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Slave Advertisements in Colonial New York

As in the southern colonies, New York newspapers were filled with slave advertisements that provide many details about the life and labor of enslaved New Yorkers. Historian Jill Lepore calculates that 253 advertisements for runaway slaves and servants were printed in New York City newspapers from 1733 to 1752, many of which were placed by owners living outside of New York who suspected slaves of escaping to the city.

New York Weekly Journal: April 15, 1734.
To be Sold, a Young Negro Woman about 20 Years old, she dos all sorts of House work; she can Brew, Bake boil soft Soap, Wash, Iron & Starch; and is a good dairy Woman. She can Card and Spin at the great Wheel, Cotton, Linen and Woolen. She has another good property, she neither drinks Rum nor smoes Tobacco, and she is a strong healthy Wench. She can Cook pretty well for Roast and Boyld; she can speak no other language but English. She had the Small Pox in Barbados when a child. Enquire of the Printer here of and known the Purchase. N.B. She is well Clothed.

New York Evening Post: December 17, 1744.
RAN away from John Thornton at White-Stone-Ferry in Flushing, a new Negro Fellow named Prince, he can't scarce speak a Word of English; he is a short Fellow, about 20 Years of Age, had on when he went nothing but an Ozenbrigs Shirt, and a Pair of Tow-Trowsers, and a striped worsted Cap; he also has taken with him a short Gun well mounted with Brass. Whoever takes up the said Negro Fellow an Gun, and brings him to his said Master, shall have three Pounds Reward and all reasonable Charges paid by me,

Frothingham's Long Island Herald: May 31, 1791.
Ran away from the Subscriber, about three years and a half ago, a Negro man, named Tom, between 90 and 100 years of age, had on when he went away, a snuff coloured great coat, white plush breeches, blue yarn stockings; one leg somewhat shorter than the other; about 4 feet high, Africa born, spoke very broken. Whomever will bring said Negro to his master shall receive SIX PENCE Reward, and no charges paid by
N.B. All persons are forbid harbouring said Negro at their peril.
Southampton, May 31, 1791.

Source |

Collection of the New-York Historical Society Library; Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace, Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 (New York: Oxford, 1999), 127; Grania Bolton Marcus, A Forgotten People: Discovering the Black Experience in Suffolk County (Setauket, NY: Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities, 1988), 78.

Creator | Various
Item Type | Advertisement
Cite This document | Various, “Slave Advertisements in Colonial New York,” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed December 5, 2023,

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