The regulation and organisation of the trade in indentured servants for the American colonies in London, 1645-1718, and the career of William Haveland, emigration agent.
Human migration is arguably the most important historical-geographical process. It is universal and
continual and has been one of the leading elements in the accelerating transformation of the world since
the fifteenth centuly. It has taken many forms and this study is concerned with one form of bound labour
migration, the migration of indentured servants from London to England's island and mainland colonies
in America in the period between the 1645 Ordinance of Parliament against child stealing and the
Transportation Act of 1718.
The trade in indentured servants was characterised by increasing regulation in this period and this change
is examined with reference to modern theories of economic regulation. It is clear that public-interest
theory explains only a small part of this regulation and that interest-group theories provide much better
explanations. The regulation of the trade was effected through punitive regulation in the courts, and
preventative regulation through the development of various forms of servant registration. The purpose of
regulation came to be concerned with the profit of the holders of the registration patent and the protection
of merchants rather than the protection of servants. However, regulation was not very effective because of
the nature of the servant trade and ambivalent attitudes towards it, and also because of the reluctance of
Parliament to give legal authority to private profit and control of the trade.
The organisation of the trade was characterised, at least in the period 1683-86 for which records survive,
by the active recruitment of servants in London by a large number of agents. These servants were of the
common sort rather than middling people. Attempts to characterise the emigration of indentured servants
as either 'human cargo' or 'human capital' are not tenable. Few were kidnapped by force and the great
majority went voluntarily although they were recruited by a variety of methods within a range of legality.
A number of agents recruited large numbers of servants either on their own account or on behalf of other
merchants, planters and masters of ships. The activities of the agent William Haveland in the period
1668-1710 illustrate how the servant trade operated on both sides of the margins of legality. Despite his
prosecutions in the courts Haveland was not a marginal figure. He held an important local office, he was
a major and prominent recruiter and was also closely involved in the organisation of the legal trade in