Death’s Head Buttons

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When I was on the Isle of Lewis, I stumbled upon a local arts & crafts workshop called Blue Pig. The lady had a number of beautiful silk-wrapped buttons for sale. I loved them – especially the red, white, and blue ones that looked like Union Jacks – but, despite their low cost and diminutive size, I was traveling lightly and in that moment couldn’t justify the expense.

This morning I ran across a photo somewhere in my research and they were the same as those I saw on Lewis. They were were used on men’s coats and waistcoats throughout the 18th and into the early 19th century. They were used on everyday business attire not for best dress.

“The Deaths Head button is a common type of Leek button. Leek buttons are named for Leek, England, where as early as the 1600’s it became a center of the button industry. It is a mystery why they were called Deaths Head. This type of button is found on numerous garments dating from the early 1700’s and on through the 19th century. A bone, horn, or, wooden button form was wrapped with thread. Silk Buttonhole thread works best, but linen and mohair was also used.”

http://www.woodedhamlet.com/howto_advice/deathshead_instruc.htm

http://www.burnleyandtrowbridge.com/deathheadbuttonstheiruseandconstruction.aspx – I cannot tell you how delighted I am to learn that a man who wrote a whole book (well maybe booklet would be more accurate – his thoughts span but 23 pages) about the fiddly bits of fancy people’s clothing is named Norman Fuss.

Note: I ran across a photo of one of these buttons on Pinterest today, and it looked exactly like the ones I’d seen at a little arts and crafts shop and studio on the Isle of Lewis this past September. The lady there made many of the items for sale (soaps, cards, prints, bookmarks, framed multimedia art pieces and sea-oriented watercolors), including these. I nearly bought one of them, it was red, white, and blue – with a single yellow thread, too, I think – that reminded me of a Union Jack. I should have bought it. But I feared it would only be momentarily admired and then tucked away in my jewelry box…forever.

And then today, I saw this photo, and realized they were the same kind of buttons as this woman made, and furthermore that they were of a style from the mid-1700s to early 1800s. How could I not want to learn more? Maybe even make some?

More Links

 

Spices in the 18th Century English Kitchen

http://jas-townsend.com/primitive-cookery-book-p-1434.html

http://jas-townsend.com/knife-fork-pouch-p-984.html – use with wide-bladed knives and two-pronged forks I already have? $5 – or sew one myself.

http://jas-townsend.com/natural-gourd-bowl-p-1555.html – make these? inside treated with beeswax, outside with mineral oil

http://jas-townsend.com/treenware-plate-p-1569.html – can Cooper John make me one of these?
http://jas-townsend.com/wooden-bowl-p-118.html – and one of these?

https://www.plimoth.org/learn/just-kids/homework-help/who-were-pilgrims

Half-Hanged Mary Webster (no relation)

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These are personal notes I probably cribbed from Wikipedia. I’m interested in her because 1) she lived in Hadley at the time some of my ancestors also did, and they would surely have known her or at least her family, and 2) my ancestor Rev. Cotton Mather wrote extensively about her, and the Salem witch trials.

Mary Webster, née Reeve, was a resident of Puritan Hadley, Massachusetts, who was accused of witchcraft. She was born in England. Her exact birth year is unknown but is believed to be around 1624. Accounts of her birthdate range from 1617 to 1624, but she most certainly was born in England. She was the daughter of Thomas Reeves (father) of Springfield, Massachusetts, and sister to Thomas Reeves. Her mother is unknown.

She was accused of witchcraft. Later, she was hanged from a tree by some residents of Hadley. According to one of several accounts, she was left hanging all night. It is known that when she was cut down she was still alive and lived for another 14 years. Canadian author Margaret Atwood, who believed Mary to be her ancestor, made Webster the subject of her poem “Half-Hanged Mary,” and dedicated her novel The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) to her. No records exist of Webster having had any children.

Perhaps the most exhaustive account of Mary Webster’s disputes with Philip Smith and the subsequent accusations and witchcraft trial comes from Cotton Mather’s Memorable Providences, Relating to Witchcrafts and Possessions: A Faithful Account of many Wonderful and Surprising Things, that have befallen several Bewitched and Possessed Persons in New-England. Mather does not identify Mary Reeve Webster personally, but the dates and names that are included leave little doubt that her case is the one being documented. Webster’s case is Cotton Mather’s “second exemple” in the text.

 

And how can I not love this poem?

HALF-HANGED MARY – by Margaret Atwood

(“Half-hanged Mary” was Mary Webster, who was accused of witchcraft in the 1680’s in a Puritan town in Massachusetts and hanged from a tree – where, according to one of the several surviving accounts, she was left all night. It is known that when she was cut down she was still alive, since she lived for another fourteen years.)

7pm

Rumour was loose in the air
hunting for some neck to land on.
I was milking the cow,
the barn door open to the sunset.

I didn’t feel the aimed word hit
and go in like a soft bullet.
I didn’t feel the smashed flesh
closing over it like water
over a thrown stone.

I was hanged for living alone
for having blue eyes and a sunburned skin,
tattered skirts, few buttons,
a weedy farm in my own name,
and a surefire cure for warts;

Oh yes, and breasts,
and a sweet pear hidden in my body.
Whenever there’s talk of demons
these come in handy.

http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2004/01/277707.shtml

http://web.archive.org/web/20080913014839/http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/Bur4Nar.htmlBurr, George Lincoln, 1857-1938. “The Wonders of the Invisible World,” by Cotton Mather, 1693 ; from Narratives of the Witchcraft Cases, 1648-1706

Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library

Henry Woodward – 10th gg

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10th great-grandfather – Henry Woodward, b. Muchworton, Lancashire, England 22 March 1607), d. Northampton, Hampshire County, Massachusetts Bay Colony 7 April 1685).

Accident at Upper Grist Mill caused death, physician, “liscenced to keep ordinary and sell wines and liquors”, Doctor

Henry Woodward, a physician, arrived in Dorcester, MA from England on the “James” (Captain Taylor) in 1635. he served as a constable in Dorcester MA. He moved to Northampton, MA in 1659. He was one of the founders of the Church in Northampton. He served as a tithing-man there. [WHAT IS A TITHING-MAN? UNPOPULAR?] He was killed either in a grist mill accident or by lightning on April 7, 1685 in Northampton.

http://fam.eastmill.com/f1090.htm#f10839

Henry Woodward came with his wife to be Elizabeth to Dorchester, Mass. in the ship James in 1635. He removed with his family to Northampton, Mass. in 1659 where he was a founder of the first church.

Killed By Accident at His Mill – Henry Woodward

  1. about 1601 in Much Woolton, England
  2. 4 Sep 1638 in Dorchester, Massachusetts

Wife: Elizabeth Mather

  1. 7 Apr 1683 in Northampton, Massachusetts

Emigrated: (probably) 23 May 1635 on the ship James

Henry Woodward was born in about 1601 to Thomas and Elizabeth Woodward in Much Woolton, England and baptized on March 22, 1607 at Childwall. These places are a part of present-day Liverpool. Henry was one of seven children.

Henry is believed to have migrated to America on the ship James, arriving in the Massachusetts Bay colony on August 17, 1635. Another passenger on the ship was Reverend Richard Mather, who would become the father of Increase Mather [I take it back – they did name boys weird Puritan nouns, too] and grandfather to Cotton Mather [in hopes of a fine crop of cotton???wtf srsly]. On September 4, 1638, Henry married Elizabeth Mather, who was believed to be Richard’s sister (their father Thomas was from Lowton, Winwick Parish, Lancashire, England. Winwick was the site of a battle in the English Civil War on 19 August 1648, where Oliver Cromwell defeated a mainly Scottish royalist army). Between 1643 and 1649, they had three daughters and one son, the girls being given the Puritan names of Experience, Freedom, and Thankful (the son was named John).

The Woodward family lived in Dorchester. In some early records, Henry was referred to as a physician, but it isn’t clear how much he actually practiced medicine because no details exist in the records. He was an early member of the Dorchester church and a freeman. In 1657, he was named constable; he also “frequently served on committees.”

In 1659, Henry and his family moved to the new settlement of Northampton, Massachusetts. It has been suggested that Reverend Mather induced “three Dorchester men” to settle there and Henry was one of them. He received a grant of 12 acres to build his house and 100 acres of meadowland. [MUST SEE WHERE]

Henry was an important man in the early years of Northampton. In 1660, he was chosen a selectman and “Commissioner to end Small Causes” in 1660. The following year, he served as a member of the jury at the first court held in that town. Henry served as surveyor of highways in 1664. He was also among the group of eight persons who founded the First Church in 1661; he and Elizabeth were signers of the Church Covenant (since Henry signed documents with an X, it’s believed that he was illiterate).

In 1665, Henry was licensed to run a tavern; he maintained that business until 1681. It is said that court sessions were sometimes held in Henry’s tavern. He was also involved in farming and had a corn mill.

Persona: Questions of Identity

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Questions of identity – who am I? An American? English, Irish, Scot, or German? Or do I yearn for something more? How do others see me? These were surely questions that also haunted the early colonists.

Were they English? Godly or no? What denomination? Puritan? Closet Catholics? Anglican? Quakers? Were they Americans? There wasn’t really an “America” yet to be a part of. And then the pesky issue of the natives. What about class? Did that mean the same thing in the colonies as it did back in England? The legacy of the English Civil War, the attempt to usurp Queen Elizabeth I (evidently I have other ancestors who were involved in this), and then the attempt on James I (was it James I? research), plus (later) Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites. What was the position of great houses in the north of England? Durham? Northumberland? Did they side with the Prince Charlie, or the King? I have no idea.

I am increasingly fascinated with the colonial identity and mindset. Just a glance tells me that within 100 years, questions of identity – and loyalty – were foremost in many of the colonists’ minds, and many of them were ready and willing to commit treason. And a lot of people just went along to get along, hoping it would all blow over fast, trying to keep their heads down and get their crops in and praying for favorable weather and good health and praise God, the milk cow is feeling better. Working people being working people, they maybe didn’t really want to have to pick a side, or join an army and leave their fields. But I imagine it would be increasingly difficult to avoid being seen to pick a side, when neighbors watched neighbors for signs of concealed leanings. Judged your earnestness and enthusiasm for the cause. It could be awkward, and occasionally dangerous.

Salmagundi (Bits and Pieces)

 

I want to learn hearth cooking.

Start putting together your 18th-C larder – what’s missing?

Hearth Cookery class at Historic Deerfield

https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07edlmxuh8f943a8d1&oseq=&c=&ch=

Better to wait and see if I can learn some of this for free @ Smith’s Castle? Does Deerfield only offer hearth cooking classes in winter?

http://www.historic-deerfield.org/blog/ – feedly

The Devil’s Whore – miniseries about English Civil War

Find some small period coins in your collection.

Create a Google Map with locations of colonial ancestors in MA and CT. Then add where they were from in England – maybe use different colors to denote different lines.
https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=1_Ry9udSot9JrlAXBQujmCFGKujo&ll=42.32167587611864%2C-72.63959090825188&z=13

 

Take it to the Next Level – Getting Started Series – Session 8

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A series of questions from the video series.

  1. Look at your persona through other people’s eyes. Ask other people what they think.
  2. Take a picture of yourself and compare it to period images.
  3. Find other people outside of your group who are interested in what you do and connect with them for the purpose of learning from them.
  4. Pick one piece of your equipment that could be better and upgrade it.
  5. Try to make at least one item, especially if you persona has a particular skill, e.g., sew something, whittle something, forge, or paint something.
  6. Interact with the public and learn from their questions. No question is a dumb question. Sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know.
  7. When researching, keep an eye out for common modern misconceptions. If the misconception is yours, fix it. If it belongs to someone else, think of tactful ways to gently bring them around.
  8. Take advantage of the off-seasons, when you can’t get out to events, to concentrate on research. KILLING IT
  9. Find a period book (either fiction or non-fiction) that deals as closely with your persona as possible, and read it slowly. Image your persona in that book. CHECK
  10. Consider writing your own book that tells the story of your persona. WORKING ON IT
  11. Consider how your persona kept informed about current events of the day.
  12. Consider what your persona should sound like? Does he or she has an accent? Search for YouTube tutorials on “How to speak with a ________ accent”. Write down a few phrases or paragraphs phonetically and practice your accent. Considering northern England…but what did it sound like in 1680? And what is my persona’s level of education/class?
  13. Consider what your persona would think was a good joke. Recount a story about your persona’s family. Don’t mention the war.
  14. If your persona could read, read the books or publications that he or she would have likely read.
  15. Imagine / research what money would have meant to your persona. What would they have earned? What would a common item have cost them?
  16. Try to purchase at least one small period object to directly connect you with your persona. Check in coin collection for colonial-period coins, at least English currency.
  17. Try to visit the location where your persona lived or find a similar location. Planning a trip to Hadley and Deerfield, Mass.
  18. Imagine what it would be like for your persona to be transported to your modern life. What would they understand, or not understand? What would they have to teach us about our life?
  19. Prepare and eat some of the food your persona would commonly eat. (If you need ideas, check out the cooking videos on our YouTube channel at http://bit.ly/1SQ4zXf) Already pinning recipes, watching JTS’s videos. Have a lot of the right spices.
  20. While at an event, try to leave everything from your modern life in your car (except the keys).
  21. While at an event, try to “survive” a weekend with the fewest pieces of equipment. Then evaluate whether everything you have is truly necessary. Ask yourself whether there’s something you really ought to have.
  22. As an experiment, try to have a period conversation with someone in your group. Then consider what was missing in your conversation.
  23. Consider what a typical day entails for your persona, from waking to sleeping, minute by minute, hour by hour.
  24. Consider how your persona would respond to changes in the seasons.
  25. Consider with whom your persona would have commonly connected. Try to find folks doing that kind of persona and connect with them.
  26. Look for “paired-persona” opportunities, ways to create planned first-person conversations or encounters with other interpreters.
  27. Build an “image bank” of art and artifacts that pertain to your persona. Pinterest.com is great for this. In progress.
  28. Build a digital library of period books that pertain to your persona. Compiling.
  29. Find a museum that specializes in your persona’s field and visit it online or in person. See Historic Deerfield, Hadley Historical Society, Boston museums.
  30. Watch movies that deal with your persona. Watch them critically. Look for common misconceptions as well as for things they did right. If you see something you question, research it. New Worlds, Outlander, Turn, The Witch.
  31. Pick a person who does what you do particularly well and ask them about one thing that you want to do better. Don’t be afraid to reach out.
  32. Start a blog or vlog of all your research discoveries. In progress.
  33. Start a blog or vlog from your persona’s perspective. Fantastic idea.
  34. Write letters as though they are from your persona. Practice your cursive writing with a quill and ink.
  35. In your research, pursue the “rabbit trails.” One thing is bound to lead to another. If you prefer to avoid the distraction, write down the side topics as you run across them so you can research them later. Having a ball doing this, but need to find a way to see larger pictures, let patterns emerge, tie it together. Can’t help but combine two goals: create a persona, and also maybe write a novel about that persona.
  36. Always be curious. Can’t help myself.
  37. We can’t encourage you enough to HAVE FUN!

Developing Your Inner Person, Pt. 2

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Carol Jarboe’s character – the Irish indentured washerwoman “Maggie Delaney” – is incredibly inspiring to me. Carol has clearly sunk her heart and soul into this character. She and her husband Frank (both interpreters) are interviewed in the last couple of videos from Jas. Townsend & Son’s series on getting started doing living history interpretation. They have a website that’s worth exploring, too.

Today is Christmas Eve, and a Saturday. It’s a cool, rainy day, the perfect kind of day to spend indoors, with a fire in the woodstove, researching colonial American domestic history and also a few of my own colonial ancestors. And doing a bit of housekeeping – both external and internal.

This being the tail end of the year, my thoughts turn inward, and I look back over this most recent trip around the sun. I like to take stock, process what I’ve learned, filter it through the clean cheesecloth of common sense and the smothering muslin of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, then turn around and focus its light out over the precipice of the new orbital journey ahead of me.

It’s also a good time to get a lot of reading done in preparation for the coming spring, when we can finally get back outside and do things again. Back in October, I’d gathered up all the books on my winter to-read list onto one shelf in the front room. Today, I reassessed those choices. It’s still completely crammed, but more focused on English and colonial history (and especially domestic history, women’s history) and less on foraging and gardening. I figure I’ve spent nearly twenty years learning about plants. It’s okay to pull back a little bit, and focus my attention somewhere else for awhile. I have to trust there’s room enough in my brain for more than one body of knowledge.

When I’d finished rearranging that shelf, removing certain titles and adding others, I stood back and marveled at the “happy coincidence” that, apparently, long before I’d consciously considered doing living history, I was quietly accumulating not a bad little library to support doing that very thing. It’s almost as though my subconscious could see where I was heading – years ago – and went about selecting books that would help support me when I got there. They’re not all focused specifically on the 17th and 18th centuries, and I probably won’t get to all of them by spring. But it’s nice to have options. And it’s rather startling to take up a field of interest, start down a new intellectual and creative path, and discover that you already own an entire collection of books concerning several facets of that very thing.

  • The Scents of Eden – Charles Corn
  • Spice: The History of a Temptation – Jack Turner
  • A World Lit Only by Fire – William Manchester
  • Near a Thousand Tables: A History of Food 
  • 1491 – Charles C. Mann
  • French Provincial Cooking – Elizabeth David
  • How Indians Use Wild Plants for Food, Medicine & Crafts
  • Brother Crow, Sister Corn (Native American gardening)
  • Early American Gardens: For Meate or Medicine
  • John the Painter: Terrorist of the American Revolution
  • The Last Food of England
  • Dear and Affectionate Wife
  • Journeys in New World
  • A Sampler of Lifestyles
  • The Diary of Mary Gorton Smith 1835-1838, 1841-1843
  • Diary of an Early American Boy: Noah Blake 1805
  • Treasured Recipes from Early New England Kitchens
  • A History of Everyday Things in England
  • The Anglo Files – Sarah Lyall (what makes the English English)
  • Jane Austen’s England – Roy & Lesley Adkins
  • The Decline and Fall of the British Empire: 1781-1997 – Piers Brendon
  • The Weaker Vessel – Antonia Fraser (a history of women)
  • The Great Mortality – John Kelly (plague in medieval Europe)
  • Bedlam – Catharine Arnold (mental illness in Victorian England)
  • London Under – Peter Ackroyd (subterranean history)
  • The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (the Dutch in 17th-century, Edo Japan)
  • Cranford (just for sheer pleasure)
  • Watership Down (for pleasure, and because I’m determined to finish it – started six months ago, before my trip to England and Scotland this past September)

Not on my shelf, but on my mental to-reread list: The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. Also, it appears that Nathaniel Philbrick’s has a new book on the friendship between George Washington and Benedict Arnold. Yes, please. And I guess I will finally break down and watch a bit of Turn on Netflix, but with this historical critique in mind.

It seems to me that, in order to understand the American colonists – especially in the 17th century – you first have to understand them as English. These are Englishmen (and women) having a colonial experience. Clearly, after 100 years (and three or four generations) of sharing that experience, they would’ve felt less deeply identified with England. But they would still act and speak and eat and work and pray more like the English than like anyone else. Certain new plants would come into use, and new ideas from other groups they mingled with (Native American, Irish, French, Hessian, Scots, and African American) and the weather was harsher, and they didn’t have the ancient infrastructure of their homelands in England – everything, including roads, had to be made, forged, felled, planted, cleared, plowed, built, erected, dug, hewn, forded, and lain.

Developing the Inner Person

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The latest living history how-to video from Jas. Townsend & Son talks about creating your inner persona. I’ve been exploring previously neglected branches of my family tree; namely those containing early American colonists in the 17th and 18th centuries, mostly in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

I’ve reserved Sarah Vowell’s book, The Wordy Shipmates, at the library – the audiobook. I’ve read it before, but it feels like a good time to give it another go.

I noticed the Nathanael Greene Homestead is interviewing docents. I sent an email just inquiring. I know I’m not ready for that yet, and I don’t yet even know how I’m going to find the time to do two four-hours shifts a month through summer at Smith’s Castle. But at least I’m now aware of another site that’s kind of in my area that finds itself in need of docents from time to time.

So hard to bide my time and not buy any kit. I’ve heard several times that it’s best to be patient and keep doing your research and borrow as much gear from other interpreters as possible while you’re just getting into it, to avoid spending a small fortune on things that turn out to be wrong for you, or your persona, or your time period, or whatever. I admit, though, I’m quite curious to see how I would look in a really solid period dress, apron, and cap. I wonder how long my hair will be this time next year, now that I’m letting it grow out?

Meanwhile, I continue to “like” re-enactor groups (mostly military outfits) and New England historical sites, and also join re-enactor groups on Facebook. You never know what you might find.

As a docent at a historical site that figures prominently in King Philip’s War, I know I’ll need to be able to speak to the public about the colonists’ relationship with the Native Americans. I’m willing to believe it’s far more complex than we’re used to hearing about. I remember once hearing a docent at Coggeshall Farm saying that the colonists and the native peoples collaborated and shared information quite a bit, initially – but that after King Philip’s War, “all that stopped.” I’d like to know more about the collaboration and sharing of ideas before things went completely pear shaped between the colonists and the native people.

I’m also hoping to try my hand (as best I can replicate, given my modern kitchen) at some colonial-era recipes this winter. I find myself thinking a lot about what they would’ve eaten, and when. Currently reading American Household Botany: A History of Useful Plants 1620-1900 by Judith Sumner. It was loaned to me by a friend who works for the Rhode Island Historical Society, and was also recommended by the wife of a friend who does some Revolutionary War-era interpreting herself. I can already see I will ultimately need my own copy. Did you know that early on in the Massachusetts Bay Colony (and particularly in Salem):

Tea leaves, purchased at great expense, were boiled for a long time until a bitter decoction was produced, which was drunk without milk or sugar; then the leaves were salted and eaten with butter. In more than one town, the liquid tea was thrown out and the leaves were eaten.

– See more at: https://www.bostonteapartyship.com/tea-blog/history-of-tea-in-massachusetts#sthash.BBpxrcTm.dpuf

I want to portray a strong, capable woman. A Loyalist (although she may keep her politics quite close, out of necessity). Someone with deep ties to England. Family from the north of England – Yorkshire, Durham, or Northumberland area. A woman, a mother, possibly a widow, during the time of King Philip’s War, and later during the Revolution (possibly the latter being a separate persona). Most likely a woman whose family had a higher station back in England – perhaps at one time, aristocratic – but whose station has sunk a bit in the colonies. Perhaps she even intends to return to England? Is her husband a soldier? An officer? What if he’s killed? Does that mean she’s stuck and can’t return home?

I am a direct descendant of members of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, in the Hampshire area of Massachusetts. Hadley, in particular, figures prominently. I am – somewhat uncomfortably – a direct descendant of a few officers who fought “Indians” (sometimes backed by the French) in that area; some were killed in the process. Sergeants and Captains, who may or may not have been dashing – or clever – figures; one I just read about (a Capt. Benjamin Wright b.  1660 in Northampton) rode nearly to Canada, collecting scalps, and sent the King a letter thanking him for the opportunity and offering to do it again. His father, Sgt. Samuel Wright (b. 1633 in London) was killed at the Battle of Bloody Brook in 1675 when Nipmucs ambushed a wagon train bringing salvaged grain stores from previously raided and abandoned Deerfield back to Hadley. Another, Capt. John Taylor (b. 1641, of the Windsor, CT colony) was killed in 1704 by either French or Indian fighters while leading a rescue party for colonists taken captive during a raid on Pascommuck.

There were other occupations besides soldiering and killing natives. One (Joseph Kellogg) ran the ferry across the Connecticut River at Hadley – a job that was kept in the family for a hundred years. One was a town’s “herder.” Many were farmers. One was killed in a grist mill accident, possibly involving lightening. Many of them came from aristocratic English families. Some were involved – nay, instrumental – in attempting to overthrow Elizabeth I in favor of Mary Queen of Scots, and no doubt had immediate and highly practical reasons for emigrating to the colonies (and later, may have had their own ideas about loyalty to England).

There is almost nothing known about their wives or daughters, however. I have great-grandmothers named Thankful and Mindwell; there is also Prudence and Freedom and Mercy and Deliverance. But the boys are just named John, or Nathaniel, or Benjamin – or possibly something stirringly Biblical like Hezekiah or Moses. But they never named the boys Sobriety, or Penitence, or Brotherly Love.

Developing an Outward Persona

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Just finished Episode 5 of Jas. Townsend & Son’s introduction to getting started in living history. My homework is to start focusing on developing my persona(s).

I’m torn between starting out in the 17th Century, or the 18th.

18th Century would be easier, as there is more material/information available about it. There seem to be more people involved with 18th-Century reenactment (especially the American Revolutionary period) than the 17th Century and the Indian wars.

Either way, the first piece of kit I need is a shift, either cotton or linen. All things considered, I think I’d prefer linen. I have no idea, though, how much women’s shifts changed from the 17th C to the 18th. I hope to find or make one and then wear it as much as possible – to bed, around the house, etc. – so it will become worn and slightly soiled and yellowed, thus appearing more (to my mind) “authentic.”

Second piece of kit I need is a cap.

Third, wool stockings.

Fourth, an overdress and apron.

Fifth, shoes. At the Revolutionary War encampment we visited, I noticed several of the women were wearing black Dansko clogs. Not exactly period, but certainly sturdy and comfortable.

I’m not sure about a corset. I guess I’ll probably need one.

Beyond this, everything else is extra, I guess.

Holding off to see what I can borrow in the meantime.