Saturday, April 21, 2018

17C Woman by Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born mostly English artist, 1607-1677)

17C Woman by Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born mostly English artist, 1607-1677). We have few depictions of women in the 17C British American colonies, but the portrait prints of women by Wenceslaus Hollar allow us to see the hairstyles & fashions being worn in other countries during the early years of the European colonization of North America.

Friday, April 20, 2018

1649 Maryland Act of Toleration

1649 An Act Concerning Religion...

The Maryland Toleration Act did not bring complete religious freedom. Nor did it come about because of a profound humanistic conviction on the part of Cecil (Cecilius) Calvert, Second Lord Baltimore (1605-1675) the Maryland proprietor, who remained in England instead of sailing to Maryland to live.
Lord Baltimore Cecilius Calvert

The act was a pragmatic solution to a serious problem. The Catholics in originally Catholic Maryland had become a minority of the population although still powerful politically. They were in great danger of being ill-treated by the Protestant majority.

The Toleration Act, it was believed, was a way of providing protection for Catholics while at the same time representing a nod in the direction of the English government, which in 1649, and for a dozen years thereafter was firmly under the control of the English Puritans.

Nonetheless, the document is important because it did provide modest although impermanent protection for Catholic Marylanders and set a precedent to which others could refer.

Despite Baltimore's Catholic background and his desire to use Maryland as a refuge for Catholics persecuted elsewhere, the Catholic Church never became the established church. In the eighteenth century this distinction was given to the Church of England.

Forasmuch as in a well governed and Christian Common Weath matters concerning Religion and the honor of God ought in the first place to bee taken, into serious consideracion and endeavoured to bee settled, Be it therefore ordered and enacted by the Right Honourable Cecilius Lord Baron of Baltemore absolute Lord and Proprietary of this Province with the advise and consent of this Generall Assembly:

That whatsoever person or persons within this Province and the Islands thereunto helonging shall from henceforth blaspheme God, that is Curse him, or deny our Saviour Jesus Christ to bee the sonne of God, or shall deny the holy Trinity the father sonne and holy Ghost, or the Godhead of any of the said Three persons of the Trinity or the Unity of the Godhead, or shall use or utter any reproachfull Speeches, words or language concerning the said Holy Trinity, or any of the said three persons thereof, shalbe punished with death and confiscation or forfeiture of all his or her lands and goods to the Lord Proprietary and his heires.

And bee it also Enacted by the Authority and with the advise and assent aforesaid, That whatsoever person or persons shall from henceforth use or utter any reproachfull words or Speeches concerning the blessed Virgin Mary the Mother of our Saviour or the holy Apostles or Evangelists or any of them shall in such case for the first offence forfeit to the said Lord Proprietary and his heirs Lords and Proprietaries of this Province the summe of five pound Sterling or the value thereof to be Levyed on the goods and chattells of every such person soe offending, but in case such Offender or Offenders, shall not then have goods and chattells sufficient for the satisfyeing of such forfeiture, or that the same bee not otherwise speedily satisfyed that then such Offender or Offenders shalbe publiquely whipt and bee imprisoned during the pleasure of the Lord Proprietary or the Lieutenant or cheife Governor of this Province for the time being. And that every such Offender or Offenders for every second offence shall forfeit tenne pound sterling or the value thereof to bee levyed as aforesaid, or in case such offender or Offenders shall not then have goods and chattells within this Province sufficient for that purpose then to bee publiquely and severely whipt and imprisoned as before is expressed. And that every person or persons before mentioned offending herein the third time, shall for such third Offence forfeit all his lands and Goods and bee for ever banished and expelled out of this Province.

And be it also further Enacted by the same authority advise and assent that whatsoever person or persons shall from henceforth uppon any occasion of Offence or otherwise in a reproachful manner or Way declare call or denominate any person or persons whatsoever inhabiting, residing, traffiqueing, trading or comerceing within this Province or within any the Ports, Harbors, Creeks or Havens to the same belonging an heritick, Scismatick, Idolator, puritan, Independant, Prespiterian popish prest, Jesuite, Jesuited papist, Lutheran, Calvenist, Anabaptist, Brownist, Antinomian, Barrowist, Roundhead, Separatist, or any other name or terme in a reproachfull manner relating to matter of Religion shall for every such Offence forfeit and loose the somme of tenne shillings sterling or the value thereof to bee levyed on the goods and chattells of every such Offender and Offenders, the one half thereof to be forfeited and paid unto the person and persons of whom such reproachfull words are or shalbe spoken or uttered, and the other half thereof to the Lord Proprietary and his heires Lords and Proprietaries of this Province. But if such person or persons who shall at any time utter or speake any such reproachfull words or Language shall not have Goods or Chattells sufficient and overt within this Province to bee taken to satisfie the penalty aforesaid or that the same bee not otherwise speedily satisfyed, that then the person or persons soe offending shalbe publickly whipt, and shall suffer imprisonment without baile or maineprise [bail] untill hee, shee or they respectively shall satisfy the party soe offended or greived by such reproachfull Language by asking him or her respectively forgivenes publiquely for such his Offence before the Magistrate of cheife Officer or Officers of the Towne or place where such Offence shalbe given.

And be it further likewise Enacted by the Authority and consent aforesaid That every person and persons within this Province that shall at any time hereafter prophane the Sabbath or Lords day called Sunday by frequent swearing, drunkennes or by any uncivill or disorderly recreacion, or by working on that day when absolute necessity doth not require it shall for every such first offence forfeit 2s 6d sterling or the value thereof, and for the second offence 5s sterling or the value thereof, and for the third offence and soe for every time he shall offend in like manner afterwards 10s sterling or the value thereof. And in case such offender and offenders shall not have sufficient goods or chattells within this Province to satisfy any of the said Penalties respectively hereby imposed for prophaning the Sabbath or Lords day called Sunday as aforesaid, That in Every such case the partie soe offending shall for the first and second offence in that kinde be imprisoned till hee or shee shall publickly in open Court before the cheife Commander Judge or Magistrate, of that County Towne or precinct where such offence shalbe committed acknowledg the Scandall and offence he hath in that respect given against God and the good and civill Governement of this Province, And for the third offence and for every time after shall also bee publickly whipt.

And whereas the inforceing of the conscience in matters of Religion hath frequently fallen out to be of dangerous Consequence in those commonwealthes where it hath been practised, And for the more quiett and peaceable governement of this Province, and the better to preserve mutuall Love and amity amongst the Inhabitants thereof, Be it Therefore also by the Lord Proprietary with the advise and consent of this Assembly Ordeyned and enacted (except as in this present Act is before Declared and sett forth) that noe person or persons whatsoever within this Province, or the Islands, Ports, Harbors, Creekes, or havens thereunto belonging professing to beleive in Jesus Christ, shall from henceforth bee any waies troubled, Molested or discountenanced for or in respect of his or her religion nor in the free exercise thereof within this Province or the Islands thereunto belonging nor any way compelled to the beleife or exercise of any other Religion against his or her consent, soe as they be not unfaithfull to the Lord Proprietary, or molest or conspire against the civill Governement established or to bee established in this Province under him or his heires. And that all and every person and persons that shall presume Contrary to this Act and the true intent and meaning thereof directly or indirectly either in person or estate willfully to wrong disturbe trouble or molest any person whatsoever within this Province professing to beleive in Jesus Christ for or in respect of his or her religion or the free exercise thereof within this Province other than is provided for in this Act that such person or persons soe offending, shalbe compelled to pay trebble damages to the party soe wronged or molested, and for every such offence shall also forfeit 20s sterling in money or the value thereof, half thereof for the use of the Lord Proprietary, and his heires Lords and Proprietaries of this Province, and the other half for the use of the party soe wronged or molested as aforesaid, Or if the partie soe offending as aforesaid shall refuse or bee unable to recompense the party soe wronged, or to satisfy such fyne or forfeiture, then such Offender shalbe severely punished by publick whipping and imprisonment during the pleasure of the Lord Proprietary, or his Lieutenant or cheife Governor of this Province for the tyme being without baile or maineprise.

And bee it further alsoe Enacted by the authority and consent aforesaid That the Sheriff or other Officer or Officers from time to time to bee appointed and authorized for that purpose, of the County Towne or precinct where every particular offence in this present Act conteyned shall happen at any time to bee committed and whereupon there is hereby a forfeiture fyne or penalty imposed shall from time to time distraine and seise the goods and estate of every such person soe offending as aforesaid against this present Act or any part thereof, and sell the same or any part thereof for the full satisfaccion of such forfeiture, fine, or penalty as aforesaid, Restoring unto the partie soe offending the Remainder or overplus of the said goods or estate after such satisfaccion soe made as aforesaid. The freemen have assented.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

17C Woman by Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born mostly English artist, 1607-1677)

17C Woman by Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born mostly English artist, 1607-1677). We have few depictions of women in the 17C British American colonies, but the portrait prints of women by Wenceslaus Hollar allow us to see the hairstyles & fashions being worn in other countries during the early years of the European colonization of North America.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Puritan Intellectuals & Authors - Mostly Men, of course...

Probably no other North American European colonists were as intellectual as the Puritans. Between 1630 & 1690, there were as many university graduates in the northeastern section of the United States, known as New England, as in England itself. They wanted their intensive  education to understand & execute God's will as they established their colonies throughout New England.

Detail. Jan van Neck, Anatomische les van Dr. Ruysch, 1683

The Puritan definition of good writing was that which brought home a full awareness of the importance of worshiping God & of the spiritual dangers that the soul faced during life on Earth. Puritan writing genres varied from complex metaphysical poetry to homely journals & crushingly pedantic religious history. Whatever the chosen style certain themes remained constant. Life was seen as a test; failure led to eternal damnation & hellfire, & success leading to heavenly bliss. This world was an arena for the constant battle between the forces of God & the forces of Satan. Many Puritans excitedly anticipated the "millennium," when Jesus would return to Earth, end human misery, & initiate 1,000 years of peace & prosperity.

Detail. The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp , Rembrandt, 1632 

Scholars have long pointed out the link between Puritanism & capitalism: Both rest on ambition, hard work, & an intense striving for success. Although individual Puritans could not know, in strict theological terms, whether they were "saved" & among the elect who would go to heaven, Puritans tended to feel that earthly success was a sign of election. Wealth & status were sought not only for themselves, but as welcome reassurances of spiritual health & promises of eternal life. Moreover, the concept of stewardship encouraged success. The Puritans interpreted all things & events as symbols with deeper spiritual meanings, & felt that in advancing their own profit & their community's well-being, they were also furthering God's plans. They did not draw lines of distinction between the secular & religious spheres. All of life was an expression of the divine will, a belief that later resurfaces in Transcendentalism.

In recording ordinary events to reveal their spiritual meaning, Puritan authors commonly cited the Bible, chapter & verse. History was a symbolic religious panorama leading to the Puritan triumph over the New World & to God's kingdom on Earth. The first Puritan colonists who settled New England exemplified the seriousness of Reformation Christianity. Known as the "Pilgrims," they were a small group of believers who had migrated from England to Holland, known for its religious tolerance, in 1608, during a time of persecutions. Like most Puritans, they interpreted the Bible literally. They read & acted on the text of the Second Book of Corinthians -- "Come out from among them & be ye separate, saith the Lord." Despairing of purifying the Church of England from within, "Separatists" formed underground "covenanted" churches that swore loyalty to the group instead of the king. Seen as traitors to the king as well as heretics damned to hell, they were often persecuted. Their separation took them ultimately to the New World.

The Enlightenment (1685-1815) was the growth of individualism in secular & intellectual forces in Western Europe. Secular Catholic intellectual, Robert Calef (1648–1719) described the Puritan worldview as “heretical” in More Wonders of the Invisible World. Enlightenment philosophy undermined the authority of the Church & called concepts of witchcraft as unbridled, "superstition."

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

17C Woman by Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born mostly English artist, 1607-1677)

17C Woman by Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born mostly English artist, 1607-1677). We have few depictions of women in the 17C British American colonies, but the portrait prints of women by Wenceslaus Hollar allow us to see the hairstyles & fashions being worn in other countries during the early years of the European colonization of North America.

Monday, April 16, 2018

William Penn's 2nd Wife, Quaker Hannah Callowhill Penn 1671-1726

Hannah Callowhill Penn by John Hesselius

Hannah Callowhill Penn (1671-1726) second wife & executrix of William Penn (1644-1718), founder of Pennsylvania, was born in Bristol, England. She was the daughter of Thomas Callowhill, a prosperous Quaker button manufacturer, linen draper, & merchant, & his wife, Anna (Hannah) Hollister. Although she had 8 siblings, by the time Hannah was 15, she was her parents’ only surviving child. They taught her to keep accounts & to understand the various aspects of family commercial ventures, which later proved useful.

When she finally consented to be Penn’s wife after almost a year‘s persistent courtship, he was fifty-two, a widower with teen-age children. Their marriage took place on Mar. 5, 1696, at the old Broadhead Meeting in Bristol; in the next twelve years she bore Penn eight children (not seven as commonly stated). Of these, the first did not live long enough to be named. The succeeding children were John, call “the American” because he was born in Philadelphia (1700); Thomas (1702), later chief proprietor of Pennsylvania; Hannah Margarita (1703); Margaret (1704); Richard (1706); Dennis (1707); & Hannah (1708). Both Hannahs died in early childhood.

In this first period of her married life Hannah Penn made her only trip to Pennsylvania, with her husband & stepdaughter Letitia. They remained in the province just twenty-three months (1699-1701), but during that time she came to know Penn’s associates in the provincial government & gained their respect by her common sense, prudence, & dignity. Though she became aware of the economic problems & developing factionalism in the young province, she was concerned primarily with managing the farm at Pennsbury in Bucks County while her husband was engaged in the business of government. Penn had hoped to settle permanently in the province, but political & financial problems that arose in England required them to return.

In the years following Hannah saw her husband pressured by debts & imprisoned, & watched him grow disillusioned with his contentious Assembly & eventually realize that William, Jr., his eldest son by his first marriage, was unsuitable as the future heir to the proprietorship & province of Pennsylvania. She was in full accord with Penn, as a result, in 1703 initiated his first proposal to surrender the government of his province to the Crown for a cash settlement, while retaining title to the land, & when , in order to pay off his debts, he arranged to mortgage the land to English Quaker trustees.

Hannah Callowhill (Mrs. William) Penn, by Henry J. Wright, after Francis Place, 1874.

William Penn died in 1718. In his will, written in 1712 after his first stroke, he had demonstrated his confidence in Hannah by naming her sole executrix & leaving to her & her children the greater part pf his Pennsylvania land. But by vesting the government of the province to the hands of English trustees he had laid the foundation for a claim to both soil & government by his eldest son, William, Jr., the de jure heir. That claim, initiated immediately after Penn’s death, complicated the last period of Hannah’s life with tedious & expensive litigation over the will.

In 1721, now aged fifty, Hannah suffered what was called a “fit of the dead palsy” which, though it left her mind unimpaired, weakened her physically. From then until her death much of the proprietary business was left to the discretion of the devoted Simon Clement & of her eldest son, John, now of age. Never fully relinquished her right of stewardship, she continued to keep in tough with events in the province & in 1724 concluded a temporary agreement with Lord Baltimore over the long-vexed question of the Pennsylvania-Maryland boundary. By then the mortgage was nearly all paid, & she had come to view the surrender of government with less enthusiasm. She knew that the people of Pennsylvania thought it “inconsistent with the Proprietor’s first engagement” with them; moreover, if the will was confirmed in favor of her family, divorcing the soil from the proprietorship & its perquisites would deprive her sons of their full inheritance.

She lived just long enough to learn that she had won by default, & that Penn’s will would be upheld. A week later she died at the home of her son John in London, following another stroke. She was buried at Jordans Friends Meeting in Buckinghamshire; her coffin reputedly reposes on that of her husband. By her dedication to her husband’s policies & her ability through all her trials to act, as Isaac Norris wrote, “with a wonderful evenness, humility & freedom,” she had succeeded in keeping the Province of Pennsylvania intact & the people contented. Pennsylvania was held by her branch of the Penn family as a proprietary colony until the Revolution.

This posting based on information from Notable American Women edited by Edward T James, Janet Wilson James, Paul S Boyer, The Belknap Press of Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1971

Sunday, April 15, 2018

17C Woman by Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born mostly English artist, 1607-1677)

17C Woman by Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born mostly English artist, 1607-1677). We have few depictions of women in the 17C British American colonies, but the portrait prints of women by Wenceslaus Hollar allow us to see the hairstyles & fashions being worn in other countries during the early years of the European colonization of North America.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Road to The American Constitution - Plantation Agreement at Providence, Rhode Island, August-September 1640

Records of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations in New England
Rhode Island was first settled in 1636 by Roger Williams and other immigrants who had suffered persecution in Massachusetts, and who established at Providence " a pure democracy, which for the first time guarded jealously the rights of conscience by ignoring any power in the body politic to interfere with those matters that alone concern man and his Maker."

Plantation Agreement at Providence August-September 1640
Wee, Robert Coles, Chad Browne, William Harris, and John Warner, being freely chosen by the consent of our loving friends and neighbors the Inhabitants of this Towne of Providence, having many dig erences amongst us, they being freely willing and also bound themselves to stand to our Arbitration in all differences amongst us to rest contented in our determination, being so betrusted we have seriously and carefully indeavoured to weigh and consider all those differences, being desirous to bringe to unity and peace, although our abilities are farr short in the due examination of such weighty things, yet so farre as we conceive in laying all things together we have gone the fairest and the equallest way to produce our peace.

1. Agreed, We have with one consent agreed that in the parting those particular properties which some of our friends and neighbors have in Patuxit, from the general Common of our towne of Providence, to run uppon a straight line from a fresh spring being in the Gulley, at the head of that cove running by that point of land called Saxafras unto the towne of Mashipawogt to an oake tree standing neere unto the corn field, being at this time the nearest corn field unto Patuxit, the cake tree having four marks with an axe, till some other land marke be set for a certaine bound. Also, we agree that if any meadow ground lyeing and joineing to that Meadow, that borders uppon the River of Patuxit come within the aforesaid line, which will not come within a straight line from long Cove to the marked tree, then for that meadow to belong to Pawtuxit, and so beyond the towne of Mashipawog from the oake tree between the two fresh Rivers Pawtuxit and Waanasquatucket of an even Distance.

2. Agreed. We have with one consent agreed that for the disposeing, of those lands that shall be disposed belonging to this towne of Providence to be in the whole Inhabitants by the choise of five men for generall disposeall, to betrusted with disposeall of lands and also of the towne Stocke, and all Generall things and not to receive in any six dayes at townesmen, but first to give the Inhabitants notice to consider if any have just cause to shew against the receiving of him as you can apprehend, and to receive none but such as subscribe to this our determination. Also, we agree that if any of our neighbours doe apprehend himselfe wronged by these or any of these 5 disposers, that at the Generall towne meeting he may have a tryall.

Also wee agree for the towne to choose beside the other five men one or more to keepe Record of all things belonging to the towne and lying in Common,

Wee agree, as formerly hath bin the liberties of the town, so still, to hould forth liberty of Conscience.

III. Agreed, that after many Considerations and Consultations of our owne State and alsoe of States abroad in way of government, we apprehend, no way so suitable to our Condition as government by way of Arbitration. But if men agree themselves by arbitration, no State we know of disallows that, neither doe we: But if men refuse that which is but common humanity betweene man and man, then to compel such unreasonable persons to a reasonable way, we agree that the 5 disposers shall have power to compel him to choose two men himselfe, or if he refuse, for them to choose two men to arbitrate his cause, and if these foure men chosen by every partie do end the cause, then to see theire determination performed and the faultive to pay the Arbitrators for theire time spent in it: But if these foure men doe not end it, then for the 5 disposers to choose three men to put an end to it, and for the certainty thereof, wee agree the major part of the 5 disposers to choose the 3 men, and the major part of the 3 men to end the cause haveing power from the 5 disposers by a note under theire hand to performe it, and the faultive not agreeing in the first to pay the charge of the last, and for the Arbitrators to follow no imployment til the cause be ended without consent of the whole that have to doe with the cause.

Instance. In the first Arbitration the offender may offer reasonable terms of peace, and the offended may exact upon him and refuse and trouble men beyond reasonable satisfaction; so for the last arbitrators to judge where the fault was, in not agreeing in the first, to pay the charge of the last.

IV. Agreed, that if any person damnify any man, either in goods of good name, and the person offended follow not the cause uppon the Vendor, that if any person give notice to the 5 Disposers, they shall call the party delinquent to answer by Arbitration.

Instance, Thus, if any person abuse an other person or goods, may be for peace sake, a man will at present put it up, and it may so be resolve to revenge: therefore, for the peace of the state, the disposers are to look to it in the first place.

V. Agreed, for all the whole Inhabitants to combine ourselves to assist any man in the pursuit of any party delinquent, with all best endeavours to attack him: but if any man raise a hubbub and there be no just cause, then for the party that raised the hubbub to satisfy men for their time lost in it.

VI.. Agreed, that if any man have a difference with any of the 5 Disposers which cannot be deferred till general meeting of the towne, then he may have the Clerk call the towne together at his [discretion] for a tryall.

Instance. It may be, a man may be to depart the land, or to a fare parse of the land; or his estate may lye uppon a speedy tryall or the like case may fall out.

VII. Agreed, that the towne, by the five men shall give every man a deed of all his lands lying within the bounds of the Plantations, to hould it by for after ages.

VIII. Agreed, that the 5 disposers shall from the date hereof, meete every month-day uppon General things and at the quarter-day to yeeld a new choice and give up their old Accounts.

IX. Agreed, that the Clerke shall call the 5 Disposers together at the month-day, and the general! towne together every quarter, to meete uppon general occasions from the date hereof.

X. Agreed, that the Clerke is to receive for every cause that comes to the towne for a tryall 4d. for making each deed 12d. and to give up the booke to the towne at the yeeres' end and yeeld to a new choice.

XI Agreed, that all acts of disposall on both sides to stand since the difference.

XII. Agreed, that every man that hath not paid in his purchase money for his Plantation shall make up his 10s. to be 30s. equal with the first purchasers: and for all that are received townsmen hereafter, to pay the like summe of money to the towne stocke.

These being those things wee have generally concluded on, for our peace, we desireing our loving friends to receive as our absolute determination, laying ourselves downe as subjects to it.

39 signatures follow

Friday, April 13, 2018

17C Woman by Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born mostly English artist, 1607-1677)

17C Woman by Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born mostly English artist, 1607-1677). We have few depictions of women in the 17C British American colonies, but the portrait prints of women by Wenceslaus Hollar allow us to see the hairstyles & fashions being worn in other countries during the early years of the European colonization of North America.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

1698 The Story of Squanto by Cotton Mather

"The Story of Squanto" from 1698 Magnalia Christi Americana by Cotton Mather

A most wicked shipmaster being on this coast a few years before, had wickedly spirited away more than twenty Indians; whom having enticed them aboard, he presently stowed them under hatches, and carried them away to the Streights, where he sold as many of them as he could for Slaves. This avaritious and pernicious felony laid the foundation for grievous annoyances to all the English endeavors of settlements, especially in the Northern parts of the land for several years ensuing. The Indians would never forget or forgive this injury. . 
But our good God so ordered it, that one of the stolen Indians, called Squanto, had escaped out of Spain into England; where he lived with one Mr. Slany, from whom he had found a way to return unto his own country, being brought back by one Mr. Dermer, about half a year before our honest Plymotheans were cast upon this continent. This Indian having received much kindness from the English, who generally condemned the man that first betrayed him, now made unto the English a return of that kindness: and being by his acquaintance with the English language, fitted with a conversation with them, he very kindly informed them what was the present condition of the Indians; instructed them in the way of ordering their Corn; and acquainted them with many other things, which it was necessary for them to understand.

But Squanto did for them a yet greater benefit than all this: for he brought Massasoit, the chief Sachim or Prince of the Indians within many miles, with some scores of his attenders, to make our people a kind visit; the issue of which visit was, that Massasoit not only entred  into a firm agreement of peace with the English, but also they declared and submitted themselves to be subjects of the King of England; into which peace and subjection many other Sachims quickly after came, in the most voluntary manner that could be expressed. It seems that this unlucky Squanto having told his countrymen how easie it was for so great a monarch as K. James to destroy them all, if they should hurt any of his people, he went on to terrifie them with a ridiculous rhodomantado, which they believed, that this people kept the plague in a cellar (where they kept their gunpowder), and could at their pleasure let it loose to make such havock among them, as the distemper had already made among them a few years before. . .

Moreover, our English guns, especially the great ones, made a formidable report among these ignorant Indians; and their hopes of enjoying some defence by the English, against the potent nation nation of Narraganset Indians, now at war with them, made them yet more to court our friendship. This very strange disposition of things, was extreamly advantageous to our distressed planters: and who sees not herein the special providence of the God who disposeth all?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

17C Woman by Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born mostly English artist, 1607-1677)

17C Woman by Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born mostly English artist, 1607-1677). We have few depictions of women in the 17C British American colonies, but the portrait prints of women by Wenceslaus Hollar allow us to see the hairstyles & fashions being worn in other countries during the early years of the European colonization of North America.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

1682 Pennsylvania Laws Against Adultery, Incest, Rape, & Polygamy

1682 Pennsylvania Laws

Chapter 7. And be it &c: That whosoever defileth the marriage bed, by Lying with another Women or Man, than their own wife or husband, being Legally convicted thereof, Shall for the first offence be publickly whipt, & Suffer one whole year’s imprisonment in the house of correction at hard Labour, to the behoof of the publick & Longer if the chief Magistrate See meet And both hee & the Woman Shall be Liable to a Bill of Divorcement, if required by the greived husband or wife, within the said term of one whole year after Conviction. And for the Second Offence Imprisonment in Manner aforesaid, during Life. And if the party with whom the husband or wife Shall defile their beds be Unmarryed, for the first offence they Shall Suffer half a year’s imprisonment in the manner aforesaid. And for the Second offence, Imprisonment for Life.

Chapter 8. And be it &c: That if any person Shall be Legally convicted of Incest, which is uncleanness betwixt near relations in blood, Such Shall forfeit one half of his Estate, and both Suffer imprisonment a whole year in the house of Correction at hard Labour, And for the Second offence imprisonment in Manner aforesaid during Life.

Chapter 10. And be it &c: That whosoever Shall be Convicted of Rape or Ravishment, that is, forcing a Maid, Widow or Wife, Shall forfeit One third part of his Estate to the parent of the said Maid & for want of a parent to the said Maid, And if a Widow to the said Widow, And if a Wife to the husband of the said wife &the Said party be whipt, & Suffer a year’s imprisonment in the house of Correction at hard Labour, And for the second offence imprisonment in Manner aforesaid
during Life.

Chapter 11. And be it &c: That whosoever Shall be Convicted of having two Wives or two husbands att one and the Same time Shall be imprisoned all their Life-time in the house of Correction at hard Labour, to the behoof of the former wife & children or the former husband & children And if a Man or Women being Unmarried do knowingly Marry the husband or wife of another person, hee or shee Shall be punished after the same Manner aforesaid.

Monday, April 9, 2018

17C Woman by Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born mostly English artist, 1607-1677)

17C Woman by Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born mostly English artist, 1607-1677). We have few depictions of women in the 17C British American colonies, but the portrait prints of women by Wenceslaus Hollar allow us to see the hairstyles & fashions being worn in other countries during the early years of the European colonization of North America.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

1682 William Penn's (1644-1718) Letter to His Wife Before He Leaves for the Colonies

Young William Penn (1644-1718) in Armor

William Penn (1644-1718) arrived in Pennsylvania on October 29, 1682 after almost 7 weeks at sea. In 2 years Penn returned to England. He traveled back to Pennsylvania in 1699, and left again for England in 1701, never to return.
William Penn (1644-1718)  a Few Years Later
Before leaving England for Pennsylvania in 1682, William Penn wrote a letter to his wife and children.

 My dear Wife and Children.
My love, that sea, nor land, nor death itself can extinguish or lessen toward you, most endearedly visits you with eternal embraces and will abide with you forever. And may the God of my life watch over you and bless you and do you good in this world and forever. Some things are upon my spirit to leave with you, in your respective capacities, as I am to one a husband, and to the rest a father, if I should never see you more in this world.

My dear wife, remember thou was the love of my youth, and much the joy of my life, the most beloved, as well as most worthy, of all my earthly comforts. And the reason of that love was more thy inward than thy outward excellences (which yet were many). God knows, and thou knows it. I can say it was a match of providence's making, and God's image in us both was the first thing and the most amiable and engaging ornament in our eyes. Now I am to leave thee, and that without knowing whether I shall ever see thee more in this world. Take my counsel into thy bosom and let it dwell with thee in my stead while thou lives.

Ist. Let the fear of the Lord, and a zeal and love to His glory, dwell richly in thy heart, and thou will watch for good over thyself and thy dear children and family, that no rude, light, or bad thing be committed, else God will be offended, and He will repent Himself of the good He intends thee and thine.

2dly. Be diligent in meetings of worship and business; stir up thyself and others herein; it is thy day and place. And let meetings be kept once a day in the family to wait upon the Lord, who has given us much time for ourselves. And my dearest, to make thy family matters easy to thee, divide thy time, and be regular. It is easy and sweet. Thy retirement will afford thee to do it, as in the morning to view the business of the house and fix it as thou desire, seeing all be in order, that by thy counsel all may move, and to thee render an account every evening. The time for work, for walking, for meals, may be certain, at least as near as may be. And grieve not thyself with careless servants. They will disorder thee. Rather pay them and let them go if they will not be better by admonitions. This is best, to avoid many words, which I know wound the soul and offend the Lord.

3dly. Cast up thy income and see what it daily amounts to, by which thou may be sure to have it in thy sight and power to keep within compass. And I beseech thee to live low and sparingly till my debts are paid, and then enlarge as thou see it convenient. Remember thy mother's example when thy father's public-spiritedness had worsted his estate (which is my case). I know thou loves plain things and are averse to the pomp of the world, a nobility natural to thee. I write not as doubtful, but to quicken thee, for my sake, to be more vigilant herein, knowing that God will bless thy care, and thy poor children and thee for it. My mind is wrapped up in a saying of thy father's. "I desire not riches, but to owe nothing." And truly that is wealth; and more than enough to live is a snare attended with many sorrows.

I need not bid thee be humble, for thou are so; nor meek and patient, for it is much of thy natural disposition. But I pray thee, be often in retirement with the Lord and guard against encroaching friendships. Keep them at arm's end; for it is giving away our power, aye, and self too, into the possession of another. And that which might seem engaging in the beginning, may prove a yoke and burden too hard and heavy in the end. Wherefore keep dominion over thyself, and let thy children, good meetings, and Friends be the pleasure of thy life.

4thly. And now, my dearest, let me recommend to thy care my dear children, abundantly beloved of me as the Lord's blessings and the sweet pledges of our mutual and endeared affection. Above all things, endeavor to breed them up in the love of virtue and that holy plain way of it which we have lived in, that the world, in no part of it, get into my family. I had rather they were homely than finely bred, as to outward behavior; yet I love sweetness mixed with gravity, and cheerfulness tempered with sobriety. Religion in the heart leads into this true civility, teaching men and women to be mild and courteous in their behavior, an accomplishment worthy indeed of praise.

5thly. Next, breed them up in a love one of another. Tell them, it is the charge I left behind me, and that it is the way to have the love and blessing of God upon them; also what his portion is who hates, or calls his brother fool. Sometimes separate them, but not long; and allow them to send and give each other small things, to endear one another with once more. I say, tell them it was my counsel, they should be tender and affectionate one to another.

For their learning, be liberal. Spare no cost, for by such parsimony all is lost that is saved; but let it be useful knowledge, such as is consistent with truth and godliness, not cherishing a vain conversation or idle mind, but ingenuity mixed with industry is good for the body and mind too. I recommend the useful parts of mathematics, as building houses or ships, measuring, surveying, dialing, navigation, etc.; but agriculture is especially in my eye. Let my children be husbandmen and housewives. It is industrious, healthy, honest, and of good example, like Abraham and the holy ancients who pleased God and obtained a good report. This leads to consider the works of God and nature, of things that are good and divert the mind from being taken up with the vain arts and inventions of a luxurious world. It is commendable in the princes of Germany, and [the] nobles of that empire, that they have all their children instructed in some useful occupation. Rather keep an ingenious person in the house to teach them than send them to schools, too many evil impressions being commonly received there. Be sure to observe their genius and don't cross it as to learning. Let them not dwell too long on one thing, but let their change be agreeable, and all their diversions have some little bodily labor in them.

When grown big, have most care for them; for then there are more snares both within and without. When marriageable, see that they have worthy persons in their eye, of good life and good fame for piety and understanding. I need no wealth but sufficiency; and be sure their love be dear, fervent, and mutual, that it may be happy for them. I choose not they should be married into earthly covetous kindred. And of cities and towns of concourse beware. The world is apt to stick close to those who have lived and got wealth there. A country life and estate I like best for my children. I prefer a decent mansion of a hundred pounds per annum before ten thousand pounds in London, or suchlike place, in a way of trade.

In fine, my dear, endeavor to breed them dutiful to the Lord, and His blessed light, truth, and grace in their hearts, who is their Creator, and His fear will grow up with them. Teach a child (says the wise man) the way thou will have him to walk; and when he is old, he will not forget it. Next, obedience to thee their dear mother; and that not for wrath, but for conscience sake. [Be] liberal to the poor, pitiful to the miserable, humble and kind to all. And may my God make thee a blessing and give thee comfort in our dear children; and in age, gather thee to the joy and blessedness of the just (where no death shall separate us) forever.

And now, my dear children that are the gifts and mercies of the God of your tender father, hear my counsel and lay it up in your hearts. Love it more than treasure and follow it, and you shall be blessed here and happy hereafter.

In the first place, remember your Creator in the days of your youth. It was the glory of Israel in the 2d of Jeremiah: and how did God bless Josiah, because he feared him in his youth! And so He did Jacob, Joseph, and Moses. Oh! my dear children, remember and fear and serve Him who made you, and gave you to me and your dear mother, that you may live to Him and glorify Him in your generations. To do this, in your youthful days seek after the Lord, that you may find Him, remembering His great love in creating you; that you are not beasts, plants, or stones, but that He has kept you and given you His grace within, and substance without, and provided plentifully for you. This remember in your youth, that you may be kept from the evil of the world; for, in age, it will be harder to overcome the temptations of it.

Wherefore, my dear children, eschew the appearance of evil, and love and cleave to that in your hearts that shows you evil from good, and tells you when you do amiss, and reproves you for it. It is the light of Christ, that He has given you for your salvation. If you do this, and follow my counsel, God will bless you in this world and give you an inheritance in that which shall never have an end. For the light of Jesus is of a purifying nature; it seasons those who love it and take heed to it, and never leaves such till it has brought them to the city of God that has foundations. Oh! that ye may be seasoned with the gracious nature of it; hide it in your hearts, and flee, my dear children, from all youthful lusts, the vain sports, pastimes and pleasures of the world, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. You are now beginning to live-what would some give for your time? Oh! I could have lived better, were I as you, in the flower of youth. Therefore, love and fear the Lord, keep close to meetings; and delight to wait upon the Lord God of your father and mother, among his despised people, as we have done. And count it your honor to be members of that society, and heirs of that living fellowship, which is enjoyed among them-for the experience of which your father's soul blesses the Lord forever.

Next, be obedient to your dear mother, a woman whose virtue and good name is an honor to you; for she has been exceeded by none in her time for her plainness, integrity, industry, humanity, virtue, and good understanding, qualities not usual among women of her worldly condition and quality. Therefore, honor and obey her, my dear children, as your mother, and your father's love and delight; nay, love her too, for she loved your father with a deep and upright love, choosing him before all her many suitors. And though she be of a delicate constitution and noble spirit, yet she descended to the utmost tenderness and care for you, performing in painfulness acts of service to you in your infancy, as a mother and a nurse too. I charge you before the Lord, honor and obey, love and cherish, your dear mother.

Next betake yourselves to some honest, industrious course of life; and that not of sordid covetousness, but for example and to avoid idleness. And if you change your condition and marry, choose with the knowledge and consent of your mother, if living, guardians, or those that have the charge of you. Mind neither beauty nor riches, but the fear of the Lord and a sweet and amiable disposition, such as you can love above all this world and that may make your habitations pleasant and desirable to you. And being married, be tender, affectionate, and patient, and meek. Live in the fear of the Lord, and He will bless you and your offspring. Be sure to live within compass; borrow not, neither be beholden to any. Ruin not yourselves by kindness to others, for that exceeds the due bounds of friendship; neither will a true friend expect it. Small matters I heed not.

Let your industry and parsimony go no farther than for a sufficiency for life, and to make a provision for your children (and that in moderation, if the Lord gives you any). I charge you to help the poor and needy. Let the Lord have a voluntary share of your income, for the good of the poor, both in our Society and others; for we are all His creatures, remembering that he that gives to the poor, lends to the Lord. Know well your incomings, and your outgoings may be the better regulated. Love not money, nor the world. Use them only and they will serve you; but if you love them, you serve them, which will debase your spirits as well as offend the Lord. Pity the distressed, and hold out a hand of help to them; it may be your case, and as you mete to others, God will mete to you again.

Be humble and gentle in your conversation; of few words, I charge you; but always pertinent when you speak, hearing out before you attempt to answer, and then speaking as if you would persuade, not impose.

Affront none, neither revenge the affronts that are done to you; but forgive, and you shall be forgiven of your Heavenly Father.

In making friends, consider well, first; and when you are fixed, be true, not wavering by reports nor deserting in affliction, for that becomes not the good and virtuous.

Watch against anger; neither speak nor act in it, for like drunkenness, it makes a man a beast and throws people into desperate inconveniences.

Avoid flatterers; for they are thieves in disguise. Their praise is costly, designing to get by those they bespeak. They are the worst of creatures; they lie to flatter and flatter to cheat, and, which is worse, if you believe them, you cheat yourselves most dangerously. But the virtuous-though poor-love, cherish, and prefer. Remember David, who asking the Lord, "Who shall abide in Thy tabernacle; who shall dwell in Thy holy hill?" answers, "He that walks uprightly, works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart; in whose eyes the vile person is condemned, but honors them who fears the Lord."

Next, my children, be temperate in all things: in your diet, for that is physic by prevention; it keeps, nay, it makes people healthy and their generation sound. This is exclusive of the spiritual advantage it brings. Be also plain in your apparel; keep out that lust which reigns too much over some. Let your virtues be your ornaments; remembering, life is more than food, and the body than raiment. Let your furniture be simple and cheap. Avoid pride, avarice, and luxury. Read my No Cross, No Crown; there is instruction. Make your conversation with the most eminent for wisdom and piety; and shun all wicked men, as you hope for the blessing of God, and the comfort of your father's living and dying prayers. Be sure you speak no evil of any; no, not of the meanest, much less of your superiors, as magistrates, guardians, tutors, teachers, and elders in Christ.

Be no busybodies; meddle not with other folks' matters but when in conscience and duly pressed, for it procures trouble, and is ill-mannered, and very unseemly to wise men.

In your families, remember Abraham, Moses, and Joshua, their integrity to the Lord; and do as [if] you have them for your examples. Let the fear and service of the living God be encouraged in your houses, and that plainness, sobriety, and moderation in all things, as becomes God's chosen people. And, as I advise you, my beloved children, do you counsel yours, if God should give you any. Yea, I counsel and command them, as my posterity, that they love and serve the Lord God with an upright heart, that He may bless you and yours, from generation to generation.

And as for you who are likely to be concerned in the government of Pennsylvania and my parts of East Jersey, especially the first, I do charge you before the Lord God and his only angels that-you be lowly, diligent, and tender; fearing God, loving the people, and hating covetousness. Let justice have its impartial course, and the law free passage. Though to your loss, protect no man against it, for you are not above the law, but the law above you. Live therefore the lives yourselves you would have the people live; and then you have right and boldness to punish the transgressor. Keep upon the square, for God sees you; therefore do your duty; and be sure you see with your own eyes, and hear with your own ears. Entertain no lurchers; cherish no informers for gain or revenge; use no tricks, fly to no devices to support or cover injustice, but let your hearts be upright before the Lord, trusting in Him above the contrivances of men, and none shall be able to hurt or supplant.

Oh! the Lord is a strong God; and He can do whatsover He pleases. And though men consider it not, it is the Lord that rules and overrules in the kingdoms of men; and He builds up and pulls down. 1, your father, am the man that can say, he that trusts in the Lord shall not be confounded. But God, in due time, will make His enemies be at peace with Him.

If you thus behave yourselves, and so become a terror to evildoers and a praise to them that do well, God, my God, will be with you, in wisdom and a sound mind, and make you blessed instruments in His hand for the settlement of some of those desolate parts of the world -- which my soul desires above all worldly honors and riches, both for you that go and you that stay, you that govern and you that are governed - -that in the end you may be gathered with me to the rest of God.

Finally, my children, love one another with a true and endeared love, and your dear relations on both sides; and take care to preserve tender affection in your children to each other, often marrying within themselves, so [long] as it be without the bounds forbidden in God's law. That so they may not, like the forgetting and unnatural world, grow out of kindred and as cold as strangers; but, as becomes a truly natural and Christian stock, you and yours after you may live in the pure and fervent love of God toward one another, as becomes brethren in the spiritual and natural relation.

So my God, that has blessed me with His abundant mercies, both of this and the other and better life, be with you all, guide you by His counsel, bless you, and bring you to His eternal glory, that you may shine, my dear children, in the firmament of God's power, with the blessed spirits of the just, that celestial family, praising and admiring Him, the God and Father of it, forever and ever. For there is no God like unto Him: the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob; the God of the Prophets, the Apostles, and Martyrs of Jesus; in whom I live forever.

So farewell to my thrice dearly beloved wife and children. Yours, as God pleases, in that which no waters can quench, no time forget, nor distance wear away, but remains forever.    William Penn
A Drawing of William Penn (1644-1718)  Made During His Life

Upon landing in the colonies, a shipmate wrote this description, At our arrival, we found it a wilderness; the chief inhabitants were Indians, and some Swedes; who received us in a friendly manner: and though there was a great number of us,… provisions were found for us, by the Swedes and Indians, at very reasonable rates, as well as brought from diverse other parts, that were inhabited before. -- Richard Townsend, Shipmate of William Penn On the Proprietor's first visit to Pennsylvania, 1682

Saturday, April 7, 2018

17C Woman by Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born mostly English artist, 1607-1677)

17C Woman by Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born mostly English artist, 1607-1677). We have few depictions of women in the 17C British American colonies, but the portrait prints of women by Wenceslaus Hollar allow us to see the hairstyles & fashions being worn in other countries during the early years of the European colonization of North America.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Recreating "Ye Olde Kitchen Garden"

Ye Olde Kitchen Garden
New York Times Published: July 6, 2011

Who was Good King Henry?

I first encountered the label in the Fedco Seeds catalog, as a common name for a plant in the genus Chenopodium. It’s an edible perennial with shoots like asparagus and leaves like spinach. But before Good King Henry was a salad green, he was, ostensibly, something nobler: European royalty.

There is no shortage of English Henrys to choose from, though few are remembered as paragons of good government. And did any of them have an appetite for roughage? On this question, history is mostly quiet.

A 1545 French herbal, or primitive botanical guide, mentions a “bon-Henri” (perhaps Henry IV of France), said Kathleen Wall, who cooks and gardens at Plimoth Plantation, a living history museum in Plymouth, Mass. But then Ms. Wall, 53, has also found a “bad Henry,” of German origin: der böse Heinrich.

What if Henry wasn’t a king at all, but an elf? That’s one of the hypotheses the botanical historian Judith Sumner put to me by e-mail.

“Henry (or Heinz or Heinrich) was a typical name for elves,” she wrote. “So the plant name may reflect some presumed magical qualities rather than commemorating an actual king. The ‘good’ part might mean it was safe to ingest.”

The exact namesake for Good King Henry may be lost to time. But then the plant itself, like so many others, has almost vanished as well. In the raised-bed gardens that flank the houses at Plimoth Plantation, Ms. Wall grew Good King Henry for years.

But “I didn’t save the seed,” said Ms. Wall, who bought it every year from catalogs instead. “And then the seed was gone for a long time.”

The mystery of Good King Henry made me wonder about other Colonial-era vegetables that have all but disappeared from our gardens and dinner plates. Gardeners today will routinely raise a dozen varieties of tomato, a plant utterly foreign to early Americans. So why do we neglect common Colonial food plants like burnet, smallage, skirrets, scorzonera, gooseberry and purslane? And how would they taste to us now?

When it comes to Good King Henry, Ms. Wall said, the flavor is easy to describe: bland. “That’s probably why it fell out of favor,” she said. “It wasn’t special. It doesn’t get into the recipe books, so it’s just forgotten.”

In contrast, she said, spinach, a green that “springs up in the English garden scene in the 1580s,” grew stalwartly through the country’s mild summers. And by the 17th century, “suddenly all the recipes called for spinach: salads of spinach, spinach boiled, with added butter and cinnamon and sugar and raisins.”

The story of early American kitchen gardening hides in recipes like these. Another source is herbals — what one modern historian calls “botanical bibles.” Yet botany, as we know it, is just a shadow on these pages. The herbal presents a pre-scientific universe, a realm of astrology and magic.

A “vegetable” could be any plant. An “herb” was a useful one, for the table or the medicine chest.

The colonists relied on popular guides like “The Herball, or Generall Historie of Plantes” (1597), 1,400 pages of reminiscences, folk medicine and superstition written by John Gerard. Domestic handbooks like Thomas Hill’s “Profitable Arte of Gardening” (1568) were more artful than horticultural.

“A lot of the time when they write about gardening,” Ms. Wall said, referring to authors like Hill, “they’re writing about the ancient Greeks” or Romans — that is, beliefs and ideals that dated back to Pliny the Younger.

Actually growing “herbs” to feed a New England household was anything but a scholarly pursuit. The average kitchen garden was about an acre, the historian James E. McWilliams wrote in a monograph titled “ ‘To Forward Well-Flavored Productions’: The Kitchen Garden in Early New England,” from the March 2004 issue of The New England Quarterly. Hired help was practically nonexistent. Given the abundance of land, settlers had their own acres to harvest. And men were preoccupied with tending livestock and sowing grains.

That meant “this arduous task fell almost entirely to women,” Mr. McWilliams wrote. Then, as now, raised beds were standard. The soil needed to be improved, Mr. McWilliams noted: “stirred,” loosened and loaded with dung. A garden often would include an orchard of fruit trees, like apples, pears, quince and plums. And these required their own pruning and picking.

Ms. Wall has tried this kind of labor for herself in the recreated gardens outside each of the 12 historical dwellings at Plimoth Plantation. “I’m a housewife of perpetual visitation,” she said. “I travel between houses and help people.”

After 30 years at the museum, Ms. Wall is past complaining about the period costumes. But going without glasses, as most 17th-century women did, is an abiding nuisance. “It’s really hard for me to put seed in without having my nose in the ground,” she said. And weeds “have to grow large enough that I can tell them from my plants.”

It doesn’t help matters that many Colonial-era “herbs,” like dandelions or patience dock (Rumex patientia), would now be tarred as weeds. Burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis), one of Ms. Wall’s favorites, can be found growing by the side of the road.

The plant has a tireless quality. The flowers, typically maroon, will bloom all summer if you keep picking them, she said. And the little leaves of salad burnet (Sanguisorba minor) can be harvested almost all year.

“Why is this something that doesn’t show up in all these salad mixes?” she said.

Burnet turns up on a list of 59 seeds that John Winthrop Jr., a future governor of the Colony of Connecticut, ordered in 1631 from a London grocer, Robert Hill. And herbals widely recommended burnet, with its cucumber-like flavor, for doctoring wine after long sea voyages. “I dare say a lot of that wine needed help,” Ms. Wall said.

Yet burnet fell out of favor. For all her research, Ms. Wall has yet to answer the question of what makes something fashionable.

A case study, she said, could be smallage (Apium graveolens). The biennial plant grows a stalk like celery, but thicker and taller. And for 300 years — in between “medieval English cookery” and the “18th century,” Ms. Wall said — it displaced celery in cookbooks.

She discovered why after she and the head Plimoth horticulturist conducted a long quest for smallage, and she finally grew out the seeds herself.
The Fuller Garden in the English Village at Plimoth Plantation, in Plymouth, Mass.

“I was making potato salad,” she said, “and I didn’t have any celery. Then I realized, I have smallage. And in potato salad, it was heaven.”

And then there are the historical plants whose disappearance is no cause for mourning. A good riddance goes out to the root crop skirrets (Sium sisarum), said Clarissa Dillon, 77, who practices historical cooking and gardening at the 1696 Thomas Massey House in Marple Township, Pa.

John Winthrop Jr. ordered three ounces of skirret seed for his father’s Massachusetts farmstead. The medicine of the era attributed some colorful qualities to the plant, notes Ann Leighton’s 1970 classic, “Early American Gardens: ‘For Meate or Medicine.’ ”

“ ‘They are something windie, by reason whereof they also provoke lust,’ ” Ms. Leighton wrote, quoting John Gerard’s herbal. “ ‘The women in Susula ... prepare the roots for their husbands, and know full well wherefore and why.’ ” (If ardor persists for more than four hours, call your physician.)

It’s no great challenge coaxing a bunch of skirrets to fill the yard. The horticulturist who started Dr. Dillon on skirrets “did not tell me how enthusiastic the seeds are,” she said. “And I have them everywhere.”

A cook needs an awful lot of plants to yield more than a teaspoon of roasted pulp. The edible root “is supposed to be the size of a man’s thumb,” Dr. Dillon said. But “my skirrets tend to be, as a friend said, the size of her dog’s toenails.”

And these toenails need to be peeled, too. “What’s really awful,” Dr. Dillon added, is the “wire” that runs through another forsaken and fast-spreading root crop, scorzonera (which botanists know as Scorzonera hispanica and civilians call viper’s grass). This core runs through the center of the root and must be removed. Far easier, she said, is to substitute parsnips, which are bigger, sweeter, better.

Gerard had his notions of why a woman would favor skirrets in the kitchen (and the bedroom). But Dr. Dillon wrote her dissertation on women and 18th-century kitchen gardens in eastern Pennsylvania, while she was teaching elementary school and raising a child. The experience helped her formulate a rule about why a taxing plant like skirrets might fall into the compost heap of history.

“Women don’t make work for themselves,” Dr. Dillon said. “They have enough to do.”
Clarissa Dillon at the 1696 Thomas Massey House in Marple Township, Pa.

Growing History

Like a lot of the “sallet” greens that the colonists brought with them to the New World, purslane (Portulaca oleracea) can colonize a yard all on its own.  A single specimen can produce a million seeds. Let a purslane patch go, said Clarissa Dillon, a food and garden historian, and “it’s the plant that eats your driveway.”

“It will come up through asphalt,” she said.

You can spray the thick red stem and the sprawling oval leaves with weed killer, Dr. Dillon added, which is what most gardeners do. Or you can pickle the whole plant with “equal parts vinegar and stale beer,” which is what she prefers.

Dr. Dillon recommends blanching the purslane first for a quick three-count. “I don’t want it to be limp,” she said. She learned this preparation from a “receipt” (that is, a recipe) in her 1750 edition of “The Compleat Housewife: Or Accomplish’d Gentlewoman’s Companion.”

Tricks like these were once common knowledge among kitchen gardeners, said Joel Fry, the curator at Bartram’s Garden in Philadelphia, which dates from 1728. “One of the reasons they’ve disappeared,” he said of some colonial-era food plants, “is we don’t know what to do with them.”

Dr. Dillon learned a method for removing the stringy core from scorzonera. Overbaking the root crop for a few minutes can make the “wire” less unwieldy,,,

The sallet green Good King Henry (Chenopodium bonus-henricus) can be found at Fedco as well. And to the long list of aliases for the plant, Fedco adds Lincolnshire spinach and goosefoot.

Like goosefoot (and goose itself), the gooseberry (Ribes hirtellum or uva-crispa) seems to have dropped off the nation’s menu at least a century ago. The cause was no mystery: federal authorities started to quarantine and eradicate the thorny shrub in 1917 to limit the spread of white pine blister rust. In 2003, New York State finally legalized the gooseberry and its close cousin, the red currant. (Sales of gooseberry and various currant shrubs remain restricted in a cluster of Eastern states, including parts of New Jersey.)

Hardy gooseberries were native to the New World. But that didn’t stop the English from importing their own varieties, said Kathleen Wall, a historical culinarian. These plants bore bigger, sweeter fruit. They also died in the warmer climate...

The English never lost their taste for gooseberries, Ms. Wall said, but colonial gardeners were typically pragmatic. When a tart called for small, sour fruit, they looked to the yard and started cooking with cranberries..

Thursday, April 5, 2018

17C Woman by Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born mostly English artist, 1607-1677)

17C Woman by Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born mostly English artist, 1607-1677). We have few depictions of women in the 17C British American colonies, but the portrait prints of women by Wenceslaus Hollar allow us to see the hairstyles & fashions being worn in other countries during the early years of the European colonization of North America.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

1698 Pregnant Women & Destructive Lawyers & Physicians - New Jersey, & Pennsylvania

Gabriel Thomas, An Account of 1698 Jersey & Pennsylvania

Gabriel Thomas was a colonist in West Jersey in the late 17th century. The following is his description of the colonies of West Jersey and Pennsylvania. Of particular interest is his description of women in Pennsylania, and running a close 2nd is his opinion of lawyers and doctors.

West Jersey:

West Jersey lies between the Latitude of Forty, and Forty two Degrees; having the Main Sea on the South, East Jersey on the North, Hudson's Bay on the East, and Pensilvania on the West.

The first Inhabitants of this Countrey were the Indians, being supposed to be part of the Ten dispersed Tribes of Israel; for indeed they are very like the Jews in their Persons, and something in their Practices and Worship...

The Dutch and Sweeds inform us that they are greatly decreased in number to what they were when they came first into this Country: And the Indians themselves say, that two of them die to every one Christian that comes in here...

The next who came there were the Dutch - which was between Forty and Fifty Years ago, though they made but very little Improvement, only built Two or Three Houses, upon an Island (called since by the English) Stacies-Island; and it remained so, till about the Year 1675. in which King Charles the Second (or the Duke of York, his Brother) gave the Countrey to Edward Billing, in whose time, one Major Fenwick went thither, with some others, and built a pretty Town, and call'd it Salam ; and in a few Years after a Ship from London, and another from Hull, sail'd thither with more People, who went higher up into the Countrey, and built there a Town, and called it Burlington, which is now the chiefest Town in that Countrey, though Salam is the ancientest; and a fine Market-Town it is, having several Fairs kept yearly in it; likewise well furnished with good store of most Necessaries for humane Support, as Bread, Beer, Beef, and Pork; as also Butter and Cheese, of which they freight several Vessels, and send them to Barbadoes, and other Islands.

There are very many fine stately Brick-Houses built, and a commodious Dock for Vessels to come in...

A Ship of Four Hundred Tuns may Sail up to this Town in the River Delaware ; for I my self have been on Board a Ship of that Burthen there : And several fine Ships and Vessels (besides Governour Cox's own great Ship) have been built there.

There are also two handsom Bridges to come in and out of the Town, called London and York-Bridges. The Town stands in an Island, the Tide flowing quite round about it. There are Water-Men who constantly Ply their Wherry [Ferry] Boats from that Town to the City of Philadelphia in Pensilvania, and to other places. . . .

There are several Meetings of Worship in this Country, viz. the Presbyterians, Quakers, and Anabaplists: Their Privilege as to Matter of Law, is the same both for Plaintiff and Defendant, as in England.

The Air is very Clear, Sweet and Wholesome; in the depth of Winter it is something colder, but as much hotter in the heighth of Summer than in England...

The Countrey inhabited by the Christians is divided into four Parts or Counties, tho' the Tenth part of it is not yet peopled; 'Tis far cheaper living there for Eatables than here in England; and either Men or Women that have a Trade, or are Labourers, can, if industrious, get near three times the Wages they commonly earn in EngIand.


... I must needs say, even the present Encouragements are very great and inviting, for Poor People (both Men and Women) of all kinds, can here get three times the Wages for their Labour they can in England or Wales.

I shall instance a few, which may serve... The first was a Black-Smith (my next Neighbour), who himself and one Negro Man he had, got Fifty Shillings in one Day, by working up a Hundred Pound Weight of Iron, which at Six Pence per Pound (and that is the common Price in that Countrey) amounts to that Summ.

And for Carpenters, both House and Ship, Brick-layers, Masons, either of these Trades-Men, will get between Five and Six Shillings every Day constantly.

As to Journey-Men Shoe-Makers, they have Two Shillings per Pair both for Men and Womens Shoes: And Journey-Men Taylors have Twelve Shillings per Week and their Diet. . .

The Rule for the Coopers I have almost forgot; but this I can affirm of some who went from Bristol (as their Neighbours report), that could hardly get their Livelihoods there, are now reckon'd in Pensilvania by a modest Comptation to be worth some Hundreds (if not thousands) of Pounds...

Of Lawyers and Physicians I shall say nothing, because this Countrey is very Peaceable and Healthy; long may it so continue and never have occasion for the Tongue of the one, nor the Pen of the other, both equally destructive to Mens Estates and Lives; besides forsooth, they, Hang-Man like, have a License to Murder and make Mischief.

Labouring-Men have commonly here, between 14 and 15 Pounds a Year, and their Meat, Drink, Washing and Lodging; and by the Day their Wages is generally between Eighteen Pence and a Half a Crown, and Diet also; But in Harvest they have usually between Three and Four Shillings each Day, and Diet.

The Maid Servants Wages is commonly betwixt Six and Ten Pounds per Annum, with very good Accommodation. And for the Women who get their Livelihood by their own Industry, their Labour is very dear...

Corn and Flesh, and what else serves Man for Drink, Food and Rayment, is much cheaper here than in England, or elsewhere; but the chief reason why Wages of Servants of all sorts is much higher here than there, arises from the great Fertility and Produce of the Place; besides, if these large Stipends were refused them, they would quickly set up for themselves, for they can have Provision very cheap, and Land for a very small matter, or next to nothing in comparison of the Purchase of Lands in England; and the Farmers there, can better afford to give that great Wages than the Farmers in England can, for several Reasons very obvious.

As First, their Land costs them (as I said but just now) little or nothing in comparison, of which the Farmers commonly will get twice the encrease of Corn for every Bushel they sow, that the Farmers in England can from the richest Land they have.

In the Second place, they have constantly good price for their Corn, by reason of the great and quick vent [trade] into Barbadoes and other Islands; through which means Silver is become more plentiful than here in England, considering the Number of People, and that causes a quick Trade for both Corn and Cattle; and that is the reason that Corn differs now from the Price formerly, else it would be at half the Price it was at then; for a Brother of mine (to my own particular knowledge) sold within the compass of one Week, about One Hundred and Twenty fat Beasts, most of them good handsom large Oxen.

Thirdly, They pay no Tithes, and their Taxes are inconsiderable; the Place is free for all Persuasions, in a Sober and Civil way; for the Church of England and the Quakers bear equal Share in the Government. They live Friendly and Well together; there is no Persecution for Religion, nor ever like to be; 'tis this that knocks all Commerce on the Head, together with high Imposts, strict Laws, and cramping Orders. Before I end this Paragraph, I shall add another Reason why Womens Wages are so exorbitant; they are not yet very numerous, which makes them stand upon high Terms for their several Services...

Reader, what I have here written, is not a Fiction, Flam, Whim, or any sinister Design, either to impose upon the Ignorant, or Credulous, or to curry Favour with the Rich and Mighty, but in meer Pity and pure Compassion to the Numbers of Poor Labouring Men, Women, and Children in England, half starv'd, visible in their meagre looks, that are continually wandering up and down looking for Employment without finding any, who here need not lie idle a moment, nor want due Encouragement or Reward for their Work, much less Vagabond or Drone it about.

Here are no Beggars to be seen (it is a Shame and Disgrace to the State that there are so many in England) nor indeed have any here the least Occasion or Temptation to take up that Scandalous Lazy Life.

Jealousie among Men is here very rare, and Barrenness among Women hardly to be heard of, nor are old Maids to be met with; for all commonly Marry before they are Twenty Years of Age, and seldom any young Married Women but hath a Child in her Belly, or one upon her Lap.

See: Gabriel Thomas, An Historical Description of the Province and Country of West-New-Jersey in America. London, 1698