In this document dated August 4, 1755, twenty-two-year-old William Buckland, a carpenter and joiner from Oxford, England, agrees to become an indentured servant for four years “in the Plantation of Virginia beyond the Seas.” George Mason, overseeing the construction of his house, Gunston Hall, was in need of a skilled woodworker, and he called upon his brother Thompson, who was then in England, to engage an indentured servant for the task. Mason agreed to pay Buckland twenty pounds sterling per year in addition to room and board (“Meat, Drink, Washing, Lodging”). After his four years of service were completed, Buckland gained his freedom, while also earning an excellent recommendation from Mason, who wrote the following on the reverse side of the document:
The within named William Buckland came into Virginia with my brother Thomson Mason, who engaged him in London, & had a very good Character of him there; during the time he lived with me he had the entire Direction of the Carpenter’s & Joiner’s work of a large House, & having behaved very faithfully in my service, I can with great Justice recommend him, to any Gentleman that may have occasion [to] employ him, as an honest sober diligent man, & I think a complete Master of the Carpenter’s & Joiner’s Business both in Theory & practice.
For a transcription of the form, go here.