E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Kidnapped; allured. Kidnappers who beguiled orphans, apprentices, and others on board ship in order to sell them to planters in Barbadoes and Virginia, were called spirits. Mr. Doyle (English in America, p. 512) finds the word used in this sense in official papers as early as 1657. (Notes and Queries, 17th December, 1892.)