Deep Breath

A deep breath is needed before diving into Volume 22.  It’s another long one, so settle in.

  • David Peterkin, Dorchester County

16 Yards of Black Crape

Black crepe again — we really need to get some closure about mourning in colonial Maryland.

Two Trundle beds

1 underbed

If I had just seen 1 underbed, I would have assumed it was a trundle bed — but apparently they are two different things?

4 Wheat Hogsheads

Wheat is usually in bushels, and hogsheads are for tobacco, ergo this is odd.

  • Mary Cook, Dorchester County

By a Weeding Harrow given in and Appraised at 7/6 that did not belong to the Deceased as appeared afterward

More evidence of changes made after the initial viewing of the estate.

  • Thomas Mannyng, Calvert County
  • John Readin, Kent County

Sixteen Squirrel Sculps

one Crows head

Yes, squirrel scalps and the head of a crow. Both creatures were such a nuisance for colonists that the county court paid bounties for killing them. Many of the Somerset County tax lists, for example, include the number of squirrel heads as well as the number of taxable people in each household.

Somerset County Tax List for Wicomico Hundred, 1745     [Maryland State Archives, MSA C1812-19]

The first column is the number of taxables; the second is the number of dead squirrels [Sqs].  When the county justices compiled the year’s levy, Charles Ballard received payment for 26 squirrels. [I know that second household is headed by Charles Ballard. These are “my” lists — do you really want to challenge me?]

[I can also report that the squirrel and crow problem persisted well into the nineteenth century. Legislation passed in 1831 that I encountered just the other day included ‘An act to encourage the destruction of Crows, in this state.’]

two Swevell Stirrips

I needed a minute to decipher this; in the text stirrips looks an awful lot like turnips. But these are stirrups, and probably something similar to these. (Modern stirrups tend to be ‘swivel and lock’ which supposedly, among other things, ‘reduce leg burns’ – and having seen my equine expert’s occasional leg burns, I can assure you they should be reduced as much as possible.)

  • Mr. John Hall, Kent County

108lb gut fat

Blubber, I hope.

  • Mr. William Tidmarsh, Kent County appraised October 1736:

This inventory is a doozy. For starters, it includes nearly £74 just in silver:

1 large Silver bowl, 1 large and 1 small Tankard Do 1 Cann, 1 Salver 1 Punch Spoon and Strainer 1 Cup, 5 Tea Spoons, Strainer and tongs, 2 pepper box, 1 small Dram Cup and five Spoons all Silver

46 Silver buttons

1 pr Silver Spurs

1 pr Do and one Shoe buckle

1 Silver Stone Seal

Cash in Silver

Tidmarsh has a fascinating array of items above and beyond the silver, including jewelry and fine clothing and many luxury items like tea sets and enameled china and mahogany furniture. I was happy to see the BackGammon Table and Dice (being fond of backgammon myself), but my favorite entry is:

23 Punch bowls of Different Sizes

That seems excessive – even if Mr. Tidmarsh was running the 18th-century equivalent of a gaming hell (another Georgette Heyer reference), why would he need 23 Punch bowls?

One other thing about this inventory: As my occasional research assistant pointed out several years ago, this estate (valued at £464.83) includes only household goods and bound labor. That is to say, no livestock, no crops, and no tools – highly unusual.

  • Thomas Maxfield, Kent County

Here’s a good example of wealth inequality in colonial Maryland – William Tidmarsh juxtaposed with Thomas Maxfield, whose modest and largely uninteresting estate totals a mere £15.77.

  • Mr. John Ward, Anne Arundel County
  • William Mockbee, Prince George’s County

1 Saddle with cloth Housing and bridle

At last! I’ve been chasing the meaning of ‘housing’ in the context of saddles for weeks and kept coming up empty. The closest I could get was a couple of sites that sell Western saddles with custom back housing – in this example, the piece with ‘tan buckstitch trim.’

But by some strange alchemy of search terms, today I finally turned up – following a citation buried in the Wikipedia entry for harness saddle – this definition:

HOUSINGS or PAD-HOUSINGS, SADDLE-CLOTHS or SADDLE-LEATHERS, as they are termed according to their various forms, are made of leather or cloth and are placed under the saddle, the general outline of which they follow, but beyond which they extend on the sides.

Like Wikipedia, this source only discusses housings in the context of harness saddles. But it is clear to me that the housings in the inventories, with all their descriptive variation that I shall occasionally point out going forward, are essentially saddle pads. That was my hypothesis, but I am pleased to have it confirmed.

(For the record, the author of The Private Stable: Its Establishment, Management, and Appointments, has strong feelings about acceptable styles of housings; he also refers many times to housings used with ‘the panel-boot victoria,’ whatever that may be.)

  • Mr. Robert Magruder, Prince George’s County

This is a lovely inventory that organizes Mr. Magruder’s goods by location (for items in the house and the outbuildings, including the Cow Pen) or by type (e.g., Horses). One section is for New Goods; it lists one piece of cloth and:

5 m 6d Nails

8 m 10d Do

6 m 20d Do

And just what does that ‘m’ mean, you ask? From the context, it’s shorthand for 1,000 – using the line to distinguish the ‘m’ as a Roman numeral rather than a letter. Thus Magruder’s New Goods consist almost entirely of 19,000 nails.

The superscript ‘d’ denotes pence (which seems to make no sense, but the English penny is derived from the Roman denarius, and the ‘d’ symbol stuck).  Family Handyman offers a little tutorial on nail sizes billed as ‘The shocking truth about nail sizes!’ – but Wikipedia is more succinct, albeit less sensational.

  • Joseph Howard, Anne Arundel County

a parcel Nails Vizt 20d : 10d : 8d : 6d & 3d

There’s no quantity listed here, but Howard must have Magruder beat by a mile.  Howard’s nails were appraised at £13.45, which is almost exactly 1¾ times the value of the brand, spanking new ones in Magruder’s inventory.

½ part of an old Sain and Ropes

You may recall my trouble with ‘Sain’ in an earlier post, when the simplest explanation (a seine, or fishing net) did not make sense to me because the item was valued at £6.  Here we have the same spelling, but the half owned by Howard is only appraised at £0.65, so the full value (including the ropes) is still only about 20% of the value of the earlier item.  Could there really be that much variation in the quality of seines?

[There’s quite a bit of 19th-century Maryland legislation to limit seine fishing . . . just in case you are interested.]

  • Edmund Evans, Anne Arundel County

Here we get more about the process, and reasons why an additional inventory might be necessary. In her oath, Abigail Evans (the executor) states that the inventory includes everything that has come to her hands possession or knowledge except some Tobacco which is Shiped to England which she intends to Account for.

  • Capt. Burden Crosby, Calvert County
  • Thomas Summerset, Prince George’s County
  • George Drew, Dorchester County
  • William Shipley, Dorchester County

Nearly all of Shipley’s livestock was a shared investment:

the half of Eight cows

the half of four head of [Steers]

the half of five two year olds

the half of Six yearling[s]

half of three heifers

the quarter part of Six head of Cattle

  • Wm. Carman, Queen Anne’s County

2 old Bedticks

Not what you might be thinking (rest easy, my readers who hate ticks and fear bedbugs), but rather a crude mattress. [Curiously, neither Merriam-Webster nor my beloved 1970 edition of the American College Dictionary has a definition for ‘bedtick;’ I had to resort to Collins for verification.]

  • Mrs. Alice Murphy, Queen Anne’s County

1 Silk Housewife

I am not quite sure how I could have spent so much time immersed in the 18th-century (not to mention the Regency period) without learning that a housewife could be an object rather than a person. Many dictionary sites helpfully define housewife as a pocket-size container for small articles (such as thread).

  • John Bath, Queen Anne’s County

1 Dwarf Horse

According to Wikipedia – but without a source, so immediately suspect – by 1765 miniature horses were frequently pets of the nobility.  I doubt John Bath was noble, plus we are thirty years or so too early, so I think we can discount that explanation for his dwarf horse.  It is not entirely clear to me from my quick perusal whether a ‘dwarf horse’ could result from a random genetic mutation (like a runt, except not one of a litter), or if a horse small enough to be described as a dwarf would have to be the product of selective breeding. But either way, John Bath’s horse is unusual.

A demonstration image of a miniature horse working as a service animal.
  • John Droughton, Queen Anne’s County


That’s twenty inventories and time is a-wastin’. It would take me another twenty to get to Dr. Peter Bouchell, whose apothecary shop I dangled in front of the readers of Colonial Libraries; they will just have to check back in a few days.


And Volume 21 Thankfully Comes To An End

  • Mr. Samuel Gooding, Kent County
  • Mr. Leonard Brooke, Prince George’s County

13 yards and a quarter of Turkey Silk

11 yards ¾ of Green Camblet Spotted with silk

5 yards of mourning Crape

Aha – evidence that colonial Marylanders did wear black for mourning!

½ a Kitt of Shoemakers Tools

I interpret this as ‘half of the usual assortment of tools needed by a shoemaker’ – because the turn of phrase used by an innkeeper in Derbyshire who wanted to know ‘what kind of kit’ we had before advising us about hiking trails has stuck with me all these years. But I am also reminded of those bushels of oyster shells in kills (not kilts), and I started wondering if a ‘kitt’ could be either a unit of measurement or some kind of container. After skipping over several irrelevant hits (such as the site that will share Eartha Kitt’s height, weight, and other measurements), I found, a treasure trove with all kinds of random information. Lior (the saywhydoi-meister) shares this theory about why a pot of money is called a kitty:

“Around the 1300s, the Middle Dutch word “kit” (also spelled kyt, kitt, or kitte) referred to a wooden tub, barrel, pail, jug or tankard. If tools were put into this container, it became a toolkit, and if medicinal tools were put into it, it became a medical kit, but if money was put into a small container, it was just known as a kit, kitte or a kitty.”

This works well to explain the kit of shoemaker’s tools (and our hiking gear) but is less helpful for the oyster shells, which were already in bushels so why would they need another container?

  • Joshua Calvert, Prince George’s County
  • Thomas Holland, Prince George’s County – Additional Inventory

3 Hogs catch’d wild

Just a little reminder about those animals that are only located after the main appraisal.

  • Samuel Perrie, Prince George’s County – Additional Inventory
  • Peter Knight, Prince George’s County
  • John Capshaw, Charles County
  • Charles MacDaniel, Charles County
  • John Lewin, Charles County
  • Ignatius Luckett, Charles County – Additional Inventory
  • Mr. Thomas Warren, Baltimore County

a pair of small Cross Garnets

These turn up fairly often, and I have made a couple of half-hearted and therefore unsuccessful efforts to figure out what they actually are (or were). But this time I persevered, and I can now tell you (thanks to Merriam-Webster) that cross-garnet is an archaic term for a T-shaped hinge. (It was actually really easy to find this information; I don’t know what my problem was.)

  • Abra: Parkinson, Anne Arundel County
  • Mr. Richard Vowles, St. Mary’s County

part in a Grindlestone

This one always makes me think of Gellert Grindelwald, but it’s just another word for grindstone.

a flute Whone Razor and Lumber in the drawer

Not a fiddle, but a flute – less common, but still an instrument that shows up from time to time. And just in case you are up on your eighteenth-century tools and think the flute might be a fluke hoe, one of those is listed later in the appraisal. (It was actually really hard to find anything on the Internet about fluke hoes even though they are in inventories fairly often, but I did finally find this reference in an agricultural journal from 1839.)

  • Robert Clark, St. Mary’s County
  • Jacob Morris, St. Mary’s County
  • John Hayes, St. Mary’s County
  • Mr. Richd. Coade, St. Mary’s County

2 old fluke plows

Wait, is it a hoe or a plow? The sailors among you might also be wondering if it’s an anchor. Of the three options, anchor is by far the easiest to find online. The 1839 reference cited above is definitely about hoes, and yet this inventory entry is unmistakably for plows. I think all three are correct, and it’s a matter of context. (I should point out that the first Internet hit for ‘fluke plow’ is a site about ‘The Plow Anchors’ – which leads me to hypothesize that a type of hoe morphed into a type of plow which then was appropriated by anchors . . . but that’s still just a guess.)

  • Benjamin Gough, St. Mary’s County
  • John Barwick, Talbot County

4 ½ bushels of planting Potatoes

Potatoes again – they are shaping up to be a common item that I thought was unusual until I started paying attention.

  • Isaac Martain, Talbot County

4 bushels of planting Petatoes


  • John Loveday, Talbot County
  • Philip Kacey, Talbot County

half a pew in St. Peters Parish Church

Searching ‘pew’ gets you to the Pew Research Center and the Pew Charitable Trusts (I can just hear the NPR support promos), but fortunately Wikipedia has a concise history of church pews. The pew page (I like the alliteration) explains  that some congregations sold pews to underwrite the cost of building a church (which I already knew) but also says that “title to pews was recorded in pew deeds, and were used to convey them.” I have occasionally seen the ownership of a private pew bequeathed in a will, but I have not encountered a ‘pew deed’ – something to watch out for when (if?) I shift back over to combing through the Somerset County deeds.

  • Robert Skiene, Somerset County

22 Thousand 8d Nails

18 Thousand ten penny Do

2 Nail barrels

I did know that nails were sold by the thousands (although perhaps not usually quite this many) but I didn’t expect barrels just for nails. I have a vision of the kind of barrels that sometimes hold dill pickles. (Or is that just an old-timey fantasy courtesy of Cracker Barrel?)

Image result for pickle barrel

  • Mr. John Stevens, Somerset County
  • Thomas Tate, Somerset County

18 Packs Cards

Thomas Tate is giving us a run for our money, but I am confident that we have more (because we keep buying them as souveniers).


9lb Codd fish – followed by 46 [lb] dryed pork and 7lb Dryed beef

I need to find out more about this guy – where is he getting his cod?

2 Dozn knitting Needles

I think he has me beat in this category.

  • Peter Cearsey, Somerset County
  • Richard Harper, Somerset County
  • John Murry, Somerset County

6 Black chairs

I think you know what I’m thinking . . . but no, not chairs for funerals.

  • David Addams, Somerset County

three old Wheels almost useless

These are appraised in the same part of the inventory as casks, tubs, and canoes so we can be pretty confident that they are for carts, not spinning.

  • Mr. Thomas Haskins, Dorchester County
  • Thomas Haskins late of Dorchester County

This inventory is for his property in Anne Arundel County.

And that’s it for Volume 21.

Final tally, you ask?

364 inventories

545 pages

On to Volume 22 . . . which is nearly as long.

Nearly There

  • Robert Dutton, Cecil County

Lumber Vizt old Chest Table and Cubboard

I find it interesting that wood already crafted into furniture is still considered lumber.

  • Mr. Henry Ward, Cecil County – Additional Inventory

This additional inventory includes a large assortment of barrows, sows, pigs, shotes, cows, steers, bulls, heiffers & sheep – worth £74.45 in all – which seems like an awful lot of animals to miss the first time around.

11 Skaines of Black Silk Small and one paper ^of^ pins

4 Strings of black buttons

6 yards of black broad Cloath

The makings of more funeral attire? (Just to be clear: I don’t actually know whether colonial Marylanders wore black for mourning, so all of this is more an extended observation – bordering on a joke – than a scholarly assertion.)

a Box of Anchoves [valued at £3.83]

Would anchovies be in a box? Surely not, plus the value seems much too high for a perishable commodity – but I can’t come up with a likely alternative.

a Saine [valued at £6]

This one is a mystery as well. There is a dialectical British word ‘sain’ but it’s a verb (to make the sign of the cross), not a noun, and the value is too high, I believe, for a fishing net (that is, a ‘seine‘). Perhaps I have got that wrong; I will keep an eye out for indisputable seines and check their values.

  • John Mainley, Cecil County – Additional Inventory.
  • Jno. Lewis, Cecil County – Additional Inventory
  • Sarah Roberts, Anne Arundel County
  • Patrick Andrew, Prince George’s County

This inventory identifies Patrick Andrew as a resident of Prince George’s County but appraises his property in both Prince George’s and Calvert; at least some of the goods in Prince George’s were viewed “at the plantation of Samll. Perrey.” Roughly 75% of the items were in Prince George’s, yet the inventory was probated in Calvert County . . . which does not make much sense.

a parcell of old fashioned pictures [in Calvert]

Not old exactly, but old-fashioned – I wonder what that meant in 1735.

Many of the items in Prince George’s were not in, shall we say, tip-top shape:

parcel of old Rubage brass and Iron

2 old Rotten beds wth a Rotten Quilt & blanket

1 old India Quilt burnt in some places

  • John Fowler, Calvert County
  • Edward Charleton, Calvert County
  • Richard Hudson, Calvert County
  • William Wood, Senr., Baltimore County

a pr of Vices for raleing Tobo

Tobacco was hung on rails to cure in tobacco houses, but how do vises come into it? Were vises used to clamp together the stems of a number of tobacco plants so they could be tied off (and then hung on the rails)? Seems logical, but you’d think I would already know this.

  • Thos. Hampton, Queen Anne’s County

Holland Sugar poitt and one plate

Something along the lines of Delftware, I assume.

“Armorial Dish” (wapenbord) by Willem Jansz. Verstraeten, c. 1645-1655, Haarlem
  • Henry Wright, Queen Anne’s County – Additional Inventory
  • Mrs. Mary Brown, Queen Anne’s County

3 ½ yards of Issamgam Holland

7 yards of South Sea

I did hunt for these in a 1920 Dictionary of Textiles but to no avail. Ideas?

(Apparently there’s an individual living in Charlotte, North Carolina, named Issam Gam – and it’s pretty frightening that I can relay that information. I could give you an address and phone number, but I won’t.)

  • Peter Bowman, Queen Anne’s County
  • William Owens, Queen Anne’s County

1 Corn Culler and pestle

  • John Forcom, Queen Anne’s county
  • William Teppens, Queen Anne’s County
  • Dannll. Hurley, Queen Anne’s County

3 pecks of Potatos sold Thos Hadley

Potatoes . . . I don’t see a lot of potatoes – but perhaps I just have not been noticing. We’ll find out.

  • William Austin, Queen Anne’s County – Additional Inventory
  • Mr. John Woodall, Queen Anne’s County

one pair of Spectackles set in Silver

a new Steel Crosscut Saw

a pockett Spying Glass

6 ½ [lb pewter] old and useless

It’s old and useless . . . and yet it has a value.  Only £0.16, but still.

  • John Johnson, Esqr., Kenty County – Additional Inventory

53 ¾ yards of Cloath Called fear not

One Ivorey Memdm Book Totershell Cover broke

  • Edward Cousand, Kent

1 Bushell of Cockstones

Huh. My first search took me to alectoria, defined as ‘a talismanic stone that is supposedly found in the crop of a cock and is believed to be magical‘ – for more on that, you can consult Occultopedia for yourself. But given the unlikelihood of acquiring an entire bushel of stones extracted from fowl, I think a much more likely definition is ‘a large variety of kidney-bean, red or of mixed colors.’ I found this in a Dictionary of Jamaican English, which cites a source from 1756 – and clarifies that the name derives from ‘its resemblance to the testicle of a cock.’

This inventory, by the way, provides a useful example of the multi-day process of appraising and filing an inventory for probate. The estate was “appraised by [William Ringgold and Edward Worrell] this 26 day of March 1736” but it was not until the 20th of April that Ringgold and Worrell set their “hands & seals” on the document to certify that they had examined and approved the appraisal – and the executors did not take their oath before the county official until early July.

  • John Fanning, Kent County – Additional Inventory
  • Benjamin Griffith, Kent County

one Nest of Drawers

Definitely a nest, not a chest. Most of the hits for ‘nest of drawers’ actually link to ‘nesting tables,’ but does yield “a miniature chest of drawers made in the 18th century, often set on top of a desk or table” – which probably explains the desk box we saw last Thursday in John Norris’s inventory as well.

  • William Canter, Kent

Ninty bushels of Oyster Shells in kills

Kills? Surely not kilts . . .

Still-Life with Oysters by Alexander Adriaenssen
  • Archibald Craque, Kent County

This inventory includes an impressive array of tools:

a parcel of Joiners Tools

17 Augers

a parcel of Turners Tools

a parcel of Carpenters Tools

21 files

15 Plaining Irons

20 Gimblets

3 broad Chizels

21 Chizels and Augers

3 pr Iron Compasses

3 small knives

1 Round Shave

1 whip Saw

1 Tennant Saw

And naturally some wood upon which to use all those tools:

477 foot poplar plank

238 foot of plank

House Lumber

a parcel of Scantling

30 foot Walnut Plank

  • Richard Fulston, Kent County

6 Earthen pots of hogs lard

The appraisers took the trouble to weigh these pots individually and determined that they held 24, 26, 28, 19, 30, and 27 pounds. From that information they calculated the gross weight (154 lbs), subtracted the tare weight (the weight of the pots by themselves – 49.5 lbs), and valued Fulston’s 104.5 pounds of lard at £1.74.

  • Mr. Hans Hanson, Kent County

9lb of bristoll Shot

I believe I waxed poetic about shot many posts ago, but I still don’t know what to make of this entry (and many similar entries that identify a pot made from iron as a Bristol iron pot, or what have you). Thus far I have not found any evidence that iron forged in or near Bristol, England was distinctive in some way. I suppose there’s a slim possibility that ‘Bristol’ refers to the Bristol Iron Works in Virginia, but that enterprise was barely underway at this time. It strikes me as unlikely that those Virginians would already be producing a marketable commodity distinct enough to be identified as Bristol iron in Maryland inventories.

1 Cart and Wheels with knaves hoop’d with Iron

Not scallywags or jacks of spades, but naves. And not interiors of churches, but the hubs of the wheels.

1 Ground Sledge

Seems redundant to me – are there sledges (aka sleds) that don’t get pulled along the ground?

A horse-drawn “stone boat”, a sled used in an Australian horse pulling competition
  • Mr. Hance Hanson, Kent County – Additional Inventory

13 ¾ bushels of Cockstones

Ha! Cockstones, again – and quite a lot of them, too.



Where Have All The Fleams Gone?

Predictably, fleams do not appear quite as frequently as I asserted in the previous post (that’s what I get for using the ill-chosen word ‘most’).

  • Anthony Brocklehirst, St. Mary’s County
  • Richard Haseler, St. Mary’s County
  • Owen Smithson, St. Mary’s County

2 old Joynt Stooles

In a page about Early American furniture, Britannica asserts that joint stools ‘were the commonest form of seating’ and defines them as ‘small rectangular stools with four turned legs joined with stretchers.’  I quite agree that stools are common and numerous, but I don’t understand why these particular stools are identified as joint stools.  Usually stools are simply stools.

  • Wm. Lawrence, St. Mary’s County
  • Captn. Jno. Welsh, Anne Arundel County – List of Debts
  • Mr. Gilbart Falconar, Kent County

3 muells

Listed after the horses, and before the cart – very logical.

1 Dutch fire Lock to Striek fire wth

1 ventners Crean

Searching for ‘ventner’ just gets me sites that misspell the name of geneticist Craig Venter (he’s a complicated guy, but his name is not hard to spell – the world needs editors!) and ‘vintner’ yields (of course) endless sites about wine and vineyards. Adding ‘crean’ or ‘crane’ doesn’t help (although the latter reduces the hits to wineries with crane in the name); ‘cream’ turns up a botanical serum produced by Vintner’s Daughter. One of the variations I tried did offer cream sherry . . . I have no idea if that could be relevant.

  • Henry Childs, Anne Arundel County

one pair of Horse flames


  • Jonathan Maraine, Dorchester County

one Case of Horse flames

Typically, listed amidst a hodgepodge of items, just after 5 qt Bottles and right before Cash and a small Earthen pott. (But if I start paying close attention, I will probably also regret the word ‘typically.’)

  • Mary Rider, Dorchester County – Additional Inventory
  • David Robson, Dorchester County

a Turners Lath

6 old Turning Tooles

a parcell of Tumbler in a Shoemakers box

The tumbler parcel is farther down in the inventory than the lathe and turner’s tools, but could they be related? If so, why are these in a shoemaker’s box?

Wait a minute – this isn’t really relevant but I have to tell you that ‘shoemaker’s box‘ is a traditional Swedish dish, with a slice of beef that purportedly resembles the sole of a shoe.  This adds a whole new dimension to saying overcooked food tastes like shoe leather.

Back to tumblers.  Those very trendy drinking glasses without feet or stems were called tumblers. (And still are? I’m not trendy enough to know.) But again, why in a shoemaker’s box? Merriam-Webster also says that some types of domestic pigeons are called tumblers, but surely that isn’t any more relevant than the Swedish meat.

  • Henry Diass, Dorchester County
  • Henry Ennalls, Dorchester County

foar Staff no vain

A nautical instument, also called a Jacob’s staff or cross-staff – cool (even though this one is missing its vane).  Plus it goes nicely with the next item, 1 Nocturnall, which you know from reading last Sunday’s post is an instrument for telling time at night.

  • Elizth. Catherine Ensey, Charles County
  • Jno. Norris, Prince George’s County

1 Warming pann

1 Chafin Dish

A reader inquired whether the water plates (also in last Sunday’s post) were chafing dishes. Well, yes, in the sense of a server designed to keep food warm, but no, in that chafing dishes use charcoal (well, Sterno cans these days) to produce the heat. Also chafing dishes are not uncommon in inventories, especially those for larger estates, so I expect that Thomas Maddox’s appraisers really did mean something other than a chafing dish. Wikipedia, by the way, states that “chafing dishes in the form of charcoal-burning braziers are familiar in 17th-century American inventories almost from the start” – but without a citation. (And familiar? Strange word choice.)

Diego Velázquez portrayed a woman poaching eggs in a glazed earthenware chafing dish over charcoal. (Wikipedia’s words, not mine.)

1 Brass Skimmer for Milk

It all makes sense now: Skim milk is milk from which cream has been removed using a skimmer – you would think I would already have realized this, but frankly I never thought about the etymology of ‘skim’ as a description of milk. According to The Museum of English Rural Life, brass is the metal of choice for food preparation because it does not rust and therefore won’t contaminate food; I also did not know that. If you’d like to try your hand at skimming your own milk, Back to Basics has simple directions (and as a bonus, you can learn how to make your own Devonshire cream).

1 Desk box

A box intended to sit on top of a desk? I would hypothesize a junk box, except it is not filled with trifles or trumpery or even other small matters. [We’ll get back to this in my next post; today’s is in danger of being overlong.]

By the way, the text for the widow’s oath for this inventory says “Docter Jno. Norris” – but the inventory has no sign of medicines or medical tools – no lancets or razors, and assuredly no fleams.

  • Henry Vanbeber, Cecil County – Additional Inventory

In its entirety – and so much to learn here. I have to be selective or this post will take me all week.

30 ^ozs^ of Rhenish Rasin

11 ½ [ozs] Opium

1 [ozs] Verdegrace

2 [ozs] Borrax

I did a little research on borax back when I was driving on Highway 58 alongside Twenty Mule Team Road in Boron, California. I won’t bore you (pun intended) with the chemistry – except to say that boron is produced entirely by cosmic ray spallation (whatever that is) and borax is a hydrated sodium borate. I will tell you that about 50% of the world’s supply comes from deserts in southern California. Also borax can be used as an anti-fungal foot soak, but the modern definitions all stress its use in detergents, cosmetics, and enamel glazes. Also metallurgy – I am starting to wonder if Mr. Vanbebber was an alchemist.


13 ozs Gum Bensom

1 lb Gum mastick

1 lb old Venis Trackle

Theriaca Andromachie Senioris, a specific kind of theriac (medical concoctions considered panaceas that date back to the first century A.D.) –who knew? You have to scroll down the Wikipedia page for theriac to get to this particular elixir. It included viper flesh and opium . . . tasty.

2 lb 4 ozs Bees wax

5 [lb] Dirty Christal Tartary

4 [lb] Liquourish Ball

Licorice, of course – an expectorant that can also increase blood pressure. Don’t worry: This has no bearing whatsoever on a reader’s consumption of Twizzlers – red licorice is not licorice at all, but simply a confectionary.

6 ozs Scammony

Plants of the morning glory family (Convolvulus scammonia) the dried roots of which yield a strong purgative.

Convolvulus scammonia - Köhler–s Medizinal-Pflanzen-046.jpg
Convolvulus scammonia

4 [lb] Amber

3 ½ [lb] Bell Armonaick

3 [lb] Quick Silver

Liquid mercury . . . toxic, yes, but historically used in many medicinal compounds.

4 [lb] red Saunders

Red sandalwood; an astringent.

Red Sandalwood
(Pterocarpus santalinus L.f.)

2 [lb] Vermillion

4 [ozs] Arsnick

17 [lb] Potast

1 [lb] 4 [ozs] Saffron

Another expectorant . . .

30 Gallens of Rum

So medicines, mostly – plus the rum, of course, which was probably needed to dull the pain for the patients. But also the vermillion (which is toxic) and amber – and that borax, which is used in glazes, so perhaps Mr. Vanbebber was up to something artistic, too.

But wait, there’s more!

  • Henry Vanbebber, Cecil County – Second Additional Inventory

6 ½ ozs of Gum Asfeted

12 ozs of Red Corrall

one Viol with Mert Dulas 12 ozs

one Viol wth Mert Sublmate Carosine 12 ozs

It’s definitely an ‘n’ but I bet the last word is supposed to be ‘corrosive’ – mercury corrosive sublimate, now called mercury chloride (and logically the previous entry must be another mercury compound).

1 ½ lb of Some mine or [space] not Known to [us]

I suspect that’s supposed to be ‘some mineral not known to us.’

one quarter of Renester horn

one Bottle wth Some Antseed oyle

Aniseed oil? Used for its carminative effect – which is to say, to reduce flatulence. Aren’t you glad you asked?

one Runlet with brown paint Supposed to be 40 lb

one Runlet of yallow paint Supposed to be 28 lb

Hmm. Paint. Along with that vermillion, and coral, and verdigris . . . and borax. Suggestive. Also, note the ambiguity about the quantities of paint. Was someone else using the county measures and scales that day?

one paint Stone Splitt

Who thinks googling ‘paint stone’ would be useful? That’s right, nobody – but still, I tried.

  • Mr. Henry Vanbebber, Cecil County – List of Debts Due
  • Mr. William Marshall, Prince George’s County – List of Debts Due
  • John Williams, Prince George’s County – Additional Inventory

A Three Year old Colt found since the return of the Inventory

Just another example of an animal turning up after the appraisal.

  • John Johnson, Cecil County
  • John Lewis, Cecil County

25 Spools

Spools might have to go on that increasingly long list of objects that I think I’ve never seen that actually occur frequently . . . but still this seems like a lot. The inventory also includes 2 linning wheeles, 1 wooling Do, 5 pounds Cotton Yarn, 3 pounds unspun [cotton], 24 pounds of Wooling yarn, 24 ½ [lb] linning thread, old pair wool Cards, 7 pounds of flax, and 1 bushell of flax seed, so I think we can infer some fairly intensive production of fibers for making textiles – but there is neither a loom nor any sheep.

1 Rockin Chair and Cradle

1 brested Saddle and brest pleat & 3 bridles

Breastplate is not at all enigmatic (although it is a much smaller piece of tack than I had envisioned), but I can’t get anything about a breasted saddle. The ‘b’ just maybe could be a ‘c’ – but ‘crested saddle’ just turns up trail rides near Crested Butte, Colorado.

Case of Horse flames

All right, I am trying to come to terms with the fleams. My horse expert was not particularly well-informed about bloodletting (cut her some slack; she’s not a veterinary student, just an enthusiast). She did tell me that bloodletting used to be a method for treating (or trying to prevent) laminitis – which, incidentally, is Secretariat’s cause of death. (I am glad the movie did not include that information; it’s already enough of a weep-fest.) And of course bloodletting used to be an accepted medical practice for humans, so why not horses (and sometimes cows, says the Internet).

Image result for secretariat
Secretariat at the Preakness

Laminitis is a serious ailment, and I can understand that colonists who had horses would like to have a fleam on hand, especially given that veterinary medicine, such as it was, did not constitute a specialized trade. (The first veterinary school was not founded until 1762, according to Wikipedia’s helpful page.) I have never seen a reference to colonists who were particularly skilled in caring for horses . . . or even farriers, I don’t think.  The Wikipedia page asserts that by the Middle Ages, some farriers effectively became ‘horse doctors,’ and to a degree were regulated as such in London as early as 1356. Alas, my go-to reference for information about artisans does not have an index entry for farriers – although it does say that blacksmiths functioned as farriers. In case you’re about to ask, let me tell you right away that fleams are found in the inventories of all sorts of artisans, planters, and merchants, not just those of blacksmiths.

One more thing: Fleams usually show up in pairs, but here we have a whole case (as we also saw in Jonathan Maraine’s inventory). I still don’t know why a household would need two fleams, let alone a case thereof. Granted, I did not read the information that I found about fleams and bloodletting very closely; I am a touch too squeamish for that. My best guess is that there were different sizes of fleams for different sizes of veins.

One particularly gruesome illustration shows blood pouring out of different parts of a horse. (I looked at that one as briefly as possible and I won’t post it, but it’s here if you really want to see it.)

Let’s move on to something else, please.

I Need A Temporary Ban On Merchants

Their inventories are too interesting and take up too much time!

  • Mrs. Hannah Horsey, Somerset County
  • Thos. Maddox, Senr., Somerset County

one third of a whip saw

Further evidence that a whipsaw could be owned in partnership with (in this case) two other people – or perhaps could be bequeathed to people. A shared bequest is not the story here, however. When Alexander Maddux, Thomas’s father, died in 1717, he left nearly everything to his wife and then to his son Lazarus. Thomas and his other two brothers, Alexander and Nathaniel, each received twelve pence (most likely having already received property from their father before his death).

  • Jno. Knelms, Somerset County

one gown that has been worn

  • Richard Pennewell, Somerset County
  • Lazarus Maddux, Somerset County

Yes, Thomas’s brother – in case you were wondering.

  • Ann Evans, Somerset County
  • Danll. Day, Calvert County

one new England quart mugg

one small Indian Glass & some other Crackt glass

A quart-sized mug seems mighty big. And I don’t believe I’ve seen Indian glass before – Indian corn, of course, and plenty of Indian baskets, plus an Indian made hatt back on May 23rd, but not glass. There is glass production in India in the eighteenth century . . . possible, I suppose, but that seems like an awfully long way to transport glass.

one Shoemakers Bench & some Tooles

Shoemakers tools are nearly ubiquitous, but benches? Not so much.

  • George Drew, Baltimore County

22 Knotts Fiddle Strings

4 packs playing card

Catering to idle young men?

4 Dozen and 3 wash Balls

Wash balls, again. Bales, possibly? I still need some help with this one!

8 ½ yards Cherrey Derrey

Such a fun name that I had to look it up. According to Textiles in America cherryderry (charadary, carridary) is a ‘striped or checked woven cloth of mixed silk and cotton imported from India from the late seventeenth century.’ (And I suppose it’s possible that some India glass got imported along with the cherryderry but I still think probably not.)

1 Womans whip

10 Bridles

1 womans Kirb Bitt Common

I think this is bitt, although it might say bill or bilt or belt. If it is a curb bit, we may well ask what makes it a womans bit. My horse expert suggested that it might have been bejeweled – her word – and I guess some degree of decoration is plausible, but how could it then also be common?

1 pair womens Morocco [shoes] mismatched

Before you get the idea that Maryland women were shuffling around in babouche slippers, be advised that these shoes are followed by silk do. ticken shoes, and calfe skinn shoes. ‘Morocco’ therefore describes the leather, not the style. As a bonus, a little father down we get 1 pair Red murrocco Shoes.

a parcell of Window glass much broken and Damadgd

2 qrs 14 lb of window Ledd

3 lb of Sawder

I was slightly stumped by the unit of measurement for the lead, but I think it must be quarter, as in a quarter of a hundredweight. (Wikipedia says ‘the hundredweight has had many values’ – that’s helpful!)

Mr. Geo. Noble, Prince George’s County

6 Large water plates

Golly. According to the 1913 Edition of Webster’s, these are plates heated by hot water contained in a double bottom or jacket – but current dictionaries contain no such information.

one Side Saddle wth blue Cloath Covering flowerd with silver Bridle and 2 whips

1 very old Do

2 very old broaken mens Do

2 Horse Cloaths and girths

It’s possible the text says girtles — but wouldn’t that essentially be a girth?

one seal wth the Decds Coat arms

one Nocturnall

This is a new one for me: A device for telling the time at night, rather like a sundial but read according to the stars. (Merriam-Webster missed this one; I had to use Wiktionary.)

1 very old Backgammon Table

one pack playing cards

1 violin and a parcell gutt strings

Some leisure activities.

4 marble Slabs 16 Inch Square

After Amos Woodward’s supply of coffin handles, the mind instantly leaps to headstones, but these seem too small. Are these perhaps the same thing as Woodward’s coffin squares?

13 lb Country Hops

18 ½ lb new England Do

Special hops from New England?

The Hop Growers of America site asserts that ‘the first commercial hop production was a 45-acre garden established in 1648 to supply a brewery in the Massachusetts Bay settlement.’ Not only that, but ‘Massachusetts remained the country’s most important hop supplier for the next 150 years.’ I did manage to live in New England for more than 18 years (lumping together two different periods of residence) without realizing that there’s such a thing as a ‘New England IPA’.  But I don’t think the existence of NEIPA is significant for understanding George Noble’s hops, as the current buzz doesn’t actually indicate that hops grown in New England are critical to the brew; rather its defining characteristic is that it ‘has been aggressively hopped.’

1 white moko Ring wth Christiall W W

Followed by 2 Stone Rings, 2 mourning Do, 2 plaine Rings and 1 pair Bristoe stone buttons set in Silver. I’ve been unable to figure out moko and Bristoe. For the latter, Bristol seems logical, but as far as the Internet knows there’s no such thing as Bristol stone (or Bristol buttons, for that matter). For the former, I was briefly distracted by mahoe, which is a tree indigenous to the Caribbean – the national tree of Jamaica, in fact – but it’s called blue mahoe . . . so I don’t know. For what it’s worth, the Wikipedia page says the color varies greatly and the blue tone does not tend to endure – and that the wood has been used for ‘exquisite jewelleries’ . . . but still.

I assume the WW indicates initials on the ring; perhaps someone with knowledge of the Noble family could explain a WW ring in the possession of GN.

Blue Mahoe Tree.JPG
Talipariti elatum

one Barramettr

One of these days I have to figure out how a barometer works and why it’s useful – but today is not that day.

  • John Bowen, Prince George’s County

2 worm Eaten Dear Skinns

  • Jno. Clarvo, Prince George’s County – Additional Inventory

[in its entirety]

Thousand Shingles not Joynted nor Rounded

Hundred & 50 Clap Boards

  • Jams. Carroll, Esqr., Anne Arundel County – List of Debts
  • Mr. Jno. King, Charles County
  • William Williams, Charles County
  • Col. George Mason, Charles County – Additional Inventory
  • John Appleyard, Charles County
  • Samll. Abbot, Calvert County – Additional Inventory

[in its entirety]

1950 nails

  • Thos. Price, Talbot County
  • Mark Noble, Talbot County

His Rideing mare Bridle and Saddle

2 old Saddles and bridles and Halter

pr old Saddle Trees

  • Jonathan Taylor, Talbot County

1 Falling Table

Searching on the Internet turned up a distressing number of reports about lethal encounters with falling tables (or falling off a table). I expect this must be something along the lines of a gateleg table, although probably not one quite as fancy as this:

Oval table with falling leaves

1 whole Skirted Bridle and saddle

1 old Do.

1 Bridle Bitt

5 ¼ lb of whale Bone

There were also quite a few stiffened bodices.

1 Rideing saddle and Baggs

1 pair Iron Stirups

Yes, I am still more than a little preoccupied by saddles and tack.  And horse-y items in general, which is why I need to get back to the horse flames.  It seems I never actually googled ‘fleams’ – which I can’t quite believe, but if I had, I would have been able to tell you that these objects are handheld instruments used for bloodletting.  But I have so many questions.  I can understand keeping the fleams used for horses separated from ones that get used for people (plus maybe they need to be a different size?), but why are there SO MANY? And why are they so often mixed in with kitchen items and not either tack or tools? I can start tracking these if you like, but it will slow me down even more than the pesky merchants.  Many, many, many – if not most – estates include horse fleams (I know, imprecise; maybe I really should start counting).  Yes, there are plenty of horses, but do horses need to be bled so often that every household with a horse needs a fleam? I meant to ask my horse expert about this as well as the curb bit, but I forgot and now she’s off at a banquet for the equestrian team.  I guess you’ll have to stay tuned.

There Might Be A Very Faint Light . . .

. . . at the end of the tunnel that is volume 21.  But really, really faint; I think I have a solid 100 inventories to go.

  • Stephen Gill, Baltimore County

pr Horse flames

OK, I know these are common items and probably don’t have anything to do with horses; they usually appear with tools or kitchenware. Another inventory in this batch, for example, has an entry for 1 pair of old Horse Fleams & 6 pewter spoons, while a third has 2 Razors and one pair of flames (Arthur Whitely and William Waltham, respectively). This particular pair is entered on the same line as woms brass Thimbles . . . & a pr Sizars, so more likely to do with sewing than equitation. I am sure at least one of my readers (there being so very many of you) is eager to explain flames/fleams/phligms (yes, I have seen that spelling – Amos Woodward, in fact). And I wish she would; you try entering ‘horse flames’ into Google and see if you can find anything useful!

  • Francis Wheeler, Senr., Prince George’s County
  • Mr. Henry Moore, Prince George’s County
  • Mrs. Frances Wilson, Calvert County

11 lb of Butter

But, I might point out, no churn or tub or anything of that nature (unless it is hiding within a Small pcell of woodenware or under 1 old Table and Other Lumber).

  • Francis Money, Dorchester County

2 Old Wast Coats of Bibb Fustian

At first I thought this was ‘Bible Fustian,’ which sent me off on a wild goose chase. But it turns out fustian is pretty interesting in and of itself, both in the way it came to be used figuratively (as inflated or pretentious, because it was often used as padding) and in its somewhat more recent political significance, as a symbol of class allegiance in the 19th century (because it was a ‘stout but respectable’ cloth commonly worn by workers).

One peck of Salt 6d & a peck Measure

Items used to measure things are apparently of interest to me (who knew?). More on this below.

  • Arthur Whitely, Dorchester County

2 Cows and Calves

2 more Do. the Cows not to be Seen when we praisd. the 2 Cows & calves above

Today you get a little riff on the inventory process. These are consecutive entries in the inventory . . . and I can’t quite figure out why the appraisers found it necessary to specify that the second set of cows was appraised at a different time than the first set of cows.

Most inventories read as if they are lists of items appraised all in one go, in the order in which the appraisers viewed them – perhaps with a few items tacked on at the end (or some missed altogether, necessitating an additional inventory). Of course for very large estates (Amos Woodward, I’m looking at you) it is implausible that two men could enumerate, let alone appraise, the entire thing in one day. But you wouldn’t think two or more viewings would be necessary for small estates, and Arthur Whitely’s is quite modest (just under £26).

There are clues, albeit sometimes rather subtle ones, that many (most?) inventories were compiled in at least two stages. As step one, appraisers viewed the items and likely recorded their valuations informally, as notes or a rough list. Then they used those notes to create the formal record that we find transcribed in the probate volumes. The appraisers signed their final list, which was taken by the administrator or executor to the county official responsible for probate; the administrator/executor then took an oath that the inventory was ‘just and perfect.’

Appraisers didn’t necessarily put together their final list immediately after viewing the estate. Occasionally an inventory (as transcribed in the probate volume) has one date at the beginning (‘the goods and chattels of so-and-so as viewed on whatever day of whatever month of whatever year’) and a different date (usually only a few days later) at the end with the appraisers’ signatures. But generally there is only a date at the top or the bottom; not infrequently there is no date at either location, so the only evidence for when the inventory was taken is the day of the executor or administrator’s oath before the county official.

What the entry about the cows in Arthur Whitely’s inventory suggests is that items could be added to inventories in that lag between the viewing of the goods & chattels and the rewriting of the appraisal notes as the final document. In this case the appraisers not only grouped the tardy cattle with the rest of the livestock (even in an inventory that did not get formally organized by location or type of possession) but also editorialized . . . but I still don’t understand why.

  • Richard Davis, Kent County

one old Churn

Sure, now. I can see already that there will be a bajillion churns, now that I am paying attention.

2 pair of Irons Traces clares bolt Chains & Sweveltree Irons

2 ploughs and plow Shears and Collers

My best guess for clares is a ‘clevis’ – an iron gadget for hooking the singletree (or swingletree, or swiveltree, in this particular inventory) to the beam. Many thanks to Mother Earth News and its Glossary of Terms for Plowing with Horses for my new understanding of these items.

  • Jonathan Garnett, Kent County
  • Abraham Milton, Kent County – Additional Inventory
  • Mr. John Evans, Kent County – Additional Inventory
  • Danll. Greenwood, Kent County – Additional Inventory
  • Mr. William Waltham, Kent County

1 Violend Case

Just the case.  If you don’t have the violin, why keep the case?

20 Gallons of Turpentine

  • Mr. Joseph Carman, Kent County – Additional Inventory
  • Mr. Alexr. Mcgachin, Kent County

1 blue Drab Roculoe

A roquelaure, I believe – a knee-length cloak.

1 pair Silver Spurs

I meant to hunt in Amos Woodward’s inventory for spurs to go along with all the saddles and tack, but I forgot. These particular spurs are part of the catalog of apparel, just after a gold headed cane, do wooden head, and silver hilted sword and belt – and a few entries before a hunting saddle and bridle. Spurs do seem to be more a decorative marker of status than a useful item for horsemanship; as best I can recall they most often show up with swords, not saddles.

1 full sett burnt Chiney

I could not come up with a Google search to explain this one – all the hits were about oppression in China.

11 Small Capt Ivory Knives and forks

5 Buckthorne Case Knives and forks

And Mr. McGachin’s Shagreen case, for the record, held 1 Dozen Silver hafted Knives and forks & one Dozen Silver Spoons, putting to shame Amos Woodward’s unadorned knives and forks.

4 Linning Tea Table Cloathes

We wouldn’t want those tea tables to be naked.

25 lb Coco nutts

Real coconuts? Not likely . . . I’m betting cocoa (or cacao) beans. (But the evolutionary history of coconuts, condensed on Wikipedia, is pretty cool.)

Cacao pods at various stages of ripening

1 Gallen 1 quart & one pint pewter measure

More measures! Another thing I never thought about – inventories don’t generally include measures (or if they do, I have not noticed until the last few days), so how did appraisers verify the volume of the numerous containers (pots, jars, barrels, casks, etc.) that they valued?

The counties had official weights and measures (or at least, Somerset County did). I know this because in 1733 the justices of Somerset County arranged for three gentlemen to regulate the county standard ‘both of weight and measure.’ They reported ‘that as to the weights of the Same Standard they had repaired them and made them good as far as twelve hundred and fifty pounds weight and as for the dry measures they had procured a bushell, halfe Bushell and Peck well Iron bound and bonded and as for the wett Measures the find them good and want noe repaires.’ [Somerset County Judicial Records, 1733-1735, f. 81]

As part of their duties did appraisers use the county’s standards? I have a vision of them checking out measuring cups for the day, like someone I know does when she wants to bake a cake in the kitchen of her dorm. I guess they didn’t have to show identification, or leave collateral; the justices would know where to find them if there was a problem.

2 Bolts English Duck

A heavy woven cotton – from England, rather than a particularly English variety thereof, I expect. The word ‘duck’ in this context derives from Dutch – and for some reason Wikipedia includes a ‘see also’ reference to duct tape.

  • Mr. Alexr. Mcgachin, Kent County – Additional Inventory
  • Margarett Arranoe, Kent County
  • Jane Hopkins, Somerset County

Sundry Small Artickles

The first of today’s takes on sundry trifles.

  • John Crafford, Somerset County

2 Horse Shoes

Also 1 Bald Horse but no saddle – riding bareback I can understand, but without a bridle?

  • Francis Hamlin, Somerset County

some old Trumfrey [trumpery]

  • Esther Woodcraft, Somerset County
  • Richd. Nicholson, Somerset County

½ Bushell Lintseed

I see linseed oil fairly often, but I don’t recall every seeing the seed itself. Except maybe I have, only it was called flax – because I now know flax and linseed are the same thing (as I certainly should have known, and I expect to get grief about this). Why, then, is Linum usitatissimum identified as linseed in this inventory but flax in others? For that matter, why is it always linseed oil and not flaxseed oil? Incidentally, the history of flax is interesting reading, even in its abbreviated Wikipedia form, with the earliest evidence of textiles derived from wild flax being about 30,000 years ago in present-day Georgia (the country, not the state).

Linum usitatissimum - Köhler–s Medizinal-Pflanzen-088.jpg
Linum usitatissimum

2 old Chirns

No butter, but that’s not too surprising – being a perishable item and all.

  • Edward Chapman, Somerset County

2 mill pickers

3 old mill measures

7 ½ Bushells of wheat

This is a little perplexing. Even though I could not find any evidence that mill pickers and mill measures were tools of the trade for colonial millers, their presence in this inventory – plus the wheat – seems to suggest an occupation for Chapman. But the mill pickers are listed on the same line as 1 pair of pinchers 1 old hammer [and] 1 old Trowell, and I have at least one source that identifies Chapman as a bricklayer. Plus after he dies, his two sons are bound out as apprentices, one to learn to be a plasterer and the other a shoemaker. So the ‘mill’ items seem misleading . . . but what else could they be?

  • Abraham Haith, Somerset County

1 Ginter Iron

one Gunters Rule

I have previously drawn attention to the work of Edmund Gunter, but I didn’t provide any context. In the inventories his inventions usually show up either with devices for navigation (a Gunter’s quadrant) or with surveyor’s instruments (a Gunter’s chain). In this case the Gunter’s rule (a large plane scale) appears alongside chizles and a parcell of Joyners Tooles – although the Wikipedia description emphasizes trigonometry, and I am not sure why that would be necessary for joinery.

Table of Trigonometry, from the 1728 Cyclopaedia, Volume 2 featuring a Gunter’s scale

But there’s no sign of a Gunter’s iron; the only Internet hits are for The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond (looks worth a visit) and an iron garden bench you can buy on eBay.

  • William Bozman, Somerset County
  • Jno. Lynch, Senr., Somerset County – Additional Inventory

a parcel of outlying Hoggs

This takes us back to the inventory process, and the scattered evidence that appraisals not infrequently required more than one day – or more than one location – to be compiled. This entry, like the one in Arthur Whitely’s inventory, involves animals. And, indeed, most last-minute additions to an inventory – and many of the items that necessitated an additional inventory – are animals, and especially hogs. This makes perfect sense, because colonial Chesapeake farmers generally practiced free-range husbandry. They fenced their crops, not their animals – especially their numerous swine, letting them forage for their own food, and using brands and/or a variety of ear crops (ugh) to distinguish one man or woman’s property from another’s. (For more on this aspect of animal husbandry, I highly recommend Creatures of Empire by Virginia DeJohn Anderson.)

  • Captn. Wm. Fossett [Fassitt], Somerset County

7 Hoggs on the Beach

Sunbathing, probably – maybe playing some Frisbee?

67 lb Dye wood

  • Timothy Rhodes, Somerset County

one Loom and what belongs to her

No nifty linquistic tricks this time, as ‘loom’ appears to be a masculine word in both French and German.  Oh, but wait – I think it is feminine in Latin; weird that it isn’t still feminine in French.

  • Jno. White, Somerset County

pr of Spectackles and Bazerll

That last word is hard to read and could be any number of combinations of letters, but my working assumption is some version of bezel.

other small matters

  • Thos. Addams, Somerset County

other small matters

James Trehearn was an appraiser for both John White and Thomas Addams – I think he’s responsible for this new turn of phrase.

  • Jno. Outten, Senr., Somerset County

Twenty four pounds of Butter

But – all together now – no churn!

40 lbs of Hoggs Lard

23 ½ pounds of Tallow

Quite an array of lubricants.

  • Ebeneazer Handy, Somerset County

one grid Iron

Nothing to do with football; rather a grate for broiling food.

one Bayleing Iron

This is the next item, so I assume it too is a kitchen tool, and nothing to do with baling hay.  But what?  Merriam-Webster’s first definition of bail is ‘a container used to remove water’ (first use in the 14th century) but M-W specifies ‘from a boat’ so not, we assume, something found in a kitchen.  A ladle, maybe?  Then why not call it a ladle (a word in use since the 12th century)?  Deep in the bail definition I found ‘a usually arched handle (as of a kettle or pail).‘  Seems like a stretch.  Is this one of those things that’s completely obvious to one of my readers but a mystery to the rest of us?

pcell of old Trumpery inclosed in Chest

Another junk drawer, in effect?



And Amos Woodward Ruins My Day

  • Geo: Britt, Charles County
  • Geo: Britt, Charles County – Additional Inventory
  • Robt. King, Charles County
  • Matthew Dutton, Charles County – Additional Inventory
  • Henry Coram, St. Mary’s County
  • Mrs. Elizth. Clark, St. Mary’s County
  • Dannll. Murraine, [Cecil County] – List of Debts Due
  • Jno. Rathell, Talbot County
  • Hugh Sherwood, Talbot County

a Small pcell of Bastard China

This was a dicey Internet search – it was a struggle to avoid the deeply disturbing, appallingly racist commentary – but I was saved by the Online Etymology Dictionary – fast becoming one of my favorite sites – with this pithy information:

“As an adjective from late 14c. It is used of things spurious or not genuine, having the appearance of being genuine, of abnormal or irregular shape or size.”

  • Catherin Clayton, Talbot County

1 old writing Desk wth 5 Lower Drawers

1 Chest of Drawer Phineared [veneered]

  • Enmon Williams, Talbot County

6 Dozen of Horn buttons

23 Trenchers

12 hundred Gallens of Syder

70 Gallens of Brandy

Also a gelding ‘Called Brandy’ . . . fitting.

Sevll. Other Small things

Reminiscent of the small Truck in a Desk from Thursday, and an example of the various ways appraisers describe the bits of this and that not worthy of detailed enumeration. Now that I am paying more attention, I expect to see this sort of thing all the time . . . witness the rest of this post, for starters.

  • Edward Wright, Dorchester County
  • John Brimble, Dorchester County

one old plough in her frame

I didn’t expect a plow to be female, but of course nouns have genders in many languages. My first instinct was to check German, but Pflug is masculine (albeit fun to say). But I can think of at least two nouns right off the bat that have one gender in a Northern European language and the opposite gender (treating gender as binary, for the moment) in a Southern European language (in German, moon is masculine and sun is feminine; in Italian it’s the other way around). So I checked French, and indeed charrue is feminine, despite ending in ‘e’.

Some Other things

See? On par with sundry trifles and truck in a desk.

13 yards of Shogathy

Surely this is the same type of fabric as the agathy in Francis Hayward’s inventory last week . . . and yet I still cannot find a spelling variation that means anything.

3 yards of Monks Cloath

John Brimble has a French plow, and here he has Swedish cloth. Yes, that’s a bit of a stretch, but I have learned that Monk’s cloth is ‘an evenweave cloth which is used in Swedish weaving.’ Intriguing, non?

1 old Skillet wth. a hole in the bottom of it

  • Elizth. Lamas [Lomas, Leeme] Dorchester County

[Presumably the widow of John Lemee (or at least that’s the spelling in his will); in my Somerset files I have this family name as Lamee.]

1 ½ hourglass

The hourglass question again . . . and pretty convincing evidence that an ‘hourglass’ could be used to mark off more periods of time than just hours. Now I am wondering how the appraisers knew it was a 1 ½ hour timer – did they time it? If so, what was their reference – did one of them have a watch? Also why isn’t there a more generic name for this kind of object? (Actually, there are several: Wikipedia offers up sand timer, sand clock, and sandglass, but I don’t recall seeing anything described thusly.)

a Little Round box and Other Small Trifles

More trifles . . . soon I will tire of them, but not yet.

abt. 1 oz. of Indigoe

one great old Chest containg Sevll Small Triffles as Earthen potts bottles some honey & some Sope

Hmm. Some insight into the kinds of things regarded as trifles . . . and yet pots, honey, and soap strike me as more substantial than the pins and buttons I hypothesized for Charles Allen’s desk drawer. If they were each not worth appraising separately then there must have been a lot of empty space in that great old Chest.

  • William Parker, Queen Anne’s County
  • Edmund Shields, Queen Anne’s County
  • Thos. Richardson, Queen Anne’s County
  • Mrs. Ann Price of Kent Island, Queen Anne’s County

Cash in Silver and Gould

paper Currancy

And a lot of both: £396.75 for the gold & silver, and £333.65 for the paper; together that’s 46% of her total estate value.

to one Churn

Just two shillings for this – and I noted it because . . . well, I know I sound like a broken record, but I don’t think I have seen these very often. Have I just not been noticing? I’ve noticed butter, and butter pats, but churns? Now that I’ve looked back for other examples of butter things, however, I see that Enmon Williams had 2 butter Tubs (helpfully identified as being In the Kitchen), and that does ring a bell. And I’ve discovered on Old & Interesting (a new & interesting find, though with a 19th-century emphasis) that ‘churning tub’ is another name for the kind of churn I associate with colonial butter-making – you know, the one I’ve seen at just about every living history site I’ve been to going all the way back to the Claude Moore farm at Turkey Run Park. So I guess I have seen churns in inventories; they just weren’t always called ‘churns.’

  • Jams. Towers, Queen Anne’s County
  • Mrs. Ann Marshall, Queen Anne’s County

316 pd Bacon

43 pd of Boney Do [eww]

And then we get to:

  • Mr. Amos Woodward, Anne Arundel County

Where do I even begin?

Well, first of all, this inventory starts six pages of assorted goods, the majority of which were likely store goods, intended for sale and mostly imported. As evidence I offer the last item in this section of the appraisal:

Sundry new goods as pr Invoice

valued at an impressive £375.88.

That’s followed by a room-by-room inventory, another five pages with items identified as being:

In The Lower Kitchen

In the Uper Kitchen

In the Dwelling House Seller

In the Dineing Roome

In the Garrett

In the Chamber

In the bed Chamber

In the Cellar at the Water Side

At The Water Side

In the New Store House


At the Quarters

Within this lengthy document there are many, many entries that are interesting for a variety of reasons. I’ve taken the liberty of grouping like items to simplify the commentary; in the text they are, effectively, scattered all about.

Lots of items are not terribly interesting in and of themselves, but they draw attention by their quantity. What follows is just a small sample . . . well, not as small as I had intended . . . I kept finding new things to explore . . . which is why, once again, this blog post has consumed my entire day.

We’ll start with some of the fabric – pages and pages of fabric (and related items) of so many different varieties:

105 yards white flannell

46 yds Stipt flannell

103 yards Coulard Cotton

32 yards Red halfe ticks

65 yards blue Do

19 yards blue Persian [also available in yallow, red, yallow and green, and gray]

13 ¾ yards white Manthua Silk

4 ½ Dozen Taylers Thimbles

16 ½ Grs [gross] Coat buttons unsorted & old fashioned

15 ½ Grs Vest buttons Do

2 Grs & 4 Dozen gold vest buttons [but damd – damnified, which is to say, damaged]

1 Grs & 8 Dozen Ticken buttons [also damnified]

8 Dozen Coat mettle buttons

7 Dozen vest Do

420 yards nar[row] old fashion Ribbon

23 yards Barbers Ribbon

40 yards Cotton Satten

11 pair womens [stockings] Silk Clockt

I should point out that a really alarming proportion of Woodward’s goods are damnified, or moth eaten, or sometimes both. Some choice examples:

40 yards Damnified Stuff

36 ¼ lb mohair Damd & moth Eathen

a Small pcell of old Rubbish Silk

25 yds Silk Stuff much moth Eaten

5 yards Damadged Stripd Linnen

6 prs Childrens [shoes] Damnified

7 pair Boys moth Eaten Stockings

a Small pcell needles unsorted and Rustey

8 ½ lb verdigrace Damnified

I thought verdigris was kind of damnified by definition, but I have learned better from a nifty new source of information about trade goods. More on that later.

All this fabric and clothing are just a tip of the iceberg, but I need to move on.

Where were we? Oh, yes, items in large quantities:

45 whip Saw files

28 Cross Cutt Saw files

19 Hand saw files

15 Tennant Saw files

2 Dozen Large Gimbletts

55 Broad Hoes

22 ½lb Cloves

10 ½ Mace

12 lb nuttmeggs

4 lb Cinnamond

102 lb Allspice [but damnified]

16 nuttmegg graters

More than one grater per pound of nutmegs . . . but then again, a pound of nutmegs is rather a lot. As a point of comparison, this is one ounce:


12 Grs Corks

44lb Starch

8 womens Straw Hatts

1200 bushells Salt [L90!]

26lb Epsom Salts

89lb Brimstone

I could go on. And on. But let’s get to a few items that expand upon earlier discussions:

5 yards Sagathy

Aha! ‘A fine twilled worsted fabric which was used formerly for clothes and curtain and is similar to serge’ – thank you, Wiktionary.

6 ps white fillitting

17 Knotts perch Line

4 Dozen & 8 Drum hooks

8 Grs parch hooks

This is one of those ‘true confessions’ times: I saw the first two items together and the hooks farther down, and thought that the fillitting might relate to Thursday’s dip into gillnetting — because perch line and hooks, that’s got to be for fishing, right? But the white made me uneasy and now I’ve discovered that filleting was ‘most commonly a heavy, unbleached holland tape (hence sometimes the addition of the descriptor white for bleached filleting).’ And that makes sense, because the three items before the fillitting are 64 ps Red Tape, 19 ps Diaper Tape, and 5 ps narrow Holland Tape. All very interesting, but the best part is how my search for fillitting led me to an online Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820. I predict I will visit this site many, many, many times, and I offer heartfelt thanks and all due credit to Nancy Cox and Karin Dannehl for producing such a valuable resource.

Side note: The hooks are with a lot of other hardware (tacks, brads, nails, nails, more nails). Are they for something other than fishing? Is this another time when I have betrayed my ignorance?

23 minute glasses

23 glasses, not glasses to measure 23 minutes – but I’ve covered this ground already with hourglasses, and I think it’s time to let it go.

This wasn’t a point of discussion previously, but in the last post I did note James Cave’s 1 frame for a Skillett wt 5 1.2 lb. at 4p and ask (with tongue in cheek) if skillets were made in frames.  Amos Woodward to the rescue — his inventory includes 3 Brass Skilletts wth frames, so what James Cave had was  a pretty hefty frame for his skillet.

Among all these goods there are numerous pieces of tack and presumed tack – which is of interest because I’ve been considering a discussion of saddles . . . how many saddlers were there? Could they supply enough tack to keep up with demand? Probably not, so how much was imported, and was it expensive, and how long did it last? It’s too late to track saddles and bridles, but there seem to be a lot – those very sparse inventories with just some clothing often have a horse, and that horse often has a saddle and bridle. I say ‘often’ when of course that’s just an impression, and impressions often prove false when presented with actual data. But as I said, it’s too late to go back and track tack (try saying that ten times fast). Still, here’s Woodward’s tack:

1 Saddle wth Scarlet Houseing

2 whole Skirted Saddles

8 Saddles wth Leather Houseings

2 Hunting Saddles

1 Snaffle Bridle

9 Double girths

1 Single Do

13 pair Stirup Irons

Earlier there was this:

44 yards girth webb

But I can’t make hide nor hair of it (pun intended) – it’s with the fabric, not this batch of saddlery, so perhaps to do with containing a gentleman’s paunch rather than a horse’s? This would make sense in a Georgette Heyer novel; I’m not so sure about colonial Maryland.

Now let me share a smattering of entries that are unusual and therefore of interest:

17 yards Stript matchcoat 3 Remnts

This is curious. I understand that ‘matchcoat’ was initially an Algonquian word for clothing that the English used to refer specifically to an outer garment. And I understand that matchcoats were traditionally made of animal skins, but trade with Europeans supplied woolen cloth for the same purpose – but I was not aware that ‘matchcoat’ came to be used as a descriptive term for a specific kind of fabric. Apparently none of my new go-to sources for eighteenth-century words and trade goods are aware, either.

Image result for Powhatan mantle

[Powhatan’s ‘mantle’ — as I recall the authors of Planting an Empire were unable to use this image from the Ashmolean Library, so I fully expect to get sued for copyright infringement.]

7 Childrens Stifned Bodice Coats

I think it’s stiffened? Like corsets? In contrast, perhaps, to 6 pair woms ordinary Bodice and the like.

7 Dozen & 11 glass Christialls [Christiolls?]

This entry is right after 6 Dozen and Tenn watch Keys . . . was there really this much demand for watches, and were there enough watchmakers to make them? Or am I just betraying my ignorance about Christialls and watch Keys? (Of course, without enough watches, how were the appraisers to know whether a sand timer measured one hour, or one half hour . . . or even just a minute?)

8 ¼ lb Sweet hair powder

5 Glaziers Hammers

7 wine glasses

5 Beer glasses

7 Birdwater glasses

Wine, beer, sure – birdwater? I keep searching for a definition of birdwater; I keep getting a street in Tampa – not helpful. “Birdwater history” just gets me property histories for houses on Birdwater Drive; just as not helpful. Help!

18lb Bohea Tea

Another one for my (often embarrassing) ‘who knew?’ file. I, at least, did not know Bohea tea was a thing, let alone that it was ‘by far the largest tea import during colonial times’ – at least, according to the experts at Oliver Pluff & Company, who would be delighted to sell you some Colonial Bohea (loose, in a signature tea tin). I thought the tea in inventories was . . . well, tea. I never thought about what kind, despite the fact that I have roughly a zillion different kinds of tea in my very own pantry.

gold Tea Spoons

Silver wasn’t good enough?

3 woms Ivorey Knives and forks

12 Sweetmeat Knives and forks

1 Dozen Knives and forkes in a Shagreen Case

I don’t know why women have to have special knives and forks (although, of course, we are delicate). For Shagreen, the first hit said shagreen is made from sharkskin, but Wikipedia says it was “historically” made from a horse’s or onager’s back. I had to look up ‘onager’ – and as it’s an Asiatic wild ass, I think it’s an unlikely source for this particular cutlery case. I vote for shark over horse, for reasons that should be obvious. And if you’re wondering about Sweetmeat, turns out there are such things as sweetmeat forks (and, we can infer from this inventory, knives, although the Internet does not concur).

[This example is not quite fair on two counts: it’s German, and it’s 16th-century.  But it’s so charming.  And the The Met would like you to note the ‘unusual polyhedral terminus.’]

1 old Tinn Mathemathicall Oven

What the heck is a mathematical oven?!

Let’s try to wrap up with a few things that just seem weird – or at least hard to interpret:

80 woms black masks Damd & unusallble

Even if they were usable . . . why?

3 pr Horse Phligins

Your guess is as good as – or hopefuly better than – mine.  This is entered just above 4 Horn Perewig Combs – is it something to do with wig making?

3 ½ Dozen wash Balls

Not Tide pods, but what? The problem with entries like this is I can’t just search on ‘wash balls’ (so many ways that could end badly).

1 hoope petteycoat old and Damd

But my favorite items – hands down, which is something, considering the large pool of possibilities – has to be the evidence of Woodward’s standing as your go-to guy for funeral arrangements:

12 pair Large Coffin Handles

65 pr Do

23 pair Small Do

7 Spring Locks

34 lb glew

2 Dossen [sic] Coffin Squares

These 6 entries are consecutive, with plenty of black clothing both before and after:

18 yards black wosted Damask

11 ¼ yds Do

1 ps Black Duroy [corduroy?]

9 yards black Damask

9 ½ yards black [Linnen]

94 yards Black Alamode

36 ¾ yards black Co Lutestring [not lute strings; I’ve learned]

18 pr woms black lamb gloves

4 pr womens black Shammey

18 pair Black [Shoes] boys and girles

48 pair mens black Leather Shoes

19 pair Boys Do

2 pair woms Do

And last but not least:

5 black Crape Hatt Bands


Enough.  I am off to mourn the loss of my day.