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  • Iron and Indenture

    The Ridgelys purchased indenture contracts for at least 300 servants between 1750 and 1800. Most of these servants had been convicted of crimes in England and Ireland. They traded hard labor for a fresh start in the New World when their contract was over. Yet nothing could make up for the fact that these men and women were an ocean away from home, friends, and family.

    The work at Northampton Finance included extracting ore and limestone, making charcoal, burning lime, felling and cutting acres of timber, and hauling fuels, iron ore and finished products to and from the site. Working in the blast furnace itself was especially dangerous.

    Farming was another part of the work: servants produced grain to feed workers and sell in the community. Servants were traded back and forth between forge, furnace, and plantation frequently.

    Go to Iron and the American Revolution to find out what new opportunities the Revolutionary War offered the Ridgelys and indentured servants.