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Special Announcement: My New Book on Convict Transportation Is Now Available

My new book, Bound with an Iron Chain: The Untold Story of How the British Transported 50,000 Convicts to Colonial America, has just been published by Pickpocket Publishing and is available for purchase. I hope you enjoy reading it. Paperback ($16.99) and Kindle ($4.99).

Smashwords: All e-book formats ($4.99).

The book will soon be available through other distribution channels, including Barnes and Noble, Apple, and Sony.

Publisher: Pickpocket Publishing
ISBN 978-0-9836744-0-5
Library of Congress Control Number: 2011908764
358 pages (i-xx + 338)

Most people know that England shipped thousands of convicts to Australia, but few are aware that colonial America was the original destination for Britain’s unwanted criminals. In the 18th century, thousands of British convicts were separated from their families, chained together in the hold of a ship, and carried off to America, sometimes for the theft of a mere handkerchief.

What happened to these convicts once they arrived in America? Did they prosper in an environment of unlimited opportunity, or were they ostracized by the other colonists? Anthony Vaver tells the stories of the petty thieves and professional criminals who were punished by being sent across the ocean to work on plantations. In bringing to life this forgotten chapter in American history, he challenges the way we think about immigration to early America.

The book also includes an appendix with helpful tips for researching individual convicts who were transported to America.

Anthony Vaver at Blackfriars, where transported convicts from London set sail for America.

Anthony Vaver is the author and publisher of, a website that explores crime, criminals, and punishments from America’s past. He has a Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and an M.L.S. from Rutgers University. He is currently working on a new book about early American criminals. He has never spent a night in jail, but he was once falsely accused of shoplifting.


“Bound with an Iron Chain is a fascinating, detailed, and eye-opening look at a little-discussed historical phenomenon: the systematic transportation of more than 50,000 criminals from Great Britain to colonial America in the eighteenth century. Anthony Vaver writes with great clarity, always with an eye to including an original, colorful anecdote. Whether you are student or scholar, historian or genealogist, reading this book will have you thinking in new ways about what it meant to be enslaved or free in early America. I thoroughly enjoyed and learned so much from this book.”
—Devoney Looser, Professor of English and 18th-Century Studies, University of Missouri

“With a skillful blend of historical accuracy and engaging narrative, Bound with an Iron Chain retells the long lost tale of convicts who were transported unwillingly by the boatload to America’s shores and like ne’er-do-well nephews were conveniently forgotten.”
—Robert Wilhelm,

“This is a great book. With a storyteller’s verve, Anthony Vaver recalls to life the 50,000 colonists you were supposed to forget all about. From the London underworld to the New World frontier, from stolen stockings in Cheapside to the American Revolution, Vaver retrieves an ocean-straddling social history and the legacy of men, women, and children once written out of their eventual country’s founding myth.”
—Jason Zanon,

“Informative and erudite, but always flavoured with the grit of the matter in hand, Anthony Vaver has created a valuable and highly readable work on a neglected subject. Read it and be absorbed by the dark side of early America.”
—Lucy Inglis,

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