Voice Indenture, Gloucester 1818

Lucy Voice was a young black girl, the daughter of Marney Voice, when she was put out by the Overseers of the Poor to Caleb Norwood and his wife Esther. She was to be taught the art of a “spinstress” and maintained by the Norwoods until 1827.

THIS, indenture, made on the tenth day of That We, Israel Trask, William Pearce Jr. & John Kittredge, the Undersigned, Overseers of the Poor of the Town of GLOUCESTER, in the County of Essex, by virtue of the law of the Commonwealth, in such cases made and provided, have placed, and by these presents do place and bind out, as an apprentice, a poor child, named Lucy O. Voice, daughter of Marney Voice, a black of said town of Gloucester who is lawfully settled in and become chargeable to said town1 and who is thought by said Overseers to be unable to maintain her, unto Caleb Norwood & Esther, his wife, both of said Gloucester to learn the art, trade or mystery of a Spinstress2. The said Lucy O. Voice after the manner of an apprentice to dwell3 with and serve the said Caleb Norwood & Esther, his wife from the day of the date hereof, until the second day of March which will be in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty seven. During all which time or term, the said apprentice her said master well and faithfully serve, his secrets keep; and his lawful commands every where at all times readily obey: she shall do no damage to her said master, nor willfully suffer any to be done by others; and if any to her knowledge be intended she shall giver her master seasonable notice thereof: she shall not waste the goods of her said master, nor lend them unlawfully to any: At cards, dice or any other unlawful game she shall not play: fornication4 she shall not commit nor matrimony contract5, during the said term; taverns, alehouses6, or places of gaming she shall not haunt or frequent: from the service of her said master she shall not absent herself; but, in all things, and at all times, she shall carry and behave herself as a good and faithful apprentice ought during the whole time or term aforesaid.

And the said. Caleb Norwood & Esther, his wife, on their part, doth promise, covenant and agree to teach and instruct the said apprentice, or cause her to be taught and instructed in the art, trade or calling of a Spintress by the best ways or means he can; and also to teach and instruct the said apprentice, or cause her to be taught and instructed, to read, write, and cipher to and through the rule of three, if the said apprentice be capable to learn; and shall well and faithfully find and provide for the said apprentice, good and sufficient meat, drink, clothing, lodging and other necessaries fit and convenient for such an apprentice during the term aforesaid; and at the expiration thereof, shall give unto the said apprentice two suits of wearing apparel, one suitable for the Lord’s days, and the other for working days.
In Testimony whereof, the said parties have hereunto interchangeably set our hands and seals, the Ninth Day of March in the year of our Lord, One Thousand Eight Hundred and eighteen.

Signed, sealed & delivered in the presence of us, William Babson Jr.
The above named give returned by consent

Caleb Norwood
Esther Norwood
William Pearce
Israel Trask

1 “chargeable to said town” = the town is responsible to take care of her
2 Spinstress = someone who makes their living by spinning yarn or thread
3 Dwell = live
4 Fornication = have sex without being married
5 “Matrimony contract” = get married
6 Alehouses = bars


Lucy O. Voice Indenture (1818). Gloucester Archives, Gloucester, MA.