Friday, December 12, 2014


Here's an interesting story I found about my 8x great grandfather Richard Swan in the
Essex County Court Case files (Have I mentioned how much I love those files?). The small
letter"t" after names denotes that the person signed or made his mark in their testimony. All
spelling is as written in the original document:
Sept 29 1668
Richard Swan v. John Morgan. For taking away John Huttson. Verdict for plaintiff, the boy to be returned.*

*Writ: Richard Swan v. John Morgaine, commander of the Bristow ship, now lying in Marblehead harbor; for taking away John Hutson, servant of said Swan, and detaining him; dated 24 : 6: 1668; signed by Hillyard Veren, t for the court; and served by Henery Skerry, t marshal of Salem. Bond of John Morgan t and Moses Mavericke. t

John Gedney, aged about sixty-four years, deposed that he heard Mr. Morgan say that he had taken his cousin from Mr. Swan and delivered him to Mr. Oliver Purchas to take into his custody. Sworn, 21 : 7 : 1668, before Wm. Hathorne,t assistant.

Charles Browne, aged about forty-two years, deposed that he heard Goodwife Lambert of Rowley say that she sold John Hudson, her boy, to Richard Swan of Rowley for fourteen pounds to be paid in wheat and barley. Also that he heard John Hudson say that Richard Swan was to buy him and he rejoiced much at it. Sworn in court.

Walter Price, aged about fifty-five years, deposed that on 16 : 7 : 1668, he was summoned to appear before the Worshipful Major Hawthorne to testify concerning Mr. Morgan's reputed cousin. That when Morgan delivered the boy to Purchase, he asked him whether he would go with his old master Mr. Swan or his new, Mr. Purchase, and the young man chose Mr. Purchase, so Mr. Swan came away and left the young man there. Sworn, 16 : 7 : 1668, before Wm. Hathorne,t assistant.

John Cook, aged about twenty years, deposed that hearing people talk at his master's gate, he saw a man they called Morgan take a boy in the street, whom they called John Hudson, etc. Sworn, 16 : 7 : 1668, before Wm. Hathorne,t assistant.

Henery Skerry, aged about sixty-four years, and Richard Swan, deposed. Sworn, 21 : 7 : 1668, before Wm. Hathorne,t assistant.

Richard Swan's bill of cost, 1li. 18s. 8d.

Beriah Browne of Rowley, aged twenty years, deposed. Sworn in court.

Indenture, dated Dec. 1, 1664, John (his mark) Hudson,Jr son of John Hudson of Bristol, Eng., aged about twelve years, with the consent of Mr. William Woodcocke of Salem, to whom he was committed in trust, bound himself to John Hutchinson of Salem husbandman, for eight and one-half years. Wit: Benjamin Felton t and Edw. Norice.t

On Dec.17, 1667, John Hutchson t of Salem made over the boy to Richard Swone of Rouly, with the full consent of John (his mark) Hudson of Rouly. Wit: Richard (his mark) Huchinson and Thomas Hale.t This assignment was allowed by Samuel Symonds t and Daniel Denison.t


Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts: 1667-1671 (Google eBook) Essex Institute, Salem Ma., 1914

So, as I read this, my ancestor purchased the contract of the indentured servant John Hutchson
who was at first happy with his new master. Then his cousin John Morgan sailed into town, found
the boy and took him to Mr Purchase. Richard Swan found the boy, who wanted to stay with Mr.
Purchase.Wisely, Richard took the matter to court where the terms of John Hutchson's indenture
were upheld and the boy was returned to him.

Now I'm left wondering what happened afterwards. Did John Hutchson serve out the full length
of his indenture, or did Richard Swan sell the boy's contract to another person?   

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