Court Decision concerning WM Wooton and John Bradye

Court Decision concerning WM Wooton and John Bradye

The Misconception That Slaves Did Not Attempt Escape

October 13, 1640

In this court decision the WM Wooton and John Bradye are punished for conspiring with other slaves and indentured servants to escape the colonies. Their punishment included working in leg irons, whipping, and an extended seven years of service, and branding. The court’s decision is important as it shows the harsh punishments and life of indentured servants.

Although the history of the particular incident is lost, the ruling exhibits a merciless system of law. These runaways were indentured servants but when compared with verdicts such as in the case of John Punch, the punishment it is clear that there was no consistency in the laws from one colony to the next and neither for indentured servants nor slaves. This lack of legal standard left wide interpretation in the slave law. As such, indentured servants were confined legally in such a way that any legal problem could force them deeper into servitude (Finkelman, 1985).

Sadly, many of the indentured servants volunteered for this life with most for the reason of payment for voyage to the colonies. However, most individuals did not realize how harsh this existence would be and that they might not survive the servitude. This is exemplified by the vast number of attempts to escape servitude as in the case of Wooton and Bradye (Finkelman,1985).


Finkelman, P. (1985). Slavery in the courtroom. Washington DC: Library of Congress.

By Collectie Stichting Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, CC BY-SA 3.0


Triola Vincent. Mon, Feb 01, 2021. Court Decision concerning WM Wooton and John Bradye Retrieved from

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