child.

Richard Hayes Phillips has collected the names of more than five thousand children kidnapped from Ireland, Scotland, England, and New England and sold into slavery in Maryland and Virginia, ca. 1660 to 1720. By English law dated 1659, it was lawful for justices of the peace to kidnap children found begging or vagrant and ship them to the plantations as servants without indentures. The younger the child, the longer the sentence, and the colonial county courts were the judges of their ages. The children are on the record. By name.

These five thousand names, culled from the colonial Court Order Books, some of which have not been examined for centuries, have now been compiled into one genealogical index. In almost every case, the entries provide the name of the child, the name of the owner, the date they appeared in court, and the age assigned by the judges, many of whom owned the very children they were sentencing to servitude.

We have long known about African slaves, convict laborers, and, of course, indentured servants who agreed in writing, by indenture, to work without wages for a number of years to pay off the cost of their passage and lodging, after which time they were free. We were never told about white slaves, who did not agree, who did not consent, and who never contracted in writing.


Richard Hayes Phillips holds a Ph.D. in geomorphology from the University of Oregon, and M.A. degrees in history and geography from the University of Oklahoma.  He has taught geology, geography and history at seven colleges, including New Mexico Tech and the University of New Mexico.  He now works for the Adirondack Trail Improvement Society and the Lake George Land Conservancy.  He lives in Canton, New York.

He is descended from two generations of Scottish slaves, the father a prisoner of war, the son a kidnapped child.  This is what inspired him to document the history of white slavery in America, and to index the names of five thousand children kidnapped in Scotland, Ireland, England and New England and sentenced to slavery by the colonial courts of Maryland and Virginia.  He continues to search the court records to find out what became of these children.”