Monday, February 19, 2018

Women in 17C Virginia

This is the Virginia of the Native Americans, that British American colonial women would have found in the early years of the 1600s.  Hand-colored illustration of Theodor de Bry's (1528-1598) engraved illustration of the Native American village of Secoton, which accompanied the text of Thomas Hariot's book of 1588 entitled A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia.

Excerpts from Virginia Women: The First 200 Years
By Anne Firor Scott & Suzanne Lebsock

By their labor & by their care for the succeeding generations, Native American women, white women, and, later, black women played an indispensable part in making Virginia what it was & what it would become.

The First Virginians - Native American women, or Indians, as the Europeans called the native people of the Americas, were here first. There were perhaps15,000 Indians of various language groups living in what is now Virginia when the English arrived.

The English were surprised to find Native American women doing most of what they called work: planting, harvesting, house building, producing pots & baskets—as well as cooking & child care—were all women’s work. The Native American men went hunting & fishing, activities that in England were often considered to be recreation. Like the English, the Native Americans made a clear distinction between “women’s work” & “men’s work,” & the men never liked to be caught doing the former. Occasionally, an Native American woman would rise to be chief of the tribe, but since the English had a queen themselves, this did not surprise them so much. 

The men fish, hunt, fowle, goe to the wars, make the weeres, botes, & such like manly exercises & all laboures abroad. The women, as the weaker sort, be put to the easier workes, to sow their corne, to weed & cleanse the same . . . for, by reason of the rankness & lustines of the grownd, such weedes spring up very easely & thick . . . likewise the women plant & attend the gardins, dresse the meate brought home, make their broaths & pockerchicory drinckes, make matts & basketts, pownd their wheat, make their bread, prepare their vessels, beare all kindes of burthens, & such like, & to which the children sett their handes, helping their mothers. Source: William Strachey, The Historie of Travaile into Virginia Britannia (1612). 

The planters in Virginia — we would call them small farmers, though a few already had large tracts of land—were a hardy lot, survivors of numerous diseases, of the starving time, & of various skirmishes with their Indian neighbors. They also had a reputation for cruelty to servants. This makes us wonder why boys & girls would come to Virginia in the first place, to work for strange families in an unknown wilderness. 

To find an answer, we must look at the place they came from. England in the early seventeenth century was plagued with poverty & unemployment . . . The enclosure of farming land to make sheep pastures had displaced many people in the countryside at a time when the population was growing. When young people from the country went to London or Liverpool in search of work, they found themselves competing with many others like themselves. Girls who would normally have gone into service—that is, gone to work in the houses of well-to-do families—had a harder & harder time finding places. Some of the most adventurous or the most desperate chose to make for the New World, rather than starve in the Old [World]. There were persistent stories, too, of greedy ship owners who kidnapped men & women in the streets of the cities & brought them to Virginia to sell. One way & another, perhaps 85 percent of the early settlers were indentured servants. 

What the indentured servants found in Virginia was in some ways like what they had known at home, but in other ways very different. A country girl who had been used to working in the fields for her father might not be surprised to find herself cultivating tobacco, which she would be put to doing if her master were a small farmer. If her time was bought by a large family, one with many male servants, her work would be cooking & washing & helping the housewife with all the chores, much as she would have helped her mother at home. 

Either way, it was a hard life. Every newcomer had to withstand the ordeal of “seasoning”—catching, then surviving the diseases prevalent in the new environment. Many more English people died from disease than from arrows & tomahawks. Half of the colonists in the first shiploads died during their first five months in Virginia. The death rate among Indians eventually proved even higher. Many more Indians died from germs than from gunfire, for the English brought with them diseases for which Indians had no immunity. 

If the servant were tough enough to escape death from disease, she likely found herself not only made to work very hard but also punished if she did not live up to the master’s expectations. A deposition taken in Lower Norfolk County in 1649 told a gruesome story of a mistress who beat her woman servant “more liken a dogge than like a Christian” until the servant thought her back was broken. The court records include a good deal of this kind of abuse. 

These were some of the hazards of life for a woman servant, but life was not all bad. For the lucky ones who survived their term of service, husbands were easy to come by; in the early years, white men outnumbered white women by a ratio of 4 to 1. Land was readily available. During most of the 17C any free English person who came to Virginia or paid for another to come could have 50 acres of land free. Servants finishing their terms could sometimes save enough to buy land, & when a husband & wife were healthy, hardworking, & competent farmers, they might move rapidly to become what they never could have aspired to be in England—landowners.

Of course it was a matter of hard work & hard living. Houses were 1-room affairs with—sometimes—a loft for the children to sleep in. Furniture amounted to a mattress or two, a couple of stools, & perhaps a chest. If we could visit a family at mealtime we might see them with a dinner of cornbread or mush, pork, & wild berries set on the chest or the floor. There is no table, & only the parents can sit, since there are not enough stools to go around. Everyone eats with wooden spoons from wooden trenchers. The woman, if we look closely, is very likely pregnant or holding a small baby to nurse. 

Life was painfully uncertain. One child in 5 died before its first birthday, & half had lost at least 1 parent by their 13th birthday. People of all ages died from “agues” & “fevers”—some of which today we could recognize as smallpox, typhoid, dysentery, whooping cough, measles, scarlet fever, diphtheria, pneumonia, influenza, & malaria. 

The high death rate meant that family composition was forever changing. A given husband, wife, & children might suddenly become a husband & children if the mother died; then the man took a new wife; they had a few children; then the husband died & the wife married again; the new husband already had a child by his dead wife; & so it went. Nothing we have seen in our own day of high divorce rates & multiple families can match the 17C. Some adolescents were completely on their own; others, orphaned, were “bound out” to work for a family until they were grown. 

There had to be a constant stream of immigrants to keep up with the deaths. Yet the white population grew rapidly. In 1634 there had been 5,000 whites in the whole colony; in 25 years the number grew to nearly 25,000. 

Already a class structure was beginning to be visible. Look through a shelf of books about early Virginia. One minute you read about William Fitzhugh with his baronial house & imported silver decorated with a family crest. A few minutes later you find a county court dealing with men & women so poor they were “cast on the parish” for support. Still lower on the scale were slaves, brought by force from Africa & increasingly condemned to a lifetime of harsh servitude. By the late 17C, the rough equality of the Virginia frontier was giving way to a highly stratified society. 

Such stratification—the division of people into gentry, the middle classes, & the lower orders—was much like what the colonists had known in England. The legal status of slaves was not fully established until about 1700. A Dutch trader brought the 1st blacks to Virginia in 1619, & their numbers grew slowly at first. Like the whites, the early Africans had a terrible time with disease; 1 in 4 died during their 1st year in Virginia. Also like the whites, men in the early days greatly outnumbered women, making it difficult for Africans to form families. 

The institution of slavery evolved slowly, & at first some Africans were treated much like white indentured servants. The greatest known success story was that of Mary Johnson. Brought to Virginia in 1622, she worked as a servant; for a time, she was the only woman on that plantation. When she gained her freedom, she married, raised 4 healthy children, & with her family farmed a 250-acre plantation. 

These occasional chances for freedom were not to last. From 1662 onward, a series of new laws defined slavery in its full, rigid brutality. By 1700 the typical black Virginia woman was a slave—property—and like any other property, she could be bought, sold, traded, or gambled away. She would be a slave all her life, & so would her children, who might be sold away from her at any time. She could be exploited, whipped, or even beaten to death at her master’s whim. While most slave owners had the self-restraint not to kill valuable property, some did not. 

In years to come, white Virginians would prefer to forget the horrors of the slave system. In the meantime, in the late 17C, whites accepted any system that provided laborers to work their tobacco. By 1700, black slaves were rapidly replacing white indentured servants as the major labor force on Virginia’s plantations.

The first 92 years in Virginia were extremely difficult. Everyone had endured extraordinary hardships, & for Indian, English, & African women alike, survival itself was a triumph. Yet these groups suffered & prospered in varying degrees. For black women, as we just saw, these were years largely of tragedy. The plight of Native American women was equally, if not more, tragic. For Native American women, the invasion of the English had meant families pushed off their land & death from new diseases & weapons—a truly staggering reduction in numbers. By 1700, the Native American population of Virginia was only one-tenth of what it had been 100 years earlier. Only on the western frontier could the native people still hope to oppose the rapid spread of white families into their territory & hunting grounds.

White settlers had their share of trouble, but despite disease, starvation, & warfare, for them their 1st century in Virginia witnessed remarkable achievements: a colony built, sustained, & launched upon impressive growth. Land had been cleared, crops planted, trade initiated, wealth created. Though no one at the time or since gave them much credit, all this could not have been done without the women.

The women who took part in these achievements saw them through the prism of daily life: constant work, childbearing, nursing the sick, caring for the aged, ingenuity in the use of materials. Husbands & wives worked together to create families & acquire property. The woman who went back to London in 1629 to brag that she had started with nothing & now could keep a better home in Virginia than one could do in England on 400 pounds a year was not exceptional.

[See: This text is excerpted from an essay originally published as a Colonial Williamsburg Foundation The Foundations of America book of the same title. The book is now out of print.]

Sunday, February 18, 2018

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

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

Saturday, February 17, 2018

1656 John Hammond's Defense of Servitude for Women in Virginia

19C Depiction of Females Arriving In Jamestown, Virginia's Indentured Servants

Source: John Hammond. Leah and Rachel, or, The Two Fruitful Sisters Virginia and Maryland: Their Present Condition, Impartially Stated and Related (1656)

It is the glory of every Nation to enlarge themselves, to encourage their own foreign attempts, and to be able to be able to have their own, within their territories, as many several commodities as they can attain to, that so others may rather be beholding to them, than they to others...

But alas, we not only fail in this, but vilify, scandalize and cry down such parts of the unknown world, as have been found out, settled and made flourishing, by the charge, hazard, and diligence of their own brethren, as if because removed from us, we either account them people of another world or enemies.

This is too truly made good in the odious and cruel slanders cast on those two famous Countries of Virginia and Mary-land, whereby those Countries, not only are many times at a stand, but are in danger to moulder away, and come in time to nothing...

The Country [Virginia] is reported to be an unhealthy place, a nest of Rogues, whores, dissolute and rooking persons; a place of intolerable labour, bad usage and hard Diet, &c. To Answer these several calumnies, I shall first shew what it was? Next, what it is?

At the first settling and many years after, it deserved most of those aspersions (nor were they aspersions but truths).... Then were Jails emptied, youth seduced, infamous women drilled in, the provisions all brought out of England, and that embezzled by the Trustees (for they durst neither hunt fowl, nor Fish, for fear of the Indian, which they stood in awe of) their labour was almost perpetual, their allowance of victual small, few or no cattle, no use of horses nor oxen to draw or carry, (which labours men supplied themselves) all of which caused a mortality; no civil courts of justice but under a martial law, no redress of grievances, complaints were repaid with a word all and the worst that tyranny could inflict...

And having briefly laid down the former state of Virginia, in its Infancy, and filth, and the occasion of its scandalous aspersions: I come to my main subject, its present condition of Happiness (if anything can be called happy in this transitory life)...

The usual allowance for servants is (besides their charge of passage defrayed) at their expiration, a year's provision of corn, double apparel, tools necessary, and land according to the custom of the Country, which is an old delusion, for there is no land customarily due to the servant, but to the Master, and therefore that servant is unwise that will not dash out that custom in his covenant and make that due of land absolutely his own, which although at the present, not of so great consequences; yet in few years will be of much worth...

When ye go aboard, expect the Ship somewhat troubled and in a hurlyburly, until ye clear the lands end; and that the Ship is rummaged, and things put to rights, which many times discourages the Passengers, and makes them wish the Voyage unattempted: but this is but for a short season, and washes off when at Sea, where the time is pleasantly passed away, though not with such choice plenty as the shore affords.

But when ye arrive and are settled, ye will find a strange alteration, an abused Country giving the lie to your own approbations to those that have calumniated it....

The labour servants are put to, is not so hard nor of such continuance as Husbandmen, nor Handicraftmen are kept at in England, I said little or nothing is done in winter time, none ever work before sun rising nor after sun set, in the summer they rest, sleep or exercise themselves give hours in the heat of the day, Saturdays afternoon is always their own, the old Holidays are observed and the Sabbath spent in good exercises.

The women are not (as is reported) put into the ground to work, but occupy such domestic employments and housewifery as in England, that is dressing victuals, right up the house, milking, employed about dairies, washing, sewing, &c. and both men and women have times of recreations, as much or more than in any part of the world besides, yet some wenches that are nastily, beastly and not fit to be so employed are put into the ground, for reason tells us, they must not at charge be transported then maintained for nothing, but those that prove so awkward are rather burthensome than servants desirable or useful....

Those Servants that will be industrious may in their time of service gain a competent estate before their Freedoms, which is usually done by many, and they gain esteem and assistance that appear so industrious: There is no Master almost but will allow his Servant a parcel of clear ground to cut some Tobacco in for himself, which he may husband at those many idle times he hath allowed him and not prejudice, but rejoice his Master to see it, which in time of Shipping he may lay out for commodities, and in Summer sell them again with advantage and get a Pig or two, which any body almost will give him, and his Master suffer him to keep them with his own, which will be no charge to his Master, and with one years increase of them may purchase a Cow Calf or two, and by that time he is for himself; he may have Cattle, Hogs and Tobacco of his own, and come to live gallantly; but this must be gained (as I have said) by Industry and affability, not by sloth nor churlish behavior.

And whereas it is rumoured that Servants have no lodging other then on boards, or by the Fire side, it is contrary to reason to believe it: First, as we are Christians; next as people living under a law, which compels as well the Master as the Servant to perform his duty; nor can true labour be either expected or exacted without sufficient clothing, diet, and lodging; all which their Indentures (which must inviolably be observed) and the Justice of the Country requires.

But if any go thither, not in a condition of a Servant, but pay his or her passage, which is some six pounds: Let them not doubt but it is money well laid out...although they carry little else to take a Bed along with them, and then few Houses but will give them entertainment, either out of courtesy, or on reasonable terms; and I think it better for any that goes over free, and but in a mean condition, to hire himself for reasonable wages of Tobacco and Provision, the first year, provided he happen in an honest house, and where the Mistress is noted for a good Housewife, of which there are very many (notwithstanding the cry to the contrary) for by that means he will live free of disbursement, have something to help him the next year, and be carefully looked to in his sickness (if he chance to fall sick) and let him so covenant that exceptions may be made, that he work not much in the hot weather, a course we always take with our new hands (as they call them) the first year they come in.

If they are women that go after this manner, that is paying their own passages; I advise them to sojourn in a house of honest repute, for by their good carriage, they may advance themselves in marriage, by their ill, overthrow their fortunes; and although loose persons seldom live long unmarried if free; yet they match with as dissolute as themselves, and never live handsomely or are ever respected...

Be sure to have your contract in writing and under hand and seal, for if ye go over upon promise made to do this or that, or to be free, it signifies nothing.

Friday, February 16, 2018

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

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

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Making hay while the sun shines...

In both Britain & her American colonies, women & men often worked side-by-side to gather the hay.  Of course, the danger with having men & women working together is clear from the couple taking a break in the background enjoying each other in the shelter & shade of the haystack.
Is this an example of making hay while the sun shines?  The expression dates back many centuries, and has changed little in form. Meaning - Make the most of one's opportunities while you have the chance.

Origin - This proverb is first recorded in John Heywood's "All the Prouerbes in the Englishe Tongue"  1546:
Whan the sunne shinth make hay. Whiche is to say.
Take time whan time cometh, lest time steale away.

Many proverbs exist in other languages, but this one doesn't, and it's a reasonable surmise that the phrase is of English Tudor origin.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

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

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

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Women in America Timeline 1670-1700

Timeline Of Events Directly Affecting Women

Copies of complete documents may be found by clicking on highlighted descriptions.
c. 1674 Elizabeth Clarke Freake (Mrs. John Freake) and Baby Mary, about 1671 and 1674

A Declaration of the True Intent and Meaning of us the Lords Proprietors, and Explanation of There Concessions Made to the Adventurers and Planters of New Caesarea or New Jersey; December 6

George Fox, founder of the Society of Friends (Quakers), & missionary William Edmundson visit Albemarle converting many colonists to Quakerism. Quakers are the first religious body to obtain a foothold in Carolina.

Dutch military forces retake New York from the British; but in 1674, The Treaty of Westminster ends hostilities between the English & Dutch returning the Dutch colonies in America to the English.

The British Navigation Act of 1673 sets up the office of customs commissioner in the colonies to collect duties on goods that pass between colonies.

New Jersey was divided into 2 separate colonies, East & West New Jersey in 1674, only to be reunited in 1702.

Grant of the Province of Maine; June 29

His Royal Highness's Grant to the Lords Proprietors, Sir George Carteret; July 29

New York declares that blacks who convert to Christianity after their enslavement will not be freed.

In Albany, Maria Van Cortlandt Van Rennselaer (1645-1688/9) manages her 24 mile square estate after the death of her husband in 1674. She does not remarry and clears title to the property when the English reclaim New York. (See more about Maria on this blog.)

Nathaniel Bacon leads southside Virginians against the Indians and in violation of Governor Berkeley's wishes. He openly rebels against Berkley and burns Jamestown to the ground before dying of dysentery on October 26. Slaves and indentured servants participate.King Philip's War begins when Metacomet (King Philip) leads an attack against Swansea in retaliation for the Plymouth colony's execution of three Wampanoag tribe members. The bloody war rages up & down the Connecticut River valley in Massachusetts & in the Plymouth & Rhode Island colonies, eventually killing 600 English colonials & 3,000 Native Americans, including women & children on both sides. Metacomet is shot on 12 August 1676. In New Hampshire & Maine, the Saco Indians continue to raid settlements for another year and a half. Sir Edmond Andros finally makes peace in Maine on 12 April 1678.The Royal Africa Company is given a monopoly in the English slave trade bringing male & female slaves to the British American colonies.  When Bacon is marching back to Jamestown & things are looking bleak, his men are still supporting him. When one of the men, a Scotsman named Drummond, was warned that this was rebellion, he replied recklessly, "I am in over shoes, I will be in over boots."
His wife was even more bold. "This is dangerous work," said some one, "and England will have something to say to it." Then Sarah Drummond picked up a twig, and snapping it in two, threw it down again. "I fear the power of England no more than that broken straw," she cried.

The Charter or Fundamental Laws, of West New Jersey, Agreed Upon

Quintipartite Deed of Revision, Between E. and W Jersey: July 1

Sarah Symmes Fiske (1627-1692) writes her only known literary work A CONFESSION OF FAITH: OR, A SUMMARY OF DIVINITY. DRAWN UP BY A YOUNG GENTLE-WOMAN, IN THE TWENTY-FIFTH YEAR OF HER AGE, which would not be published until 1704. The work is a spiritual biography emphasizing Puritan theology and argument. (See this blog for more on Sarah Symmes Fiske.)

Anne Bradstreet’s SEVERAL POEMS COMPILED WITH GREAT VARIETY OF WIT AND LEARNING…BY A GENTLEWOMAN OF NEW ENGLAND is published posthumously and includes revisions of her earlier work and a dozen new works found among her papers after her death and includes "On the Burning of Her Home," a short spiritual autobiography in prose; "Religious Experience;" and "Contemplation," regarded by many as her greatest poetic achievement. (See this blog for more on Anne Bradstreet.)
1679 Mrs. Richard Patteshall (Martha Woody) and Child. Attributed to: Thomas Smith, American, c 1650–1691

The State of Virginia forbids blacks and slaves from bearing arms, prohibits blacks from congregating in large numbers, and mandates harsh punishment for slaves who assault Christians or attempt escape.

Duke of York's Second Grant to William Penn, Gawn Lawry, Nicholas Lucas, John Eldridge, Edmund Warner, and Edward Byllynge, for the Soil and Government of West New Jersey; August 6

Commission of John Cutt of New Hampshire; September 18

Concessions to the Province of Pennsylvania - July 11Charter for the Province of Pennsylvania; February 28

Province of West New-Jersey, in America; November 25

William Penn (1644–1718), a wealthy Quaker, receives a large land grant west of the Delaware River, Pennsylvania. Penn received the colony as payment in lieu of debt that the Crown owed his father, naval hero Sir William Penn. Establishment of the colony also solved the problem of the growing Society of Friends or "Quaker" movement in England, which was causing much embarrassment to the Church of England. While still in England, Penn outlined certain rights to its citizens. The three counties of the Delaware Colony, captured from the Dutch, were deeded to William Penn in 1682, but regained a separate existence in 1704.

Sarah Whipple Goodhue (1641-1681) writes "VALEDICTORY AND MONITORY-WRITING." Goodhue's letter to provide spiritual guidance to her family would be read for inspiration through the 19th century. The Ipswich, Massachusetts, native had written the work anticipating that she might die in childbirth. It offers advice to her husband & children and remains interesting for the light it sheds on colonial family life. (See this blog for the entire text of Sarah Goodhue's letter to her family.)

Maria, a slave is burned at the stake for trying, with 2 men, to burn down her master's house in Massachusetts. The court condemns her most severely, claiming she lacks "the feare of God before her eyes."


Mary White Rowlandson (c. 1635-c. 1678) writes THE SOVEREIGNTY & THE GOODNESS OF GOD... BEING A NARRATIVE OF THE CAPTIVITY AND RESTAURATION OF MRS. MARY ROWLANDSON. One of the most famous and popular examples of colonial American prose chronicles Rowlandson's spiritual & physical travails after her 11 week captivity among Indians in 1676. It is the first widely popular book written by a woman. (See this blog for more on Mary Rowlandson plus the entire text of her book.)

Virginia declares all imported African American servants to be slaves for life.

Virginia, 1682: A law establishing the racial distinction between servants and slaves was enacted.
Mary Avery may have been the colonies' first woman publisher. She published The Rule of the New-Creature (a children's book) at Boston in 1682.

Duke of York's Confirmation to the 24 Proprietors; March 14

Penn's Charter of Libertie; April 25

Frame of Government of Pennsylvania; May 5

A group of German Mennonites & Quakers founded the settlement of Germantown. They were led by Francis Daniel Pastorius who soon wrote a promotional piece to encourage more Germans to emigrate to Pennsylvania.

Quakers establish the first school in Pennsylvania. They are among the first to teach both girls & boys to read and write. Training in classical languages, history, & literature is available at a public school in Philadelphia beginning in 1689.

Mennonite and other German families begin to settle in Penn's colony.

William Penn & Native Americans negotiate a peace treaty at Shackamaxon under the Treaty Elm

Frame of Government of Pennsylvania: February 2

The Fundamental Constitutions for the Province of East New Jersey in America

The King's Letter Recognizing the Proprietors' Right to the Soil and Government ; November 23

Charter of the Massachusetts Bay Colony is revoked ending the requirement of church membership for voting.

New York makes it illegal for slaves to sell goods.

The Duke of York ascends the British throne as King James II. He creates The Dominion of New England with the consolidation of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, East Jersey, & West Jersey into a single larger colony in 1685. The experiment ended with the Glorious Revolution of 1688-89, and the nine colonies re-established their separate identities in 1689.

Protestants in France lose their guarantee of religious freedom as King Louis XIV revokes the Edict of Nantes, spurring many families to leave for America.

New England Royal Governor Sir Edmund Andros begins issuing a series of unpopular orders aimed at the consolidation of colonies into one large settlement. He dissolves the assemblies of New York & Connecticut; limits the number of town meetings in New England to one per year; places the militia under his direct control & forces Puritans & Anglicans to worship together.

Governor Andros, orders Boston's Old South Meeting House to be converted into an Anglican Church. In August, the Massachusetts towns of Ipswich & Topsfield resist assessments imposed by Andros in protest of taxation without representation.

Catholic King James II of England flees to France after being deposed by influential English leaders.

Resolutions of The Germantown Mennonites; February 18

Commission of Sir Edmund Andros for the Dominion of New England; April 7

Quakers in Pennsylvania issue a formal resolution against slavery of men & women in America.

1689Governor Andros is jailed by rebellious colonists in Boston. In July, the English government orders Andros to be returned to England to stand trial. Cotton Mather supports the rebellion.

The New England colonies reestablish their previous systems of government.

William III of Orange (the Netherlands) is crowned king of England with wife Mary, daughter of James II. They reign together until 1694, when Mary dies; William rules alone until 1702.

The French and Indian War begins with King William's War. Schenectady, N. Y. and other areas are burned by French and Native Americans; Massachusetts colonists capture Port Royal, Nova Scotia; and Canadian forces destroy Casco, Maine.
Unknown Woman New York, 1690–1700 Attributed to Gerret Duyckinck from New York, (New Amsterdam) 1660–1710)

The Province of Massachusetts Bay was organized October 7, 1691 by William & Mary. The charter was enacted May 14, 1692 and included Massachusetts Bay Colony, Plymouth Colony, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, the Province of Maine & what is now Nova Scotia. The New Hampshire gained its independence

South Carolina passes the first comprehensive slave codes

Virginia passes the first anti-miscegenation law, forbidding marriages between whites and blacks or whites and Native Americans. And Virginia prohibits the manumission of slaves within its borders. Manumitted slaves are forced to leave the colony.  A 1691 Virginia law declared that any white man or woman who married a "Negro, mulatto, or Indian" would be banished from the colony forever.

In New York, the newly appointed Governor of New England, Henry Sloughter, arrives from England & institutes royally sanctioned representative government.

The Charter of Massachusetts Bay; October 7

The Salem witch trials accuse 150 of which 20 are condemned to die including 14 women; most of the accused & the accusers are women.

William & Mary College, named for the British rulers, is chartered in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Thomas Smith, attributed, Maria Catherina Smith, about 1690-93

Rice cultivation is introduced into Carolina. Slave importation increases dramatically.

First known Jew settles in Charleston, South Carolina.

Dinah Nuthead inherits her husband's printing press in St. Mary's City, Maryland. She moves it to Annapolis when the government relocates there, and continues to run the printing business.

The Royal African Trade Company loses its slave trade monopoly, spurring colonists in New England to engage in trading male & female slaves for profit.

Frame of Government of Pennsylvania

The English pass the Navigation Act of 1696 requiring colonial trade to be done exclusively via English built ships. The Act also expands the powers of colonial custom commissioners, including rights of forcible entry, and requires the posting of bonds on certain goods.

Massachusetts general court expresses official repentance for the witchcraft trials; Samuel Sewall confesses guilt from his Boston church pew.

King William's War ends as the French & English sign the Treaty of Ryswick.
1690-1700 Rebecca Bonum Eskridge. Unknown Artist.

Cockacoeske, Queen of the Pamunkey Indians, signs a peace treaty with Virginia.

Peace treaty at Casco Bay, Maine, brings hostilities between the Abenaki Indians & the Massachusetts colony to an end.

English Parliament passes the Wool Act, protecting its own wool industry by limiting wool production in Ireland & forbidding the export of wool by Americans.

Yale Law School, The Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History, and Diplomacy. New Haven, CT.


HISTORY MATTERS. American Social History Project / Center for Media and Learning (Graduate Center, CUNY) and the Center for History and New Media (George Mason University). Internet.

Monday, February 12, 2018

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

1640 Woman by Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born mostly English artist, 1607-1677). We have few depictions of women in the 17C British American colonies, but the portrait prints of women by Wenceslaus Hollar allow us to see the hairstyles & fashions being worn in other countries during the early years of the European colonization of North America.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

1609 - John Smyth 1570-1612) English beginnings of the Baptist Church

Immersion Baptism in Pennsylvania's Schuylkill River Woodcut from Morgan Edwards, Materials Towards A History of the American Baptists.

John Smyth (c. 1570-1612) was an early Baptist (Puritan, Separatist, Mennonite) minister from England and a defender of the principle of religious liberty. Some historians consider John Smyth as a founder of the Baptist denomination.  Smyth was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1594 in England. Soon after his ordination, he broke with the Church of England & left for Holland where he with a small congregation began to study the Bible ardently.

Smyth insisted that true worship was from the heart & that any form of reading from a book in worship was an invention of sinful man.  Prayer, singing & preaching had to be completely spontaneous.  He introduced a twofold church leadership, that of pastor and deacon. This was in contrast to the Catholic/Anglican hierarchy of bishop, priest.  He thought that believers baptised as infants would have to be re-baptized. He briefly returned to England, but died in Holland.  By the time of his death, Smyth moved away from his Baptist views & began trying to bring his flock into the Mennonite church. Although he died before this happened, most of his congregation did join with the Mennonite church after his death.
Pavel Petrovich Svinin (1787–1839) Early 19C Pennsylvania Immersion Baptism Philadelphia Anabaptist Immersion during a Storm


(1) That there is one God, the best, the highest, and most glorious Creator and Preserver of all; who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

(2) That God has created and redeemed the human race to his own image, and has ordained all men (no one being reprobated) to life.

(3) That God imposes no necessity of sinning on any one; but man freely, by Satanic instigation, departs from God.

(4) That the law of life was originally placed by God in the keeping of the law; then, by reason of the weakness of the flesh, was, by the good pleasure of God, through the redemption of Christ, changed into justification of faith; on which account, no one ought justly blame God, but rather, with his inmost heart, to revere, adore, and praise his mercy, that God should have rendered that possible to man, by his grace, which before, since man had fallen, was impossible by nature.

(5) That there is no original sin (lit;, no sin of origin or descent), but all sin is actual and voluntary, viz., a word, a deed, or a design against the law of God; and therefore, infants are without sin.

(6) That Jesus Christ is true God and true man; viz., the Son of God taking to himself, in addition, the true and pure nature of a man, out of a true rational soul, and existing in a true human body.

(7) That Jesus Christ, as pertaining to the flesh, was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, afterwards was born, circumcised, baptized, tempted; also that he hungered, thirsted, ate, drank, increased both in stature and in knowledge; he was wearied, he slept, at last was crucified, dead buried, he rose again, ascended into heaven; and that to himself as only King, Priest, and Prophet of the church, all power both in Heaven and earth is given.

(8) That the grace of God, through the finished redemption of Christ, was to be prepared and offered to all without distinction, and that not feignedly but in good faith, partly by things made, which declare the invisible things of God, and partly by the preaching of the Gospel.

(9) That men, of the grace of God through the redemption of Christ, are able (the Holy Spirit, by grace, being before unto them grace prevement) to repent, to believe, to turn to God, and to attain to eternal life; so on the other hand, they are able themselves to resist the Holy Spirit, to depart from God, and to perish for ever.

(10) That the justification of man before the Divine tribunal (which is both the throne of justice and of mercy), consists partly of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ apprehended by faith, and partly of inherent righteousness, in the holy themselves, by the operation of the Holy Spirit, which is called regeneration or sanctification. since any one is righteous, who doeth righteousness.

(11) That faith, destitute of good works, is vain; but true and living faith is distinguished by good works.

(12) That the church of Christ is a company of the faithful; baptized after confession of sin and of faith, endowed with the power of Christ.

(13) That the church of Christ has power delegated to themselves of announcing the word, administering the sacraments, appointing ministers, disclaiming them, and also excommunicating; but the last appeal is to the brethren of body of the church.

(14) That baptism is the external sign of the remission of sins, of dying and of being made alive, and therefore does not belong to infants.

(15) That the Lord’s Supper is the external sign of the communion of Christ, and of the faithful amongst themselves by faith and love.

(16) That the ministers of the church are, not only bishops (“Episcopos”), to whom the power is given of dispensing both the word and the sacraments, but also deacons, men and widows, who attend to the affairs of the poor and sick brethren.

(17) That brethren who persevere in sins known to themselves, after the third admonition, are to be excluded from the fellowship of the saints by excommunication.

(18) That those who are excommunicated are not to be avoided in what pertains to worldly business (civile commercium).

(19) That the dead (the living being instantly changed) will rise again with the same bodies; not the substance but the qualities being changed.

(20) That after the resurrection, all will be borne to the tribunal of Christ, the Judge, to be judged according to their works; the pious, after sentence of absolution, will enjoy eternal life with Christ in heaven; the wicked, condemned, will be punished with eternal torments in hell with the devil and his angels.

Richard Day, A Booke of Christian Prayers 1581 - Traditional Infant Baptism 

Saturday, February 10, 2018

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

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

Friday, February 9, 2018

Women in America Timeline 1651-1670

Timeline Of Events Directly Affecting Women

Copies of complete documents may be found by clicking on highlighted descriptions.

Immigrants moving south from Virginia settle the coast of present-day North Carolina. A governor is appointed in 1664, but the first town is established by the arrival of the French Huguenots in 1704.

Slave Francis Payne of Northampton County, Virginia, paid for his freedom about 1650 by purchasing three white servants for his master's use. Francis Payne was married to a white woman named Amy by September 1656, when he gave her a mare by deed of jointure.

First Indian Reservation is created near Richmond, Virginia.


Rhode Island enacts the first law restricting slavery in the colonies and declares slavery illegal for more than 10 years.

Massachusettes requires all black and Indian male servants to receive military training


Boat with twenty-three Jews, mostly refugees from Recife, Brazil, arrives in New Amsterdam (New York), marking the beginning of Jewish communal settlement in North America.

A Virginia court allows African Americans to hold slaves.


Jews in New Netherlands are granted rights to trade, travel, and stand guard.

Elizabeth Key, daughter of a slave, sues for her freedom and wins in Virginia. (See blog for further information.)


Members of the Religious Society of Friends, commonly referred to as Quakers, arrive in Boston from England. While springing from the same religious turmoil that gave rise to the Separatist movement, the Quakers lack respect for hierarchy and believe in man’s ability to achieve his own salvation. Tenets so contrary to orthodox Puritanism quickly turn most New Englanders against them.

Massachusetts Bay Colony Puritans whip, imprison, & banish the first Quakers to arrive in the colony. Legislation in 1658 bars the Quakers from holding their services, called "meetings."

On 22 September 1656 in Maryland, an all-woman jury, the first in the colonies, acquits Judith Catchpole on charges of murdering her unborn child.

The small number of Quakers in Plymouth Colony congregate primarily in Sandwich on Cape Cod and in Scituate. Laws are passed forbidding any to transport Quakers into the colony, to give them “entertainment” (housing) or to attend a Quaker meeting. Punishments include fines, whipping, imprisonment or banishment. A number of people are brought before the courts on these charges.

The Massachusetts Bay Colony passes a law fining any person b
ringing a Quaker into the colony £100. A Quaker returning to the colony, after being expelled, will have their ears cropped and their tongues bored with hot iron.

Jews in New Netherlands are granted rights to own property and to establish a Jewish cemetery.

Virginia passes a fugitive slave law strong


At Oliver Cromwell's death, the English Commonwealth soon dissolves. The late monarch's heir is brought out of exile to rule as Charles II in 1660. The decades following the reestablishment of the monarchy are marked by a surge of artistic, literary, and dramatic output.

Three Quakers each lose an ear after returning to Massachusetts. The Boston authorities pass a new law with the penalty for expelled Quakers returning to the colony being death.

Long Island passes a similar anti-Quaker law.

Quakers William Robinson & Marmaduke Stephenson are hanged for refusing to leave Massachusetts. Mary Barrett Dyer, a follower of Anne Hutchinson & later a Quaker, is scheduled to hang with them but is reprieved at the last minute.

Mary Barrett Dyer is executed on Boston Common for her Quaker proselytizing & for defying an expulsion order by returning to Boston. She is one of four Quakers hanged between 1659 and 1661.  See this blog for Mary Dyer's letters from jail to her husband.

The English Crown approves a Navigation Act requiring the exclusive use of English ships for trade in the English Colonies & limits exports of tobacco and sugar & other commodities to England or its colonies.

An Act for Supressing the Quakers is passed in Virginia.

Charles II, King of England, orders the Council of Foreign Plantations to devise strategies for converting slaves and servants to Christianity.


The first native Africans were brought to Virginia in 1619. They were hired, with rights of contract, for work on large plantations of tobacco, rice, & indigo. By the 1660s, plantation owners change the laws & revoke contracts, so that African men, women, & children cannot earn their freedom.

After her husband's death in 1660, Margaret Hardenbrook de Vries (later Philipse) takes over his business as a merchant buying furs and shipping them to Holland in return for Dutch products, which she sells in New Amsterdam. Although she remarries, she continues to run the business until she dies in 1690.   See blog for life of Margarieta Hardenbrook De Vries Philipse.

Massachusetts continues to punish Quakers by hanging those who refuse to leave the colony. After a royal edict requires Massachusetts authorities to release imprisoned Quakers & return them to England, the authorities allow them to leave for other colonies. Corporal punishment for Quakers & other dissenters is suspended in the Massachusetts Bay colony by order of Parliament.

Virginia General Assembly declares children of enslaved women to be slaves.

Massachusetts reverses a ruling dating back to 1652, which allowed blacks to train in arms. New York, Connecticut, and New Hampshire pass similar laws restricting the bearing of arms.

The Carolinas. King Charles II of England grants a charter for the Carolina colonies to 8 loyal supporters. The Province of Carolina was divided into North Carolina & South Carolina in 1712. (Both colonies became royal colonies in 1729.)

A Declaration and Proposals of the Lord Proprietor of Carolina, Aug. 25-Sept. 4

Navigation Act of 1663 requires that most imports to the colonies must be transported via England on English ships.

In Gloucester County, Virginia, the first documented slave rebellion in the colonies takes place.

Maryland legalizes slavery.


The British take control of New Amsterdam & New Netherlands, introduce English constitutional forms. The Dutch settlers were able to retain their properties & worship as they please. The Colonial Dutch style of art & life remains pervasive in New York throughout the 18th century.

The Concession and Agreement of the Lords Proprietors of the Province of New Caesarea, or New Jersey, to and With All and Every the Adventurers and All Such as Shall Settle or Plant There; February 10

Grant of the Province of Maine; March 12

The Duke of York's Release to John Ford Berkeley, and Sir George Carteret; June 24

Anne Bradstreet’s MEDITATIONS DIVINE AND MORALL is a collection of her prose devotional writings written for her son Simon, which draw on her daily experiences. Probably written between 1655-1665, but found after her death in 1672.

Maryland is the first colony to take legal action against marriages between white women and black men.  Maryland, 1664: The first colonial "anti-amalgamation" law is enacted (amalgamation referred to "race-mixing"). Other colonies soon followed Maryland's example.

The State of Maryland mandates lifelong servitude for all black slaves. New York, New Jersey, the Carolinas, and Virginia all pass similar laws


Legislation in several states tightens the bonds of slavery. English law provides that slaves may be freed if they convert to Christianity and establish legal residence, but Maryland, New York, New Jersey, the Carolinas, and Virginia pass laws allowing conversion & residence without freeing any slaves.

Concessions and Agreements of the Lords Proprietors of the Province of Carolina

Charter of Carolina; June 30

Great Plague of London begins.

Maryland passes a fugitive slave law.

Virginia declares that Christian baptism will not alter a man or a woman's status as a slave.

Virginia, 1667: Christian baptisms would no longer affect the bondage of blacks or Indians, preventing enslaved workers from improving their legal status by changing their religion.
New Jersey passes a fugitive slave law.

The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina : March 1

The State of Virginia prohibits free blacks and Indians from keeping Christian (i.e. white) servants.

Yale Law School, The Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History, and Diplomacy. New Haven, CT.


HISTORY MATTERS. American Social History Project / Center for Media and Learning (Graduate Center, CUNY) and the Center for History and New Media (George Mason University). Internet.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

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

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

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

1645 John Winthrop's Speech On Liberty

John Winthrop 1587/8-1649

In 1645, while he was deputy-governor of Massachusetts, John Winthrop and his fellow-magistrates had interfered in a local election of a militia officer. When the dispute flared into a war of words, the magistrates bound over some of the dissidents to the next court and summoned others to appear. In this controversy the magistrates were accused of having exceeded their powers, and Winthrop was impeached. After a controversy of almost three months Winthrop was fully acquitted and some of his opponents fined. It was after this test and vindication that Winthrop made this famous "little speech."

I suppose something may be expected from me, upon this charge that is befallen me which moves me to speak now to you; yet I intend not to intermeddle in the proceedings of the court or with any of the persons concerned therein. Only I bless God that I see an issue of this troublesome business. I also acknowledge the justice of the court, and, for mine own part, I am well satisfied, I was publicly charged, and I am publicly and legally acquitted, which is all I did expect or desire.

And though this be sufficient for my justification before men, yet not so before the God, who hath seen so much amiss in my dispensations (and even in this affair) as calls me to be humble. For to be publicly and criminally charged in this court is matter of humiliation (and I desire to make a right use of it), notwithstanding I be thus acquitted. If her father had spit in her face (saith the Lord concerning Miriam), should she not have been ashamed seven days? Shame had lien upon her, whatever the occasion had been.

I am unwilling to stay you from your urgent affairs, yet give me leave (upon this special occasion) to speak a little more to this assembly. It may be of some good use, to inform and rectify the judgments of some of the people, and may prevent such distempers as have arisen amongst us.

The great questions that have troubled the country are about the authority of the magistrates and the liberty of the people.

It is yourselves who have called us to this office, and, being called by you, we have our authority from God, in way of an ordinance, such as hath the image of God eminently stamped upon it, the contempt and violation whereof hath been vindicated with examples of divine vengeance. I entreat you to consider that, when you choose magistrates, you take them from among yourselves, men subject to like passions as you are. Therefore, when you see infirmities in us, you should reflect upon your own, and that would make you bear the more with us, and not be severe censurers of the failings of your magistrates, when you have continual experience of the like infirmities in yourselves and others. We account him a good servant who breaks not his covenant.

The covenant between you and us is the oath you have taken of us, which is to this purpose: that we shall govern you and judge your causes by the rules of God's laws and our own, according to our best skill. When you agree with a workman to build you a ship or house, etc., he undertakes as well for his skill as for his faithfulness, for it is his profession, and you pay him for both.

But when you call one to be a magistrate, he doth not profess nor undertake to have sufficient skill for that office, nor can you furnish him with gifts, etc., therefore you must run the hazard of his skill and ability. But if he fail in faithfulness, which by his oath he is bound unto, that he must answer for. If it fall out that the case be clear to common apprehension, and the rule clear also, if he transgress here, the error is not in the skill, but in the evil of the will: it must be required of him. But if the case be doubtful, or the rule doubtful, to men of such understanding and parts as your magistrates are, if your magistrates should err here, yourselves must bear it.

For the other point concerning liberty, I observe a great mistake in the country about that. There is a twofold liberty, natural (I mean as our nature is now corrupt) and civil or federal. The first is common to man with beasts and other creatures. By this, man, as he stands in relation to man simply, hath liberty to do what he lists; it is a liberty to evil as well as to good.

This liberty is incompatible and inconsistent with authority and cannot endure the least restraint of the most just authority. The exercise and maintaining of this liberty makes men grow more evil and in time to be worse than brute beasts: omnes sumus licentia deteriores. This is that great enemy of truth and peace, that wild beast, which all of the ordinances of God are bent against, to restrain and subdue it.

The other kind of liberty I call civil or federal; it may also be termed moral, in reference to the covenant between God and man, in the moral law, and the politic covenants and constitutions amongst men themselves. This liberty is the proper end and object of authority and cannot subsist without it; and it is a liberty to that only which is good, just, and honest. This liberty you are to stand for, with the hazard (not only of your goods, but) of your lives, if need be. Whatsoever crosseth this is not authority but a distemper thereof.

This liberty is maintained and exercised in a way of subjection to authority; it is of the same kind of liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free. The women's own choice makes such a man her husband; yet, being so chosen, he is her lord, and she is to be subject to him, yet in a way of liberty, not of bondage; and a true wife accounts her subjection her honor and freedom and would not think her condition safe and free but in her subjection to her husband's authority.

Such is the liberty of the church under the authority of Christ, her king and husband; his yoke is so easy and sweet to her as a bride's ornaments; and if through forwardness or wantonness, etc., she shake it off, at any time, she is at no rest in her spirit, until she take it up again; and whether her lord smiles upon her and embraceth her in his arms, or whether he frowns, or rebukes, or smites her, she apprehends the sweetness of his love in all, and is refreshed, supported, and instructed by every such dispensation of his authority over her. On the other side, ye know who they are that complain of this yoke and say, Let us break their bands, etc.; we will not have this man to rule over us.

Even so, brethren, it will be between you and your magistrates. If you want to stand for your natural corrupt liberties, and will do what is good in your own eyes, you will not endure the least weight of authority, but will murmur, and oppose, and be always striving to shake off that yoke; but if you will be satisfied to enjoy such civil and lawful liberties, such as Christ allows you, then will you quietly and cheerfully submit unto that authority which is set over you, in all the administrations of it, for your good. Wherein, if we fail at any time, we hope we shall be willing (by God's assistance) to hearken to good advice from any of you, or in any other way of God; so shall your liberties be preserved in upholding the honor and power of authority amongst you.