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Runaway Slave Advertisement from Revolutionary Virginia

After Virginia's royal governor, Lord Dunmore, promised freedom to indentured servants and slaves who would escape and serve in the British forces, newspapers printed numerous advertisements for runaways whose owners suspected them of responding to Dunmore's proclamation.

STAFFORD County, AQUIA, Nov. 2, 1775.

RAN away last Night, from the Subscriber, a Negro Man named CHARLES, who is a very shrewd sensible Fellow, and can both read and write; and as he always waited upon me, he must be well known through most of Virginia and Maryland. He is very black, has a large Nose, and is about 5 Feet 8 or 10 Inches high. He took a Variety of Clothes which I cannot well particularise, stole several of my Shirts, a Pair of new Saddle Bags, and two MARES, one a darkish, the other a light Bay, with a Blaze and white Feet, and about 3 Years old. From many Circumstances, there is Reason to believe he intends an Attempt to get to Lord Dunmore; and as I have Reason to believe his Design of going off was long premeditated, and that he has gone off with some Accomplices, I am apprehensive he may prove daring and resolute, if endeavoured to be taken. His Elopement was from no Cause of Complaint, or Dread of a Whipping (for he has always been remarkably indulged, indeed too much so) but from a determined Resolution to get Liberty, as he conceived, by flying to Lord Dunmore. I will give 5 l. to any Person who secures him and the Mares, so that I get them again.


Since writing the above Advertisement, the Mares have returned; and there is a great Probability, from many Circumstances, to conclude that he was taken from Dumfries, in Company with a white Servant of Mr. Andrew Leitch's, in an Oyster Boat belonging to one Kelly, near Smith's Point, in Northumberland. I will give 10 l. if he is taken, and allow a handsome gratuity to any Person who can convict Kelly of having carried him off.

Source | Virginia Gazette (Dixon & Hunter), Williamsburg, 18 November 1775.
Creator | Robert Brent
Item Type | Advertisement
Cite This document | Robert Brent, “Runaway Slave Advertisement from Revolutionary Virginia,” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed April 19, 2024,

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