When a child (an infant" - under 21 y.o. for males, 18 y.o. for females) became a potential burden to the state for support, they were often bound into the service of another. The obligations of both parties, as well as the length of service, were specified in the indenture document.
A number of indenture documents exist for African Americans in Accomack County. One is listed below. As time permits, more will be added.
Indenture for Peter George
This indenture made the 2nd day of March in the year of our lord one
thousand seven hundred and five between Mr. Georg Corben and Susanah his
wife of the one party and Peter Georg Free Negro of the other party
witnesseth that the said Peter Georg hath and doth by these presents bind
as an apprentice unto the said Georg Corben and Susanah his wife their
heirs executors or assignees one Mallato or Negro child called, Amarrica
Georg daughter to the said Peter Georg and Mary his wife being now about
one year and two months old untill she the said Amarica Georg shall attain
to the full age of twenty one years to serve the said Corben his heirs
executors etc. in all manner of lawfull employments as they or either of
them their heirs executors etc. shall from time to time and at all times
set her about during the said time in consideration of which the said
Georg Corben that is during the said time to find the said Amarrica Georg
sufficient meat drink washing lodging and apparell and at the expiration
drink washing lodging and apparell and at the expiration of the said
twenty one years to pay and deliver her the said Amarica Georg one cow
calf or to the value there of to which we set our hands and seals the day
and year above written.
Signed sealed and delivered in the presence of us,
March the 2nd 1705,
This day acknowledged by both parties as their real acts and deeds before me.
Northampton, November the 29th 1708.
The above indenture was acknowledged in open court of the above said
county by Robert Howson as an attorney of Peter Georg Negro to be the
real act and deed of the said Peter Georg Negro unto the above said Georg
Corben and at the request of the said Corben it is ordered to be recorded.
Teste - Robert Howson Clk. Cur.
Recorded - Robert Howson CCC Northampton
Source: Walczyk, Frank V. Northampton County Orders & Wills 1704 - 1710.
Peter's Row, 2000: 118.