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
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.
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.
- 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.