Freedom Papers

James Bayly


In the freedom papers, we find the 1808 indenture of 10-year-old James Bayly by his father Levin, as an apprentice to William Graham of Philadelphia, to be instructed in the “Trade or mystery of Domestic Work.” Then, we find documentation that he has completed his indenture at age 21 and is on his way to visit his father in Baltimore.  And finally, while in Baltimore, he is certified as a “free black,” “an American seamen,” and “of free coloured parents.”


Freedom Papers of James Bayly       

This Indenture Witnesseth, That James Bayly, age ten years six months, and one day son Levin Bayly of the County of Dorset, in the State of Maryland, Hath put himself and by these presents, he the said James Bayly doth voluntary, and of his own free will and accord put himself Apprentice to William Graham, of Chester in Delaware County, his exrs, Admrs, and assigns to learn domestic work, and after the manner of an apprentice to serve the said William Graham from the day of the date hereof, for and during, and to the full end and term of Ten years five months & twenty nine day next ensuing  During all which term the said apprentice his said Master shall faithfully serve his secrets keep his lawfull commands every where readily obey  He shall do no damage to his said Master’s goods, nor see it to be done by others with letting or giving notice thereof to his said Master. He shall not waste his said Masters goods, nor lend them unlawfully to any. He shall not commit fornication, nor contract matrimony, within the said term, He shall not play at cards, dice, or any other unlawful game, whereby his said Master may have damage. With his own goods, nor the goods of others, without license from his said Master, he shall, neither buy nor sell. He shall not absent himself day nor night from his said Masters service without leave, nor haunt ale houses, taverns, or play houses, but in all things behave himself, as a faithful Apprentice ought to do during the said term, And the said Master shall use the utmost of his endeavour to teach, or cause to be taught or instructed the said apprentice, in the Trade or mystery of Domestic Work and procure, and provide for him sufficient meat, drink, clothing, lodging, and washing fitting for an apprentice, during the said term of Ten years five months and twenty-nine days to have eighteen months schooling, and when free, two suits of Cloths one whereof to be new. And for the true performance of all and singular the covenants, and agreements aforesaid, the said bind themselves each unto the other firmly by these presents. In Witness whereof, the said parties have interchangeable set their hands and seals hereunto Dated the thirteenth day of May in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eight.

(Seal) City of Philadelphia sss… sealed & delivered
in the presence of
Robert Wharton, Mayor.


James X Bayly  (Seal) mark
Levin X Bayly (Seal)
Wm Graham (Seal)

Chester Pennsylvania, Nov. 17 — 1818 — The bearer hereof, James Bayly, a coloured man son of Levin Bayly of Dorset County in the state of Maryland, was bound to me by his Father before Robt. Wharton Esq. Mayor of Philadelphia on the 13th May 1808, to serve until twenty one years of age, and being now free and on his way to visit his father in the neighborhood of Baltimore I have given him this certificate and delivered up his Indentures by which the above facts will appear. His intention is to go to sea but in whatever capacity he may offer himself I can recommend him for honesty and sobriety
Wm Graham

United States of America, State of Maryland, Baltimore County, to wit— This will certify that on the day, of the date hereof, before me, Thomas Bailey one of the justices of the Peace in and for the said County came James Bayly, (a free black) an american Seamen, aged Twenty-one years or thereabouts height five feet eleven inches of black complexion—dark, ha_le eyes black short curly hair straight & slender has a scar of about one inch on the under side of the left arm, a little below the elbow and two scars on the inside of the left leg, just above the ancle bone, and cut fore finger, who, being by me duly and solemnly sworn, did depose and say, that he was born in the County of Dorchester State of Maryland, and of free coloured parents. At the same time appeared before me the said Justice of the Peace Levin Bayly, a free man of colour, who being also by me duly, and solemnly sworn, did depose and say, that he has been personally acquainted with the above named and described James Bayly, from his infancy, he being Deponants son and that he knows him to be a citizen of the United States of America And I the said Justice do also Certify the above statement to be facts within my certain knowledge. In Testimony whereof the said Deponants have hereunto subscribed their names, in presence of me the said Justice of the peace. Witness my hand and and seal this twenty-sixth day of December in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eighteen.                        

James Bayly                Levin Bayly (his mark)           Tho Bailey   (Seal)


Recorded 10 March 1837