Sunday, March 31, 2019

Recreating "Ye Olde Kitchen Garden" (1630)

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.”

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..

Friday, March 29, 2019

1629 The Charter of Massachsetts Bay

The 1629 Charter Of Massachusetts Bay
Boston Harbor and adjacent settlements in 1667. Thought to be a specimen of the first engraving executed in America.

And further, That the said Governour and Companye, and their Successors, maie have forever one comon Seale, to be used in all Causes and Occasions of the said Company, and the same Seale may alter, chaunge, breake, and newe make, from tyme to tyme, at their pleasures. And our Will and Pleasure is, and Wee doe hereby for Us, our Heires and Successors, ordeyne and graunte, That from henceforth for ever, there shalbe one Governor, one Deputy Governor, and eighteene Assistants of the same Company, to be from tyme to tyme constituted, elected and chosen out of the Freemen of the saide Company, for the twyme being, in such Manner and Forme as hereafter in theis Presents is expressed, which said Officers shall applie themselves to take Care for the best disposeing and ordering of the generall buysines and Affaires of, for, and concerning the said Landes and Premisses hereby mentioned, to be graunted, and the Plantation thereof, and the Government of the People there. And for the better Execution of our Royall Pleasure and Graunte in this Behalf, Wee doe, by theis presents, for Us, our Heires and Successors, nominate, ordeyne, make, and constitute; our welbeloved the saide Mathewe Cradocke, to be the first and present Governor of the said Company, and the saide Thomas Goffe, to be Deputy Governor of the saide Company, and the saide Sir Richard Saltonstall, Isaack Johnson, Samuell Aldersey, John Ven, John Humfrey, John Endecott, Simon Whetcombe, Increase Noell, Richard Pery, Nathaniell Wright, Samuell Vassall, Theophilus Eaton, Thomas Adams, Thomas Hutchins, John Browne, George Foxcrofte, William Vassall, and William Pinchion, to be the present Assistants of the saide Company, to continue in the saide several Offices respectivelie for such tyme, and in such manner, as in and by theis Presents is hereafter declared and appointed.
And further, Wee will, and by theis Presents, for Us, our Heires and Successors, doe ordeyne and graunte, That the Governor of the saide Company for the tyme being, or in his Absence by Occasion of Sicknes or otherwise, the Deputie Governor for the tyme being, shall have Authoritie from tyme to tyme upon all Occasions, to give order for the assembling of the saide Company, and calling them together to consult and advise of the Bussinesses and Affaires of the saide Company, and that the said Governor, Deputie Governor, and Assistants of the saide Company, for the tyme being, shall or maie once every Moneth, or oftener at their Pleasures, assemble and houlde and keepe a Courte or Assemblie of themselves, for the better ordering and directing of their Affaires, and that any seaven or more persons of the Assistants, togither with the Governor, or Deputie Governor soe assembled, shalbe saide, taken, held, and reputed to be, and shalbe a full and sufficient Courte or Assemblie of the said Company, for the handling, ordering, and dispatching of all such Buysinesses and Occurrents as shall from tyme to tyme happen, touching or concerning the. said Company or Plantation; and that there shall or maie be held and kept by the Governor, or Deputie Governor of the said Company, and seaven or more of the said Assistants for the tyme being, upon every last Wednesday in Hillary, Easter, Trinity, and Michas Termes respectivelie forever, one greate generall and solemne assemblie, which foure generall assemblies shalbe stiled and called the foure greate and generall Courts of the saide Company.

In all and every, or any of which saide greate and generall Courts soe assembled, Wee doe for Us, our Heires and Successors, give and graunte to the said Governor and Company, and their Successors, That the Governor, or in his absence, the Deputie Governor of the saide Company for the tyme being, and such of the Assistants and Freeman of the saide Company as shalbe present, or the greater nomber of them so assembled, whereof the Governor or Deputie Governor and six of the Assistants at the least to be seaven, shall have full Power and authoritie to choose, nominate, and appointe, such and soe many others as they shall thinke fitt, and that shall be willing to accept the same, to be free of the said Company and Body, and them into the same to admitt; and to elect and constitute such officers as they shall thinke fill and requisite, for the ordering, mannaging, and dispatching of the Affaires of the saide Governor and Company, and their Successors; And to make Lawes and Ordinances for the Good and Welfare of the saide Company, and for the Government and ordering of the saide Landes and Plantation, and the People inhabiting and to inhabite the same, as to them from tyme to tyme shalbe thought meete, soe as such Lawes and Ordinances be not contrarie or repugnant to the Lawes and Statuts of this our Realme of England.

And, our Will and Pleasure is, and Wee doe hereby for Us, our Heires and Successors, establish and ordeyne, That yearely once in the yeare, for ever hereafter, namely, the last Wednesday in Easter Tearme, yearely, the Governor, Deputy-Governor, and Assistants of the saide Company and all other officers of the saide Company shalbe in the Generall Court or Assembly to be held for that Day or Tyme, newly chosen for the Yeare ensueing by such greater parte of the said Company, for the Tyme being, then and there present, as is aforesaide. And, if it shall happen the present governor, Deputy Governor, and assistants, by theis presents appointed, or such as shall hereafter be newly chosen into their Roomes, or any of them, or any other of the officers to be appointed for the said Company, to dye, or to be removed from his or their severall Offices or Places before the saide generall Day of Election (whome Wee doe hereby declare for any Misdemeanor or Defect to be removeable by the Governor, Deputie Governor, Assistants, and Company, or such greater Parte of them in any of the publique Courts to be assembled as is aforesaid) That then, and in every such Case, it shall and maie be lawfull, to and for the Governor, Deputie Governor, Assistants, and Company aforesaide, or such greater Parte of them soe to be assembled as is aforesaide, in any of their Assemblies, to proceade to a new Election of one or more others of their Company in the Roome or Place, Roomes or Places of such Officer or Officers soe dyeing or removed according to their Discretions, And, immediately upon and after such Election and Elections made of such Governor, Deputie Governor, Assistant or Assistants, or any other officer of the saide Company, in Manner and Forme aforesaid, the Authoritie, Office, and Power, before given to the former Governor, Deputie Governor, or other Officer and Officers soe removed, in whose Steade and Place newe shalbe soe chosen, shall as to him and them, and everie of them, cease and determine

Provided alsoe, and our Will and Pleasure is, That aswell such as are by theis Presents appointed to be the present Governor, Deputie Governor, and Assistants of the said Company, as those that shall succeed them, and all other Officers to be appointed and chosen as aforesaid, shall, before they undertake the Execution of their saide Offices and Places respectivelie, take their Corporal Oathes for the due and faithfull Performance of their Duties in their severall Offices and Places, before such Person or Persons as are by theis Presents hereunder appointed to take and receive the same. . . .

And, further our Will and Pleasure is, and Wee doe hereby for Us, our Heires and Successors, ordeyne and declare, and graunte to the saide Governor and Company and their Successors, That all and every the Subjects of Us, our Heires or Successors, which shall goe to and inhabite within the saide Landes and Premisses hereby mentioned to be graunted, and every of their Children which shall happen to be borne there, or on the Seas in goeing thither, or retorning from thence, shall have and enjoy all liberties and Immunities of free and naturall Subjects within any of the Domynions of Us, our Heires or Successors, to all Intents, Constructions, and Purposes whatsoever, as if they and everie of them were borne within the Realme of England. And that the Governor and Deputie Governor of the said Company for the Tyme being, or either of them, and any two or more of such of the saide Assistants as shalbe thereunto appointed by the saide Governor and Company at any of their Courts or Assemblies to be held as aforesaide, shall and maie at all Tymes, and from tyme to tyme hereafter, have full Power and Authoritie to minister and give the Oathe and Oathes of Supremacie and Allegiance, or either of them, to all and everie Person and Persons, which shall at any Tyme or Tymes hereafter goe or passe to the Landes and Premisses hereby mentioned to be graunted to inhabite in the same.

And, Wee doe of our further Grace, certen Knowledg and meere Motion, give and graunte to the saide Governor and Company, and their Successors, That it shall and maie be lawfull, to and for the Governor or Deputie Governor, and such of the Assistants and Freemen of the said Company for the Tyme being as shalbe assembled in any of their generall Courts aforesaide, or in any other Courtes to be specially sumoned and assembled for that Purpose, or the greater Parte of them (whereof the Governor or Deputie Governor, and six of the Assistants to be alwaies seaven) from tyme to tyme, to make, ordeine, and establishe all Manner of wholesome and reasonable Orders, Lawes, Statutes, and Ordinances, Directions, and Instructions, not contrairie to the Lawes of this our Realme of England, aswell for setling of the Formes and Ceremonies of Government and Magistracy, fitt and necessary for the said Plantation, and the Inhabitants there, and for nameing and setting of all sorts of Officers, both superior and inferior, which they shall finde needefull for that Governement and Plantation, and the distinguishing and setting forth of the severall duties, Powers, and Lymytts of every such Office and Place, and the Formes of such Oathes warrantable by the Lawes and Statutes of this our Realme of England, as shalbe respectivelie ministred unto them for the Execution of the said severall Offices and Places; as also, for the disposing and ordering of the Elections of such of the said Officers as shalbe annuall, and of such others as shalbe to succeede in Case of Death or Removeall, and ministring the said Oathes to the newe elected Officers, and for Impositions of lawfull Fynes, Mulcts, Imprisonment, or other lawfull Correction, according to the Course of other Corporations in this our Realme of England, and for the directing, ruling, and disposeing of all other Matters and Thinges, whereby our said People, Inhabitants there, may be soe religiously, peaceablie, and civilly governed, as their good Life and orderlie Conversation, maie wynn and incite the Natives of Country, to the Knowledg and Obedience of the onlie true God and Savior of Mankinde, and the Christian Fayth, which in our Royall Intention, and the Adventurers free Profession, is the principall Ende of this Plantation.

Willing, commaunding, and requiring, and by theis Presents for Us, our Heires, and Successors, ordeyning and appointing, that all such Orders, Lawes, Statuts and Ordinances, Instructions and Directions, as shalbe soe made by the Governor, or Deputie Governor of the said Company, and such of the Assistants and Freemen as aforesaide, and published in Writing, under their common Seale, shalbe carefullie and dulie observed, kept, performed, and putt in Execution, according to the true Intent and Meaning of the same; and theis our Letters- patents, or the Duplicate or exemplification thereof, shalbe to all and everie such Officers, superior and inferior, from Tyme to Tyme, for the putting of the same Orders, Lawes, Statutes, and Ordinances, Instructions, and Directions, in due Execution against Us, our Heires and Successors, a sufficient Warrant and Discharge.

And Wee doe further, for Us, our Heires and Successors, give and graunt to the said Governor and Company, and their Successors by theis Presents, that all and everie such Chiefe Comaunders, Captaines, Governors, and other Officers and Ministers, as by the said Orders, Lawes, Statuts, Ordinances, Instructions, or Directions of the said Governor and Company for the Tyme being, shalbe from Tyme to Tyme hereafter imploied either in the Government of the saide Inhabitants and Plantation, or in the Waye by Sea thither, or from thence, according to the Natures and Lymitts of their Offices and Places respectively, shall from Tyme to Tyme hereafter for ever, within the Precincts and Partes of Newe England hereby mentioned to be graunted and confirmed, or in the Waie by Sea thither, or from thence, have full and Absolute Power and Authoritie to correct, punishe, pardon, governe, and rule all such the Subjects of Us, our Heires and Successors, as shall from Tyme to Tyme adventure themselves in any Voyadge thither or from thence, or that shall at any Tyme hereafter, inhabite within the Precincts and Partes of Newe England aforasaid, according to the Orders, Lawes, Ordinances, Instructions, and Directions aforesaid, not being repugnant to the Lawes and Statutes of our Realme of England as aforesaid.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

1629 Song birds & "strange fowls" in New England

A Short and True Description of New England
by the Rev. Francis Higginson, 1629

Francis Higginson (1588-1630) was an early Puritan minister in Colonial New England, and the first minister of Salem, Massachusetts.

Fowls of the air are plentiful here, and of all sorts as we have in England as far as I can learn, and a great many of strange fowls which we know not.
Eagle woodcut from 1577

Whilst I was writing these things, one of our men brought home an eagle which he had killed in the wood. They say they are good meat. Also here are many kinds of excellent hawks, both sea hawks and land hawks.

And myself walking in the woods with another in company, sprung a partridge so big that through the heaviness of his body could fly but a little way. They that have killed them say they are as big as our hens.
Woodcut of partridge

Here are likewise abundance of turkeys often killed in the woods, far greater than our English turkeys, and exceeding fat, sweet and fleshy, for here they have abundance of feeding all the year long, such as strawberries: in summer all places are full of them, and all manner of berries and fruits.
Engraving of turkey

In the winter time I have seen flocks of pigeons, and have eaten of them. They do fly from tree to tree as other birds do, which our pigeons will not do in England. They are of all colors as ours are, but their wings and tails are far longer, and therefore it is likely they fly swifter to escape the terrible hawks in this country.
Woodcut of ducks

In winter time this country doth abound with wild geese, wild ducks, and other sea fowl, that a great part of winter the planters have eaten nothing but roastmeat of divers fowls which they have killed.

Monday, March 25, 2019

1629 The Countryside in New England

A Short and True Description of New England
by the Rev. Francis Higginson, written in 1629 
Printed for Michael Sparke, London, 1630.

Francis Higginson (1588-1630) was an early Puritan minister in Colonial New England, and the first minister of Salem, Massachusetts.

First therefore of the earth of New England and all the appurtenances thereof. It is a land of divers and sundry sorts all about Massachusetts Bay, and at Charles River is as fat black earth as can be seen anywhere; and in other places you have a clay soil; in others sandy, as it is all about our plantation at Salem, for so our town is now named (Psalms 76:2).
The form of the earth here in the superficies of it is neither too flat in the plains nor too high in hills, but partakes of both in mediocrity, and fit for pasture, or for plow or meadow ground, as men please to employ it. For all the country be as it were a thick wood in general, yet in divers places there is much ground cleared by the Indians, as especially about the plantation. I am told that about three miles from us a man may stand on a little hilly place and see divers thousands of acres of ground as good as need to be, and not a tree in the same.

It is thought here is good clay to make bricks and tiles and earthen pots as needs to be. At this instant we are setting up a brick-kiln to make bricks and tiles for the building of our houses.

For stone there is plenty of slates at the Isle of Slate in the bay of Massachusetts, and limestone, free-stone and smooth-stone and iron-stone and marble stone also in such a store, that we have great rocks of it, and a harbor hard by. Our plantation is from thence called Marble Harbor.

Of minerals there hath yet been but little trial made, yet we are not without great hope of being furnished in that soil.

The fertility of the soil is to be admired at, as appeareth in the abundance of grass that groweth everywhere, both very thick, very long, and very high in divers places. But it groweth very wildly with a great stalk and a broad and ranker blade, because it never had been eaten by cattle, nor mowed with a scythe, and seldom trampled on by foot. It is scarce to be believed how our kine and goats, horses and hogs do thrive and prosper here and like well of this country.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Widows Were Taxed in the Plymouth Colony BUT They Could NOT Vote or Hold Office (1630)

Since widows were the only women within the Plymouth Colony allowed to hold any substantial amount of property, they were also the only women within the colony who could have their property taxed. The property of married women was turned over to their husbands upon their marriage, therefore, married women did not directly hold any property and could not be taxed.  

All the women who were "rated for publick use" (paid taxes) by the government of the Plymouth Colony are widows owed from 12 to 9 shillings, payable in corn.  The court tax records also show that widows were taxed fairly in relation to men. Men were usually taxed more than widows, because men generally owned more taxable property. 

Thursday, March 21, 2019

1629 Native Americans in early New England

A Short and True Description of New England
by the Rev. Francis Higginson, written in 1629 
Printed for Michael Sparke, London, 1630.

Francis Higginson (1588-1630) was an early Puritan minister in Colonial New England, and the first minister of Salem, Massachusetts.

Now I will show you a little of the inhabitants thereof, and their government.
1585 John White (English artist, c 1540-1593) The Indian Manner of Fishing

For their governors they have kings, which they call saggamores, some greater, and some lesser, according to the number or their subjects. The greatest saggamores about us can not make above three hundred men, and other lesser saggamores have not above fifteen subjects, and others near about us but two.

Their subjects about twelve years since were swept away by a great and grievous plague that was amongst them, so that there are very few left to inhabit the country.
The Indians are not able to make use of the one fourth part of the land, neither have they any settled places, as towns to dwell in, nor any ground as they challenge for their own possession, but change their habitation from place to place.

For their statures, they are a tall and strong limbed people, their colors are tawny, they go naked, save only they are in part covered with beasts skins on one of their shoulders, and wear something before their privates. Their hair is generally black, and cut in front like our gentlewomen, and one lock longer than the rest, much like to our gentlemen, which fashion I think came from hence into England.

For their weapons, they have bows and arrows, some of them headed with bone, and some with brass. I have sent you some of them for an example. The men for the most part live idly, they do nothing hut hunt and fish. Their wives set their corn and do all their other work. They have little household stuff, as a kettle, and some other vessels like trays, spoons, dishes and baskets.

Their houses are very little and homely, being made with small poles pricked into the ground, and so bent and fastened at the top, and on the sides they are matted with boughs, and covered on the roof with sedge and old mats, and for their beds that they take their rest on, they have a mat.

They do generally confess to like well of our coming and planting here; partly because there is abundance of ground that they cannot possess nor make use of, and partly because our being here will be a means both of relief to them when they want, and also a defense from their enemies, wherewith (I say) before this plantation began, they were often endangered.

For their religion, they do worship two gods: a good god and an evil god. The good god they call Tantum, and their evil god, whom they fear will do them hurt, they call Squantum.

For their dealing with us, we neither fear them nor trust them, for forty of our musketeers will drive five hundred of them out of the field. We use them kindly: they will come into our houses sometimes by half a dozen or half a score at a time when we are at victuals, but will ask or take nothing but what we give them.

We propose to learn their language as soon as we can, which will be a means to do them good.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Puritan Intellectuals & Authors - Mostly Men, of course... (1630)

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.
Gentlemen Scholars  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.
Gentlemen Scholars  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."

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Marriage & Divorce + a few Housekeeping Rules in the Plymouth Colony (1627)

The Plymouth Colony created an innovative form of civil marriage. This form of marriage replaced reliance on church authorities for handling the approval & administration of marriages. Parental consent was required for a civil marriage. If consent of the parents could not be obtained, the prospective spouses could seek consent from the Governor or an Assistant to whom they were known & who would be responsible for ensuring that the marriage was a proper & wise undertaking. The process for this civil marriage included public notice, either by announcement at public meetings, or by a written notice by the Magistrate which would be posted for 15 days before the marriage could be finalized (or "solemnized").

Few divorces were granted in the Plymouth Colony as there were few reasons adequate to end a marriage. There were 3 possible grounds for divorce: bigamy, impotence, & adultery. Of these reasons, only one, impotence, faults the husband for the divorce. Therefore, if divorces were granted on grounds of bigamy or adultery, most likely the wife was blamed.  One case in the records involves William Tubbs & his wife Marcye. William solicited the court for divorce, claiming she "sequestered herselfe from him & will not be pswaded to returne to him." Since Marcye's actions violated regular cohabitation, one of the 3 obligations of married couples, the court granted him a divorce a month after his original request. Divorce placed women in an ambiguous situation. They were neither married, nor single, nor widowed, & therefore did not fit into any of societies conventional roles for women. Because divorce gave women an uncertain social status, in addition to violating the sacred institution of marriage, divorces were uncommon & generally not desirable within the Plymouth Colony.

A variety of laws were passed requiring that each family household be maintained in certain ways. For example, specific rules on house construction were issued in 1627, stating that "no dwelling house was to be couered with any kind of thatche, as straw, reed, [etc.] but with either bord, or pale [&] the like; to wit: of all that were to be new built in the towne." Similarly, each household was required by law to maintain a ladder on the property, to be readily available for use in fighting house fires. Each household was also required to participate in the defense of the Colony, & would have certain allotments of arms & munitions assigned to it.

Research from The Plymouth Colony Archive Project. Created by James Deetz (1930–2000), Patricia Scott Deetz at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Friday, March 15, 2019

New York & Pennsylvania (1625)

New Amsterdam in 1660.  Today New York's Financial District is located on the southern tip of Manhattan, roughly overlapping the New Amsterdam settlement on New York Harbor in 1625 - on one of the world’s largest natural harbors. Containing many of New York’s oldest structures, the town was the 1st legally charted city in America.

New York best illustrated the polyglot nature of America. By 1646 the population along the Hudson River included Dutch, French, Danes, Norwegians, Swedes, English, Scots, Irish, Germans, Poles, Bohemians, Portuguese, and Italians. The Dutch continued to exercise an important social and economic influence on the New York region long after the fall of New Netherland and their integration into the British colonial system. Their sharp-stepped gable roofs became a permanent part of the city's architecture, and their merchants gave Manhattan much of its original bustling, commercial atmosphere.

Society in the middle colonies was far more varied, cosmopolitan, and tolerant than in New England. Under William Penn, Pennsylvania functioned smoothly and grew rapidly. By 1685, its population was almost 9,000. The heart of the colony was Philadelphia, a city of broad, tree-shaded streets, substantial brick and stone houses, and busy docks. By the end of the colonial period, nearly a century later, 30,000 people lived there, representing many languages, creeds, and trades. Their talent for successful business enterprise made the city one of the thriving centers of the British Empire.

Though the Quakers dominated in Philadelphia, elsewhere in Pennsylvania others were well represented. Germans became the colony's most skillful farmers. Important, too, were cottage industries such as weaving, shoe-making, cabinetmaking, and other crafts. Pennsylvania was also the principal gateway into the New World for the Scots-Irish, who moved into the colony in the early 18th century. "Bold and indigent strangers," as one Pennsylvania official called them, they hated the English and were suspicious of all government. The Scots-Irish tended to settle in the backcountry, where they cleared land and lived by hunting and subsistence farming.

For more, see Outline of U.S. History, a publication of the U.S. Department of State from the website of the United States Information Agency, where it was published in November 2005.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Good News from New England - Journal of sailing to 1624 Plymouth

Good News from New England - Journal of events at Plymouth Colony between 1622 & 1623 .
Chapter 8, Thinking about Sailing to New England?
Written by Mayflower passenger Edward Winslow, 
& published in London in 1624.  

In all this it may be said, I have neither praised nor dispraised the Country: & since I lived so long therein, my judgment thereof will give no less satisfaction to them that know me, then the Relation of our proceedings. To which I answer, that as in one so of the other, I will speak as sparingly as I can, yet will make known what I conceive thereof.

And first for that Continent, on which we are called New England, although it hath ever been conceived by the English to be a part of that main Land adjoining to Virginia, yet by relation of the Indians it should appear to be otherwise: for they affirm confidently, that it is an Island, & that either the Dutch or French pass through from Sea to Sea, between us & Virginia, & drive a great Trade in the same. The name of that inlet of the Sea they call Monhiggan, which I take to be the same which we call Hudson's River, up which Master Hudson went many Leagues, & for want of means (as I hear) left it undiscovered. For confirmation of this, their opinion is thus much; Though Virginia be not above an hundred & fifty Leagues from us, yet they never heard of Powhattan, or knew that any English were planted in his Country, save only by us & Tisquantum, who went in an English Ship thither: & therefore it is the more probable, because the water is not passable for them, who are very adventurous in their Boats.

Then for the temperature of the air, in almost three years experience, I can scarce distinguish New England from Old England, in respect of heat, & cold, frost, snow, rain, winds, etc. Some object, because our Plantation lieth in the latitude of 42. it must needs be much hotter. I confess, I cannot give the reason of the contrary; only experience teacheth us, that if it do exceed England, it is so little as must require better judgments to discern it. And for the Winter, I rather think (if there be difference) it is both sharper & longer in New England then Old; & yet the want of those comforts in the one which I have enjoyed in the other, may deceive my judgment also. But in my best observation, comparing our own condition with the Relations of other parts of America, I cannot conceive of any to agree better with the constitution of the English, not being oppressed with extremity of heat, nor nipped with biting cold, by which means, blessed be God, we enjoy our health, notwithstanding, those difficulties we have undergone, in such a measure as would have been admired, if we had lived in England with the like means. The day is two hours longer then here when it is at the shortest, & as much shorter there, when it is at the longest.

The soil is variable, in some places mould, in some clay, others, a mixed sand, etc. The chiefest grain is the Indian Maize, or Guinea-Wheat; the seed-time beginneth in midst of April, & continueth good till the midst of May. Our harvest beginneth with September. This come increaseth in great measure, but is inferior in quantity to the same in Virginia, the reason I conceive, is because Virginia is far hotter then it is with us, it requiring great heat to ripen; but whereas it is objected against New England, that Corn will not there grow, except the ground be manured with fish? I answer, That where men set with fish (as with us) it is more easy so to do then to clear ground & set without some five or six years, & so begin anew, as in Virginia & else-where. Not but that in some places, where they cannot be taken with ease in such abundance, the Indians set four years together without, & have as good Corn or better then we have that set with them, though indeed I think if we had Cattle to till the ground, it would be more profitable & better agreeable to the soil, to sow Wheat, Rye, Barley, Peas, & Oats, then to set Mays, which our Indians call ewachim: for we have had experience that they like & thrive well; & the other will not be procured without good labor & diligence, especially at seed-time, when it must also be watched by night to keep the Wolves from the fish, till it be rotten, which will be in fourteen days; yet men agreeing together, & taking their turns it is not much.

Much might be spoken of the benefit that may come to such as shall here plant by Trade with the Indians for Furs, if men take a right course for obtaining the same, for I dare presume upon that small experience I have had, to affirm, that the English, Dutch, & French, returnee yearly many thousand pounds profits by Trade only from that Island, on which we are seated.

Tobacco may be there planted, but not with that profit as in some other places, neither were it profitable there to follow it, though the increase were equal, because fish is a better & richer Commodity, & more necessary, which may be & are there had in as great abundance as in any other part of the world; Witness the West-country Merchants of England, which returnee incredible gains yearly from thence.

And if they can so do which here buy their salt at a great charge, & transport more Company to make their voyage, then will sail their Ships, what may the planters expect when once they are seated, & make the most of their salt there, & employ themselves at lest eight months in fishing, whereas the other fish but four, & have their ship lie dead in the harbor all the time, whereas such shipping as belong to plantations, may take freight of passengers or cattle thither, & have their lading provided against they come. I confess, we have come so far short of the means to raise such returnee, as with great difficulty we have preserved our lives; insomuch, as when I look back upon our condition, & weak means to preserve the same, I rather admire at Gods mercy & providence in our preservation, then that no greater things have been effected by us. But though our beginning have been thus raw, small, & difficult, as thou hast scene, yet the same God that hath hitherto led us through the former, I hope will raise means to accomplish the latter. Not that we altogether, or principally propound profit to be the main end of that we have undertaken, but the glory of God, & the honor of our Country, in the enlarging of his Majesties Dominions, yet wanting outward means, to set things in that forwardness we desire, & to further the latter by the former, I thought meet to offer both to consideration, hoping that where Religion & profit jump together (which is rare) in so honorable an action, it will encourage every honest man, either in person or purse, to set forward the same, or at least-wise to commend the well-fare thereof in his daily prayers to the blessing of the blessed God.

I will not again speak of the abundance of fowl, store of Venison, & variety of Fish, in their seasons, which might encourage many to go in their persons, only I advise all such before hand to consider, that as they hear of Countries that abound with the good creatures of God, so means must be used for the taking of every one in his kind, & therefore not only to content themselves that there is sufficient, but to foresee how they shall be able to obtain the same, otherwise, as he that walketh London streets, though he be in the midst of plenty, yet if he want means, is not the better but hath rather his sorrow increased by the sight of that he wanteth, & cannot enjoy it: so also there, if thou want art & other necessaries hereunto belonging, thou maist see that thou wantest, & thy heart desireth, & yet be never the better for the same. Therefore if thou see shine own insufficiency of thy self, then join to some others, where thou maiest in some measure enjoy the same, otherwise assure thy self, thou art better where thou art. Some there be that thinking altogether of their present wants they enjoy here, & not dreaming of any there, through indiscretion plunge themselves into a deeper sea of misery. As for example, it may be here, rent & firing are so chargeable, as without great difficulty a man cannot accomplish the same; never considering, that as he shall have no rent to pay, so he must build his house before he have it, & peradventure may with more ease pay for his fuel here, then cut & fetch it home, if he have not cattle to draw it there; though there is no scarcity but rather too great plenty.

I write not these things to dissuade any that shall seriously upon due examination set themselves to further the glory of God, & the honor of our Country, in so worthy an enterprise, but rather to discourage such as with too great lightness undertake such courses, who peradventure strain themselves & their friends for their passage thither, & are no sooner there, then seeing their foolish imagination made void, are at their wits end, & would give ten times so much for their returnee, if they could procure it, & out of such discontented passions & humors, spare not to lay that imputation upon the Country, & others, which themselves deserve. As for example, I have heard some complain of others for their large reports of New England, & yet because they must drink water & want many delicates they here enjoyed, could presently returnee with their mouths full of clamors. And can any be so simple as to conceive that the fountains should stream forth Wine, or Bear, or the woods & rivers be like Butchers-shops, or fish-mongers stalls, where they might have things taken to their hands. If thou canst not live without such things, & hast no means to procure the one, & wilt not take pains for the other, nor hast ability to employ others for thee, rest where thou art: for as a proud heart, a dainty tooth, a beggar's purse, & an idle hand, be here intolerable, so that person that hath these qualities there, is much more abominable. If therefore God hath given thee a heart to undertake such courses, upon such grounds as bear thee out in all difficulties, viz., his glory as a principal, & all other outward good things but as accessories, which peradventure thou shalt enjoy, & it may be not: then thou wilt with true comfort & thankfulness receive the least of his mercies; whereas on the contrary, men deprive themselves of much happiness, being senseless of greater blessings, & through prejudice mother up the love & bounty of God, whose name be ever glorified in us, & by us, now & evermore. Amen.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Virginia Indentured Servant's 1623 Letter to Home in England

Planters in early 17C Virginia had bountiful amounts of land and a profitable crop in tobacco, but they needed labor to till their fields. They faced resistance from the local Native American people about use of the land, which they had been on for generations. The colonists tried but were unable to enslave the natives, so they recruited poor English adults as servants. These young men and women signed indentures, or contracts, for 4 to 7 year terms of work in exchange for their passage to North America. In general, there were 3 classes of Indentured servants: Willing Migrants who wanted to start a life in the colonies and agreed to sign contracts; Unwilling Migrants who needed to escape religious persecution or were forced to go for other reasons, including kidnapping; and Convicts, Vagabonds, Rogues and Undesirables - these types of Indentured servants chose America, rather than years in prison. A staggering 80% of of the total British and continental emigration to America prior to the American Revolutionary War were Indentured Servants.

Richard Frethorne came to Jamestown colony in 1623 as an indentured servant. In this letter dated March 20, 1623, written just 3 months after his entry into the colony, he described the death and disease all around him. Two thirds of his fellow shipmates had died since their arrival.Richard Frethorne was an indentured servant at Martin's Hundred, Virginia in 1622-1623. He is known because of his letters back to England detailing his miserable conditions in Virginia. Frethorne came to the Chesapeake was from the parish of St. Dunstan-in-the-East in London, where his family received poor relief. In 1622, he was indentured by his local the parish and sent to Virginia as a servant, arriving in December on the ship Abigail. Textual analysis of his letters suggests he may have been only about 12 years old at the time.

Frethorne became one of the indentured servants of William Harwood, the “governor” or leader of Martin’s Hundred. In March and April following his arrival, he wrote several letters to his family and associates back in England, listing the miseries of his life in Virginia and begging them to pay off his indenture or, failing that, to send some food which he could then sell. On March 5, 1623, Frethorne wrote to Mr. Bateman, one of the vestrymen of his home parish, asking for his help. He lists various hardships suffered in Virginia, including lack of sufficient food, lack of adequate clothing, and settlements ravaged by recent Native attacks. He asks Bateman to free him (by paying off the indenture) or to send food, and refers to the biblical story of Joseph and to the books of Jeremiah and Ecclesiasticus.

At the end of March and beginning of April, Frethorne wrote to his parents in 3 installments dated March 20, April 2, and April 3. In these letters, he goes into greater and more emotional detail about his lack of food and clothing and about illness and the threat of native attack. He describes others in his situation as expressing the opinion, that being limbless beggars in England would be preferable to their current circumstances. Frethorne's letter has been cited as evidence that the reports in England that the colonies in Virginia that were being run as a model of justice and equity were incorrect. Richard Frethorne died sometime before February 16, 1624 (1623 Old Style), when his name (in this case spelled “Frethram”) appears on a list of the dead at Martin’s Hundred.

My most humble duty remembered to you, hoping in god of your good health, as I myself am at the making hereof. This is to let you understand that I your child am in a most heavy case by reason of the country, [which] is such that it causeth much sickness, [such] as the scurvy and the bloody flux and diverse other diseases, which maketh the body very poor and weak. And when we are sick there is nothing to comfort us; for since I came out of the ship I never ate anything but peas, and loblollie (that is, water gruel). As for deer or venison I never saw any since I came into this land. There is indeed some fowl, but we are not allowed to go and get it, but must work hard both early and late for a mess of water gruel and a mouthful of bread and beef. A mouthful of bread for a penny loaf must serve for four men which is most pitiful. [You would be grieved] if you did know as much as I [do], when people cry out day and night – Oh! That they were in England without their limbs – and would not care to lose any limb to be in England again, yea, though they beg from door to door. For we live in fear of the enemy every hour, yet we have had a combat with them … and we took two alive and made slaves of them. But it was by policy, for we are in great danger; for our plantation is very weak by reason of the death and sickness of our company. For we came but twenty for the merchants, and they are half dead just; and we look every hour when two more should go. Yet there came some four other men yet to live with us, of which there is but one alive; and our Lieutenant is dead, and [also] his father and his brother. And there was some 5 or 6 of the last year’s 20, of which there is but 3 left, so that we are fain to get other men to plant with us; and yet we are but 32 to fight against 3000 if they should come. And the nighest help that we have is ten mile of us, and when the rogues overcame this place [the] last [time] they slew 80 persons. How then shall we do, for we lie even in their teeth? They may easily take us, but [for the fact] that God is merciful and can save with few as well as with many, as he showed to Gilead. And like Gilead’s soldiers, if they lapped water, we drink water which is but weak.

And I have nothing to comfort me, nor is there nothing to be gotten here but sickness and death, except [in the event] that one had money to lay out in some things for profit. But I have nothing at all–no, not a shirt to my back but two rags (2), nor clothes but one poor suit, nor but one pair of shoes, but one pair of stockings, but one cap, [and] but two bands [collars]. My cloak is stolen by one of my fellows, and to his dying hour [he] would not tell me what he did with it; but some of my fellows saw him have butter and beef out of a ship, which my cloak, I doubt [not], paid for. So that I have not a penny, nor a penny worth, to help me too either spice or sugar or strong waters, without the which one cannot live here. For as strong beer in England doth fatten and strengthen them, so water here doth wash and weaken these here [and] only keeps [their] life and soul together. But I am not half [of] a quarter so strong as I was in England, and all is for want of victuals; for I do protest unto you that I have eaten more in [one] day at home than I have allowed me here for a week. You have given more than my day’s allowance to a beggar at the door; and if Mr. Jackson had not relieved me, I should be in a poor case. But he like a father and she like a loving mother doth still help me.

For when we go to Jamestown (that is 10 miles of us) there lie all the ships that come to land, and there they must deliver their goods. And when we went up to town [we would go], as it may be, on Monday at noon, and come there by night, [and] then load the next day by noon, and go home in the afternoon, and unload, and then away again in the night, and [we would] be up about midnight. Then if it rained or blowed never so hard, we must lie in the boat on the water and have nothing but a little bread. For when we go into the boat we [would] have a loaf allowed to two men, and it is all [we would get] if we stayed there two days, which is hard; and [we] must lie all that while in the boat. But that Goodman Jackson pitied me and made me a cabin to lie in always when I [would] come up, and he would give me some poor jacks [fish] [to take] home with me, which comforted me more than peas or water gruel. Oh, they be very godly folks, and love me very well, and will do anything for me. And he much marvelled that you would send me a servant to the Company; he saith I had been better knocked on the head. And indeed so I find it now, to my great grief and misery; and [I] saith that if you love me you will redeem me suddenly, for which I do entreat and beg. And if you cannot get the merchants to redeem me for some little money, then for God’s sake get a gathering or entreat some good folks to lay out some little sum of money in meal and cheese and butter and beef. Any eating meat will yield great profit. Oil and vinegar is very good; but, father, there is great loss in leaking. But for God’s sake send beef and cheese and butter, or the more of one sort and none of another. But if you send cheese, it must be very old cheese; and at the cheesemonger’s you may buy very food cheese for twopence farthing or halfpenny, that will be liked very well. But if you send cheese, you must have a care how you pack it in barrels; and you must put cooper’s chips between every cheese, or else the heat of the hold will rot them. And look whatsoever you send me – be in never so much–look, what[ever] I make of it, I will deal truly with you. I will send it over and beg the profit to redeem me; and if I die before it come, I have entreated Goodman Jackson to send you the worth of it, who hath promised he will. If you send, you must direct your letters to Goodman Jackson, at Jamestown, a gunsmith. (You must set down his freight, because there be more of his name there.) Good father, do not forget me, but have mercy and pity my miserable case. I know if you did but see me, you would weep to see me; for I have but one suit. (But [though] it is a strange one, it is very well guarded.) Wherefore, for God’s sake, pity me. I pray you to remember my love to all my friends and kindred. I hope all my brothers and sisters are in good health, and as for my part I have set down my resolution that certainly will be; that is, that the answer of this letter will be life or death to me. Therefore, good father, send as soon as you can; and if you send me any thing let this be the mark. RICHARD FRETHORNE

Saturday, March 9, 2019

1623 Gov Wm Bradford woos his love to join him at Plymouth Colony + Her amazing 1670 Inventory

The widow Alice Carpenter Southworth (c 1590-3-1679) was the daughter of Alexander Carpenter, a Pilgrim who chose to stay in Holland; and she was the widow of Edward Southworth, a silk worker & religious Separatist who left England to settle in Holland, where he died in 1621.
In Holland, young Alice Carpenter had been courted by both William Bradford (1590-1657) & Edward Southworth. According to family tradition, Alice's parents urged her to marry Edward, as he was supposedly related to royalty. Alice & Edward were married in Leiden, Holland, on May 28, 1613. They had 2 sons, Constant born in 1615, & Thomas born in 1616.

William Bradford, born in Yorkshire, England, had become attracted to the thinking of the Separatist church. Puritans wanted to Reform the Church of England; the Separatists believed the Church was beyond redemption due to teaching unbiblical doctrines.

When King James I began to persecute English Separatists in 1609, Bradford fled to the Netherlands, along with many members of the congregation. These Separatists went first to Amsterdam, before settling at Leiden. Bradford, rejected by Alice Carpenter, married his first wife, Dorothy May on December 10, 1613, in Amsterdam. While at Leiden, he supported himself as a cordoroy weaver.

It was the intention of the growing young Southworth family to sail for the British American colonies along the Atlantic; and they were in London, for several months before the Mayflower embarked for Plymouth in 1620. For some reason, perhaps because Edward was ill, the Southworths did not sail with their friends on the Mayflower. Edward died in 1621.

The young Bradford family did make the voyage. While the Mayflower was anchored off Cape Cod in Provincetown Harbor, and William had gone exploring for a site to settle, his wife Dorothy May Bradford, somehow fell off the brig & drowned on December 7, 1620, leaving Bradford a widower with one son, John, born about 1617.

When widower William Bradford, learned that Edward Southworth also had died, he wrote to Alice back in England asking her to marry him. She arrived on the ship Anne on July 14, 1623, leaving her boys behind with relatives. On August 14, 1623, Alice and Governor Bradford were married by Assistant Governor, Isaac Allerton.

The marriage of William Bradford & Alice Carpenter Southworth was noted in a letter written by Captain Emmanuel Altham of the ship Little James to his brother back in England, Sir Edward Altham on September, 1623. Alice had arrived on the ship Anne, and Altham had arrived 10 days later on the Little James. The ships set sail for Plymouth at the same time, but parted company at sea. Both vessels were carrying some of the wives and children of persons already in the colony, who had been left behind in Leiden, when the Mayflower departed in 1620.

"Upon the occasion of the Governor's marriage, since I came, Massasoit was sent for to the wedding, where came with him his wife, the queen, although he hath five wives. With him came four other kings and about six score men with their bows and arrows - where, when they came to our town, we saluted them with the shooting off of many muskets and training our men. And so all the bows and arrows was brought into the Governor's house, and he brought the Governor three or four bucks and a turkey. And so we had very good pastime in seeing them dance, which is in such manner, with such a noise that you would wonder...

"And now to say somewhat of the great cheer we had at the Governor's marriage. We had about twelve pasty venisons, besides others, pieces of roasted venison and other such good cheer in such quantity that I could wish you some of our share. For here we have the best grapes that ever you say - and the biggest, and divers sorts of plums and nuts which our business will not suffer us to look for."

By June of 1624, Governor Bradford & his bride had son William, who would later become Deputy Governor of the colony. Bradford would remain governor of the colony for 31 years, being re-elected each year. Although he was not university educated, he spoke several languages, including Greek & Hebrew. Alice would have access to his library, which was extensive. She would be there as Bradford kept a handwritten journal detailing the history of the first 30 years of Plymouth Colony. Large parts of this journal were published as Of Plymouth Plantation.

Alice sent to England for her children Constant & Thomas Southworth who arrived at Plymouth sometime after 1627. They would join their mother & stepfather plus the 3 children from their marriage: William, Mercy & Joseph. William & Alice would have a long marriage together, from 1624 until Bradford died in 1657. After Bradford's death, the widow Alice actively took part in selling & transfering parcels of land in the towns of Plymouth, Sandwich, & Yarmouth.

Alice died in 1670. Her death was noted in the Records of Plymouth Colony. "On the 26th day of March, 1670, Mistris Allice Bradford, Seni'r, changed this life for the better, haveing attained to fourscore years of age, or therabouts. Shee was a godly matron, and much loved while shee lived, and lamented, tho aged, when shee died, and was honorabley enterred on the 29th day of the month aforsaid, att New Plymouth."

The Will of Alice Carpenter Southworth Bradford
"The Last Will and Testament of mistris Allice Bradford senir of Plymouth Deceased ; exhibited to the Court held att Plymouth in new England the 7th Day of June Anno Dom 1670 on the oathes of Nathaniel: Morton and Leift: Ephraim Morton; as followeth;

"I Allis Bradford senir of the Towne of Plymouth in the Jurisdiction of New Plymouth widdow : being weake in body but of Disposing mind and perfect memory blessed be God; not knowing how soone the Lord may please to take mee out of this world unto himselfe : Doe make and ordaine this to be my last Will and Testament; in manor and forme as followeth; Impr I bequeath my soule to god that gave it and my body to the Dust in hope of a Joyfull resurrection unto glory; Desiring that my body may be Intered as neare unto my Deceased husband; mr Willam Bradford: as Conveniently may be; and as for my worldly estate I Dispose of it as followeth;

Imprs I give and bequeath unto my Deare sister Mary Carpenter; the bed I now lye on with the furniture: therunto belonging and a paire of sheets and a good Cow and a yearling heiffer and a younge mare

Item I give and bequeath unto my son mr Constant Southworth my Land att Paomett: viz all my Purchase land there: with all my rights privilidges and appurtenances therunto belonging; To him and his heires and assignes for ever;

Item I give and bequeath unto my said son Constant Southworth and unto my son mr Joseph Bradford: the one halfe of my sheep; to be equally Devided betwixt them; and the other halfe to my son Captaine Willam Bradford

Item I give unto my said son Joseph Bradford my paire of working oxen and a white heiffer;

Item I give unto my honored frend mr Thomas Prence one of the bookes that were my Deare husbands Library; which of them hee shall Choose;

Item I give unto my Deare Grand child Elizabeth Howland; the Daughter of my Deare son Captaine Thomas Southworth Deceased; the sume of seaven pounds; for the use and benifitt of her son James howland

Item I give unto my servant maide Mary Smith a Cow Calfe to be Delivered her the next springe if I Decease this winter; and if I Doe not Decease this winter; my will is that shee have one Delivered to her out of my estate in som short time after my Decease;

all the rest of my estate not Disposed of all reddy by this my last Will and Testament; as above said;

I give and bequeath unto my sonnes mr Constant Southworth Captaine Willam Bradford and mr Joseph Bradford to be equally Devided amongst them in equall and alike proportions;

In Witnes that this is my Last Will and Testament I the said Allice Bradford have heerunto sett my hand and seale; this twenty ninth day of December anno Dom one Thousand six hundred sixty nine.

Inventory of Alice Carpenter Southworth Bradford
Plymouth Colony Inventory of the goods of Alice Carpenter Southworth Bradford, deceased 1670. Inventories were valued in pounds (L), shillings (s) and pence (d). There were 12 pence (or pennies) to a shilling and 20 shillings to a pound.

Impr 8 Cowes 20 00 00
Item 2 yearlings 01 10 00
Item a 2 yeare old steer 01 10 00
Item a steer of 4 yeare old 02 10 00
Item 1: 2 yeare old heiffer 01 10 00
Item 1 old horse and three mares 10 00 00

Item 17 sheep and 2 lambes 07 00 00

In the New Parlour Chamber
Item 1 bed a bolster and 2 pillowes 03 10 00
Item 1 green rugg and 1 Coverlid & 2 blanketts 03 00 00
Item a bedsteed & Curtaines and vallence 02 00 00
Item 2 Chaires 00 15 00 Item 3 wrought stooles 00 11 00
Item one Table and Carpett 01 05 00
Item a Carved Chest 01 00 00

In the outward Parlour Chamber
a bedsteed and Curtaine and vallence and settle 01 10 00

In the old parlour Chamber
Item a smale bed 2 blanketts 1 Coverlid & a pillow 03 10 00
Item 1 old green Cloth Goune 00 10 00
Item 8 yards of hommade Cloth 01 04 00
Item 2 Chestes 00 10 00
Item 2 Iron beames 1 hogshead 1 barrell and other old lumber 01 05 00

In the studdy in bookes
Item mr Perkins two of them 01 00 00
Item 3 of Doctor WIlletts on genises exodus & Daniel 01 00 00 Item Guicksarraden 00 10 00
Item the history of the Church 00 08 00
Item Peter Martirs Comon places 00 15 00
Item Cartwright on remise Testament 00 10 00
Item the history of the Netherlands 00 15 00
Item Peter Martir on the Romans 00 05 00
Item Moors workes on the New Testament 01 00 00
Item Cottons Concordance 00 08 00
Item Speeds history of the world 01 00 00
Item Weams Christian Sinnagogue & the protracture of the Image of God 00 08 00
Item the Meathod of Phisicke 00 02 00
Item Calvins harmony and his Coment on the actes 00 08 00
Item Downhams 2cond: prte of Christian warfare 00 03 00
Item mr Cottons answare to mr Williams 00 02 00
Item Taylers libertie of Prophesye 00 01 06
Item Gouges Domesticall Dutyes 00 02 06
Item the Institutions or reasons Discused & observations Divine and morall the synode of Dort and the Appologye 00 06 00
Item mr Ainsworth workes the Counterpoison & the tryall 00 02 00
Item mr Ainsworth on Genises exodus & livitticus 00 04 00
Item Calvin on Genises 00 02 06
Item Dike on the Deceightfulnes of mans hard 00 01 06
Item Gifford refuted 00 00 06
Item Dod on the comaundements and others of his 00 03 00
Item 53 smale bookes 01 06 06
Item Calvin on the epistles in Duch: and Divers other Duch bookes 00 15 06

Item 2 bibles 01 00 00
Item the actes of the Church 00 05 00
Item 3 of mr Bridgg: his workes 01 00 00
Item the Lives of the fathers 00 03 00
Item a skin of buffe 00 15 00

In the old Parlour
Item 1 feather bed 1 bolster 2 ruggs and a blankett 03 00 00
Item a bedsted & settle Curtaine and vallence 01 10 00

Item a Court Cubbert 01 00 00
Item a Table and forme and 2 stooles 01 05 00
Item 1 great lether Chaire 00 08 00
Item 2 great wooden Chaires 00 06 00
Item 1 great winscott Chist and a Cubbert 01 00 00
Item 2 boxes and a Deske and a wrought stoole and an old Case of bottles 00 12 00
Item 2 guns and a paire of bandaleers 01 00 00

The plate
Item the great beer bowle 03 00 00
Item another beer bowle 02 00 00
Item a wine Cupp 01 00 00
Item a salt 02 15 00
Item a trencher salt & a Drame Cupp 00 15 00
Item silver spoones 02 09 00
Item a silver dish 01 15 00 Item 2 blanketts 00 10 00

Item 1 Diaper Table Cloth and a Dozen of Diaper Napkins 02 00 00
Item another Diaper Table Cloth and 7 Diaper Napkins 01 10 00
Item 2 holland Table clothes 00 15 00
Item 1 old Cubbert Cloth 00 03 00
Item 4 pillow beers 00 08 00
Item 5 towells 00 05 00

Item 3 holland sheets 01 10 00
Item 2 paire of Cotten and linnine sheets 01 15 00
Item 19 Cotton and linnine Napkins 00 15 00
Item a paire of pillowbears 00 04 00
Item a nother paire of pillowbears 00 02 06
Item 5 shets 01 10 00
Item in shiftes and other wearing linnine 03 00 00
Item a Dingcastor hatt 01 05 00
Item her wearing Clothes and a little peece of bayes 12 00 00

Item a wicker baskett;
galley potts & glasses & such smale thinges of Little vallue 00 05 00

In the great Parlour
Item 2 great Carved Chaires 01 04 00
Item a Table and forme and Carpett 01 05 00
Item 10 Cushens 01 00 00
Item a Causlett and hedpeece 01 10 00
Item 4 great lether Chaires 01 04 00
Item in glasses and earthen ware 00 04 00
Item a Case and five knives 00 05 00
Item a rest & some other odde thinges 00 02 00

In the Kitchen
Item 24 pewter platters and a brim bason 07 00 00
Item 2 fflaggons: 2 quart potts & 3 pint potts 01 00 00
Item 6 smale pewter Dishes and a smale bason 00 10 00
Item 7 porrengers 00 06 00
Item 6 pewter plates 00 09 00
Item 2 pewter Candlestickes & a saltseller 00 06 00
Item 3 Chamber potts and three smale sawcers and pewter funnell; 00 09 00
Item 2 pyr plates 00 06 00
Item a tinning pan and 2 Coverings and a lanthorne 00 02 00
Item 1 great Jugg and 5 smallers ones 4 earthen pans and 2 earthen potts 00 00 12
Item 2 ffrench kettles 01 10 00
Item an old warming pan 00 03 00
Item 1 little ffrench kettle 00 03 00
Item 2 brasse kettles 00 15 00
Item a Duch pan 00 04 00
Item 3 brasse skilletts 00 04 00
Item 1 old brasse skimer and Ladle 00 01 00
Item 3 brasse Candle stickes and a brasse pestle and Mortor 00 09 00
Item a paire of Andjrons 00 10 00
Item a Chafeing Dish and a stew pan 00 10 00
Item 1 Iron skillett and an Iron kettle 00 10 00
Item 2 Iron potts 00 16 00
Item 2 paire of pothangers and 2 paire of pott hookes 00 08 00
Item 2 paire of tonggs and 2 fier shovells 00 05 00
Item 2 spitts and a gridjron and an Iron Driping pan 00 10 00
Item a paire of Iron rakes 00 10 00
Item 4 Dozen of trenchers 00 02 06
Item a box Iron 2 gallon glasse bottles and three pottle bottles 00 05 00

Item a spining wheele
a bucking tubb
2 pailes
2 kinmnells
two bowls
4 smale wooden Dishes
1 tray
2 Burchen trayes 00 16 00
Item Scales & waightes with an Iron beame 00 07 00
Item 2 beer barrells 00 04 00
Item a prsell of sheepes woole 00 03 00
Item 2 smale swine 00 10 00
Item in Mony 00 16 00
Item a silver bodkin 00 04 00
Item in provision 01 10 00
Item one halfe hogshed and a small prsell of salt 00 03 00
Item one paire of oxen in Mr Joseph Bradfords hand

Sume Totall 162 17 00

Captaine William Bradford and Mr Joseph Bradford haveing the Cattle after named in theire Costody when the estate was prised;
Did give in the number and kind of them upon theire oathes as followeth:
Item 4 Cowes 2 Calves one oxe 4 yeare old; one heiffer and hee was of two yeare old and 14 sheep besides lambes; sworne to these were in Captaine Bradford Costody June 1670
Item 2 oxen 4 Cowes 2 yearlinges one two yeare old steer 1 horse 2 mares 2 young Calves were in Mr Joseph Bradfords Custody and hee was sworne to this June 1670.