“John Doctor,” minutely described.

by Lisa Y. Henderson

Twenty-Five Dollars Reward.

Runaway from the Subscriber on the night of 24th ult. a Negro Man by the name of BEN, commonly called BEN THORN; he is about 5 feet 6 or 7 inches high, between 30 and 40 years old, perhaps might weigh between 145 and 160 pounds; is of a bright complexion, neither black nor mulatto; is well made, stands a little wide, and springs back in his knees; has a round head, middling long neck; long face, flat jaws, high nose, inclined to be Roman, and somewhat sharp; his eyes is rather large, white and glaring when thrown open, his mouth projects out, and is tolerable large, with a very good set of teeth; speaks broad and quick, and endeavors to speak proper language; his arms is rather long, and short fingers, he has thick, short hair, and inclined to be square across his forehead; fine grained skin, &c. He is a little ruptured, or what is called bursting, in consequence of which he commonly wears a truss. He had when he went away, a furred or knapped hat, considerably worn; a blue broad cloth coat, worn out at the elbows and cuffs; a homespun jacket, blue grounded, with small white streaks, the stripes went round; a pair of white homespun pantaloons; a pair of mixed do.; a black velvet cravat, and what is called a white comforter, with some colouring at the ends, and perhaps some other old cloathing. He can read and write, so as he can be understood, is very intelligent, being acquainted with a number of the States, sea-port towns, and other noted places. It is presumed that he has an instrument of writing, and will endeavor to pass as a free man; having made the attempt and was apprehended with a free pass in the town of Edenton, on the 16th of Feb. 1816, where he went by the name of John Doctor, and was imprisoned for about three months, and taken out of jail by me. His intentions were at that time, and I make no doubt are now, to get on board some vessel and escape to some of the Northern States, where slavery is not tolerated. It is presumed he will alter his name, and change his features (if possible.) All masters and owners of vessels are hereby forwarned from taking the said Negro on board. The above reward will be given to any person who will apprehend said Negro, and confine him in any jail, and give me information so that I get him again.  ALEXANDER SORSBY, Nash county, N.C.  March 16.

Norfolk & Portsmouth Herald, 6 April 1818.