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A Medford slave Roll

(not called on Bunker Hill.)

One of these names has come down to us in the petition to the General Court of ‘Belinda an Affrican,’ see Register Vol. VII, p. 68; the others have been hitherto unknown to fame. It has remained for the Register to make them public, after the lapse of a hundred and fifty years.

We have recently examined two leaves,1 evidently from the account book of an ancient Medford cordwainer (whose identity is unknown) that gives their names. The paper is of excellent quality, yellow with age, frayed at edge, a little mutilated and the ink black as when written at dates from January 5, 1748 to April 14, 1762. One entire page (8 x 12 inches) contains fortytwo charges against Thomas [torn ]. Another has items charged to Simon Bradshaw, Aaron Blanchard, James Perry, ‘Beniamin parker’ and Isaac Warren, with both pages of the other leaf filled with charges against ‘Cornial Isac Rial.’ In this we find the names of “Abrom, Jo, peter, plato, Foeby [ Phoebe ] Bash [ Bath-sheba ] Cuper, prige [?] Bilander, Cobak, Bill, Forten [Fortune];” twelve in all, in connection with shoes, ‘soaling and heel taping,’ and all names except ‘Bash’ several times repeated. [p. 48]

Then there were ‘two pair for your Negro garl’ and ‘soling your Negro garlls two’; also ‘two pair your Negro womun shos.’

None of the charges are over six shillings, except Cooper's ‘soling and heeling shos 17s 6d.’

Again there are charges for ‘soling Madam and Daughter shos.’

The only item of Colonel Royall's personal use was ‘soling your pumps 2s 6d.’

A different sort of pump was ‘mending your pump box’ four pence; this time the word mending is used. Probably Jo, ‘peter, plato’ and the others got water more easily from the Royall well because of this ‘mending’ of the pump by this ancient Medford cobbler, who also mended bridle and ‘chaze harness’ several times.

The list of Col. Royall's twelve slaves in Brooks' history gives six of these names, but does not include Belinda. Hagar, Mira, Nancy and Betsy may have been the negro woman and ‘garls’ of the old account.

His charges for making shoes for Thomas——‘your wife and garl’ was 3£ 10s, the largest amount entered. A pair for ‘calep’ was 2£ 10s.

Simon Bradshaw had ‘a pair for yourselfe 3£ 5s, a pair for your Negro man 2£ 10s’. James Perry was charged with ‘a pair for yourselfe, 2£ 18s, a pair for your woman 1£ 10s, a pair for your garl 1£ 4s,’ while ‘Beniamin parker’ had for ‘yourselfe, wife and garl.’ Evidently there was a social distinction existing in Medford, shown by the terms Madam, wife, woman; daughter, girl, maid; negro woman; your son and your boy, that was recognized in this ancient Medford book keeping.

One cannot help wondering a little why Col. Royall's slaves were furnished ‘shos’ for from 4s 6d to 6s 5d, while Simon Bradshaw's negro man's cost ten times as much and almost as much as his master's.

Altogether it is a scrap of business history that sheds light on pre-Revolutionary times. [p. 49]

1 Papers of late Horace Hall.

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Mira (Louisiana, United States) (1)
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April 14th, 1762 AD (1)
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