Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Charles R. Foy


"Incarcerated, Transported, and Bound: Constructing Community among Convicts Transported from London to the Chesapeake, 1739-1776" explores the movement, migration, the malleability of identities, and development of communal ties among transported convicts. This thesis utilizes information on more than 3000 convicts brought to the colonial Chesapeake region. Precise details are currently available for more than two hundred transported convicts. In many cases the convicts can be followed from their birthplace to London to their trial and imprisonment, continuing to their transportation to the Americas, their new lives in the Chesapeake, and, in some cases, their flight and return to Great Britain. Doing so illuminates the communal connections among these people as their lives converged together and were torn apart across the Atlantic and within colonial society. Convict transport paralleled slave ship transport in significant ways. Throughout their fluid and changing circumstance criminals created networks which were furthered through imprisonment in Britain, captivity on convict hulks, transportation on convict ships, servitude in the Chesapeake, and freedom in North America—the convicts created, maintained and kept ever-shifting communal bonds that enabled them to adapt to a variety of highly stressful circumstances and choose resistance or assimilation. In demonstrating the elasticity and duration of transported convicts' community ties, this thesis challenges prior scholarly understandings of convicts' lives both during continued resistance during their sentences of servitude and post-servitude as the lived free lives in colonial America.