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and also small articles obtained in trade, 4 as shoe buckles,
skeins of thread, a thimble, etc. Evidently the proprie-
tor procured these things in the markets around the Bay,
and they served in discharging his obligations, instead of
money or currency, which was scarce. Some entries are
equivalent to the exchanges in modern banking. John
Mash was debtor for 30s. in cash, paid to Thomas Sweet,
blacksmith; it was due from John Nichols to said Sweet
and from John Mash to said Nichols. A charge to his
brother-in-law carries a "Felt Hatt for Dick at £1.
Casteel Sope, Handkerchiefs at 14s. Callominco at 18s.
Sugar, Indigo and salt." Thomas Hazard at Newport
was debtor for £55., to be paid in three months " on Swop
between Two Horses." Prices were generally in Old
Tenor, though occasionally specified in Lawful Money.

George Ireish bought a famous Narragansett " Natu-
ral pacing Horse, dark coloured with some White in his
face," at fifty-five silver Spanish milled dollars. The
transaction reveals a curious course of trade and indirect
balancing of values. 5 " I am to take 1 hoggshead of
molasses, 1 barrell of Sugar at £70. old Tenor per Hun-
dred, the Molasses at the value of 36/- old Tenor, a
Doller being considered at the Value of Eight Pounds
old Tenor the Remainder in Tea at y e Rate of eight
Pounds old Ten 1 ", and in Indigo at the Rate of Twelve
Pounds, old Tenor; to have one half of y e remainder in
Tea, & the other in Indigo." If they lived a simple life
in the olden time the simplicity did not extend to the ways
of trade and the adjustment of values.

Tea appeared in the first accounts, 1750, at £3.4s.,
1766 at £8. O. T., and chocolate comes in 1754 at
fourteen shillings a pound. In 1771 Powel Helme was

4 " Hazard College Tom," p. 58, et seq.

5 Ibid., p. 64. |



282 The South County

charged for Keeping the Coddington horse seven weeks
and six days in summer at one pound of chocolate per
week. Mr. Helme was credited by " thy instructg "
young Robert Hazard in the art of navigation at 5s. 6d.
Each homestead manufactured most articles needed for
use in the family. The most important process was in
carding, combing, spinning and weaving. There is hardly
any mention of carding in these accounts, but combing
occurs frequently. Valentine Ridge is credited with
combing " at my house 40 lbs. of wool " and " at thy
house 33f lbs. wool." The comber was probably son of
Master Ridge, the Irish schoolmaster at Tower Hill, of
strong character and " courtly bearing." Miss Hazard
thinks " there was no apparent descent in the social scale
from a physician to a weaver, or a schoolmaster to a
wool comber." 6 This hardly corresponds with the pres-
ent writer's observation, which has been that there was
distinction between those who employed and those who
were workers. Landholders, clergymen, physicians and
lawyers made the upper ranks. Teachers were between-
classes ; they were not ranked in a profession, as they
are to-day.

Ridge received 14s. per lb. O. T. for combing the
" worsted." It was spun on a " woolen wheel." Both
worsted and linen were spun at six shillings O. T. per
skein in 1761. James Carpenter spun both linen and
tow yarn, and wove the latter into diaper; but generally
the yarn was spun by one and woven by another person.
In 1753 linen was woven at seven shillings and ticking
at the same price. The latter was needed for feather
beds, the greatest comfort of the eighteenth century, and
too common to be a luxury. Half Duroy is mentioned, a
modification of corduroy, probably. Gardner, " ye weaver
e " Hazard College Tom," p. 96.



1760] The Artisans of the Time 283

at Tower Hill," and two others were employed by Thomas
Hazard from 1756 to 1760. They were charged with
wool at twenty shillings 0. T. per pound, " to be paid
for in weaving; Tow at 3s. 6d. Flanning 3s. Worsted
at 5s. and other cloths at the same rate." Benedict
Oatley was skillful, for he could weave striped cloth and
made one piece " Chex." An entry is for dyeing, scour-
ing, pressing and shearing one piece of " Sarge " and for
scouring and fulling one piece of " Cersey." The blue
colors were dyed in indigo.

Martin Reed, " a remarkable man," 7 left an orphan,
served an apprenticeship of fourteen years at weaving
(probably in Newport) until he was twenty-one. With
one quarter's schooling, he read all the books accessible
on his art, until he had mastered it. He married Mary
Dixon, a diaper weaver, and began living in a simple way
with the plainest furniture and a single loom. He suc-
ceeded so well that he soon became the manufacturer for
all the principal families around. This shows that the
division of labor was begun. He became a member of
St. Paul's Church under Mr. Fayerweather and always
led the singing. In the Revolution and afterward, while
the parish had no rector, he read the service in the church
and at funerals.

There were numerous hand weavers for plain cloth, but
Reed was the most skilled, being the only one who could
weave calimanco. Wool and flax were constantly manu-
factured ; some linen was spun by the weaver, James
Carpenter, in 1768, at eight shillings and woven into
diaper at ten shillings per yard. In 1761 " linnen yarn "
is recorded at six shillings the skein. Astress Crandall
was a famous spinner for all kinds of work. She spun
" card-work " as well as worsted ; and there is an entry
t Updike, Goodwin, Vol. II., p. 18.



284 The South County

for " spinning, doubling and dressing 1 skain of stocking
worsted three double." The dressings seem to have con-
sisted in boiling and washing the yarn. Stockings are
seldom mentioned; a pair in 1756 cost 35 shillings and a
" Linning Handkerchief " 22 shillings.

It shows how nearly self-furnishing and consuming
Hazard's estate was that his largest sale of wool was only
100 lbs. at 14i|d. ; though he kept a good flock of sheep.

Andrew Nichols, the tailor, was frequently employed,
and his wife Eunice was a " tailoress." He was a good
Friend, and bought the " Principles & Precepts of y e
Christian Religion &ct. at 10s. Old Ten = 4%" In
1769 his account credited with £139. O. T. showed a bal-
ance due Nichols of only lis. 8 d -§. Thomas Hazard's
one hand nearly washed the other, so to speak.

The shoeing of horses and oxen was a constant neces-
sity, and the blacksmith was an important character
throughout early New England. Shoeing the family was
likewise an intimate necessity. The leather used was
tanned near home, in one instance the skins being " dressed
to y e halves " ; but generally the share of the tanner was
one-third. All sorts of skins — even including a skunk's —
were converted into leather. In 1768 John Sherman made
twelve pairs of shoes for £24. and apparently did all the
work of the family. For that year his bill, including some
Women's Hats, amounted to £75. O. T. Often the shoe-
maker went about from house to house, and this custom
continued well into the nineteenth century.

In 1750-1755 hay was £20. per load, and a pair of oxen
£130. In 1765 beef was 4s. 6d. per pound. Milk was
one shilling a quart in 1752 and some time after. But-
ter was 5s. 6d. in 1750 and 7s. the next year. Cheese
was the important product, and in 1754 3627 lbs. were
made at '3s., amounting to £545.17.



1760] The Important Indian Corn 285

An interesting entry occurs in 1773, when a load of
" cole " was carted from the Ministerial Farm. Nova
Scotia coal was then used in Boston, and probably this
came in at the South Ferry or at Robert Hazard's wharf
on Boston Neck. Mr. Hazard's chaise is mentioned in
1779 and it was said to be the first in the county.

Our settlers derived one of the largest factors in their
living from the native Narragansetts. Indian corn was
and is a most important element in the agriculture of this
district. The rich soil along the ocean shore affords a
good support for this excellent food. On- Broad Rock
farm near Peace Dale, which was a part of College Tom's
estate, there were recently to be seen two of the Indian
caches 8 for storing it. They were small hollows in the
ground, some three feet long, two feet wide, and one foot
deep, roughly lined with stone. When the tribe was
driven into Massachusetts in the time of Philip's War,
they came and carried away these deposits for subsistence.
Several modes of cooking were inherited with the precious
cereal. Shepherd Tom Hazard, in his Johnny Cake
Papers, is most enthusiastic in his accounts of the old
colonial bread. The corn must be ground by fine-grained
stones, which would make " flat " meal instead of " round."
The meal should be made into dough and spread on the
middle board of a red oak barrel head. Only walnut
coals were worthy, and the crust as it browned should be
basted with cream. Hasty pudding and " them por-
ridge " were viands from the same source.

College Tom had a few slaves. His father, Robert,
dying in 1762, by tradition, left 24. It does not appear
that the slave-owners took many apprentices, though
they had some. Priamus, a negro boy, came to Mr.
Hazard at six years and lived out a term of apprentice-
s " Hazard College Tom," p. 111.



286 The South County

ship until of age, either with this employer or in the imme-
diate neighborhood. He took another, Oliver Smith, at
eight years from his mistress, " for his Bringing up until
he may have an advantageous opportunity to go appren-
tice." There are scarce any traces of Indian labor, though
we know they were often employed. There are many
curious contracts for labor of the better class, which
should work between the black slave and the white master.
In 1763 Henry Hill agreed to " Labour at Husbandry "
for ten months and was to receive £400. O. T. 9 In his
account he was charged 34s. for half a quire of paper, and
10s. " Paid Fox the scribe "; a function seldom recognized
in colonial life. Another husbandman was to make shoes
in wet weather ; and still another to " labor at carpentry "
when the skies were not propitious.

The admirable domestic system of labor was further
reinforced in 1762 by Jacob Barney — mark the Irish
name. He was to work four months at journey-work in
hatting, and to teach " my soh Tommy " the trade, to-
gether with another lad. He was to receive the common
wages, by the hat, and to be found his board for instruc-
tion of the lads. Hats sold at £40. in 1763, and this
must have been a thrifty saving. John Dye, " y e gard-
ner," was a superior laborer, receiving £3.0.5. a day in
1764.

In such a household female labor is scarcely less im-
portant than that of the male. Their work was even
more carefully planned and parceled out than that of
the men. Martha Nichols — the surname of the tailor —
had 20s. for " making 1 gound." " Sempstry " was done
by Joanna Dugglass, single woman, in 1764, for eleven

o In Bristol the value of Old Tenor was in 1758-1760 £6, in 1761
£6 10s., in 1762-1763 £7 for one Spanish milled dollar. The pound
was 20s at 16§c=$3.33 — Munro, p. 164.



1760] Shopping at Tower Hill 287

weeks at 72s. per week. Quilting was as important a
process in household manufacture, and for overseeing at
" the bee " otherwise she received 18s. per day. Sometimes
a bee lasted ten days. Mary Chase, for " housewifery,
spinning, etc.," had 50s. O. T. for the summer and 40s.
for the winter season. Amy Shearman had one pound
in cash to pay for " making her Bonet." A woman was
charged £8. in cash to " go to Tower Hill." In this case
she was to have the pleasure of " shopping " instead of
the mere solace of a book entry.

Going to Tower Hill 10 meant to trade with James
Helme, and most transactions with the women were re-
corded in cross entries on College Tom's books. Tower
Hill was the emporium and department store where the
wants of the community were satisfied. James Helme
was " a gentleman of mild and urbane manners, of esti-
mable character and of considerable wealth," in the words
of Updike. 11 He was an example of the all-around men of
fair abilities, who in conjunction with the landholders
carried on a community like this of Narragansett. In
1767 he was elected by the legislature to be chief justice
of the Superior Court of the colony.

Lowes Jakeways, spinster, is recorded in an outing of

i° " In the latter part of the Eighteenth century Tower Hill was
a prosperous place; the situation was incomparable, and nearly all
of the wealthy families had representatives established there in
younger sons or married daughters. It was the ' Court-end ' of
the town. There were fourteen houses, six of them with large
gambrelled roofs, which were erected by wealthy and enterprising
men who spared no pains to make them attractive. There were
also several inns or taverns. A coach passed through twice a
week from the South Ferry to New London, and returned carry-
ing passengers and mails; as many as eight coaches have been
known to arrive in one morning. "Balls and dances were of frequent
occurrence, guests coming from Newport and the neighboring plan-
tations of Boston Neck." — Robinson, " Hazard Family," p. 61.

ii Goodwin Ed., Vol. I., p. 186.



288 The South County

another sort than the desiderated shopping at Tower Hill.
She was charged with 20s. cash " when she went to the
New Light meeting " in 1756. We have referred to the
Great Awakening in the forties, which profoundly moved
King's Cousty. The numerous sects, so vexatious to Dr.
MacSparran, were stimulated anew and they affected
the orderly circles of the Friends. One was excluded
from membership in 1748 because he suffered the Friends'
meeting " to be disturbed & broken up by the afores d Wild
& Ranting people, which meeting was in his own house." 12
Twenty years later the sect was active and another Friend
was expelled, having joined the New Lights, and "pre-
tended to Justifie himself in being Dipt d in outward
water." Many cultivated and socially gifted families
were in the communion of St. Paul's Church with Doctor
MacSparran, as we have seen. The majority of the sub-
stantial citizens were Quakers, and their staid habits were
a powerful influence in the community until the middle of
the nineteenth century.

The labor of slaves administered by such judicious econ-
omy as has been described, makes a prosperous commu-
nity. The course of affairs on College Tom's homestead
was a good example of semi-patriarchal principles worked
out in a community of strong individual men and women.
There was the underlying force of slave labor, the organiz-
ing power of the Society of Friends, the thrifty economy
of the best householder anywhere; all combined to pro-
mote a well-balanced family life. It is easy to perceive
the reasons why South Kingstown became the most
wealthy town in the state at the time of the Revolution.
The first brass fender was mentioned in the mid-century,
costing £18. ; and the largest value in pewter was £87.
Gold beads strung into necklaces were gradually being
« S. K. Monthly M. R„ Vol. II., p. 269, cited by Miss Hazard.



1760] An Artist in Hair 289

worn. The usual minute care of the poor was carefully
worked out ; as well as provisions for regulating appren-
ticeship in both sexes. There was a complicated outfit
for a barber's shop in 1756, with five blocks on which to
make wigs ; and including three " hetches to hetchel hair."
The artist must have been well employed, for he left a
personal estate of £1142.16. In 1758 a large bible had
come to £15. in the money of the time. A negro man at
£1000., a woman at £800., indicate the fluctuating pound
in paper. Two " stone boles " at 30s., a stone pickle pot
at 15s., a teapot at same price, and at the same three
" stone sassers and dishes " show the increasing use of
common white porcelain, along with the more luxurious
China ware.

Jeffrey Hazard 13 in 1759 had a large number of cattle,
sheep and swine, with a great breeding stock of horse
kind. A " stone horse " at $400. ; with 37 mares, 3 colts,
3 geldings at £2010. His own " riding beast " with
saddle and bridle stood at £300. His wardrobe cost
£268. He had twelve negroes — four as high as £1000.
each. A large amount was charged in book account
£13,188., and he held notes of hand for £5110. The
total personal estate, £57,403., was the largest of the
period. Everything indicates the increase of active capi-
tal, though values are complicated, owing to the fluctuat-
ing currency.

To go out of the world has never been easy, what-
ever the conditions of life — barbaric or civilized.
Peter Ginnings, December 19, 1758, passed through
the prevalent difficulties. The friendly nurse furnished
two quarts " rhum y e night he dyed " at £2.10. Then
he charged £4.10. for " my cost and trouble to invite his
friends and others at his Death and Buriel."
is S. K. MSS. S Probate Rec, Vol. II., p. 107.



290 The South County

We may note the changes of value in standard feather
beds, in the case of Wm. Congdon in 1762. Wearing
clothes costing £84. and a new beaver hat at £40., he had
one feather bed and furniture at £345., two do. at £300.
each, another at £200. and again at £160., again £190.
and a trundle bed and bedding £180. The negro's bed
and blankets cost £30., a single blanket £6.10. In the
table and kitchen service we find £105., in silver £97., in
pewter £16., in earthen ware £4., in stone £25., in brass
with a warming pan £6. He had two woollen wheels,
one horse and three cows. In this moderate estate of
£3443. there was comfort, but not luxury.

Benjamin Holway, 14 " Cordwainer's," affairs in 1762
show something of the incipient division of labor. With
his stock of leather he had 70 pairs women's shoes at £288.,
with 242 pairs double channel pumps at £1331. He must
have employed slaves, as he had one negro at the high
value of £1500. and a boy at £900. Only two horses,
one cow and two hogs in a personal estate of £6119.
His wardrobe stood at £120.

Perhaps the best-dressed couple were Robert Brown,
who expended in clothing £303., and his more luxurious
helpmate, who had appropriated £358. There was only
£63. in silver plate, but a gold necklace at £45. In £96.
worth of pewter were included 12 hard metal plates. A
large farming outfit had an item of £56. in eight bushels
of wheat. The worthy pair were entitled to their small
luxuries, for their personal estate amounted to £29,416.

As we have noted in Doctor MacSparran's farming,
there was a small quantity of wheat grown on most places,
probably for use in the family.

In 1762 the record makes 100 Spanish milled dollars
equal to £600. Old Tenor bills. A tape loom occurs
" S. K. MSS. Probate Rec, II., p. 177.



1762] Value of the Dollar 291

worth 5s. and a China punch bowl at £30. Benjamin
Babcock had the unusual volume, a " Gazzaite Tear," at
£8.10., with other books at £11. Possibly a sailor, for
he had a Callender and Compass at £8.15.

In 1767 Susannah Hazard, widow of Richard, mounts
the record with a wardrobe of £714. The husband had
been content with £110. A high case of drawers cost
£100. The Madam's riding mare, saddle, pillion, and a
young mare were valued at £480. The personal estate
was moderate, £5806., with £8. O. T. rated at 1 Spanish
milled dollar.

Slaves were often £1100. and £1200., with girls at £800.
in 1770. John Gardner, with £250. in clothing, rode a
horse costing £600., including saddle and bridle. He was
well supplied with silver plate at £952., which embraced
8 porringers, a " teapot and milk." In addition a large
tankard was appraised at £256. and a smaller one at
£224. A clock £200., China and earthen ware in the
closet £72., Table Linen £71. He had a large stock of
cattle and sheep and four slaves. His personal estate
was £71,002 O. T.

After Doctor MacSparran's death, regular services at
St. Paul's Church were long suspended. Rev. Samuel
Fayerweather, sent out from England, administered the
sacrament in 1761, with only 12 participants. In the
following year he preached to a congregation of 100.
His preaching must have commended itself, for in the
autumn of 1761 he served in the pulpit at King's Chapel,
Boston, with Governor Bernard for an auditor. He was
the pastor of St. Paul's until 1774.

George Rome (Room), "a Gentleman of Estate from
Old England," afterward a noted Tory, was literally an
alien character in our colonial life. Coming to Newport in
1761 as agent for Hopkins and Haley, he represented



The South County

many British houses. He secured much real estate in
dealing with debtors and about 1766 possessed himself
of Henry Collins' farm at Boston Neck. We have
noticed 15 this Newport magnate, who deserved a better
fate than to be sold out by Rome under assignment. Mr.
Rome appears on the Narragansett church records, as
he spent his winters in Newport and his summers at Bos-
ton Neck, where he had 700 acres. His bachelor quarters
were in a large mansion house, the equipment of which was
far beyond the life of Narragansett, and yet further ex-
aggerated by local tradition. But in fact, 16 as actually
appeared a generation ago, there was a vast fireplace in
the kitchen, where a man could walk in with his hat on.
Cord-wood was burned without interfering with the back
oven-door on one side of the fire, or the favorite ingle-
seat on the other side. Along the kitchen and in rear
were a number of small plastered bedrooms for slaves.
There was a large annex in rear of the main building.

The garden was famous. A stately avenue of button-
woods led to the mansion through fish-ponds, and through
flowers in the formal arrangements of the time. A box-
tree fifteen feet high and more than thirty feet around
exists to-day, as it was removed by Mr. Perry to the
grounds of the John Brown house in Providence. 17

In this enchanted dwelling-place, the host gathered
guests, not only from Newport and Narragansett, but
from far-away Boston. He asked Colonel Stewart and
another at Christmas " to celebrate the festivities of the
season with me in Narragansett woods? A covey of
partridges or bevy of quails will be entertainment for
the Colonel and me, while the pike and perch pond amuse

is Ante, p. 272.

is Updike, Goodwin, Vol. II., p. 317.

17 Ibid., p. 318.



1767] Rome the Tory 293

you." The brew of punch was famous, and it was served
at very extravagant entertainments. Ladies often en-
livened the society of the place.

Mr. Rome's interests, as well as inclinations, caused
him to become a bitter Tory. We cite below ls from his
opinions expressed in a letter written from the Narragan-
sett villa December 22, 1767. In the agitations concern-
ing the Stamp Act, he was very conspicuous. For oppo-
sition to the charter and other misdemeanors, he was im-
prisoned in 1775. After release, fearing further prose-
cution, he fled on board the British man-of-war Rose.
His estates were confiscated with those of other Tories.

Block Island, home of the Manissean tribe, always
affected the mainland and South County. It early at-
tracted attention as a fishing station, being settled in
1662 and a harbor begun in 1670. Their distinctive
boats were a remarkable production. From the keel
rose stem and stern posts at an angle of 45° ; the bow
and stern were nearly alike and the sides of lapstreak
cedar. Open with no deck, the two masts carried narrow
tapering sails. Having no shrouds or stays, the masts
bent with peculiar elasticity as the storm-winds strained
every fiber of the structure. One has never been swamped
in the open sea. In the largest waves running as " three

is " The colonies have originally been wrong founded. They ought
to have been regal governments, and every executive officer approved
by the King. Until that is effected, and they are properly regulated,
they will never be beneficial to themselves, nor good subjects of
Great Britain. . . . They obtained a repeal of the Stamp Act
by mercantile influence, and they are endeavouring, by the same
artifice and finesse, to repeal the acts of trade, and obtain a total
exemption from all taxation. . . . The temper of the country
is exceedingly factious, and prone to sedition: they are growing more
imperious and haughty — nay, insolent — every day. A bridle at pres-
ent may accomplish more than a rod hereafter." — Updike, Goodwin,
Vol. II., pp. 83-84.



294 The South County

brothers," the steersman generally waits for the last, and
from its high crest usually lands in safety. The family
apparel was carried in a band-box, " a Block Island
trunk," and when they reached home they feasted on a



Online LibraryWilliam Babcock WeedenEarly Rhode Island; → online text (page 22 of 29)