Runaway Advertisement (January 28, 1768)


This advertisement, dated January 28, 1768, in the Virginia Gazette, recounts the details of Tom, an enslaved man who emancipated himself by fleeing his enslaver William Meredith. While the intention of the advertisement was to help capture Meredith’s property, it also shows that enslaved laborers made use of access to potential routes to freedom that were offered by working on the water. The Virginia Gazette was the official newspaper of Virginia, printed in Williamsburg from 1736 until 1780.


Essex, Jan. 21, 1768.

Run away from the subscriber, last Christmas twelwemonth, a Negro fellow named Tom, about 24 years old, about 5 feet 5 or 6 inches high, a likely well made fellow, has middling large hands and feet, full faced, and very black; had on when he went away such clothing as laboring Negroes usually have, though it is likely he may have changed his clothing and name, and endeavor to pass for a freeman, as I have been informed he has frequently gone up and down the rivers in vessels belonging to Mr. William Meredith of King and Queen county, who has Negro skippers on board his vessels.

Whoever apprehends the said Negro, and conveys him to the subscriber in Hobb’s Hole, shall have 40s, if taken in Essex county, if in any other county 3 l. and if out of the colony 5 l.

William Porter.

N. B. All persons are forewarned from entertaining the said Negro.

APA Citation:
Virginia Gazette. Runaway Advertisement (January 28, 1768). (2021, October 28). In Encyclopedia Virginia.
MLA Citation:
Virginia Gazette. "Runaway Advertisement (January 28, 1768)" Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (28 Oct. 2021). Web. 18 Apr. 2024
Last updated: 2021, October 28
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