Elisabeth McClellan.

Historic dress in America (Volume 1) online

. (page 6 of 20)
Online LibraryElisabeth McClellanHistoric dress in America (Volume 1) → online text (page 6 of 20)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


ping silken hoods and ribbands from irate dames and of arraigning
the great boots of dandies. There is no record to show that they
heeded the mandate of the grand jury."

The inventories in Boston prove that sumptuous dress was in
fashion notwithstanding the written laws against it. Robert Rich-



HISTORIC DRESS IN AMERICA 109

bell, in 1682, leaves two silver hilted rapiers and a belt worth 12.
His wardrobe contained a satin coat with gold flowers, and blue
breeches, 4; a stuff suit with lace, several other suits, all accom-
panied by seven cravats and seven pairs of ruffles and ribbons, valued

at 7-

Periwigs came into fashion at the Restoration, 1660. Richbell
must have vexed poor Judge Sewall sorely, for he was the possessor
of three.

We know that silver buttons were very common in the Colonies
in the seventeenth century, and gold ones were also used. Captain
Hudson, whose dress was modest in comparison with RichbelPs,
had two suits equipped with them. In a trading stock, mention is
made of 4 gross of silver and gold buttons valued at 3 125.
A curiosity of the time was "Beggars' velvet," 14 yards worth 215.

The long periwigs introduced into England from France in the
latter part of Charles II's reign were promptly assumed by the women
of fashion, together with the plumed hats of the same period. Pepys
records the fact thus:

"Walking in the gallery of Whitehall, I find the Ladies of Honour
dressed in their riding garbs, with coats and doublets with deep
skirts, just for all the world like men's, and their doublets buttoned
up the breast, with periwigs and hats on, that only for a long petti-
coat dragging under their men's coats, no body would take them for
women on any point whatever, which was an odd sight and a sight
that did not please me."

About 1680, the long straight coats, which took the fickle
fancy of Charles II for a time, were introduced into New England.
They were made without a collar and were worn with a neck-cloth
which fastened with a silver buckle under the hair in the back.
Specimens of this fashion are given in Figures 137, 138, photographed
from the original garments in the South Kensington Museum. They
belonged to Sir Thomas Isham (1657-1681), third baronet, who



no HISTORIC DRESS IN AMERICA

was born at Lamport in Nottinghamshire. When still a boy he wrote
a diary in Latin, by the command of his father, which gives a vivid
picture of the everyday doings of a family of the period. This diary
was translated and privately printed (1875) by the Rev. Robert
Isham, rector of Lamport, where the original is still preserved. Isham
succeeded to the Baronetcy in 1679. He is described as a young
gentleman of great expectations. Figure 137 represents the suit of
light brocade prepared for his wedding, which he never wore, as he
died after a brief illness on the day fixed for the ceremony.

Weedon again records: "In the inventories of women, house-linen
generally formed an important part. Mistress Anne Hibbins in
1656 had relatively more of the luxuries her sex cherishes in all periods.
A gold wedding ring at i6s., a ring with a diamond at 8s., a 'taffaty'
cloak at 2 ios., a black satin doublet at ios., a green wrought cup-
board cloth with silk fringe at 155., 5 painted callico curtains and
valiants at i ios., show that Anne loved the things hated by the
Puritans.

"In William Paine's stock in 1660 were silk wares in two boxes
at 31 145. These occasional luxuries stand out conspicuously.
Usually the assorted merchandise of the traders is in solid wares
and goods for the everyday use of everyday people. The women
selected them carefully and conscientiously. In 1647 one writes:
'She have three peeces of stuf, but I think there is but one of them
yt you would like yrself. It is pretty sad stuf, but it have a thred of
white in it; it is 3 quarters broad and ye priz is 55. 6d ye yard.' "*

Towards the close of the seventeenth century we note a tendency
to display in all inventories and descriptions left by the wealthy
colonists of New England, as well as those in the same period in
Virginia, Maryland, and the Carolinas. It was the reign of William
and Mary in England, and the Colonies were not subject to any form
of oppression. Intercourse between the two countries was frequent,

* Weedon's Economic History of New England.



FIGURE gi. Portrait of John Winthrop the second, showing the typical garb

of the Puritan in the Massachusetts Colony. 1640-)-
FIGURE 92. Picture of Sir John Leverett as Governor of Massachusetts

Colony about 1680.
FIGURE 93. Picture of John Winthrop, Governor of Massachusetts Colony in

1629.
FIGURE 94. Picture of Edward Winslow, Governor of Plymouth Colony, in

Puritan dress, in 1644.





f



FIGURE 91.



FIGURE 92.





E- ;



FIGURE 93.



FIGURE 94.



i ii



HISTORIC DRESS IN AMERICA 113

and every ship brought over comforts and luxuries, also fine clothes
made by fashionable London tailors, wigs from the popular wig-
makers, etc. It is quite safe to conclude that fashions in the Colonies
were never more than a year behind those of old England.

Children in the New England Colonies, as elsewhere at that time,
were dressed as much like their parents as possible. The baby
clothes of the seventeenth century were marvellous specimens of
needlework. The earliest garments I have seen are the christening
blanket, shirts, and mitts said to have been worn by Governor Brad-
ford, of Plymouth, and now exhibited at Salem in the Essex Insti-
tute.

A portrait of Robert Gibbs, aged four and a half, painted in Bos-
ton in 1670, also one of John Quincy, at a little more than one year
of age, painted in 1690, show the long hanging sleeves usually worn
by children under ten years of age (Figure 39). There is also a por-
trait of Jane Bonner at the age of eight, painted in 1700, which
looks almost like a diminutive court lady, with stiff stomacher, ruffles
of point-lace, and a necklace of pearls ; in one hand a fan, a rose in

*

the other.*

New England by this time included New Hampshire and Maine,
settled in 1623 by an English Company in search of gold, and Rhode
Island, founded by Roger Williams in 1636.

The attitude of the New England Colonists towards the Mother
Church is not clearly outlined in all the authorities of the time; and,
in order to prevent anachronisms in costuming a story of that period,
it may be well to explain here that the emigrants who came over in
1630 under Governor John Winthrop, and who the day before they
embarked sent an address to the "rest of the brethren of the Church
of England" calling the Church their "dear mother," had, notwith-
standing their dutiful address, when they arrived in America, allowed
a sense of freedom to overcome their allegiance, and, following the

* Child Life in Colonial Days, by Mrs. Earle.



ii 4 HISTORIC DRESS IN AMERICA

example of the Pilgrims of Plymouth and the Puritans of Salem,
established separate churches, choosing their own officers. The
Plymouth settlers had not openly renounced the authority of the
Church Of England, but they had laid aside the established ritual.
Endicott followed this example and organized the first New England
Church at Salem. A few members of that Colony objected, but he
had them arrested and sent to England. From that time (1630)
Non-Conformist Churches were established in every New England
settlement. A simple method of choosing their leaders was adopted.
Each member wrote his vote on a piece of paper, stating the Lord
moved him to think this man is fit to be pastor, and this one to be
teacher. The first pastor thus chosen was Skelton, with Francis
Higginson, whose journal is quoted on page 84, for teacher. The
choice was confirmed by a number of the leading members of this
Company laying their hands on them in prayer.

With the disuse of the English ritual came the abandonment of the
white surplice during the service, but the Geneva gown (Figures 148,
149), or preaching gown as it was often called, was worn in the pulpit,
not only by the Puritan Non-Conformists, but also by the Presbyte-
rians, who adopted it even before they came to the Colonies. A
close-fitting black cap or coif is seen in many of the pictures of New
England divines.

From "The Judicial History of Massachusetts" I have gleaned
the following account of lawyers in the New England Colonies:

"It was many years after the settlement of the Colony, before
anything like a distinct class of Attorneys at Law was known. And
it is doubtful if there were any regularly educated Attorneys who
practiced in the Courts of the Colony at any time during its exist-
ence. Several of the Magistrates, it is true, had been educated as
Lawyers at home, but they were almost constantly in the magistracy,
nor do we hear of their being ever engaged in the management of
cases. If they made use of their legal acquirements, it was in aid



HISTORIC DRESS IN AMERICA 115

of the great object which they had so much at heart the establish-
ment of a religious Commonwealth, in which the laws of Moses were
much more regarded as precedents than the decisions of Westminster
Hall, or the pages of the few elementary writers upon the Common-
law which were then cited in the English Courts. It was thus,
therefore, that the clergy were admitted to such a direct participation
in the affairs of the Government, and that to two of their number was
committed the duty of codifying the laws by which the Common-
wealth was to be governed thereafter.

"There were Attorneys, it is true, and there were lawyers, and
all the concomitant evils growing out of the bad passions involved
in litigation, and there was a law against barratry, passed in 1641,
because even then there was barratry practiced in the Courts. The
profession seems to have now but little favor in the public mind,
although for the first ten years of the Government there were no fees
allowed to the 'patrons,' as they were called, who defended or aided
parties in their suits."

This statement explains the similarity in the dress of judges,
governors, and clergymen of this period of colonial history, as will
be noticed in the portraits of the day, given in Figures 91, 92, 94,
and 149.



THE DUTCH AND ENGLISH



IN



NEW YORK, LONG ISLAND, THE JERSEYS,

DELAWARE, AND PENNSYLVANIA

1621-1700

with brief mention of
the Walloons, Huguenots, and Swedes, as well as of the

Quakers and German Settlers

to which is added an account of the dress of English
Lawyers in the Seventeenth Century



HISTORIC DRESS IN AMERICA 119



TIME'S ALTERATION;

or

THE OLD MAN'S REHEARSALL, WHAT BRAVE DAYS HE KNEW,
A GREAT WHILE AGONE, WHEN His OLD CAP WAS NEW.

When this old cap was new,

'Tis since two hundred yeere;
No malice then we knew,

But all things plentie were:
All friendship now decayes

(Beleeve me, this is true),
Which was not in those dayes

When this old cap was new.

Good hospitalitie

Was cherisht then of many;
Now poor men starve and die

And are not helpt by any:
For charitie waxeth cold,

And love is found in few:
This was not in time of old

When this old cap was new.

Where-ever you travel'd then,

You might meet on the way
Brave knights and gentlemen

Clad in their countrey gray,
That courteous would appeare,

And kindly welcome you:
No puritans then were

When this old cap was new.

Our ladies in those dayes

In civil habit went,
Broad-cloth was then worth prayse,

And gave the best content;
French fashions then were scorn'd,

Fond fangles then none knew,
Then modistie women adorn'd

When this old cap was new.



120 HISTORIC DRESS IN AMERICA

A man might then behold

At Christmas, in each hall
Good fires to curbe the cold,

And meat for great and small;
The neighbours were friendly bidden,

And all had welcome true;
The poore from the gates were not chidden

When this old cap was new.

Blacke-jackes to every man

Were fill'd with wine and beere;
No pewter pot nor kanne

In those days did appeare:
Good cheare in a noble-man's house

Was counted a seemely shew;
We wanted no brawne nor sowse

W 7 hen this old cap was new.

W 7 e took not such delight

In cups of silver fine;
None under the degree of a knight

In plate drunke beere or wine:
Now each mechanicall man

Hath a cup-boord of plate, for a shew,
Which was a true thing then

When this old cap was new.



The Dutch and English in New York,
Long Island, the Jerseys, Delaware,

and Pennsylvania

1621-1700




VEN in a study of costume it is difficult to draw
a distinct line between the Dutch and English
elements in the Colony of Manhattan.

To an English seaman belongs the honour
of discovery in 1609. When Henry Hud-
son, sometimes called Hendrick (Figure 98),
brought the first ship to the mouth of the
river which bears his name, he was a navi-
gator of experience, well known to the mer-

A DutcfcTnfat'in New chants of Holland, who on this occasion
Amsterdam. h ac j engaged him to make the voyage, and

it is likely that he had under him as many Dutch as English sailors
in his ship, "The Half-Moon." After a few weeks spent in exploring
the adjacent country, he returned with an enticing report of a great
many fur-clad animals near the shore. The trading proclivities of
the Dutch merchants were at once aroused and they hastened to
send over men to establish trading posts. But the first Colonial
settlement was in 1621, when the great West India Company was
chartered by the States General of Holland and given the monopoly
of the American trade.

Peter Minuit, who was appointed Governor in 1626, arrived with
a large number of colonists, men, women, and children, with cattle



121



122 HISTORIC DRESS IN AMERICA

and household goods. Many of this company were Walloons of
French extraction whose forefathers had been driven from their
homes in Flanders and Belgium during the Inquisition, and had
afterward formed an industrious community in Holland. They
were skilled in various trades and were a valuable acquisition to the
new colony, but they do not appear to have worn a distinctive dress.

In 1628 an act was passed in Holland giving to every man who
raised a company of fifty colonists and brought them to America
a large tract of land and the title of Patroon. In fact, many privi-
leges were granted as an inducement to form a settlement in the
Colony, and the Patroons became very rich and very powerful. A
thousand square miles were included in the estate of Patroon Van
Rensselaer (Figure 141). Fine cattle were imported, fruits, wheat,
rye, buckwheat, flax, and beans were cultivated. The religious
toleration prevailing in this Colony induced men from New England
to remove there, and the Huguenots from France also sought shelter
from persecution in New Amsterdam, as the town was called under
the Dutch supremacy (Figures 145, 146).

In spite of the hardships they had endured before they reached
the safe shelter of America, these people were distinguished for a
happy, thrifty temperament and gentle manners, and knew many
graceful accomplishments in the way of lace-making and embroidery,
which they cheerfully taught to their neighbours. They are said
to have been the first to weave carpets and hangings of odds and ends
of material. They were also versed in the concoction of delicate^
coloured dyes, which they used for their garments and house decora-
tions.

The Huguenots settled also in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, the
Carolinas, and in Virginia, and their descendants have taken a con-
spicuous part in the development of our country.

Almost from the outset, Manhattan was a cosmopolitan com-
munity, and costumes were as varied as the wonderful tulips in the



FIGURE 96. Portrait of Peter Stuyvesant, Governor of New York Colony,
showing armour and a black skull-cap, 1647.

FIGURE 97. Portrait of Sir Edmund Andros, Colonial Governor of New York,
1674-1681, and Governor of the Dominion of New England, which
included all the English settlements between Maryland and Canada except
Pennsylvania, 1686-1690, showing periwig of reign of James II.

FIGURE 98. Portrait of Henry Hudson, the English navigator, 1609, showing
the ruff, reign of James I.

FIGURE 99. Portrait of Sir William Keith, Governor of the Province of
Pennsylvania, showing armour and campaign wig, 1717.





FIGURE 96.



FIGURE 97.




FIGURE 98.




12'



HISTORIC DRESS IN AMERICA 125

Dutch gardens. As there were neither sumptuary laws nor religious
restrictions to control the manner or material of dress, we find the
prevailing fashions among the citizens, both Dutch and English, very
elaborate. The mercantile spirit ever pervading New York prob-
ably stimulated the wearing of fine clothes.

We read of the stalwart Peter Stuyvesant, Governor of New
Amsterdam for many years, that "he was never otherwise than fault-
lessly dressed and always after the most approved European standard.
A wide drooping shirt collar fell over a velvet jacket with slashed
sleeves displaying full white linen shirt sleeves. His breeches were
also slashed, very full and fastened at the knee by a handsome scarf
tied in a knot, and his shoes were ornamented with large rosettes."*
The leg which he lost in battle was replaced by a wooden one with
silver bands, which accounts for the tradition that he wore a silver
leg. Mrs. Lamb, in her "History of New York," says of Governor
Stuyvesant that "he had sterling excellence of character, but more
knowledge than culture," also that "his whole heart and 'soul became
interested in the country of his adoption. In bearing he seems
to have been somewhat haughty and exacting. One of his contem-
poraries recorded that, during his inauguration speech as Governor
of New Amsterdam in 1647, he kept the people standing with their
heads uncovered for more than an hour while he wore his chapeau,
as if he were the Czar of Muscovy. Habitually he wore a close cap
of black velvet on his dark hair, which imparted a still deeper shade
to his dark complexion, and his stern mouth was not hidden by the
slight mustache which he wore" (Figure 96).

From the same authority we learn that Governor Stuvvesant's

* *

wife, Judith Bayard, "was a beautiful blonde and followed the French
fashions in dress, displaying considerable artistic skill in the per-
fection and style of her attire." Also that "the purity of morals
and decorum of manners for which the Dutch were distinguished

* History of New York, by Mrs. Lamb.



126



HISTORIC DRESS IN AMERICA



had been ascribed to the happy influence of their women, who mingled
in all the active affairs of life and were consulted with deferential
respect." As early as 1640 we read of many richly furnished houses
with well-kept gardens and choice conservatories in Colonial New
York. Governor Schuyler called his town house "White Hall,"
and he owned a beautiful country-seat in the neighbourhood, for
which, it is said, he paid 6400 guilders in 1659.

Markets were held every Saturday
in 1656 and after, where laces, flax,
linen, linsey-woolsey, duffels, etc., were
sold by the farmers' wives.

The annual Fair, or Kermiss, was
an occasion of festivity which attracted
the people in their holiday garments
from the neighbouring villages. It was
inaugurated on the 2oth of October,
1659, and usually lasted six weeks.
The working garb of the Dutch peasant
women consisted of a short woolen
petticoat with a loose jacket of red
cotton or blue Holland, a white ker-
chief folded around the shoulders, and
a close white cap. In Figure 100 a
sketch is given in which the long white
apron of coarse homespun linen is
caught up with the petticoat for convenience.

The Dutch women of the Manhattan Colony were marvellous
housewives. They concocted medicines and distilled perfumes from
the plants in their flourishing gardens. They instructed the maids
in carding and weaving, for the woolen garments worn by the family,
as well as the household linen and underwear, were usually made
under the home roof. Moreover, they had a shrewd knowledge




FIGURE 100.

A Dutch Woman in Working
Dress (from a Contemporary Print,
Middle of Seventeenth Century).



CO

W

<
i ^

Q
Z

<



AND



REIGNS OF CHARLES






~O C ^
ni n> C

i i .i <U



O c3

J3 k>

rt "o *

r-" e 3

C C J_

2

rt r

5 H



rt oT

u .

<-M r

T3 -5



u



rt



a -s



So <u

- _c

0^4-1

2 - S rt

bJD rS ^ r"
^, -C ca C



QJ



<u







'i



-c

CJ



''



14

O





8 feC

E .S

'C

o 5



<U



e o -c
^ C

^ i_ <-4-l -



o ? S

W VH O



<J C

u ^ o

"S. ^ ^*

"" 4-T

2 ?^

QJ M

Ti, Jj (^

"^ J-H _C



S ^

O (L)



2 .=



C <L)

~



u <u



^ ^ J3

" _o u .y

o E

aj 4> O _Q



c/)

II

o cu

4J

s-s

-C ;>
( P

JS o
</> 13



o u o

c ^ ^

.5 13 u

TO >> w



en O

- m



l-i >
-^30
(L) ^ -P



1-1 r X w

JJ H tJD






=5 E






U



D





1-1
o



o ^

C 1-1



C

'

C







O

a,






H



^ ^-3 13 TO

u rt 5 *^

L_i -rt E *4J



rt



U



"^ h
>o ^

1-

s|

5 ^

rt



=


O
1-*

4->

rt



o



^O
O



s- g

p

O






<u. o _c
| -2 e

En3
-= 5

O ^-, O



t: - ti 2 .2



tJD -

-s



c <

OJ -



- o



S ~ rt

>+: c c

ci



JTa-S

3 8 *

* " ' r"

^ .2 -o =

^ c ^

a *5 s s

rt -c



E M^

c



U



>~ r> O C

b E o j

_ P t) "-"i T3;



C tn < 13
O^ ^

"2 h ^ J



J . S

c *"j n j



.2



C3



6 I 'H ^

p M-I cu
Q <u -



e



i




"



c

I



5






c -g



i :

r"

-a



1 -s s



3. .s

fi'"??.

i-^^rt

3 ^



- .



2




,

o c ::



c -

1-1 -r:

O 'ti



c I

Is



~



O



'i <: -S H >a

^ K+H S

.2 - <

-



& i

t o .1



OJ

13

(/3

4-<
M-l

O

c



c p

iu

c



QJ



o



\




I 27



HISTORIC DRESS IN AMERICA



129



of mercantile pursuits and often carried on business for themselves
and invested their savings in trading ventures. Their houses were
scrupulously neat; white curtains usually hung in the leaden sashed
windows, and pots of flowers stood on the ledges, while a great loom
was placed under the sloping roof of the back stoop. Every family
in the Colony made a coarse cloth called linsey-woolsey, the
warp being of linen and the woof of
wool, which they kept ready to be
finished off by one of the itinerant
weavers. About the middle of the
seventeenth century we read of a rattle-
watch dressed in a costume of blue
cloth with facings of orange, and armed
with lanterns, rattles, and long staffs.
The duty of this company of watch-
men was to patrol the town by day as
well as by night. In the early days of
the Colony a licensed herdsman was
put in charge of all the cattle of the
community. The distinctive badge of
his office was a twisted cow's horn
fitted with a mouth-piece suspended
by a green cord across his shoulders.
The ordinary working dress of a man
was probably of homespun linsey-
woolsey with hose of hand-knitted yarn. Monmouth hats of
thrums were commonly worn in all the Colonies (Figure 37!).

Mrs. Van Rensselaer, in her "Goode Vrow of Mana-ha-ta," aptly
describes the quaint costumes of the Dutch people in New York.
We will borrow her description of Dutch babies. "Upon the birth
of a child, the infant was wrapped in swaddling clothes and put
into an elaborately embroidered pocket, which was trimmed with




.*:*.

FIGURE 105.

A Dutchman in Working Dress
(from a Contemporary Painting,
Middle of Seventeenth Century).



130 HISTORIC DRESS IN AMERICA

frills of ribbon, the colour indicating the sex of the child. A tiny
ruffled cap confined its ears closely to its head, and the baby was
wrapped so firmly in its bands that it could move neither hand nor
foot, and was laid in its cradle, or hung suspended on a nail in the
wall without fear of its stirring from any position in which it might
be placed. The birth of an infant was announced to the neighbours
by hanging an elaborately trimmed pincushion on the knocker of
the front door, the colour of which denoted the sex, blue indicating
a boy and white a girl. This cushion was usually provided by the
grandmother and was handed down as an heirloom from one genera-
tion to another to serve for similar occasions."

All authorities tell us of the many petticoats worn by a bride one
over another, and of the bridal crown which in Holland was a token
of the wealth of the family. It was made often of silver and adorned
with jewels, but when the family was not rich, it was of pasteboard
covered with embroidered silk. Only matrons wore coifs, and they


1 2 3 4 6 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Online LibraryElisabeth McClellanHistoric dress in America (Volume 1) → online text (page 6 of 20)