1666 Several persons escaped from the Vessel, who pretend they were No. 107/1 (as they term it) and invited upon several pretences aboard them, and then..carried away.a1675 B. Whitelocke (1682) anno 1645 140/1 An Ordinance agains such who are called , and use to steal away, and take up children.
Finally, in the nineteenth century, the connotation of the phrase began to converge with the non-slang meaning of the word:
c. Said of the action of spirits.
1825 J. Neal I. 253 Peters had been.. away in a thunderstorm.
1855 W. Irving 179 Others jocosely hinted that old Pluto..had away the boy to the nether regions.
1889 J. M. Barrie 102 It was thocht next mornin' 'at the ghost had them awa.
I looked up John Neal, the author of Brother Jonathan, on Wikipedia, and found that he sometimes took only a week to write a novel. This productivity earned him the nickname Jehu O'Cataract. "I shall write, as others drink, for exhilaration," he once declared. After three years in London (lodging part of the time with Jeremy Bentham), he returned to his birthplace of Portland, Maine to visit his mother. He hadn't planned to move back there for good, but the local reaction to his writing had been so bad that he was told he wouldn't be allowed to stay even if he wanted to – which made him decide he did want to, and indeed he did stay, for the rest of his life. "He maintained a solid physique into old age, which he demonstrated when he threw a stubborn cigar-smoker off a non-smoking street car at the age of 79." Edgar Allen Poe called him "among our men of indisputable genius" but none of his books are now in print.