Archive for March 24th, 2020

Indentures and Such in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1812

March 24, 2020

I have some extra time to look at browsable images on familysearch. I’m interested in the earliest time frames. I started with Charleston, South Carolina.

There’s one called Indentures from 1812-1816. This looked like it would be promising. If you want to have a look, click here.

I thought that this would be a great look at young people who were indentured, their names, their trades, their masters, etc.

Nope, wrong. This was eyeopening. This was deeper than Joe Jones learning to become a blacksmith.

The first document image was for a four-year-old child. Four. Four years old. He has been turned over to the Orphanage by his mother. I scrolled through more images.

All children. Some were old enough to be bound out to learn a trade, but when I say “old enough”, they were 9, or 10, or 12. Shades of Oliver Twist.

I found a surname that was familiar. One friend in Charleston is married to a “Connelly”. I saved these images, just in case they will be of use to her.


City of Charleston,

This Indenture Made the twenty second day of April in the year of our Lord 1813 and in the thirty seventh year of AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE, Witnesseth, that Maria Connoly Born the 17 day of August 1801 of Charleston, by & with the consent of her Mother Eliza Connoly, hath place and bound herself to the Commissioners of the Orphan-House, (for the time being) established in the said city of Charleston, in the state aforesaid, in and by an ordinance of the honorable the City Council, ratified on the 18th day of October, in the year of our Lord 1790, entitled, “An ordinance for the establishment of an Orphan-House in the city of Charleston, for the purpose of supporting and education poor orphan children, and those of poor, distressed and disabled parent, who are unable to support and maintain them,” to be subject to all such ordinances, rules and regulations, as now are, or hereafter shall be in force, touching and concerning the said institution; to dwell and continue in the said Orphan-House until she shall be of sufficient age to be bound an apprentice to such profession, trade or occupation as may be suited to her genius and inclination, and from thence to dwell, continue and serve with such person to whom these indentures shall be transferred, from the day of the date hereof, from thence next ensuing, and which will be compleated and ended on the seventeenth day of August in the year of our Lord 1819 — During all which term the said Maria Connoly shall demean herself agreeable to the said ordinances, rules and regulations, until the said transfer shall take place; and from thence her said Mistress well and faithfully shall serve, her secrets keep her lawful commands every where gladly do; hurt to her said Mistress shall not do, nor willingly suffer to be done by others, but the same to the utmost of her power shall let, or forthwith shall give notice thereof to her said Mistress the goods of her said Mistress shall not embezzle or waste, nor lend them without her consent to any. From the said Orphan-House, or from the service of her said Mistress shall not at any time depart or absent herself, without leave from one of the commissioners, or from her said Mistress but in all things shall well and faithfully demean herself during the said term. —

In witness whereof, we have hereunto interchangeable set out hands and seals, the day and year first above written.

Eliza Connoly

Maria (her X mark) Connoly

Philip Gadsden (Commissr)


Eliot Kingman

This Indenture, Made the twenty first day of October in the year of our Lord 1813 — Witnesseth, tht the commissioners of the Orphan- House, by virtue and in pursuance of the before written instrument of writing, and by, and with the consent and approbation of the said Maria Connelly (testified by her being made a party to, and signing and sealing this present Indenture) have given, granted, assigned, transferred and set over, and by these presents do fully and absolutely give, grant, assign, transfer and set over unto Ann R. Poyas wife of Capt. Poyas of Georgetown not to be again transferred without the consent of the Commissioners — the foregoing Indentures, and all right, title, duty, and terms of service and demand whatsoever, which the said commissioners have in or to the said Maria Connolly — or which they can, may, or ought to have in her by force and virtue of the powers and authorities in them vested. And the said Ann R. Poyas her said apprentice the said trade, science, or occupation of a Seamstress and housekeeper which she now uses, with all things thereunto belonging shall and will teach and instruct, or otherwise cause to be well and sufficiently instructed, after the best way and manner that he can; and shall and will also find and allow the said apprentice, meat, drink, washing, lodging and apparel, both linen and woolen, and all other necessaries in sickness and in health, meet and convenient for such an apprentice, during the term aforesaid; and at the expiration of the said term, shall and will give to her said apprentice (over and above all her other cloating) one new suit of apparel, and Five pounds to be paid to the commissioners for her use and a hat, one pair shoes, and stockings, with suitable linen, as fit and usual for such an apprentice, and furnish her with clean linen at least twice a week and should the said Mistress return her said apprentice in the Institution she shall pay to the Commissioners the Sum of Ten pounds. —

In witness whereof, we have hereunto interchangeable set our hands and seals, the day and year first above written.

Ann R. Poyas

Maria (her X mark) Conorly


Eliot Kingman

Danl Strong / Commissioner

Next is Edward, Born September 1803, so he’s about 9 1/2 years old and is indentured to Joseph Yates to become a cooper. Edward could sign his name beautifully even though he’s younger that his sister Maria, who could not write.

The youngest, Frederick Connoly, was just turned 7 and too young to be indentured. He died later that year at the Orphan-House on November 14, 1813.

Horrible sadness. I wonder what happened to Eliza, Maria, and Edward.