10 Southern US Slave Advertisements

When people think of slavery in America’s past they usually think of plantations and agricultural work and the Civil War.

In reality, by the latter half of the 1700s, slaves were to be found across the whole spectrum of home and economic life in the Southern colonies. Local newspapers of the time in the Accessible Archives contain many notices about runaway slaves, and slaves for sale or rent.

This is a collection of ten slave notices from Virginia and South Carolina newspapers in the 1700s.

  1. RUN away about the beginning of February, a NEGRO WENCH, named, about 35 years old, of a yellowish complexion; had on, when she run away, a green Negroe-cloth gown; well known in Charlestown, Goose-Creek, Ponpon and John’s-Island. Whoever will a the said Negroe, and deliver her to the Warden of the Work house, shall have five pounds reward from Lambert Lance.
  2. RUN away on Monday evening the 9th April inst. from my house near the new barracks, a negro man named LONDON, about forty years of age by trade a barber, and is very well known here, at Beaufort, and at Augusta in Georgia. Whoever entertains or pretends to hire him without a line from me, may depend on being prosecuted with as much severity as the law allows; and whoever will deliver the said negro to the warden of the work-house, or to me, shall be handsomely rewarded. – White Outerbridge
  3. RUN away the first of June 1762, A Negroe fellow named Andrew, cannot tell his master’s name, he is remarkable by having a bosent, which he tried to cut out, and was cured by a doctor, Guinea born, and is supposed to be harboured; if by a white person, on conviction, the sum of Thirty pounds, and if by a Negroe Ten Pounds. Whoever delivers him to me on the Cypress, within ten miles of Dorchester, shall receive a reward of Ten Pounds and all reasonable charges. – Robert Ekills
  4. Runaway Slave

    Runaway Slave

    RUN away the 17th of October 1763, a likeyl young NEGROE MAN, this country born, named Cain, and stature about five feet nine or ten inches; he formerly belonged to Mr. Thomas Miles, and used to be a cattle-hunter at Messrs. Miles’s Cow-pen on the Saltketchers. He is well known at most of the plantations and Cow-pens in those parts. I will give a reward of Twenty Pounds to any person that will deliver him to Robert Rowand in Charlestown, or to me at Horse-Savannah. – Isaac Macpherson

  5. RUN away in the night of the 26th of January, a negro man named OSBORN; he had on when he went away a blue negro cloth waistcoat and breeches, black worsted stockings, and shoes, he is about five feet nine inches high, about nineteen years of age, speaks very plain English, and is very talkative; it is very probable he may change both his name and dress, as he carried sundry cloaths with him; and as he has been used to go by water, it is supposed he will endeavour to get off in some vessel: Allmasters of vessels are hereby cautioned from carrying off or harbouring the said fellow, as they may depend on having the law put strictly in execution. Whoever will deliver the said fellow to me at White-point, shall have a reward of five pounds; and whoever will inform me of the said fellow’s being harboured – if by a white person they shall receive twenty pounds, and if by a negro five pounds, from Edward Blake.
  6. Slave Ship

    Slave Ship

    TO BE SOLD – A CARGO of about One Hundred and Sixty prime SLAVES All in good Health, JUST arrived in the Brigestine Lively, Capt. Caird, after passage of 33 days from GAMBIA. Thomas Shirley, Edward Martin

  7. WHEREAS a negro man, a sailor, named August, my property, well known in Charlestown, frequently hires himself out without my knowledge; all persons, as they would avoid being prosecuted, are hereby forbid to employ, hire, harbour, or entertain the said negro man name’d August, without a written order from Elisabeth Tucker.
  8. RAN away on the 12th of September last, from the Plantation of the Hon. Philip Lightfoot, Esq; on Queen’s Creek, near Williamsburg, a large, well-made Mulatto Slave, nam’d Amos, aged about 32, with long, bushy Hair, like an East-Indian’s; Speaks tolerable good English; but on a Surprize, stammers a little. Had on an old Felt Hat, a Canvas Shirt, a Cotton Jackets, and a Pair of Crocus Breeches. Whoever takes up the said Slave, and brings him to the plantation afore said,shall have Twenty Shillings Reward, besides what the Law allows, paid by Philip Lightfoot.
  9. Runaway Slave Ad

    Runaway Slave Ad

    RAN away, on Saturday the 15th of July, at Night, a Negro Man, nam’d Abraham, belonging to Col.George Braxton, of King and Queen County: He is a lusty stout young Fellow, about 23 Years of Age; is bow-leg’d: Has with him a Cloth colour’d Coat,  and several other Sorts of Wearing Apparel. He is a Shoemaker by Trade. And a Negro Man, nam’d Windsor, belonging to the Subscriber, of the same County: is about 5 Feet and a Half high, very square, and strong made, about 20 Years of Age. Has a black Cloth Coat, full trimm’d, and some other Apparel. The Negros are Virginia born, and are sensible Fellows. They went away by Water, and are suppos’d to be gone to South-Carolina. Whoever will secure the Said Runaways, and bring them to me in King and Queen County, Virginia, shall have Fifteen Pounds Reward, or Five Pounds for each, besides what the Law allows, paid by George Braxton, Junior.

  10. WANTED ON HIRE, NEGROES, by the month, quarter or year, of any age above seven and under fifty. A good reasoable price will be given—the negroes well used—and the money paid as agreed upon.—Also wanted about two hundred acres, more or less, of pine barren land, that has plenty of pine wood and good clay, upon a navigable river within twenty miles of Charlestown, the nearer the better, for which a good price will be given either on hire or to be bought. Enquire at the printing-office in Elliott-street.

All images included in blog posts are from either Accessible Archives collections or out of copyright public sources unless otherwise noted. Common sources include the Library of Congress, The Flickr Commons, Wikimedia Commons, and other public archives.

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