New-England Runaways, 1778-1783 by Joseph Lee Boyle: Book Review

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purposes of review and I have received other books from Genealogical Publishing Company, also for review. However, my opinions are my own and not influenced by outside sources.

In the past, I have reviewed two of Joseph Lee Boyle’s previous books, New-England Runaways, 1769-1773 and New-England Runaways, 1774-1777.

Today’s review covers the next book in the chronological timeline, “Wasteing my Substance by Riotous Living” New-England Runaways, 1778-1783.

This newly published volume is in the same format as Mr. Boyle’s previous works, with an introduction and list of newspapers consulted and a thorough index at the back, but no table of contents.

The entries open immediately with 1778 and, as usual, they are quite fascinating to read.

From the Boston Gazette, And Country Journal, 28 August 1780:

Take Notice, That on Saturday last, a Lad about 11 years of age, named John Alley, went away from his Habitation. . . “well rewarded for their trouble”

From The Independent Chronicle and the Universal Advertiser, 9 January 1783:

STOP THIEF! Stolen out of the house of the subscriber, on the night of the 2d instant, by a person who calls herself Lydia Newman, who says she belongs to Kennebeck, but suppose she belongs to Groton, she is about five feet eight or ten inches high, light complexion, light blue eyes light hair, no upper teeth, two or three under teeth. . . .

I would think that Lydia Newman might stand out in a crowd!

From the Providence Gazette and Country Journal, 24 October 1783:

Ten Dollars Reward – Ran away from the Subscriber, last Night, a Negro Man, named Freeman, about 28 Years of Age. . . .Also, a Negro Wench, his Wife, named Venus, about 32 years of age. . . .

There is more than one page of the index detailing the Negro entries. It’s interesting to note that northern newspaper entries never refer to them as enslaved people. They are simply a Negro man or Woman or called a servant.

Subscriber ads include runaway servants, but also jail breaks, wives who have left husbands, thieves, mariner desertions, soldier desertions and business robberies.

Reading these ads definitely gives a feel of what daily life was like during the American Revolution.

Again, I browsed the index for familiar surnames from my family tree. While I found many, none of the entries pertained to my ancestors.

“Wasteing my Substance by Riotous living” New-England Runaways, 1778-1783, Compiled by Joseph Lee Boyle, newly published in 2022, can be ordered online at Genealogical Publishing Company for $45.00.





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