Bound with an Iron Chain: The Untold Story of How the British Transported 50,000 Convicts to Colonial America
on Jan. 23, 2013
When I asked my Dad about our ancestors, he smiled and said not much was known. He said our ancestors may have come over from debtors' prison. "Bound with an Iron Chain" looks at immigration from the 1600's to 1776. It points out that 75% of immigrants by 1775 were either slaves (47%), transported convicts (9%) or indentured servants (18%). Only 25% were "Freeman" that paid their way over and started off as farm or plantation owners, government workers, or business owners. Convicts and Indentured Servants got a small amount of money and sometimes land when their service (or term) was complete. As land was taken in Virginia, South Carolina, and Maryland where the majority of them worked on tobacco plantations, the convicts and servants moved west including Kentucky where my ancestors were farmers with plots of tobacco as a cash crop.
The work is well documented and the narrative is far from dry for it weaves individuals' stories taken from newspapers, books, and records to illustrate the flow from crime in Britain, transportation by ship and work in the colonies. A history I had never known, found fascinating and possibly a view of my past.