Antrim’s In Tax Bondage )
The year was 1548 and it was in Ireland and it was time to pay Taxes to England . Ever year England would send a small army of tax collectors to Ireland to collect taxes, The people of Ireland had very little money and never enough to pay taxes to England . The tax collectors had been given the right from their King Edward V to take any thing of value to pay the taxes owed. It was the practice of King Edward and Mary Tudor to take Children in payment of the taxes. The children were taken to England to be trained as domestic servants and bonded labors.
In this small village called Antrim. In the Ulster Province and of the MacDonald Clan Was no different than any other village in Ireland everyone had to pay taxes one way or another, And this is where my story begins, Young children ages 12 years and older that looked in good health were taken from the family clans as payment for the taxes.
If the familys knew when the tax collectors were coming some would hide their older children and hope they would not be found. The children that would be sent back to England lived in fear of the unknown.The children were sent to the homes of notably, like Earls, Dukes and Barons the people of wealth.
At times some of the familys put up a fight to keep their children from being taken but they always lost and the children were always taken. From the time that the tax collectors picked the first children until they had over 100 children to go back to England it would take lest a week to 10 days. The children would be put into carts and wagons and most of the time their hands were tied to the racks on the carts to keep them from running away.
Once the children were placed into training and their lives became a routine, their life was an improvement. At first the children thought they were being treated like animals they had their clothing taken off and burned the children were put into large vats or tubs
To be cleaned. They were given clothing to fit the type of work they were being trained to do. The children were given new names in most cases like the type of job or training that they were doing or a clan or town. One young boy that came from Antrim was called James Antrim his last name was from where he came from. He was being trained as a cord winder and rope maker. Most all the people that trained the children were also servants at one time. The training was as hard as the children made it to become some had an easer time learning their trade than others.
Ever thing was so diffident in this new life from what they eat to the clothing and places that they lived in, ever day was a new unusual experience until they got into the routine of things. Most of the training took up to 5 years for most of the trainees.
All of the children were told that they would acquire knowledge and skills thru their obedience. In most routines that the children had to learn was neatness, the household staff had to stand in a line and be inspected from head to toe for neatness. The children were told never to look into the eyes of their masters and only talk when asked to do so.
The children did have it better when it came to food that they would eat, If they were back in Ireland They got very little meat to eat. They were a lot of other thing like plenty of fruit and vegetables. The children’s living quarters consisted of one large bedroom and a large dinning room, This is were they also had their training. The rooms were bigger than the homes that they came from. All of the rooms in the castles and mansions were large and drafty.
James Antrim was a hard worker and he learned well he also learned to read and write that would help him to get ahead in life. James was a good and fast learner he had a good loving mother and father that showed him how to work in their garden and around their home. James Antrim lived and took his training at the family mansion of Sir Thomas Wyatt .
During the five years of training young James Antrim had a hard time at first until his hands and arms got stronger, Then he was as good a rope maker as there was. James also learned on his own, how to make and repair blocks and pulleys that was used with rope and lines.
James tried to keep in touch with the other children that came with him when he came to England , But that was hard to do. Most all of the children were sent to different locations to keep them in line. It was easier to work with children if they were not kin or of the same clan. The training for the young girls was more intense than it was for the boys.
The girls had to learn not only the proper clothing to ware they also had to learn the proper manor of the day, like what to say and how to say at any given time around their masters. While all children were thought the kings English. Yes my lord and yes my lady Was a response that all children was thought to use.
Taking children into bondage had been going on for years in England and after a time some of their masters though it would be right if some of their servants were to marry and have children that way the children could also become servants of the master. The servants and children would live in small cottages, on their master’s estate, this would save the masters from bring in new children and training them.
Life as a servant was a world with in a world. Most of the servants had no idea what was going on out side of the walls of the mansion that they were living in.
Life was never easy for the children during their training there were no let up and after training there was so much competition in their jobs that there was bitter feeling between them. Then after a few years life became much easier for them the routine of their jobs were much easier to do. And for the craftsmen if their Masters seen fit after about ten years of service in their trade they were permitted to go under supervision to the village
Market . Going to the market was a highlight in their life. There at the market they would be able meet and talk to other servants from other estates and house servants of their master. Where as if they were craftsmen , they were not permitted to associate with their masters house servants.
The clothing that was worn by the servants helped indicate the type of job that they had, most mistress would pick the clothing for the house servants, In the household of Sir Thomas Wyant the women wore dark blue clothing a full link dress from shoulders to ankles. With a vest type jacket, and a white blouse with an apron. The clothing worn by the house servants were blue in color pants and jacket with a white shirt. The women had their hair done up in two buns one on each side of their head, and the men had their hair pulled back and tied behind their head. It was hard to tell people apart until you could see their face. The women had the same type of clothing on that worked in the same household
The clothing that was worn by the craftsmen was wool trousers, from the waist to the knees with socks and shoes, in the winter the young men wore shirts with a jacket and some times a shoulder cape that just covered shoulders and arms then in the winter a much longer cape that hung from their shoulders down to their ankles. And for head cover the men wore a wool three-cornered hat.
The young women were always chaperoned going to and from the market. This was something that was always in the life of the women of this time. While the young men did not have to have a chaperone, they did have an overseer to keep they in line.
It was on a spring day on a weekend that James went to the market with three men that he came to see for the first time a young lass with red hair , James had to know more about this young women. James found out that she was a cook’s helper at this master’s house and that her name was Colleen O’Shay . This was the first time that he seen his wife to be. The servant’s Masters was willing to let their servants have relationship with Other household master’s servants. With the hopes that it would lead to a marriage. This way the servants children would be under the master ‘s care and they would become servants also and it would be cheaper than going to Ireland and bringing back young children to train .
Our ancestors were two of these servants that were married and two of their children came to Salem , Massachusetts, America in 1635. they were Thomas Antram and his wife Jane Batter, . And Thomas sent two of his sons John and James back to England in 1679 to bring friends and to raise funds to buy land in New Jersey. Our Ancestors were early America Pioneers.
I am proud to be a descendant of Thomas Antram and his wife Jane Batter. God Bless America.
Clyde Vernon Antrim
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