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1783.02.11 – Indenture document for David Searl, Feb. 11, 1783

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1783.02.11 – Indenture document for David Searl, Feb. 11, 1783


This document records the indenture of the twelve year old David Johnson by Elisha and Rachel Searl on February 11th, 1783. The record states that Johnson will work under Charles Phelps for eight years and eight months, during which time he will learn about Husbandry. The document stipulates that during the term of indenture, Johnson will not damage, waste, or unlawfully lend Phelps’ goods. Johnson is also prohibited from leaving the estate or his responsibilities without permission, and shall his behavior must be in line with the expectations of an indentured servant.

The second half of the document outlines the legal responsibilities of Phelps. These include ensuring that Johnson receives instruction on Husbandry, providing him room and board, and medical care when needed. The document also states that during his indentured servitude and at the expiration, Johnson will receive a set of work clothes and a set of clothes to wear to church. At the end of his term, he would receive either fifteen pounds or items of comparable value. This document outlines a clause which states that if certain expectations are not met, Johnson will not receive his compensation at the end of his indenture.

The contract finishes with a standard closing, and was signed by Elijah Lee, Elijah Smith, Rachel Searl, Elisha Searl, and Charles Phelps.


Elisha and Rachel Searl


Porter-Phelps-Huntington Family Papers (Box 4, Folder 32)
University of Massachusetts Special Collections and University Archives




Public domain





David Johnson Indenture

This Indenture Witnetsseth, that we Elisha and Rachel Searl of Northampton - hath put in the County of Hampshire Common wealth of Massachusetts hath put and by these Presents doth Voluntarily and of their own free will and accord put and bind their Son David Johnson being twelve years Old last October an Apprentice to Charles Phelps of Hadley and his Heirs and Assigns- To learn and be instructed in the art of Mastery of Husbandry and with him or either of them, after the Manner of an Apprentice, serve from the Day of the Date hereof for and During the Term of Eight years and Eight Months to be completed and ended, During all which Term the said Apprentice his said Master faithfully shall serve his Servants keep his lawful commands obey he shall do no Damage to his Master nor see it to be done of others without telling or giving Notice thereof to his said Master, he shall not waste his Masters goods nor lend them unlawfully to any - he shall not Absent himself himself by Day or by Night from his Master 0r his Service without his leave - but shall behave himself as a faithful Apprentice ought to do towards his said Master During the said Term-

And the said Charles Phelps for himself his Heirs and Assigns Doth hereby covenant and Promise to teach and instruct or cause to be taught and instructed in the art or calling of Husbandry by the best Ways or Means he or Either of them may or can finding unto the said Apprentice Reasonable Meat Drink washing and Lodging Physick and nursing in case of sickness During the said term and at the Expiration thereof to give unto the said Apprentice two Decent suits of Apparel one for Sabbath Day, and the other for Laboring or Every Day - and at the Expiration of the Term to give the said apprentice fifteen pounds Lawful Money or the Value thereof in other commodities if the said Apprentice shall prove well and healthy as Boys in general are (unless the said Master shall learn or cause said Apprentice to be learned the Trade or Art of [Learning] Business and Shoe making in which case no consideration shall be given said Apprentice excepting his apparel -

In testimony whereof the Parties to these Presents have hereunto interchangeably set their hands and seals the Eleventh Day of February in the year of our Lord seventeen hundred and eighty three-

Signed Sealed and
Delivered in Presence of
Elijah Lee
Elijah Smith
Rachel Searl
Elisha Searl
Charles Phelps