Thursday, November 12, 2020

Imported and domestic knitted goods (Part Two)

Margaret McIntire - teaches knitting, sewing, marking and washing 1770 in Dutch Town - SC -
The South Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (Charleston SC)- June 26 1770

Part Two of my research for imported and domestic knitted goods, I examine the types of knitting needles listed among inventories, invoices and store ledgers; how common were yarn stockings and finding advertisements to teaching people how to knit.  Also the types of stockings listed in women's inventories in North Carolina.

I am sure not the entire population of women during the 18th century knew how to knit.  It was a cottage industry in many areas of the world.   So the myth that everyone knitted or made their own stockings or knitted goods, is well untrue.  Ready made goods were available and imported from overseas or even within the colonies, there are advertisements posted to teach others how to knit and knitting needles were imported and sold in stores.  I don't find darning eggs listed in among items in women's inventories or as a ready made good/item.  

Out of the hundreds of women's inventories, only four list knitting needles among their possessions.  There is a 1750 sale of a man's estate that list several pairs of knitting needles as well   I might need to revisit the inventories again to look into more detail but my earlier notes I did list them as something of interest as I am a knitter myself.  

The 1762 inventory of Sarah Collings in Pasquotank County, North Carolina lists yarn, 2 pr of "nitten" needles and half a stocking (underlined in blue).  What does 2 pairs of knitting needles mean?  Most knitted items were knitted in the round on 4 needles and then a 5th needle as the working needle.  So does this mean 10 knitting needles in total?  

"North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979," Pasquotank County; Collings, Sarah (1762); State Archives, Raleigh.

The 1763 estate of Ann Overman lists all of her wearing apparel and then knitting needles and a pair of scissors.  

The 1779 estate of Hannah Alexander (not Bradley as noted on the files - John Bradley was the executor of her estate and I feel that there was an error on the outside of her estate file) from Mecklenburg County North Carolina lists several pairs of knitting needles, blue yarn, stockings and yarn and etc.

The final women's inventory that lists knitting needles is the 1744 estate of Elizabeth Hanner from Chowan County, North Carolina.  Oddly enough, she has 100 "nitten" needles listed in her estate.  It is unclear if she had a store in Chowan County but to have 100 knitting needles is rare.  It is listed near the bottom of the page right after 5 yards of coarse plad.  I tried to make it as large as it could possibly be.   I could have cropped the inventory but I wanted to also share all of her fabulous items listed in her estate.  

1744 estate of Elizabeth Hanner
"North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979," Chowan County Hanmer, Elizabeth (1744); State Archives, Raleigh.

Then we come to the 1750 estate for William Burnitt of Edgecombe County, North Carolina, he had both brass and plain knitting needles listed.   What is interesting is that they list them as four "pare" of "nitten" needles.  Again, what does that mean?  Four needles in total or 20 needles?

I wondered about brass knitting needles but looking at the image that I used in the last article you can clearly see the knitting needles are a brass or yellow color.  Were these used for finer yarns versus your typical metal or iron knitting needles that were used for heavier woolen yarns?   The answer I do not know.  But I found it odd that brass knitting needles were available and we know they were here in North Carolina as well as in South Carolina during the 1700s.

Jean Baptiste-Greuze (1724-1805) - Knitter Asleep

Store inventories and invoices of imported goods also provide us a clue of the commonness of knitting needles.  Were they brass, metal or both?  

The store sale of William Whitehead in Edgecombe County, North Carolina in 1750 lists the sale of several pairs of knitting needles. 

They do not denote if they are brass knitting needles or not.  They are sold as 4 prs. of needles.

The 1750 sale of the store owned by Major Joseph Howell in Edgecombe County also lists knitting needles but 3/4th knitting needles.  

Then we have the invoices for imported knitting needles into Charleston, SC in the early 1760s.  
 The vessel "Little Carpenter" brought in a variety of imported goods including iron and brass knitting needles.

Imported iron and brass knitting needles, in the Robert Hogg Account Books, #343, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Knitting needles versus knitting pins

I have found 2 early citations of "knitting pins" both are in Pennsylvania but it seems that this terminology falls out of favor and return again by the late 1770s this time surfacing in South Carolina.  I don't see the term "knitting pins" in North Carolina until 1787 in a newspaper in New Bern. I had wondered if it was a typo in the newspaper where they were missing a comma between knitting and pins but  Could knitting pins refer to a different type of knitting needle or again just a regional terminology?   I did search in foreign newspapers and the term "knitting pins" shows up post-1811 in England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland.  So for the most part, I would call them knitting needles for the majority of the 18th century.

Ready made or imported stocking advertisements

The North-Carolina Weekly Gazette New Bern, North Carolina 13 Mar 1778  •  Page 3

Woolen, thread and silk stockings imported from France into North Carolina during the American Revolution. 1778.  There are several advertisements for French imported goods during this period coming into North Carolina. 

Worsted caps, black worsted mitts and worsted and yarn gloves 1758 England -
The South-Carolina Gazette Charleston, South Carolina 10 Dec 1764 •  Page 4

Worsted, thread, cotton and yarn stockings imported along with black worsted mitts and yarn for knitting.  

german town manufactured brown and white thread stocking and etc. 1767 -

The South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Charleston, South Carolina 
08 Dec 1767,•  Page 3

In my previous blog article, "Seeking Worldly Goods", Pennsylvania stockings were highly prized and it is evident in William Sample Alexander diary where family members requested stockings to be made in Philadelphia (mid 1770s).  So could one speculate that with Charleston importing these Germantown stockings, is what spurred the Alexander family to seek out these stockings?  Just a guess.

Teaching people to knit or making stockings for purchasing

A few advertisements

The Pennsylvania Gazette Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 30 Aug 1770, •  Page 6

 What I find interesting is that they wanted to set up shop in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1770.  Haven't been able to find any more about if this business succeeded in Wilmington or not.

The South-Carolina Gazette, Charleston SC; 9 August 1770 pg. 5

Margaret McIntire - teaches knitting, sewing, marking and washing 1770 in Dutch Town - SC -
The South Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (Charleston SC)- June 26 1770

I find this advertisement very interesting.  Keep in mind there were no commercial patterns for knitting unlike the early to mid 19th century were books are printed with various patterns.  So having some one teach you how to knit, is probably how most people shared information and pattern styles. Although it is from Charleston it clearly shows that there was a need by both white and black people to learn how to knit, sew, mark and wash clothing.  I think it is also note worthy that she is located in Dutch-Town section of Charleston.  I wonder if this where the German immigrants resided as there was influx of German indentured servants in the 1750s and 1760s.

Types of stockings listed in women's inventories 

So, what was common for women to have in their wardrobes for stockings?  We are in the south, it gets hot and humid in the summer and damp in the winter.  So what would be best?  Silk, thread, cotton, worsted and all of the above?  Within the estate records in North Carolina, 33 women have stockings listed as an item out of 92 estate records that have clothing listed.

The break down of the types of stockings goes like this:

Total of 102 pairs listed

49 listed as "stockings"
29 listed as "thread"
9 listed as "old"
6 listed as ""worsted"
5 listed as "silk"
2 or less
"Yarn", "Cotton", "Old Worsted", "Old Silk", "Blue" and "Womens"

The average number of stockings listed in a women's inventory is 3 pairs.
However some estates can skew the numbers such as the 1770 estate of Ann Carter she had 16 pairs of thread stockings listed (Onslow County NC).  And the 1740 estate of Mary Glouster  (who was a Quaker in Pasquotank County, North Carolina) had 8 pairs of stockings listed which were a variety of styles. (cotton, worsted, "stockings" and thread).  In some cases, there were a variety of stockings listed but usually they just list x pair of stockings.  

As for colors of stockings, unfortunately there is only one reference to a color associated with stockings.  Blue stockings were listed in the inventory of Rebecca Eborn of Hyde County in 1758, there is a reference to red stockings on a Irish runaway servant from New Bern in 1757.   Are colored stockings a mid-18th century fashion statement or were there more colors but we are yet to find them within the confines of what resources we have available online.

There is more to learn about imported and domestic knitted goods.  I hope these 2 blog articles have helped share some light on what was available in both North and South Carolina.  

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Imported and domestic knitted goods (Part One)

Jean Baptiste-Greuze (1724-1805) - Knitter Asleep

Knitted goods both domestic and imported are seen in store inventories, personal inventories and on imported goods advertisements in the Carolinas.   Knitted or worsted caps, stockings, Scotch "bonnets" for men, mitts and mittens were the most common knitted items in the 18th century.  

For the love of god - please do not use Outlander as a historical resource for knitted or crocheted items. They are modern interpretations plus there were no crocheted items during the 18th century.  There were no knit shawls or sontags - those don't show until the 19th century for women. Crochet did not come around in popularity until the early to mid 19th century.   I highly recommend Mara Riley's patterns and also Sally Pointer.  If you are on Ravelry, they have patterns for sale there as well.   18th Century Material Culture page also a great resource for images of original items. 

Okay....back to our regular scheduled program.  

Scotch blue bonnets

"The North Carolina Weekly Gazette" New Bern, NC 24 December 1773

Anson county had many Scots-Irish settlers as well as New Hanover, Duplin, Bladen and Cumberland counties. Here is one example of a runaway enslaved person named SHIE from Anson County, North Carolina wearing a "scotch" bonnet.  

I have found several bonnets listed in inventories in New Hanover County such as James McDonough. Talking among other historians from North Carolina, we agree that these more than likely were blue "scotch" bonnets. 

"North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979,"  James McDonough, 1760; citing New Hanover County, North Carolina, United States, State Archives, Raleigh, NC

In Neill Buie's 1761 Cumberland County inventory, a bonnet (again more than likely a scotch bonnet) sold for 3 shillings, 4d.  It is underlined in blue.

"North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979,"  Neill Buie, 1761; citing Cumberland County, North Carolina, United States, State Archives, Raleigh 
Scots Bonnet- to order
Source: Sally Pointer
Example of plain scots bonnets or blue bonnet. 

Worsted Caps or Knit Caps

Particularly you see worsted caps or knit caps imported into the colonies and sold in stores.

Worsted, knit, milled caps are all seen being imported in the Colonies and including the Carolinas.  

Imported French goods to be sold at Mrs. Batchelor's store 1778 -
North Carolina Weekly Gazette, New Bern NC
9 January 1778.

Runaway Welsh indented servant boy.  January 1773 -
The North Carolina Gazette, Wilmington NC
13 January 1773

mens blue mill'd caps 1768 SC -
"Mens blue mill'd caps" The South Carolina Gazette, Charleston SC
8 August 1768

Blue, red and white worsted cap 1746 Derby, England -
The Derby Mercury, Derby Derbyshire, England
24 September 1746
Another variation of the woolen cap this one a blue, red and white worsted cap on.  A runaway prisoner for the County Goal in Derby, England.

This is my take on this cap.  Blue with red stripes and white at the edge

Stripe, scarlet and mill'd woolen caps 1763 SC -
The South Carolina Gazette, Charleston SC
12 November 1763
"Stripe, scarlet and mill'd woolen caps"

 Knitted goods whether imported or domestically manufactured were a part of the clothing of the men in the Carolinas.  Knitting needles are found in many store inventories as well as women's inventories sometimes with a stocking or mitten still on the needles.  Despite this, imported knitted goods were available to many people in the 18th century.  My next article will be on stockings, mittens, and knitting needles.  

I will close this part with a knitted cap that was found at Dry's Wharf at Brunswick Town/ Fort Anderson State Historic Site near Winnabow, North Carolina.  The photos are courtesy from Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson

Based off the archaeological findings, the cap dates from 1748.  My friend Hannah Smith wrote about the conservation work on it for her Master's Thesis, which I have linked here. 

There is some debate if this was a stocking that was altered to create a men's cap, or was this someone who was learning to knit and created this unique cap.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Store inventories: worldly goods in various locations

Worldly goods in Edgecombe County, North Carolina 1750s versus 1770s

While perusing through inventories and various county records, I have come across a few inventories that I believe are store inventories.   

Edgecombe County was formed in 1741 out of Bertie County, the county is named after Richard Edgecombe, a member of Parliament and a lord of treasury, who became the First Baron Edgecombe in 1742. Edgecombe’s boundaries have changed a few times until it reached its current edges. In 1746, part of the county became Granville County; in 1758, another part was used to create Halifax County; and in 1777, yet another small portion was used to establish Nash County. 

North Carolina’s ninth oldest incorporated town, Tarboro served the county and the state as a thriving inland port and merchants and farmers used the Tar River largely for trade and transportation until the Civil War. 

Not quite the eastern seaboard of wealth, it could be considered the back country at one point in the early settlement of the county 1740s-1750s but as trade routes were created, wealth and worldly goods expand into these areas.  What I noticed is that one sees a lot of Virginia currency noted in these inventories and sales papers.  

William Whitehead in 1751 has three pages of inventory ranging from woolens, linen, check,  stockings, shoes, hats, blankets and etc. 
Sale of William Whitehead's estate listing numerous textiles and goods
1750 Edgecombe County, North Carolina

Noted textiles are: blue linen, 3/4 check, sheeting, narrow garlix, calico, plads, duroy, broadcloth, lincey-wollce, brown sheeting and shalloon.  9 pairs of thread stockings are listed as well.  This is the first time I have seen a reference to "lince woolce" in North Carolina.  We see many references to linsey-woolsy north of the Carolinas but very few 

More thread stockings, sagathy, milled duffil, german serge, holland, a parcel of ribbon, note there is shoes listed as well. 

Then in another possible store inventory is the estate of Major Joseph Howell dated 1750.  Joseph Howell is listed as a merchant in 1746. 

90 1/4 yards of fine osnaburg, coarse ditto (62 Ells), 53 23/4 yards of Scotch osnaburg, 66 yards of fine cotten? 51 3/4 yds of 3/4 check and then a piece of red stripes 23 yds, 1 piece of 3/4 ditto 69 Ells.  

Here is another page from his inventory again "blew" linen is listed along with other textiles.   There are "worsted" caps, linen handkerchiefs, culge handkerchiefs, knitting needles and variety of buttons, threads, and etc.  What we do not see are ready made goods of womens' hats, bonnets, clothing and etc.  

Joseph Howell has several pages listing various textiles, goods and etc. in his inventory.  We correspond it with the sale papers to clarify the textiles and goods listed and how much they sold for. 

Friday, February 14, 2020

"Check your Aprons: Fashion and Function in a Common Object"

 Detail from The Enraged Macaroni, 1773; Lewis Walpole Library

Aprons: Practical, functional, and fashionable

There has been a lot of discussion about aprons lately on social media.  There are great resources available for viewing original aprons and even websites that provides a wealth of information such as 

So, what is the point of my blog article.  Well, mine is solely on the types of aprons that are found in the estates of women and their spouses in North Carolina.  By looking at the inventories, wills, and then corresponding it with newspapers advertisements for goods imported, runaway ads and etc., we come to the conclusion that aprons were a staple in a woman's wardrobe during the 18th century. Not only as a practical item of clothing but they also could serve as a fashionable piece as well.  It was common for women to have both check'd aprons and white aprons in their wardrobe. 

In the 89 inventories and wills of both women and their spouses  who resided in North Carolina from 1738-1783, I have found (and I keep finding more) there were 230 aprons listed.  That is a average of 2.5% aprons per estate.  

There are some estates that skew the numbers like the 1748 inventory of the Green estate of Edgecombe County, North Carolina  which lists 23 aprons - 14 linen, 1 short apron worsted and 8 aprons.

Another inventory that skews the numbers is Mary Brewton's.  She has 18 aprons. 

Mary Brewton's estate in New Hanover County, North Carolina lists 11 fine and 7 coarse aprons. 

Mary Coen of Pasquotank County had 16 aprons listed. 
Elizabeth Hanner also of Pasquotank County had 11 aprons

Rachel Hill's inventory in 1763 lists the most variety of aprons in all the inventories  that I have found.

2 1/2 worn check't aprons, 3 old check't ditto; . . . 1 new white holland apron; 1 1/2 worn garlix ditto; 1 1/2 worn muslin ditto, 1 old ditto, 1 1/2 worn check't apron.

Another 2 inventories of interest that have a variety of aprons listed are Sarah Prichard of Burke County and Amelia Mott of New Hanover County.

Sarah had 1 black crape, 1 check apron, 2 linen aprons in her 1768 inventory.   

While in 1771,  Amelia had 1 old check apron, 1 check apron, 1 white apron and 2 aprons.    If they bothered to describe the check and white apron what makes the other "2 aprons" different?  

What makes it frustrating when researching is when they only list the items in the inventories or sales of the estate, they only list x amount of "aprons" but do not describe or list the type of textile.  

Here is the math and breakdown of percentages of aprons 

63% "apron" or 146 aprons 
7% linen or 17 aprons
 7% check or 16 aprons 
 5% white or 11 aprons
 5% fine or 12 aprons
 3% coarse or 7 aprons
3% muslin or 4 aprons

The rest are either 1% or less which are: 

Garlix: 2 aprons
Old: 3 aprons
Silk: 2 aprons
Cotton: 2 aprons
Holland: 2 aprons
Lawn: 1 apron
"Gause" flowered: 1 apron
Flowered: 1 apron
Worsted: 1 apron
Black Crape: 1 apron

However what I am not finding are "blue" aprons.  I have one reference for a runaway in Charleston in 1783 but they do not show up in any inventories or wills in North Carolina.  So, one could speculate that this is a New England/PA/MD regional item.   They do show up in English newspapers for runaways or stolen items. 

Ready Made Goods and Imported textiles

By looking at ready made goods and imported textiles in both North and South Carolina this gives researchers a glimpse of what was available during the 18th century.   Consumerism was key especially in port cities like Wilmington and New Bern, North Carolina and then Charleston, South Carolina.   It is key in the back country as well.  Goods are going inland to stores in areas like Cross Creek, North Carolina and to Cheraw, South Carolina.

I included South Carolina in this post as the newspapers for SC from 1750-1770 have become available for viewing, which is great for researchers.  

The following ads show specific textiles that are being sold for the manufacture of aprons and then also "ready made" accessories such as aprons.

"Gauze aprons, handkerchiefs and ruffles" to be sold at William Watkins store in Wilmington, The North-Carolina Gazette, Wilmington, North Carolina: 26 Feb 1766

Ready made "worked Muslin and Lawn Aprons" and"Gauze Aprons" for sale in Charleston, SC 1771.  The South-Carolina and American General Gazette

Charleston, South Carolina : 17 Jun 1771, Mon  •  Page 4

Long Apron
Listed on Meg Andrews 1770-1790
the fine muslin tambour embroidered throughout with rows of white cotton single and double flower sprigs, each 5 cm high, with twelve different designs, the lower corners with stylsied flowerhead surrounded by tendrils and leaves emerging from a drawnthreadwork rocky mound, the borders with gently scalloping with curving flower stems and cartouche infills,
Drop 38 1/2 in/ 98 cm drop. Hem width 50in/1.27 cm.

Here is a few advertisements for ready made aprons and the prices they are being sold for in South Carolina.

"The South Carolina and American General Gazette" November 4, 1771: Charleston, SC
What I like about this advertisement is that they are willing to take deer-skins as payment  for any of the above goods.

"The South Carolina Gazette" June 7, 1773  Charleston, SC