Runaway – Thomas Hardy


Thomas Hardy—Runaway

Dunlap’s Maryland Gazette; or, the Baltimore General Advertiser

October 17, 1775 – July 28th, 1775.


 R A N A W A Y last night from the subscriber living near the Northampton, Iron Work, Baltimore County, Maryland. A convict servant maThomas Hardyn, an Englishman, named Thomas Hardy. About five feet eight or nine inches high, grey eyes, short grey hair, about fifty-two years old, limps in his walk; he has a small hole in one of his lips, lost most of his teeth, talks in the North Country dialect; Had on and took with him, a white country cloth jacket, country row linen trowsers, good English shoes, two oznabrig shirts, old felt hat; he may have other cloths. Whoever takes up the said servant and secures him so as his Master gets him again, shall have 20 Shillings if 10 miles from home, 30 Shillings if 20 miles, 40 Shillings if 30 miles, 3 Pounds if 50 miles and above reward if one hundred from home, and reasonable charges if brought home, paid by:           John Robert Holliday.

* Replicated from Voyagers to the West (A Passage In The Peopling of America On The Eve of the   Revolution—Bernard Bailyn)


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SFA Reunion 2017

SFA Reunion 2017


Charleston, SC


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Indentured Servants – The Fairness of the System

Indentured Servants

The Fairness of the System

Bartholomew Stovall, was born 1665 and immigrated to Jamestown, Virginia colonies in 1684.  If you have studied this emigrant then you realizes there are gaps in recorded history when you analyze the chronology of his relatively short life. Two of the most significant lapses are the span between the ages of ten and eighteen years. The other lapse is the span from 1684 and 1688 when he was bound by indenture to Dr. Richard Kennon.

Certainly everyone would like to know what happened to Bartholomew after his mother passed away in 1676. Any recorded history between 1676 and 1684 would help to explain who cared for the young boy and what may have encouraged him to barter himself into servitude and sail to America.

Personally, I’ve always been more interested in the period that he served his contract to Kennon. There is nothing recorded that tells of his character and habits during servitude. There is nothing to suggest that he was a runaway or that he was charged with indiscretions that would have extended his contract. I feel certain that he was a model servant, but the documents don’t exist to proves my theory.Oct9bookcover

Before I penned our novel, “Bartholomew Stovall – The English Immigrant” I did a great deal of study on Indentures. Invariably I got side-tracked and begin a study on the fairness of this system and analyzed the cause and effect of punishments.

To my amazement there are volumes written on this subject and some of it goes into such detail that I may regret attempting to bore readers. I did, however, document some of my findings and consider it relevant for an article in our Blog. This information is several years old and only skims the surface of a very complex issue. If you choose to read on, let me issue a word of caution. This stuff is not for everyone.

Historians vs Economists

Indentured Servitude was abolished near 200 years ago, but historians and economists are still divided on the fairness of the system. Historians claim that indentures were nothing more than slaves that were treated unfairly in that their masters could use the legal system to keep them as possessions for years beyond their contract termination.








                                                                           Colonial Gathering

                                      The Society That Wanted No Problems

Economist, on the other hand claim that the length of servitude was equal to the cost of the voyage to America, maintenance cost of the servant, and freedom dues given at the expiration of the contract. These same economist go so far as to claim that those who entered servitude usually did better than those who migrated to America and immediately bought land, because a period of servitude allowed them to learn the customs, culture, and language of America.

I doubt that this claim is spot-on if the servant was locating to the New England Colonies. But if their destination was the Central Colonies, this claim holds some validity.

“The System” It Worked—Kind of

If you remove the alleged bad points of Indentured Servitude, everyone agrees that the system worked to perfection. The Virginia Company of London, England crafted the model shortly after John Smith landed in Jamestown in 1607, but the Virginia Company went out of business in 1624.   Their demise did not distract others from maintaining the system as it was still being used more than 200 years later.

It was resoundingly successful attracting labor to America and was created on the premise that the price paid for the servant equals the value of the servant’s contract length. According to economist, it was the perfect system, but historians tended to believe that the system was exploitive when conflicts arose between masters and servants.

The research I did concentrated on two uniquely different issues when a face-off occurred between master and servant. Analysis was done from the side of both historians and economists. The results were predictable, but the conclusion was rather surprising. Read on for the discussion of these issue:


To say that a system was exploitive, we need to do a thorough examination of the crime vOct9womaninchainss punishment. First, let’s take the example of a female servant that became pregnant. The powers to be knew this was a probability and had enacted rules to counter the female indenture’s disobedience. But as time wore on, those rules were reworked until it was near impossible to calculate a master’s fair compensation for lost labor and expenses.

The rules and technicalities involved in dealing with “insubordination” are endless. If readers wish they can view For the sake of this article I’ll paraphrase some of its content.

The colony of Maryland spelled out specific punishments for servants becoming pregnant during their terms of service. As early as 1684, an act concerning those servants that have bastard children provided that a servant unable to prove paternity would be held responsible for costs imposed on her master. If paternity could be established and the father was also a servant, he was held responsible for one-half the costs. If a freeman were the father, he was responsible for the entire cost. A 1692 law subsequently established severe penalties for white servants having mulatto children, reflecting social inhibitions concerning mixed-race relationships.

If a servant were to become pregnant, the court considered lost earnings and medical costs when assigning her extra service. Again, using data regarding slaves, a pregnant slave was usually given light work, or 50-60% of normal activity, once it was known that she was pregnant.

This half-time work load usually began in the third month and lasted until the eighth month. During the last month of pregnancy the slaves work was reduced to nearly nil. For the next year it can also be assumed that the woman would continue to work only at 50% of her usual work load because she had to breast feed and nurture the baby.

Women slaves were unable to perform labor for about four weeks following childbirth, followed by another year of light work because they had to breast feed about four times per day. The total amount of earnings from the pregnant woman is then subtracted from normal earnings of a woman servant, thus showing earnings lost due to pregnancy. The total cost of the pregnancy, then, would include lost earnings and medical costs. Taking all of this into consideration, the court would order her to serve an additional 280 days to 320 days when calculating the lost productivity.

Oct9womanbeatingIn addition to extra time, pregnant servants were sometimes punished by whippings. On average, the servant received 12 lashes in addition to her extra service, but the number of lashes ordered by the court ranged from zero to 30. In the case where 30 lashes were ordered, the servant was a third offender.

It is important to note that between 1755 and 1778 corporal punishment was phased out.   The courts may have modified their views to reflect changing times, or differing social morals. As real wages rose in Britain, better contract terms were needed in order to attract servants to America. Perhaps as a result, corporal punishment was phased out. Although this was not reflected in legislation or in the terms of indentures, the customs of the land may have adapted to changing economic conditions and social values.

The information I reviewed went so far as to draw a parallel between a single lash to a servant to the lost days of service, and then computed that value to a monetary unit and then into the amount of tobacco it yielded. I will not go into that much detail in this article.

I’m attempting to emphases that the courts went so far as to micromanage the effects of a single lash administered using corporal punishment. It was a cruel form of reprimand but it’s fair to note that some thought was put into lashing instead of it being treated as a simple retribution for insubordination. The instances of this punishment have been studied and it was concluded that punishment by public whipping appears quite harsh.

The significance of this is that whippings were extreme punishments used both to embarrass the servant as well as to deter other female servants from becoming pregnant during their term of servitude.


 A Pennsylvania law passed prior to 1682 concerning runaway servants stated that, “Servants shall be Adjudged by the Court to double the time of such their absence by future Service over and above other Damage and Cost and that anyone aiding the runaway shall forfeit twenty pounds to the Master…and be fined five pounds to the Court…Also, anyone harboring or concealing a runaway shall forfeit ten shillings for every Days entertainment or Concealment.Oct9Runaway

In 1683, Pennsylvania enacted a new law providing for a penalty of five days for every day absent, after the expiration of servitude. Further, the servant must compensate for the damages, costs, and charges, to be determined by the County Courts.

Laws in early Maryland prescribed punishments considerably more severe than those in Pennsylvania. In 1638, for example, several lashes

were the punishment for running away. In the following year, the punishment was extended to hanging the runaway. By 1641 the law was changed such that death would be the punishment unless the servant requested that their service be extended after the expiration of the contract. The service could be extended up to twice the time absent, not to exceed seven years.

In 1650, time was doubled and the servant was responsible for damages and costs incurred by the master during the servant’s absence. In 1666 the law was again altered providing that a servant would serve 10 days extra for every one day of absence.


Transported convicts, both men and women, were sold to plantation owners as another form of labOct9Convictor. One-fourth of the British immigrants to the colonies were convicts. Most of these convicts were male, young, unskilled and poor. The usual crime was grand larceny. Generally the only people exiled were those that judges felt could be rehabilitated. Convicts performed the same type of work as indentured servants but were less trusted. Their length of service was usually longer than that of the indentured servants. Like indentured servants and slaves, convicts frequently ran away. Political prisoners also were shipped to the colonies. Most of these were convicted following religious persecutions.


The results of the study I examined support the Economic Historian in their belief that the 16th- and 17th-century system of Indentured Servitude was efficient and effective in increasing the labor supply in America.

Examination of the individual court cases involving servant crimes also shows that indentured servants were not exploited or mistreated once they arrived.

Admittedly there was some mistreatment , but when considering the system in its entirety, the good outweighs the bad. The evidence, however slight, does not suggest that the indenture system was biased toward masters. Contrary to what we have been led to believe, servants were not abused in large numbers.


               More often than not, a system that worked for the good of all.












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The Case for Henry Randall

Indentured Servants

Freedom and Fairness or the Folly of Misfortune

 When I penned our novel, “Bartholomew Stovall – The English Immigrant”, a majority of my research concentrated on Indentured Servants and the way of life in early Colonial America.  Less is written about the pre-revolutionary war America than those times when our nation’s founding fathers created documents of freedom that encouraged our citizens to take up arms and help build a nation united in a common cause.

One mindset is of the opinion that America obtained its greatness due to a select few whoBetsy Ross had courage, intelligence, and foresight to motivate the masses and demand a call to arms.  Men like Washington, Jefferson, Henry, and Adams are but a few that united the sparsely populated colonies to fight for independence.  By the time the overmatched Americans had driven out a well trained and equipped British army, the world looked on in amazement at the fortitude of our young nation.

While those brilliant men did ‘show the way’ for a path to greatness, our success can also be attributed to another segment who fought a war every day, long before the conflict with the British.  Those were the men and women who created our first exports, built our infrastructure, and established the first families that were the foundation for a well-ordered society.

During the years between 1650 through 1750 our nation was developing an identity.   Sophisticated cities were growing and rootless travelers were converting paths into roadways.  Tributaries were being used as much as the rivers that fed them and pioneers were developing land west of the wilderness settlements.

Despite almost impossible odds, some indentured servants begin to prosper.  Hard work paved the way for attainment, but it there was a common perception that “luck” played a larger part parlaying opportunity into success.Hard Working Farmer

“Luck” can be interrupted in many forms, but more often than not, it was defined by the temperament of a servant’s master.  As an example, allow me paraphrase parts of a short story from The Way Our People Lived by W.E. Woodward.

 Henry Randall Luck or Hard Work?

 Henry Randall lived in London, England and sold vegetables from a cart.  He had no family to support and never carried more than two or three shillings at a single time.  He had heard people speak of Virginia as a new and rich land and decided to go there – but he had no money to pay his passage.  A ship’s captain agreed to take him if he agreed to become an indentured servant for seven years.  The fare cost ten pounds and the captain was to sell him to a master when the ship reached Virginia.

Henry had the good fortune to be sold to Thomas Whitaker, a planter who was kind and generous.  Years before his servitude had expired Randall was given a cow and a litter of pigs by his Master.    In course of time the cow had a calf and the pigs increased in number.  Randall sold cows’ milk to customers in Williamsburg.  When the pigs were grown he slaughtered them, smoked their hams and bacon in Virginia style, and sent this choice meat to England to his master’s agent to be sold for him.  With the shipment went more than thirty skins taken from beavers he had caught in Traps.

Henry wrote to the agent in London to take the money coming from the sale and buy with it a number of articles of luxury, such as silk handkerchiefs, perfume, finely carved pipes, mirrors and razors in their cases.  These goods came just after he had finished his seven years’ servitude.  He sold them to plantation owners and their ladies at three times their cost in London.  With this money he bought goods that Indians favored and took them to the frontier, where he traded them for skins.  The skins went to London, and a shipment of luxuries came back to Virginia.

Trade TriangleThis three-cornered trade continued for several years and Randall accumulated a considerable amount of money.  Then he went into the business of importing men and women.

Under Virginia law anyone who brought a settler, indentured servant, or a slave into the colony received a “headright” from the colonial government.  This head right entitled its owner to fifty acres of land on condition that it is occupied within two years.

Randall went to London and arranged with a shipping agent there to act as a procurer of emigrants.  When they reached Virginia he sold them to planters on indentures that ran from five to ten years.  When he died in 1700 he possessed three thousand acres of land, of which twelve hundred acres were under cultivation.   He was also the owner of a mercantile business and several ships that brought slaves from Africa.  Soon after his servitude to Whitaker had expired he married a maid servant who soon gave birth to a son, Henry Randall Jr.

When Henry Randall Sr. passed away his son was one of the most influential farmers in the Tidewater.  Randall Jr. was not at all ashamed of his father’s humble origin, but rather proud of his rise from poverty to wealth.

The rise of Randall Jr’s father from the indentured servant classhouse of burgeses to a position of wealth and authority was not unusual if you mix luck with hard work.  Contrary to popular belief the indentured servants were not all criminals, not even a majority of them were.  But all were poor.  Among the poor adventures there happened to be those who were clever, enterprising and able.  To a large degree they must be considered the founders of modern Virginia.  In 1665 half the members of the House of Burgesses had come to Virginia as indentured servants.



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Journal Editor Celebrates 70th Birthday (kind of)

William Robert Stovall Sr., editor of the National Stovall Family Association Journal recently confessed that he has reached the 70th year of his life; a milestone he never thought possible.

Bill Giving Speach

William Robert Stovall Sr.

Mr. Stovall delayed a preliminary announcement, suggesting, “I really wasn’t certain of my born on year, and I forgot where I filed my birth certificate. My wife and I searched all through our records and had almost given up until she located it in my sock drawer.”

Stovall, who also penned the well-received novel “Bartholomew Stovall, The English Immigrant” has been published in numerous periodicals and concentrates primarily on human interested and historical features.
Bartholomew Stovall is a finely crafted chronology of William’s grandfather from nine generations past. It’s an enthralling tale of the English Immigrant who indentured himself at age eighteen and sailed from England to America in 1684.
In a recent conversation, Mr. Stovall spoke openly about aging and the realities of reaching seventy years.
Me: Bill, are you of the mindset that seventy is the new fifty?
Stovall: No, I don’t believe that at all. I don’t feel like I’m fifty, I feel like I’m seventy. When I was fifty I ran four miles every day for exercise. By the time I reached my mid-sixties I had screws in my ankles and a knee replacement. When I had to quit running, I had a few good years in the gym, but they won’t let me go there anymore.
Me: They won’t let you go to your gym anymore?
Stovall: Yeah, there were signs that said “Free Weights” so I started taking them home. That only lasted until they cancelled my membership. From that point, I have not had a steady workout routine. It bothered me for a while but I’ve come to realize that exercising everyday just means that you die healthy.
Me: Er . . Well, Bill . . . you look in good shape . . . for a man of seventy years. Surely you can attribute this to . . . some secret.
Stovall: Yeah, I don’t worry a lot. I’ve always lived by the philosophy that you should never worry about things that don’t worry about you.
Me: . . . So, let me get this straight. You have eliminated worry?
Stovall: I won’t say that I have eliminated worry. I just don’t dwell on things like most people who are younger. When I turned seventy I realized that, not only did I survive my sixties, but I also survived the sixties. I think that speaks well for anyone my age.
Me: ? ? ? Bill, can you reflect on your childhood and tell how things have changed in seventy years?
Stovall: Yes, when I was a child, I was very young.
Me: But . . . Bill, you’re only seventy. Surely there are things you can recall?
Stovall: Yes, I can remember when the Dead Sea was only very sick.
Me: Oh please Bill. Again, you are only seventy. It’s not like you are ancient.
Stovall: Let’s put it this way. If things improve with age, I’m approaching magnificent.
Me: Well, OK! . . . Mr. Stovall, are there any tips you might want to add before we conclude?
Stovall: Yes. At my age, I will say that I know my way around. I just don’t feel like going.

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Anybody Know Of William B. Stovall’s Parents?


Stovall Family Association member Brenda Jones is searching for information regarding one of her ancestors. So far all genealogy searches have been unsuccessful locating the parents of William B. Stovall. Please read the information from Brenda posted below. If you have any information, post a response to this or contact

In search of information on the parents of William B. Stovall born in 1824 supposedly in Alabama (could be GA).  He was married to Jane P. Enis, place unknown.  He died in Bradley County, AR in Apr 1870 according to the Mortality Schedule.  They had the following children:


  1. Thomas (could be John Thomas) b: 1845 in AL
  2. Melcena b: 1848 in AL
  3. Nancy b: 1850 in AL m: J Y Mann
  4. Iola or DeSoto depending on the census b: 1854 in MS
  5. Amanda Eliza (my gggrandmother) b: 1856 in MS m: James R. Mann in Pennington, Bradley Co., AR
  6. Eliza Jane (Jennie) b: 1857 in AR
  7. Joseph Andrew b: 1858 in AR m: Louisa Lavenia Nunley
  8. Margaret b: 1861 in AR


Please respond to

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The Lands Over There

This is from “The Outline of History / The Whole Story of Man” by H.G. Wells.  It will appear in the May 2015 issue of The Stovall Journal.  I’m sorry to all you Stovall’s who are a member of the Stovall Family Association and will receive the journal, but I found this to be so interesting that I couldn’t resist posting.

This is the mood of European leaders after they begin to comprehend the discovery and exploration of the lands across the Atlantic Ocean.

European Explloration Map

“The discovery of the huge continent of America, thinly inhabited, underdeveloped, and admirably adapted for European settlement and exploitation, the simultaneous discovery of great areas of unworked country south of the torrid equatorial regions of Africa that had hitherto limited European knowledge, and the gradual realization of vast island regions in the Eastern seas, as yet untouched by Western civilization, was a presentation of opportunity to mankind unprecedented in all history.  It was as if the people of Europe had come into some splendid legacy.  Their world had suddenly quadrupled.”


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Bartholomew For Christmas

Bartholomew Full Cover

A special thanks to Carol Cook Wylie of Jacksonville, FL.   Carol ordered Bartholomew Stovall – The English Immigrant earlier in 2014 and enjoyed it so much that she recently placed an order for six more copies as Christmas gifts for family members.  Those family members and their relationship to Bartholomew are:

Steve Cook                                     6th Great Grandfather
Lori Fox                                         7th Great Grandfather
John Wylie                                     7th Great Grandfather
Chrissy Mau                                  7th Great Grandfather
Shawn Cook                                   7th Great Grandfather
Terry Cook                                    7th Great Grandfather

Chrissy Mau is now living in Australia, ensuring that Bartholomew is an international success.

Thank you again Carol, and I hope your family enjoys Bartholomew as much as you.

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Stranger In A Strange Land

July 7, 1684

Bartholomew Stovall’s fate was sealed when he signed a document granting him free passage to America in return for four years of servitude in the Virginia Colonies.  The eighteen year old English lad was to serve as a laborer/slave, but he knew well ahead this was to be the case.  Still, he was willing to forfeit these years to avoid the poverty and/or death he knew was a certainty if he stayed in England.

Convicts Being Led To Ships

Convicts Being Led To Ships

As he stood on the banks of the Thames he watched as  his agent, John Bright, Ship’s Captain Master Peter Pagan, and two witnesses include their signatures which made the document binding.  Surely Bartholomew must have been apprehensive to risk such a fate, but the decision was made and the deal was done.  He boarded the small longboat bound for the Booth and watched the shore line disappear into the early morning fog, knowing he would never again set foot on English soil.

In a previous blog, “‘Indenture Servants – The Reality” I recorded the reasons  a person would leave their Mother Country and start a life across the ocean in the savage wilderness of the American Colonies.

Homeless English Family

Homeless English Family

Thousands of destitute shared England’s city streets with no possibilities of rising from poverty, and starvation was a certainty in the rural areas, where handouts were nonexistent.

Some willfully tried incarceration, but petty criminals were being removed from institutions and forcibly put on ships bound for the colonies.  No one was exempt from the purge of the downtrodden King Charles had labeled as ‘surplus’.   Even abandoned children were being carted off to rid London’s streets of the ‘undesirable’.

Bartholomew’s is but one story of the thousands who were indentured servants in the seventeenth and eighteenth century.  These slaves were deposited in sites from upper New England to the Deep South.   Their plights are well documented, but let us concentrate on the tall young English lad who landed in Jamestown, VA on November 11, 1684.

American Colonies – November 1684

When the Booth finally reached America it was the beginning of winter and the weather was probably much like that in England.  I feel sure there was a chill in the air with musty conditions which left most to feel like they were not far from the environment they left.  They were probably anchored as close to the shore as possible, so the ship did not rock about as it had for four months at sea.  While they sat anchored in Jamestown everyone had the opportunity to peek out of port windows surveying the edge of the continent.  Most assuredly the first thing they noticed was the trees.  Giant pines were packed close together in a display of greenery they were not accustomed, but each man, woman and child feared what may be waiting and watching, hidden behind the wooden giants.

If you read the novel, BartholoSept25 Blog IS come to Americamew Stovall – The English Immigrant, it tells that Bartholomew was among a group of thirty or so men and women who were requisitioned by Dr. Richard Kennon from Conjures Neck, Va.  That was historic fiction, but in reality, there is nothing in the manifest Bartholomew signed which designates him to a specific location.  That being said, he probably stood side by side with other headrights and was inspected by plantation owners.  These wealthy Tidewater farmers would barter with the ship’s captain until they agreed on a price, usually £30 for a well framed healthy young man.

At any rate, Bartholomew Stovall was chosen to serve Dr. Richard and Elizabeth Kennon, on a sprawling plantation which bordered the Appomattox River approximately sixty miles from Jamestown.

Most likely Richard Kennon’s requisitions left the Booth by longboat and made their way to the western shore of Jamestown Bay.  I’m sure Bartholomew let his fingers drop into the water and sampled its brackish taste; wondering how a settlement as large as Jamestown could survive without a fresh water supply.

When the boats pulled to waters end, he stepped to the sandy shore and soon spotted giant boulders that littered the area.  Little did Bartholomew know that he would become an expert at removing these massive stones from the earth while he cleared and leveled tobacco fields.

Lurking Behind Every Tree          The Great Mith

Lurking Behind Every Tree
The Great Myth

The trip from Jamestown Bay to the Kennon Plantation must have been a harrowing experience for the entire group of English slaves.  They had heard the stories of savage Indian who would attack them and remove their scalps before they were killed.  Fresh on their minds were tales of snakes larger than a man’s leg, and evil masters and field bosses that would lash you with barbed roping for the slightest indiscretion.  They were huddled into wagons or forced to march through poorly marked trails from dusk until dawn.

But much to their surprise, not one person suffered ill fate during the trek to their destination.  It was a three day trip, but rations were plentiful; much better than they had been given during the passage.  Women and children rode in wagons and men shared turns riding, while those who walked were ‘encouraged’ instead of flogged for slowing the pace.  Those servants with a fair amount of intelligence soon realized that they were a commodity and would be treated fairly, so long as they respected the rules.

The Indentures Life – Better Than Expected

After a few weeks, all indentures forgot about the savage Indians lurking behind trees.  Word spread quickly that the enemy they feared had been driven deep into the wilderness.  The fright of a moccasin, or any snake for that matter, was soon dismissed due to the frequency of sightings.  Sons and daughters lost memory of mothers and fathers.  Their focus became a will to survive the indenture contract they had chosen of their own accord.

It was not a perilous life the indenture lived.  Depending on the plantation, there was privacy, to a certain degree.  Social groups and clans developed within the masses and there were celebrations and religious festivities if they chose to participate.  Most plantation owners encouraged a controlled socialization as long as production quotas were met and everyone remained obedient.

But alas, there were those few who became bored, insulted or insubordinate.  Those who lacked control were singled out and made examples of by way of public floggings and isolation in cages on full display for all to observe.

   Swamp Runners Not A Wise Decision

Swamp Runners
Not A Wise Decision

Some chose to run, seeking their freedom, much like when they left their homeland.  Most often theirs was a terrible plight.  In addition to the corporal punishment, one month was added to their contract for each day they went missing.  Most would seek refuge in the swamps, which meant certain death due to the hostile environment.  More experienced indentures realized that there was simply nowhere to run.  Artist would draw up a likeness of runaway and post it in strategic spots around the area.  Once they were caught they were expected to pay for the advertising cost and the reward offered via additional time served.

But the same held true for both male and female servants.  If an unmarried female became pregnant her child belonged to the plantation and five years was added to her contract.  If she could identify the father, and he was an indenture, he received the same allotment of five years added.

The range of an indentures contract was from four to seven years.    The slightest indiscretion resulted in additional time served.  It was rare that a slave was released on the final date of his original contract.

It is ironic that in some cases an indenture would choose to stay on with the plantation instead of being set free once their obligations were met.  In those cases the servant was free to leave whenever they desired, and would receive food and lodging as long as they performed their duties.

But an intelligent man like Bartholomew Stovall soon realized that the obedient servant received more gratuities when they completed their contract.  It is not known when Bartholomew was released from his obligation, but soon after he was scheduled to be free, land grants were found that listed his name, all being in and around Henrico County.

No documents have been uncovered that details Bartholomew’s period of servitude to Richard Kennon.  In addition, no records have been uncovered that specify what compensation Bartholomew received after his contract ended.  As stated earlier, there was evidence that he was involved with multiple land transactions as well as minor legal matters that were all resolved.

The most significant facts about Bartholomew is that he raised a large family, lived a prosperous life, and amassed a large farm on a major waterway which was bought and paid for by the time he passed in 1723.

Given all the known facts about him, I would conclude that despite the adversity Bartholomew had to overcome, literally from his birth, he was probably a man of superior intelligence who applied himself with a single focus to achieve.

It is said that one in ten indentures survived and one in one hundred accomplished as much as Bartholomew Stovall.  He was, indeed, an exception to the rule.

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Bartholomew Stovall After One Year

Greetings To Friends of Bartholomew!

Bartholomew Full CoverPlease allow me to catch you up on the details of our living blog, give you some insight on the status of Bartholomew Stovall – The English Immigrant, and finally I will solicit your help, asking how we can proceed with a number of topics in order for our living blog to continue.


Bartholomew Stovall The Novel – One Year After Release

The beginning of 2014 saw a flurry of activity generated by the release of my novel, Bartholomew Stovall – The English Immigrant.  Most everyone advised me that if I maintained a reasonable level of news and information releases it would take six months for the book to gain exposure.  Since I released in May of 2013, I can now advise that their estimate was spot on.

The interest it has generated from Stovall’s all across America and throughout the world has been overwhelming.  Sales for the novel have been modest at best, but this is not an indication of the novel’s success.  I have received inquires and heartwarming stories from all over the US and the world.  I will admit that the volume of correspondence has been overwhelming.  One gentleman told me he is on the third reading of the book.  Another gentleman informed me that his ninety three year old mother will not return the book, forcing him to order a second copy.  A Stovall from North Carolina ordered six copies for gifts at Christmas, and a young girl in Uganda placed an order.  When I advised her that, due to the cost of shipment, it may be better for her to order an ebook, she insisted that I mail and autographed copy.

For those who requested autographed copies most were via a personal letter with a check enclosed.   Almost everyone included a brief letter, thanking me for the effort and then went into detail about their lineage via Bartholomew.  Probably 20% of the requests for autographed copies were through Paypal.

Our blog has generated so much attention that I receive daily emails and phone calls from people who are interested in their Stovall lineage.  Many question the details of what I’ve written, while others confess that the novel is so convincing that they find it difficult to determine the truth from fiction.  I’ve received dozens of emails from folks wondering if I am in possession of the Stovall Family Bible.

I do answer every inquiry, but there are times where I simply don’t have resources to give inquiries the attention they deserve.  Normally I suggest they go back to the county of the individual’s birth and start with historical records.  It’s been my experience that, if an old family Bible is not available, the county archives are the most reliable source of information.

Stovall Family Database – A United Effort

Stovall DatabaseAs I stated earlier, the creation of Bartholomew Stovall – The English Immigrant afforded me the opportunity to meet descendants of Bartholomew from around the globe.  At last count there were over two million of us who claim ties to Bartholomew. Can you imagine what could be accomplished if we combined the efforts of half, or even a third of these individuals to answer the unsolved questions about our lineage?

Having said this, I feel more strongly now that there should be a  centralized Stovall Database that would be a reliable source of information for all Stovall’s regardless of their line from Bartholomew. Through the correspondence I have received I’ve found there is a tremendous surge in the popularity of the sir name Stovall, and many individuals are involved in efforts to capture lineage information to various renditions of a Stovall Database.  Several of the people I have talked with make this their hobby, while some do it full time as a concentrated effort.  Other editions of the database had to be the result of someone’s lifetime passion, as all lineages are represented.

In all cases, this is an ongoing process that is either an error filled venture or one that is so large that it may be impossible for a single individual to reach the end.  Yes, it does seem like an impossible task, but that does not offer as an excuse to abandon the effort.

Moving Forward Using a Combined Effort

Stovall Family Association Seal

Stovall Family Association Seal

Recently I was asked by the Stovall Family Association  to consider the position of Publisher for their Quarterly journal.  I accepted this request and my name will be submitted to the SFA Board for appointment at the next meeting, July, 2014.

For those who are not familiar with the Stovall Family Association I would suggest you visit  The SFA does not vigorously recruit new followers and is not a group with a member list as large as one might expect.  Although they have a relatively small member list (slightly over 200) this organization has a clear mission statement and a very strong infrastructure.

They have a board of directors, a journal that is published quarterly, a stated set of by-laws, and a detailed attempt at a complete family database.  Every three years they hold a national reunion with planned activities that normally stretch over a long weekend.

As far as I know, this is the only national Stovall family grouping organization in existence.

Just recently there has been a change in some of the SFA leadership positions.  I’ve talked with the newly appointed President and was encouraged that one of their primary goals is to increase membership.  She also requested that I submit ideas to modify the format of the journal to broaden the appeal for the anticipated new subscribers to SFA.

I willingly accept the challenge of producing and enhancing a journal and will approach this task with appreciation that I’ve been asked to guide this effort.  I also request that all the readers of this blog entry consider joining the SFA and support the effort to increase membership.  I also ask that each of you consider the list of items below to help make this venture a success..

  •  It will be impossible for me to produce a meaningful journal unless I have contributions from you.  I would appreciate any submissions that are Stovall related, but will also welcome any articles you think would be enjoyable and informative to readers of the journal.  I will gladly give you full credit for articles used in our quarterly newsletter.  You can forward submissions via email to, or by sending them to my personal address to :

Bill Stovall
172 Castleair Ct
Kennesaw, Ga 30144

  •  I am keenly interested in any and all attempts to create lineage information for Bartholomew or his ancestors.  Please notify me if you are involved in an ongoing effort to define your lineage or are in possession of some form of updates such as a family Bible, old correspondence (letters etc), or anything else that has been passed to you.  This could possibly be used to fill in some gaps for a unified Stovall Data Base.  Might I add that I am aware of three specific projects currently underway to complete Bartholomew’s lineage in totality.  I welcome all these efforts and will work with the authors or agents of this information and present them to the SFA board to determine how they can be used to complete a comprehensive Stovall Data Base.  May I stress that currently there is no “Officially Sanctioned Database” for the SFA.  It would be my suggestion to take the most complete effort and adopt it with additions and updates that have been validated.
  •  As stated earlier, we need to concentrate on increasing our membership numbers in the SFA.  Everyone could help if they contacted relatives or friends and made them aware of our existence.  Visit for complete information on how to join the SFA and start receiving the quarterly Stovall Journal.
  •  Please help to keep our living Blog active.  Visit WWW.BARTHOLOMEWSTOVALL.COM and click on the Blog tab.   It is my goal for this to be a two way dialogue between blog users and myself.  I will strive to include a new entry at least once a month with articles ranging from updated Stovall news, historical references to the life and times during Bartholomew’s period, updates on lineage information for the Stovall Data Base, and other relevant information.

Thank you very much for viewing this long post, and remember the next scheduled activity is the Stovall Family Association, Inc. 2014 – National Reunion in Richmond Virginia.  The dates are July 18, 19, 20.  Please view for details on this event.

Bill Stovall

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