Abraham: enticed to run away, then hidden

April 1735

Benjamin Stockbridge claimed that James Hyland “enticed [his negro man servant] Abraham to run away with him and hid him from September to November 1732, and…refused to obey an order of the superior court in April 1734 to return [Abraham]”. Verdict for the plaintiff, appealed by the defendant.

There is a backstory to James Hyland and Abraham. This entry was amongst Hylands numerous appearances in Plymouth County court files – mostly for land disputes and debt cases, with one case of fornicating with his wife – and did not jump out since Abraham was not indexed as “negro” here.

The language used to describe this 1732 incident is interesting. “Complaint against James Hyland…brought by Luke Lincoln, Deputy Sherrif…

“Lincoln seized Abraham, a servant belonging to Benjamin Stockbridge…and James Hyland…with the assistance and encourgememnt of John Hyland and John Hyland Jr…forcibly rescued [Abraham] out of…Lincoln’s hands…and also refused to assist or aid the sheriff in the execution of his office when…requested”. Hyland “acknowledged the facts” and was fined 20s + £5.

I don’t know what to make of this. Was Hyland trying to liberate Abraham? If so, what was his motivation – altruism? Or to be a nuisance to Stockbridge?

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Copyright Wayne Tucker 2021. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

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