Servants Plot in York County

In the early 1660s, York County servants plotted to rebel over their “hard usage.”  Leader of the uprising, which was betrayed before it went into effect, was an indentured servant named Isaac Friend.  Friend’s master, James Goodwin, had apparently restricted his servants’ diet to corn and water.  Friend presided at a meeting where they complained that they “were not kept according to the Law of the Countrey,” and asked them to “Joyne in a petition to send for England to ye king to have it redressed.  To which Wm Cheshyre Ansereared that yey should not find a trusty friend to deliver unlesse it was such an one as old George, for hee had been a servant in the country [presumably England], and knew the countrey.”  In the meantime, Friend declared that he would lead the group to “get Armes & he would be the first & have them cry as they went along, ‘who would be for Liberty, and free from bondage,’ and that there would be enough come to them & they would goe through the Countrey and kill those that made any opposition, & that they would either be free or die for it.”[1]


[1] Records of York County Court,” WMQ 1st ser., XI (1902),  pp.34-37; York County in the Seventeenth Century,”   Tyler’s Magazine of History and Biography, I (1920), 266 Cited in T.H. Breen, “A Changing Labor Force and Race Relations in Virginia, 1660, 1660-1710,” in Breen, ed., Puritans and Adventurers: Change and Persistence in Early America (New York, 1980), p. 134. [orig. pub. In Journal of Social History, VII (1973-1974).]