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Tag Archives: Running Away

Early American Criminals: Francis Burdett Personel and the Liberty Pole

Constable Mr. Van Gelder was just about to abandon his search. He had recently been sent to New Haven, CT to find Francis Personel by New York City mayor Whitehead Hicks, who had learned that Personel was possibly hiding out in that city. But what Van Gelder did not know was that at the same […]

Early American Criminals: Thomas Hellier’s “Hell upon Earth”

With the ill treatment by his mistress “burning and broyling in [his] Breast,” Thomas Hellier, an indentured servant on a Virginia plantation, knew he had to escape. In 1677, Hellier was tricked into signing an indentured servant contract back in England with the promise that he would not be forced to perform physical labor and […]

The American Malefactor’s Dictionary: break, give someone a

break, give someone a – to liberate someone from prison. Sources Partridge, Eric. A Dictionary of the Underworld. New York: Bonanza Books, 1961. Note: See “Cant: The Language of the Underworld” to learn more about the background of the American Malefactor’s Dictionary.

Early American Criminals: The Curse on Joseph Lightly

Joseph Lightly relates in his Last Words and Dying Speech that when his mother learned he had enlisted in the British army, “she told me she hoped she should hear of my being hanged, for my Cruelty of going to leave her against her Will.” Lightly’s mother may simply have been reacting to the moment, […]

Early American Criminals: Stephen Smith on the Common

Stephen Smith was born a slave in 1769 in Virginia. His last name was originally Allen, but he changed it to Smith in order to escape from the master who owned him, William Allen. Smith’s father was a religious man, but his mother encouraged him to steal. With her prompting, Smith committed several small […]

EAC Places and Events: The Fort Mackinac Guardhouse Prison Cell

Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island was constructed in 1779 in order to protect the lucrative fur trade in northern Michigan and maintain relations with neighboring Native American tribes. The military importance of the Fort diminished as the nineteenth century progressed, but the Fort took on a new role when the Mackinac National Park was established […]

Early American Criminals: John Dixon, the Recalcitrant Burglar

On August 21, 1784, a man entered the house of Capt. James Dagget of Reheboth, MA in the middle of the night and took several valuable items. He was soon caught and committed to the Taunton Gaol, where he gave his name as Abiel Brigs. The authorities knew better. They easily recognized him as John […]

Transported Convicts in the New World: Samuel Ellard’s Return to England

Note: This post is part of a series on Convict Transportation to the American colonies. Samuel Ellard grew up in Spitalfields and was apprenticed to a butcher. He completed his time as an apprentice and worked in the Spitalfields Market for various people until he was arrested on March 9, 1741 for robbing a cheese […]

Transported Convicts in the New World: Convicts Who Returned to England

Note: This post is part of a series on Convict Transportation to the American colonies. Most of the convicts who were sent to America from Great Britain stayed in America, but some made it back to their home country, legally or illegally. Convicts who escaped, ran away, or purchased their freedom soon after landing in […]

Transported Convicts in the New World: Runaways

Note: This post is part of a series on Convict Transportation to the American colonies. Lots of convict servants tried to run away from their owners in an attempt to escape harsh treatment from them or to regain their freedom and possibly return to Great Britain, or both. Almost as soon as the practice of […]