Below is an excerpt from a standard contract of induture used to bind poor and unhappy citizens to a term of servitude in exchange for the opportunity to migrate to America. The most common term was for a period of seven years, but actual time served often ran much longer due to added time for disciplinary reasons. For accounts of such unfortunate souls, see Gottlieb Mittelberger's description, and "A Letter to Father and Mother."

Contract of Indenture


That the said Robert does hereby covenant [pledge] faithfully to serve the said Sir William, Richard, George, and John for three years from the day of his landing in the land of Virginia, there to be employed in the lawful and reasonable works and labors of them and to be obedient to such governors as they shall from time to time appoint and set over him. In consideration whereof, the said Sir William, Richard, George, and John do covenant with the said Robert to transport him (with God's assistance) with all convenient speed into the said land of Virginia at their expense, and there to maintain him with convenient diet and apparel suitable for such a servant; and in the end of the said term to make him a free man of the said country, thereby to enjoy all the liberties, freedoms, and privileges of a freeman there; and to grant to the said Robert thirty acres of land within their territory.

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