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