Ran across this item yesterday, while looking for something else, and thought it was worth relating.

January 1743, in a Chancery Court, in Virginia Colony, Jonathan Forward, contractor for transportation of felons, sued William Loney, for payment of outstanding debts.

Loney had been employed by Forward as a captain of ships ferrying felons from England to Virginia and Maryland, from 1728-1737.  The names of the ships under Loney’s care were listed.

When Loney’s contract expired, an audit was completed and a deficiency of some 1400 sterling was missing, along with 1000 sterling for the sale of 200 felons.  Apparently the felon trade was big business at the time.

Anyway, Loney explains that he had to place rebates in many cases due that many (felons) “were poxed, or had run away.”

Loney had also changed labels on tobacco kegs, switching better grade for lesser grades and profited from this.  The latter charge attested by several former crew members.

The outcome of the case was not clear, but it is assumed that Mr. Loney was transferred to felon status.

Attached to this item was listed, alphabetically, names of some of the Virginia planters that owed money to Mr. Forward, via Mr. Loney’s actions.  On the list JOHN WARE, MORGAN WARE and ANTHONY WARE.  It would be interesting to know, what part of Virginia these men were planter in, and if these debts were incurred for purchase of felons.

The governor of Maryland, after repeated attempts to stop the felon trade, quickly found that, “As long as we buy, they will come!”

Ben Franklin, in a speech, I paraphrase, declared that sine felons were considered trade, and trade means trading one good for another, we should send rattlesnakes to England as fair exchange.  He concluded with the thought that,considered what is coming INTO this country, England may get get the better of the trade.

Very interesting item.  Forgot what I was looking for in the first place.  Must have been important!

Source:  Genealogical Gleanings in England, (issue unreadable) pgs. 291-293





FAIR TRADE 1700’S STYLE — 1 Comment

  1. Excellent article Ray. Goes to show that there are skeltons in every family closet. Extremely interesting the way you wrote it. Thank you.


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