Frank and Adam in London

In May 1772, while accompanying the Barrister and Margaret to London, two enslaved house servants named Frank and Adam sought their freedom. Within a few months, the two apparently fell on hard times. Without friends, family, or connections, they struggled to support themselves.

Adam, who had attended meetings with the Barrister, began to call on Joshua Johnson, the Carroll’s London merchant, to see if Johnson could facilitate his return to Maryland. Johnson wrote that Adam reported that “bad people” persuaded him to run away, and he was ashamed and afraid to face the Barrister. According to Johnson, Adam wanted assurances that he would be forgiven and welcomed back. Johnson arranged for another ship passenger, Charles Wallace, to accompany Adam to ensure that he was returned to the Barrister and enslavement.

Frank seemed to fare better and was able to find another job. He never visited Johnson and in April 1773, Johnson wrote to the Barrister that he had heard Frank was “in Service at the West end of Town.”


British artist Richard Cosway’s engraving of he and his wife Maria being served by Ottobah Cugoano, an enslaved man whom they held, 1784. Courtesy of the Yale Center for British Art, Paul Melon Collection.