ENGLISH INDENTURED SERVANT DOCUMENT- DATED 1730

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Item Code: 947-02

"Indentures" are legal contracts, and are entirely written by hand, in English, on large sheepskins (vellum), in keeping with legal practice dating back to Medieval times. Today, these ancient British legal manuscripts are prized collector's items, and make impressive decorator accents when matted and framed. The top edge of the document shows the wavy, or "indented" margin that gives these documents their name; as a safeguard against counterfeiting, the copies given to all parties were placed together and cut in this margin in a wavy, irregular pattern, thus uniquely identifying the authenticity of each copy.

Top left shows a strip of three embossed blue Sixpenny Royal tax stamps. Stamps of this appearance were in general Revenue use since the 1690s, and into the 1770's. Initially, a single Sixpenny stamp satisfied the tax, but the law soon doubled and then tripled the duty, making the three-stamp strip the most commonly seen denomination of much of the 18th century.

On the reverse the document is docketed by the King's tax collectors, with the now-conventional phrase, that the document was 'signed, sealed, and delivered' by those individuals, whose signatures attest to this fulfillment of the law. All documents are completed by the additions of the signatures of the parties - or an indication of "X, His Mark" in the case of those unable to write. These are accompanied by wax seals bearing impressions of the lawyers', or parties' signet rings. In the earliest documents these fragile seals are appended to the body of the document by means of a "gutter tab" which hangs below the vellum sheet. In the later manuscripts such as this, the seals are applied directly to the document by means of a small tab of cloth slipped through a slot in a double folded bottom margin. Thus seals from the middle of the 18th century and later are generally found in a more well-preserved state.

This document depicts a typical Indenture with multiple red wax seals and signatures. The skin was folded to form a "gutter" through which a piece of ribbon was threaded, with the hot sealing wax applied over the ribbon, to attest to its authenticity. Signatures of all parties follow to complete the deal.

Document states, “THIS INDENTURE- QUINQUEPARTITE-  MADE ON THE FIFTH DAY OF FEBRUARY IN THE FOURTH YEAR OF THE REIGNE OF OUR SOVEREIGN LORD GEORGE THE SECOND BY THE GRACE OF GOD & GREAT BRITAIN, FRANCE & IRELAND, KING DEFENDER OF THE FAITH PAID IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD ONE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED & THIRTY BETWEEN ROGER CASTOLL…”.

Document measures 24” x 29 ¼”. Displays fold creases and yellowing, with one area of tiny holes at the bottom right, just above the tab. Document is in remarkable condition and totally legible.  [sm]

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