These are the preliminary primary sources:

The Herald and Norfolk and Portsmouth Advertiser (Charles Willett), Norfolk, December 10, 1794.

“Twenty Dollars Reward. Run away from his Master in the City of Philadelphia, on Saturday the 15th of November last, a kind of Mulatto East-India Boy named CRISPIN, about 16 years old, 5 feet 4 inches high, slender built; he has been in the city for about 3 years speaks French and broken English; has straight black hair, which he sometimes ties; well made and walks upright; had on when he went away an almost new black hat, new short Jacket, and a pair of French fashioned trousers with feet to them, made of grey coating with plated buttons, white shirt, French neck handkerchief, and an almost new pair of shoes tied with ribbon, and wears sometime a National Cockade. There is reason to believe he has been brought into the state by a Frenchman, and is at present somewhere in or about Williamsburg or Norfolk waiting for a passage to St. Domingo. Whoever will secure the said boy in jail of this state so that his Master may get him again, shall have the above reward of twenty Dollars paid by the Printer of this Paper, with reasonable charges.–Norfolk, Dec. 9, 1794.”


The following come from the online database Freedom on the Move:

English newspaper, the Daily Advertiser dated to September 5th 1774.

“RAN away on Friday last from his Master, an East-Indian Boy, named George Ganges, about twelve Years old, had on a blue Waistcoat, with a brown one under it, Leather Breeches, and Worsted Stockings, and a Mark on one Side of his Face. Whoever brings him to No. 52, in St. John’s Street, Smithfield, shall receive Half a Guinea Reward. Whoever harbours him will be prosecuted according to Law.”


Boston Gazatte, June 7th, 1757

“Ran-away from his Master, Ebenezer Webster of Bradford in the County of Essex, a black Slave, Native of the East-Indies, named James; speaks good English, about 21 Years of Age, wears long bushy Hair, of middling Stature, has a Scar on the left side of his Forehead which enters under his Hair: Had on a light Oznabrigs Coat, a brown homespun Jacket, with brass Buttons, black plush Breeches, a pair of new Pumps, a new Felt Hat, and a white Linnen Shirt.—He formerly belong’d to Mr. Elijah Collins of Boston. Whoever has taken up the said Servant, or may take him up, and convey him to his said Master, or to Mr. Benjamin Harrod of Boston, shall have Three Dollars Reward, and all necessary Charges paid.— All Masters of Vessels and others are hereby caution’d not to conceal or carry off the said Slave, as they would avoid the Penalty of the Law.”

June 7th 1757. Reprints: Boston Weekly Newsletter, 06-09-1757; 06-16-1757; and 06- 23-1757.


July 28th, 1763 The New York Gazette  or the Weekly Post Boy

TAKEN UP AND committed to the Gaol in Perth-Amboy, a Black Boy, about 16 Years of Age, with Bushy Hair, not resembling the African Negroes; had on a Check Shirt, and Oznaburgs Trowsers; speaks pretty good English, says he was born in Bombay, in the East Indies; and that he came to New-York from Santa Croix, in the Snow Nancy, Cap. Hind.-As he is taken up upon suspicion of being a Runaway Slave, or Servant: If he is such, his Master by applying to the Gaoler in Amboy aforesaid, and paying the Charges, can have him. Perth-Amboy, July 20, 1763.


Virginia Gazette (Rind),

Williamsburg, August 4, 1768.

“Richmond county, July 14. RUN away about the 20th of May last, an East-India Indian, named Thomas Greenwich; he is a well made fellow, about 5 feet 4 inches high, wears his own hair, which is long and black, has a thin visage, a very sly look, and a remarkable set of fine white teeth. A reward of 40s. will be paid the person who delivers him to the subscriber, besides what the law allows. WILLIAM COLSTON.”


On July 13, 1776, the Virginia Gazette reported the escape of a “Servant Man named John Newton, about 20 Years of Age, 5 feet 5 or 6 Inches high, slender made, is an Asiatic Indian by Birth, has been about twelve Months in Virginia, but lived ten Years (as he says) in England, in the Service of Sir Charles Whitworth. He wears long black Hair, which inclines to curl, tied behind, and pinned up at the Sides; has a very sour Look, and his Lips project remarkably forward. He left his Master on the Road from Williamsburg, between King William Courthouse and Todd’s Bridge, where he was left behind to come on slowly with a tired Horse …”


Thanks to the work of John U. Rees and Joseph Lee Boyle, there is also evidence that East-Indians are present in service of the Continental Army. There is a mention of an East India man deserting in the North Carolina Gazette:

Vol. 2, p. 115. “HALIFAX, March 14 TEN DOLLARS REWARD DESERTED from me the 12th instant on their march for Halifax, two soldiers belonging to the 5th battalion of this state, William Watson and Charles Peters, Watson has deserted five times, he has also cost the public twenty odd pounds for taking him up, and jail fees, he is about five feet ten inches high, dark complected, black hair, lives on or near Bay river, below Newbern. Peters is an East-India Indian, formerly the property of Mr. Thomlinson in Newbern. … BEN STEADMAN.” The North-Carolina Gazette, May 1 1778; May 8 1778; May 15 1778.


Vol. 2, p. 115 from Joseph Lee Boyle, ‘He loves a good deal of rum …’: Military Desertions during the American Revolution, 1775-1783, vol. 1 (1775-June 30, 1777), vol. 2 (June 30, 1777-1783) (Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2009).

Credit also goes to Mr. Justin Clements who also sourced further research on Charles Peter’s story:


Credit for this find goes to Mr. Robert A Selig,

Rutgers University Special Collections, MG 833: First NJ Cont. Regt. Account Book 1779-1782, contains a “Size-Roll of the First Company of Foot, 1st Nj Regt, Capt. Matthias Ogden, 9 July 1779. It lists 40 men, among them is 23-year-old John Newton, described as a barber from “Bengaul, yellow complexion, talks good English”.

Also found in the collections of the New Jersey Historical Society.

Thank you Adam R. Stephan for passing these on to me.