Andrew Wharton was born to be a farm servant like his father and grandfather before him, the line extending back much further than anyone bothered to remember. His work was not a choice; he was born to work Hampton Grange and expected to die there. The only surprise was when pretty Molly Peace chose him. Ecstatic in his luck, he couldn’t believe the rollicking dairy maid favored him above all the hopeful lads pursuing her when he’d done no more than sneak shy peeks at her in Chapel. The confusion of love and glorious sensuality overwhelmed the young man who’d never contemplated the possibility that life could hold pleasure. Molly saw joy in everything, the sweet breath of the cows she milked, the warmth of the sun on her face, and the sweet sent of the hay she bundled, not seeming to notice the manure in the cow’s tail, the slogging rains, or the sneezing brought on by the hay.
Their life at Hampton Grange offered the couple little beyond a small hovel, milk and cheese from the dairy, a daily ration of bread and beer, the privilege of wood gathering, and scant wages. Once a year, they were due a measure of wool for their own use. Compared to the conditions many experienced, it was adequate under Old Squire John’s management. Left to his gambling heir, it was soon lost to bankruptcy, leaving them adrift.
Andrew and his new wife Molly found themselves standing in the freezing rain wearing all they owned before a pub in Liverpool. After three days’ starving, they were easily persuaded to join an agent for The Virginia Club for food and drink. With no prospects, they were Signed papers of indenture pledging the next four years of their lives in exchange for passage to the Jamestown colony in Virginia. For their volunteer bondage they would receive lodging, food, and clothing, the quality to be determined by their master. They were fortunate in being bound four years. Most were bound seven years. including involuntary prisoners or abductees. At the end of their service, they were entitled to tools, money, and land. Like so many other indentured servants, they could expect years of unrelenting labor and uncertain treatment. In truth, the next few years wouldn’t be greatly different to the life they were accustomed to if they were fortunate enough to be bound to a good master. At least they’d have a start at the end of their time.