Richard Frethorne

Topics: Slavery, Indentured servant, 17th century Pages: 3 (1041 words) Published: August 12, 2014
Indentured Servitude
Richard Frethorne, an indentured servant, wrote a letter to his parents dated March 20-April 3, 1623 in which he describes his experience as an indentured servant. Richard Frethorne was a young Englishman who like many other poor 17th century Englishmen were struggling to make ends meet back in England. Frethorne embarked on his journey to the America’s as an indentured servant in order to find a better life. Merchants in England took advantage of these poor people and recruited them to work as indentured servants in America. Frethorne was one of these poor persons who accepted to become an indentured servant, not knowing that everything that they were promised was not going to be fulfilled. Frethorne left England in 1623 and Jamestown, Virginia was his predetermined location. Frethorne’s life before servitude is quite vague, for there is not much record of his lifespan. However we are able to decipher that he has his two parents alive (mother and father) and he has siblings (both female and male). Based on the letter he sent back to his parents, Frethorne portrays the hardship of indentured servants in early 17th century Virginia. In his letter, Frethorne implores his parents for help. He is aware of the conditions in which he is exposed to living and he feels that the end is near for him. The letter serves as a cry for help as well as a goodbye letter if his death were to come. Frethorne compares his life now and the life he had back in England; in England he ate more in one day than he ate in one week in the ship; his parents have more to a beggar in England than what he had now. In truth, even though poor whites suffered in England because of their poverty, being an indentured servant was worse than poverty.

Two issues that have come to surface regarding Frethorne’s letter to his parents are: complains about the unfulfilled promises made by elite Englanders to indentured servants and the second issue is regarding indentured servants...
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