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By Abigail L. Swingen
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Additional info for Competing Visions of Empire: Labor, Slavery, and the Origins of the British Atlantic Empire
This agency, versions of which had been established in 1664, 1672, and 1686, existed to ensure that each indentured servant sent to the colonies was sent legally and not under duress. ” After some legal squabbling with others who claimed to already hold the patent, Thompson was granted a license, which he held until 1699. 37 Nevertheless, the revival of the servants’ registry indicated a number of interesting developments in the servant trade by the late 1600s. As Thompson argued in his petition, the registry was supposed to serve as a deterrent to kidnappers who “spirited” servants to the colonies.
The plans of this merchant group meshed well with those of the Commonwealth government, which had a strong imperialist agenda, including the desire to conquer territory in the Caribbean and the submission of semiautonomous regions within Britain to its authority through land confiscation, forcible settlement, and revenue extraction geared for the benefit of the metropolis. This imperial ideal was apparent in the first instance in Ireland and Scotland. Cromwell’s determination to put an end to the uprising begun in Ireland in 1641 led to brutal attacks on the cities of Drogheda and Wexford in the fall of 1649.
In addition, the assemblies of the four islands frequently lobbied the Lords of Trade for servants to fill the militias and work the colony’s plantations. ” Men with skilled trades were especially coveted, and according to Jeaffreson, those making the journey could expect a life of prosperity at the end of their term of service. ” But skilled men were extremely hard to come by. William Freeman, a Leeward Islands merchant based in London, indicated in 1678 that although he would do his best to provide the colony with servants, “tradesmen are very scarce.