CONTRACTS, BONDS, and related documents

A performance bond, 1708 (with photo of the original)
      (A bond is evidence of a debt.  The usual bond--see example of 1747 bond below--simply requires that an amount  of money be paid--if it is, the bond becomes void; if not, the holder can institute legal action.  A performance bond contemplates that the bound person do a particular thing.  In this case, a barrister is apparently bound to carry out the terms of an indenture.  The bond itself (see photo) was typically on paper rather than vellum.  Traditionally, the first paragraph was in Latin and the second, which stated the condition, was in English.  When the condition was fulfilled and the bond became void, the seal was often removed from it, or a piece of it was cut off to indicate its invalidity.)

A Bond or Obligation, 1747
    (This bond is related to the indentures of the same year.  Note that the first part is a promise in the first person by the debtor, and that the second part--the condition--is a third-person description of the obligation.  If the condition was not fulfilled, the obligation in the bond itself became enforceable)

A Bastard Bond, 1781 (photo)
    (This bond was used to ensure that a child born out of wedlock would not become a public burden.  The obligation portion states that Thomas Gallon and John Gallon (the suspected father or fathers) are firmly bound to the churchwardens and overseers of the poor in the sum of one hundred pounds.  The condition recites that one Dorothy Gardner, spinster, is "big and pregnant with Child which is likely to be born a Bastard and to be Chargeable to the said parish" and that if the Gallons at all times indemnify the parish for all Costs and Charges by reason of the Birth, Education, and Maintenance of the said child, the obligation will become void.  (In plain English, If they don't pay for the child's upbringing, they will have to pay the hundred pounds). Apparently, both brothers had their way with the future mother.

A customs bond (New York, 1790)

Agreement to sell land (Colony of Connecticut, 1772)

An Indenture of Servitude,  Pennsylvania, 1794 (with photo)
    (This was a common way for a European of the time to have his or her transit expenses paid to come to the United States.  Note that the master also promises to teach the servant to read and write)

A sharecropping agreement (South Carolina 1875) (with photo)
    (The sharcropper, "Bob," is illiterate and almost certainly a former slave who is working in very slave-like conditions, probably for his former owner.)