Colonial Indentured Servants



It may not have occurred to you, but a couple of your very early ancestors may have actually come to America as ‘indentured servants’. But does that mean?

Individuals came to America under a work contract, called an indenture because they could not afford the ship passage. They agreed to work for the family, individual or company that paid that passage. They also got food, lodging, and clothing for their work. The term of an indenture (it a legally binding contract) was typically 4 to 7 years, after which time the servant was given the freedom to manage his or her own affairs. Some were even granted land and money. indentured servants were the most common in the Middle Atlantic colonies, ranging from New Jersey down to Virginia.

Most that were indentured servants came of their own free will, by choice and were young male or female adults.  

Some indentured servants had debts back in England or other European homeland and the employer would pay off those debts but the person then worked in America for the employer for a set period of time. Most all indentured servants usually worked as farm laborers or domestic servants completing manual labor.

Available online with Price and Associates a professional genealogy firm in Salt Lake City, Utah, is a free to use the database of Immigrant Servants with records from over 20,269 indentured servants who immigrated to America between 1607 and 1820. In the search box place, a surname and / or include a given name. You might see many individuals with the same exact names, so try to narrow it down based on hometown. Click on one of interest and more details are available. 

Since colonial Virginia had many indentured servants here is the link to an online site about Virginia indentured servants.

Photos: Indentured servants in colonial America; database info on Henry Kershaw-1699 and indentured servants in the fields.

Related FamilyTree Blogs:

British Convicts in Colonial America

American Revolutionary Soldiers

Music Enjoyed by American Colonists

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