George Washington Papers

Advertisement for Runaway Servants, 23 April 1775

Advertisement for Runaway Servants

Fairfax county, April 23, 1775.

FORTY DOLLARS REWARD. RUN away from the subscriber, on the 19th instant, at night, two servant men, viz. Thomas Spears,1 a joiner, born in Bristol, about 20 years of age, five feet six and a half inches high, slender made, has light gray or bluish eyes, a little pock marked, freckled, sandy coloured hair cut pretty short, his voice is coarse and somewhat drauling; he took with him a coat, waistcoat, and breeches of light brown duffil, with black horn buttons, another light coloured cloth waistcoat, old leather breeches, check and osnabrug shirts, a pair of new milled yarn stockings, a pair of old ribbed do. new osnabrug trousers, and a felt hat, not much the worse for wear.—William Webster,2 a brick maker, born in Scotland, and talks pretty broad, about five feet six inches high, well made, rather turned of 30, with light brown hair, and a roundish face; he had on an olive coloured coat, pretty much worn, with black horn buttons, duffil waistcoat and breeches, the same as Spears’s, osnabrug trousers, and check and osnabrug shirts. They went off in a small yawl, with turpentine sides and bottom, the inside painted with a mixture of tar and red lead. Masters of vessels are cautioned against receiving of them, and the above reward is offered to any person who will deliver them at my dwellinghouse in this county, or twenty dollars for each, from


Virginia Gazette (Purdie; Williamsburg), 5 May 1775.

1For an identification of Thomas Spear (Spears), see James Cleveland to GW, 21 May, n.3. Spear was returned to GW sometime before February 1776 when GW paid the tailor for making clothes for Spear (Lund Washington’s Mount Vernon account book, 1772–86, f. 44). For an identification of William Webster, see William McGachen to GW, 13 Mar. 1774, n.1.

2Webster had run away once before. See Cash Accounts, April 1774.

3In DLC:GW is a photocopy of a copy of GW’s receipted account with James Williams for expenses incurred in William’s pursuit of Webster and Spear. The signed receipt is dated 23 April, and the account reads:

“Dr Col. George Washington, to James Williams

To my Expenses in pursuit of your two Servt men Wm Webster, & Thomas Spears.

at port tobacco in Marryland . 1.10
at Nanjemoy . 2.  
Cross’g the River over to Boyds Hole . 5.  
Boyds Hole . 1.  
Stafford Court House . 1. 3
Dumfries . 4.  
Wagon 2 Days @ 6/ .10.  
£1.10. 1

See also Cash Accounts, April and May, for money paid to William Skilling, Thomas Allison, William Johnson, and Thomas Johnson for their pursuit of Webster and Spear. On 2 May William McDaniel was paid £6 “for taking up W. Webster” (Cash Accounts, May 1775).

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