Primary Resource

Contract and Recommendation for William Buckland (1755; 1759)

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 Thomson, who was then in England, to engage a servant for the task. Mason agreed to pay Buckland twenty pounds sterling per year in addition to room and board ("Meat, Drink, Washing, Lodging"). The contract is a printed form, with the specifics—such as names and dates—filled in with ink. (Information in ink is indicated below by underlining.) After his four years of service were completed, Buckland gained his freedom, while also earning an excellent recommendation, which Mason wrote on the reverse side of the document. Some spelling has been modernized.

Transcription from Original

— page 1 —

This Indenture, Made the Fourth Day of August in the Twenty ninth Year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord George the Second King of Great-Britain, &c, And in the Year of our Lord, One Thousand Seven Hundred and fifty five Between William Buckland of Baford Carpenter & Joiner of the one Part, and Thomson Mason of London Esq. of the other Part, Witnesseth, That the said William Buckland for the Consideration herein after-mentioned, hath, and by these Presents doth Covenant, Grant, and Agree to, and with the said Thomson Mason Executors and Assigns, That He the said William Buckland shall and will, as a faithful Covenant Servant, well and truly serve the said Thomson Mason, his Executors and assigns in the Plantation of Virginia beyond the Seas, for the Space of Four Years, next ensuing his Arrival in the said Plantation, in the Employment of a Carpenter & Joiner. And the said William Buckland doth hereby Covenant and Declare him self, now to be the Age of Twenty two Years Single and no Covenant or Contracted Servant to any other Person or Persons, And the said Thomson Mason for himself his Executors or Assigns, in Consideration thereof, doth hereby Covenant, Promise and Agree to and with the said William Buckland his Executors, and Assigns, that He the said Thomson Mason his Executors or Assigns, shall and will at his or their own proper Costs and Charges, with what convenient Speed they may, carry and convey, or cause to be carried and conveyed over unto the said Plantation, the said Wm Buckland and from henceforth, and during the said Voyage, and also during the said Term, shall and will at the like Costs and Charges, provide for and allow the said Wm Buckland all necessary Meat, Drink, Washing, Lodging, fit and convenient for Wm as Covenant Servants in such Cases are usually provided for and allowed and pay and allow the said William Buckland wages or Salary at the Rate of Twenty Pounds Sterling per Annum Payable Quarterly And for the true Performance of the Premisses, the said Parties, the these Presents bind themselves, their Executors and Administrators, the either to the other, in the Penal Sum of Forty Pounds Sterling, firmly by these Presents. In witness whereof, they have hereunto interchanged by set their Hands and Seals, the Day and Year above-written.

Sealed and Delivered

in the Presence of

Tho Hayes

Wm Buckland

W Kidd

These are to certify, That the above-named Wm Buckland came before Me Gyles Sone Deputy to the Patentee at London the Day and Year above-written, and declared him self to be a Single Person no Covenant or Contracted Servant to any Person, or Persons; to be of the Age of Twenty two Years; and to be desirous to serve the above-named Thomson Mason or his Assigns Four Years, according to the Tenor of the Indenture above-written. All which is Registered in the Office for that Purpose, appointed by Letters Patents. In witness whereof, I have hereunto affixed the Common Seal of the said Office.

Gyles Sone DL

...

— page 2 —

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.

G Mason

8th Novr. 1759