Bound with an Iron Chain: The Untold Story of How the British Transported 50,000 Convicts to Colonial America

An Bestseller in the subject categories of Colonial American History, English History, and Immigrants!

ISBN 978-0-9836744-0-5
Library of Congress Control Number: 2011908764
358 pages (i-xx + 338, including Notes, Sources, and Index)
Retail Price: $16.99 paperback; $6.99 e-book

In 1723, James Bell grabbed a book from a London bookstall and started to run, but he was chased by several witnesses and was discovered hiding in a dog kennel. As punishment for his crime, Bell was loaded on a ship and sent to colonial America, where he was sold at auction as an indentured servant for a seven-year term.

Most people know that England shipped thousands of convicts to Australia, but few are aware that colonial America was the original destination for Britain’s unwanted criminals. In the 18th century, thousands of British convicts like Bell were separated from their families, chained together in the hold of a ship, and carried off to America. What happened to these convicts once they arrived? Did they eventually prosper in an environment of unlimited opportunity, or were they ostracized by other colonists and doomed to live in poverty?

Anthony Vaver tells the stories of the petty thieves and professional criminals who were subjected to this unique punishment, and in bringing to life this forgotten chapter in American history, he challenges the way we think about immigration to early America.

The book also includes an appendix with tips on researching individual convicts who were transported to America.

Anthony Vaver at Blackfriars, where transported convicts from London set sail for America.

Anthony Vaver is the author and publisher of, a website that explores crime, criminals, and punishments from America’s past. He has a Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and an M.L.S. from Rutgers University, and he is currently working on a new book about early American criminals. He has never spent a night in jail, but he was once falsely accused of shoplifting.

Find Bound with an Iron Chain at:


“Bound with an Iron Chain is a fascinating, detailed, and eye-opening look at a little-discussed historical phenomenon: the systematic transportation of more than 50,000 criminals from Great Britain to colonial America in the eighteenth century. Anthony Vaver writes with great clarity, always with an eye to including an original, colorful anecdote. Whether you are student or scholar, historian or genealogist, reading this book will have you thinking in new ways about what it meant to be enslaved or free in early America. I thoroughly enjoyed and learned so much from this book.”
Devoney Looser, Professor of English and 18th-Century Studies, University of Missouri

“With a skillful blend of historical accuracy and engaging narrative, Bound with an Iron Chain retells the long lost tale of convicts who were transported unwillingly by the boatload to America’s shores and like ne’er-do-well nephews were conveniently forgotten.”
Robert Wilhelm,

“This is a great book. With a storyteller’s verve, Anthony Vaver recalls to life the 50,000 colonists you were supposed to forget all about. From the London underworld to the New World frontier, from stolen stockings in Cheapside to the American Revolution, Vaver retrieves an ocean-straddling social history and the legacy of men, women, and children once written out of their eventual country’s founding myth.”
Jason Zanon,

“Informative and erudite, but always flavoured with the grit of the matter in hand, Anthony Vaver has created a valuable and highly readable work on a neglected subject. Read it and be absorbed by the dark side of early America.”
Lucy Inglis,

Find Bound with an Iron Chain at:


Early American Criminals: An American Newgate Calendar, Chronicling the Lives of the Most Notorious Criminal Offenders from Colonial America and the New Republic

Book cover for website announcement

An Bestseller in the subject category of Colonial American History!

ISBN: 978-0-9836744-2-9
Library of Congress Control Number: 2014948997
378 pages (i-xx + 356, including index)
Retail price: $17.99 paperback; $7.99 e-book

Most books about crime in colonial America focus on blasphemers, adulterers, and witches burning at the stake. Not this book. In Early American Criminals, crime historian, Anthony Vaver, examines early America’s most notorious criminals: burglars, murderers, pirates, counterfeiters, and other offenders who would be recognized as criminals even by today’s standards.

Vaver uncovers the dark, compelling, and even humorous stories from America’s earliest criminal underworld: a New England burglar who walked through the unlocked door of a goldsmith to rob his store a second time; a man who sat all morning on his roof in fear that someone walking by might harm him, but who ended up committing murder by day’s end; a transported convict who charmed her young lover into selling himself into servitude to raise money for her release from prison.

In telling the stories of these and other criminals, Vaver shows how early Americans both thought about and punished criminals differently than we do today. Poor parenting, abusive masters, and the influence of “The Devil” were often cited as motives for criminal behavior. Punishments that included the pillory, whipping, and hanging all took place in public so as to warn others not to follow a criminal path. Nowadays, we look to psychology to explain criminal behavior, and we punish our criminals behind closed doors. But, as Vaver makes clear in his book, even though our treatment of criminals differs from the past, the crimes that early Americans worried about are strikingly familiar to us today.

Anthony Vaver is the author of the Amazon bestseller, Bound with an Iron Chain: The Untold Story of How the British Transported 50,000 Convicts to Colonial America and writes and publishes the blog He has a Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and an M.L.S. from Rutgers University.


The Rebellion Begins: Westborough and the Start of the American Revolution

Book cover for website announcement

ISBN: 978-0983674443
Library of Congress Control Number: 2017954624
82 pages
Retail price: $16.99 paperback

The time is September 1774, and the Westborough militia is stepping up its training in order to march to Worcester to shut down the Worcester County courts, now operating under the Intolerable Acts. Word has it that General Thomas Gage will be sending armed British soldiers into western Massachusetts to protect the courts and enforce these new laws, which limit the ability of citizens to select their own government representatives and to hold their own town meetings. Westborough, along with other surrounding towns, is preparing for the confrontation.

Most people think April 19, 1775 marks the beginning of the American Revolution. The truth is, when the British marched into Lexington on that day they were attempting to take back a colony that was no longer under their control. The Rebellion Begins uses recently discovered documents to tell the story of how the people of Westborough rose up against the mighty British Empire to protect their way of life and help start the American Revolution.

Anthony Vaver is the author of the Amazon bestsellers Bound with an Iron Chain: The Untold Story of How the British Transported 50,000 Convicts to Colonial America and Early American Criminals, and he writes and publishes the blog He has a Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and an M.L.S. from Rutgers University.

One Response to Catalog

  1. my backgound has been traced back to the original William Caparoon born in 1776-1839 and as far as we have been able to tell he came to Deleware on a prison ship as an indentured servant. Nobody has ever been able to find out where his homeland was. I have a grandson who will be working on his Masters in Scotland this upcoming year and he’s going to try some research while he’s there . I also have a grandson here in Ky who is interested in family history so they are both interested in the book Bound with Iron Chains and when it will be published

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