Thursday, April 8, 2021

18C American Woman - Elizabeth Buckner Stith (Mrs Drury Stith) 1695-1700 - 1756)

Elizabeth Buckner Stith (Mrs Drury Stith) 1695-1700 - 1756) by William Dering 1745-49.

Elizabeth Buckner Stith was the daughter of William Buckner and Katherine Ballard Buckner. She married Colonel Drury Stith (d. 1740). They lived in Prince George County, Virginia. The portrait descended in the family of her son, Griffin Stith of Brunswick County. The portrait was likely painted in Williamsburg.

The subject wears a blue-gray wrap dress with red lining and a brown-green drape. She is turned towards her left and appears inside a painted oval frame. The portrait is inscribed “W. Dering” on the left and “AEstatis Suae 50” on the right.

See: Colonial Williamsburg eMuseum; Carolyn J. Weekley, Painters and Paintings in the Early American South (2013), 191-195; Gra

ham Hood, Charles Bridges and William Dering: Two Virginia Painters, 1735-1750 (1975), 101-103.

Janine Yorimoto Boldt, researcher. Colonial Virginia Portraits. Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture, Digital Project, 2019

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Monday, March 22, 2021

18C American Woman - Mary Jacquelin 1714-1764

Mary Jacquelin 1714-1764  Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Mary Jacquelin 1714-1764 was born in Jamestown, Virginia. Her father was Edward 1668–1730, & her mother was Martha Cary 1686–1738. Her father Edward Jacquelin was descended from the Jacquelin family of Vendee, France. She married John Smith 1715–1756. She had 16 children, before she died on October 4, 1764, at "Shooter's Hill" in Middlesex, Virginia, at the age of 50. 

"Shooter's Hill," the home of the Smiths in Middlesex county, was not far from the town of Urbanna which was established some 30+ years after the plantation was created. The property appears on Augustine Herrman's, (who may have been the 1st Czech settler in America) map, which he named “Virginia & Maryland as it is planted & inhabited this present year 1670.” Herrman's map shows a total of about 1,300 plantations &  29 Indian villages.  In Middlesex County it delineates 30 properties.  Plantations there on the north shore of the Piankatank River included Turks Ferry, 1664 (1608 Indian Village of 20 associated with John Smith); & Shooters Hill, established in the late 1600s or earlier, consisting of 1,274 acres owned by Augustine Smith. The home there was a large three-story brick, covered on the top with lead, which had a fish-pond built at the house, where a mess of fish might be caught to be cooked immediately.  One Augustine Smith  who came to Middlesex from the neighboring county of Gloucester, where their home was known as Purton. These Smiths were prominent in both Gloucester & Middlesex. Augustine Smith was a man of wealth & it is said that he traveled with his coach & six, with postillion in livery. 

(The property had descended to Dr. Augustine Jaquelin Smith 1774-1830 who was born to Augustine Smith 1739-1774 & Margaret (Boyd) Smith. The father died 10  days later, & within 7 years his mother & grandparents had died. He & his sister Mary were then raised under the guardianship of his uncle John Smith, a colonel in the Revolutionary War who was later elected member of the US House of Representatives. His grandfather was Augustine Smith was the eldest son of John Smith 1715-1756 & Mary Jacquelin 1714-1764.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

18C American Women Timeline 1710-1729

1711 Artist: Henrietta Johnston 1674-1729. Subject: Henriette Charlotte de Chastaigner, Mrs Nathaniel Broughton

1710
3,000 German men and women from the Palatinate settle near Livingston Manor on the Hudson River in New York to produce naval stores. When the colony fails, the settlers go first to the Mohawk Valley (in New York) and finally to eastern Pennsylvania.

The English Parliament passes the Post Office Act which sets a postal system for the American colonies controlled by the postmaster general of London and his deputy in New York City.

New York forbids blacks, Indians, and mulattos from walking at night without lighted lanterns.

1711
Pennsylvania prohibits the importation of male & female blacks and Indians.

Rhode Island prohibits the clandestine importation of male & female black and Indian slaves. (See this blog for more information of enslaved women in the 18th century.)

1711-13
Tuscarora Indian War in North and South Carolina. Hostilities break out between Native Americans and settlers in North Carolina after the massacre of male & female settlers there.

1712
The Carolina colony is officially divided into North Carolina and South Carolina.

Charles II's Grant of New England to the Duke of York, 1676 - Exemplified by Queen Anne; October 30

The Pennsylvania assembly bans the import of male & female slaves into that colony.


In Massachusetts, the first sperm whale is captured at sea by an American from Nantucket.

Grace Smith writes The Dying Mothers Legacy: Or the Good and Heavenly Counsel of that Eminent and Pious Matron, Mrs. Grace Smith, late Widow to Mr. Ralph Smith of Eastham in New-England. Left as a Perpetual Monitor to Her Surviving Children; As It Was Taken from Her Own Mouth a Little Before Her Death, by the Minister From that Town Where She Died. Boston, Printed and sold by Timothy Green, at the lower-end of Middle-Street, 1712

An alleged slave revolt in New York City leads to violent outbreaks. Nine whites are killed and eighteen slaves are executed.

New York declares it illegal for male & female blacks, Indians, and slaves to murder other blacks, Indians, and slaves. And New York forbids freed blacks, Indians, and mulatto slaves from owning real estate and holding property.

In Charleston, South Carolina male & female slaves are forbidden from hiring themselves out.

1713
England's South Sea Company is allowed to transport 4,800 male & female slaves per year into the Spanish colonies of North America.

Queen Anne's War ends with the Treaty of Utrecht.

1714
George I becomes king of England (r. 1714–27).

Tea is introduced for the first time into the American Colonies. 1715 Artist: Henrietta Johnson 1674-1729. Subject: Mary Magdalen Gendron, Mrs Samuel Prioleu 1691-1765

1715
Yamasee tribes attack and kill several hundred male & female Carolina settlers.

Rhode Island legalizes slavery.

Maryland declares all slaves entering the province and their descendants to be slaves for life.

1716
South Carolina settlers and their Cherokee allies attack and defeat the Yamassee.

The first group of black slaves is brought to the Louisiana territory. 1717-18 Artist: Henrietta Johnston 1674-1729. Mary Griffith (Mrs Robert Brewton, Mrs William Loughton) 1698-1761


1717
Scots-Irish immigration begins, with most settling to western Pennsylvania.

New York enacts a fugitive slave law.

1718
French found New Orleans.

The Tuscarora people are defeated in a war with North Carolina colonists. With many of their people killed they move north to live with other Iroquois nations in New York Colony.

Blackbeard, the pirate, is killed, putting an end to pirate raids along the southern colonial coast.

North Carolina’s first free school, endowed by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, opens at Bath. 1719 Artist: Henrietta Johnston 1674-1729. Subject: Judith DuBose (Mrs Joseph Wragg) 1698-1769.

1719-41
The American Weekly Mercury is the first newspaper launched in Philadelphia by Andrew Bradford (1686-1742). It would publish six of Franklin's "Busy-Body Papers" in 1729 and continue publication until 1746.

The Boston Gazette is the second newspaper in Boston is launched by William Brooker (fl. 1715-1720) and printed by Benjamin Franklin's older half-brother, James Franklin (1697-1735). The paper would become the official organ of the government and continue until 1741.
1720 Attributed to Gerrit or Gerardus Duyckinck Subject: Portrait of a Lady

1720 Artist: Gerardus Duyckinck 1695-1746. Subject: Mrs Johannes van Braght b 1673. Her husband was an alderman for the City of New York.

1720
Estimated population of colonies: 475,000. Including Boston (pop. 12,000), Philadelphia (pop. 10,000), and New York (pop. 7000).

A smallpox epidemic in Boston prompts Cotton Mather and Zabdiel Boylston to experiment with inoculation against the disease. Mather had learned of the practice from Onesimus, his slave, who had himself been inoculated as a child and knew inoculation to be a widely accepted medical practice in Africa.
1720-25 Attributed to Schuyler Limner (active ca. 1715–1725) Portrait of a Lady (possibly Tryntje Otten Veeder)

Benjamin Franklin leaves Boston for Philadelphia, a trip that he chronicles in his Autobiography.

South Carolina planters settle along the Lower Cape Fear River and begin developing the rice and naval stores industries. They bring large numbers of enslaved people and establish a large, plantation-style slave system.

Virginia abolishes manumissions.
1720-28 Artist: Gerardus Duyckinck 1695-1746 Subject: Grace Mears, Mrs Moses Levy

1724
The French build forts on the Mississippi, the St. Lawrence, and the Niagara rivers.

French Louisiana prohibits slaves from marrying without the permission of their owners.


The population of male & female black slaves in the American colonies reaches 75,000.


Riots occur in Philadelphia as poor people tear down the pillories and stocks and burn them.
1725 Artist: Charles Bridges 1670-1747. Subject: Evelyn(1708-1737) daughter of William Byrd II and Lucy Parke.

1725
Explanatory Charter of Massachusetts Bay; August 26

1726
Zabdiel Boylston: An Historical Account of the Smallpox Inoculated in New England. Boylston details his experiments with smallpox inoculation in Boston, in which only 6 of his 244 patients die of the disease. This figure compared with the 844 out of 5,757 Bostonians who died of smallpox naturally during the same epidemic. One of the first of its kind written by an American physician.
1727 John Smibert 1688 - 1751. Eleanor Nightengale

1727
George II becomes king of England

Benjamin Franklin founds the Junto Club.

Cadwallader Colden (1688-1776): History of the Five Nations. Colden's greatest achievement is this tribal history of the Iroquois Indians based on firsthand observation.

1728
Elizabeth Hanson (1684-1737) writes God's Mercy Surmounting Man's Cruelty, a polished literary account of Hanson's 1724 capture by the French and Indians. (See Hanson's account on this blog.)

Jewish colonists in New York City build the first American synagogue.
1729 Artist: John Smibert 1688-1751. Subject: Mrs. Tyng.

1729
Benjamin Franklin prints, publishes and largely writes the weekly Pennsylvania Gazette.

See Burt, Daniel S., editor. THE CHRONOLOGY OF AMERICAN LITERATURE: AMERICA'S LITERARY ACHIEVEMENTS FROM THE COLONIAL ERA TO MODERN TIMES. Houghton Mifflin Internet.
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)

Thursday, October 29, 2020

18C Pennsylvania Businesswoman Ann Pearson advertises Imported Goods

  This post is from The Adverts 250 Project which is conducted by Carl Robert Keyes, professor of history at Assumption University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Students from Colonial America, Revolutionary America, Research Methods, & Public History courses at Assumption University serve as guest curators for the Adverts 250 Project. 

Sep 11 - 9:11:1766 Pennsylvania Journal
Pennsylvania Journal (September 11, 1766).

“The above articles all in the newest and genteelest taste.”

Milliners and shopkeepers often promoted their merchandise by noting that it had been imported from London or other English ports, suggesting that this gave their wares special cachet in terms of both taste and quality. They frequently named both the ship and the captain that transported their goods across the Atlantic, which allowed savvy newspaper readers to recognize vessels recently listed in the shipping news elsewhere in the newspaper. In this way, potential customers could assess for themselves that an advertiser stocked the most current fashions.

In most instances, milliners and shopkeepers relied on networks of correspondence involving faraway merchants and producers to obtain the goods they sold to colonists. American retailers – and the customers they served – had to trust that they had indeed received merchandise currently fashionable in metropolitan London, though many suspected that the distance that separated them from the capital allowed correspondents to pawn off leftover or undesirable goods that otherwise would not have been sold.

In this advertisement, however, Ann Pearson stated that she had “Just returned from London” and had imported a vast array of textiles and accouterments for personal adornment. Rather than accept whatever goods distant correspondents dispatched, she had an opportunity to select which items she wished to offer to her customers. She concluded her advertisement with an assurance that the “above articles [were] all in the newest and genteelest taste.” Unlike most other milliners and shopkeepers who sold imported English goods, Pearson was in a unique position to make this claim, having witnessed current styles in London herself rather than relying on the good will of intermediaries and middlemen.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

18C American Women & their Pet Birds

1758 John Singleton Copley 1738-1815 Portrait of Ann Fairchild Bowler

This is the perfect time to look at paintings of 18C Americans with their birds, both in the wild & captured in aviaries & cages.  We know that native North American birds fascinated men & women alike in 18C British American colonies. Colonials kept cages for their birds. Some even kept larger bird-keeping areas called aviaries.
1718 Nehemiah Partridge (American artist, 1683-1737) Portrait of Catherine Ten Broeck with Bird.

Between 1739 and 1762, South Carolinian Eliza Lucas Pinckney (c 1722-1793) kept a letterbook in which she wrote, "Airry Chorristers pour forth their melody...the mocking bird...inchanted me with his harmony." By this time, enterprising Southerners caged red birds and even exported extra cages of mockingbirds to England.
1721 Attributed to Nehemiah Partridge (American artist, 1683-1737) Sara Gansevoort (1718-1731) with a bird.

An aviary is an enclosed area, often in a garden & larger than a traditional birdcage, meant for keeping, feeding, and hopefully breeding birds.  Aviaries in South Carolina sometimes contained two-story bird houses.
1725 Charles Bridges (American artist, 1670-1747). Detail of William Byrd II & Lucy Parke daughter Evelyn Byrd and a bird in the tree.

Mark Catesby (1682-1749) sailed to Virginia in 1712, and stayed in the British Atlantic colonies for 7 years, sketching & compiling The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands for publication upon his return to England. In his monumental work, he described birds he had seen in the colonies in cages. Thomas Jefferson had a copy of Catesby's History in his library.
1740s-50s Joseph Blackburn (American colonial era artist, 1700-1780) Mrs

Thomas Jones.  The New York Journal published a poem of a woman imagining her ideal garden entitled A Wish of a Lady in 1769.
"...Just under my window I'd fancy a lawn,
Where delicate shrubs shou'd be planted with taste,
And none of my ground be seen running to waste.

Instead of Italians, the Linnet and Thrush
Wou'd with harmony greet me from every bush;
Those gay feather'd songsters do rapture inspire!
What music so soft as the heav'nly choir..."
1733 Gerardus Duyckinck (American artist, 1695-1746). Detail David and Phila Franks with bird.

18C portrait painters in America depicted men, women, & children with birds from the beginning of the century to the end. One question is whether the birds are being used as symbols or are actually birds that they might have owned.
1750 John Hesselius (American colonial artist, 1728-1778) Ann & Sarah Gordon.

Birds were kept as pets around Charleston, South Carolina, when an ad in the South-Carolina Gazette in January of 1753 noted, "ANY Persons willing to try the cultivation of Flax and Hemp in this province, may have gratis a pint of Hemp Seed, and half a pint of Flax Seed, at Mr. Commissary Dart's store in Tradd-Street.—But it's hoped ladies will not send for any Hemp Seed for birds."
1755 John Wollaston (American artist, 1710-1775). Detail Elizabeth Page & Mann Page, children of Mann & Ann Corbin (Tayloe) Page of Rosewell, Gloucester County, with bird.

In February of 1768, James Drummond announced in Charleston's The South Carolina and American General Gazette that he had "just imported...from L(ondon), a large and compleat (Assortment) of GOODS, Among which are the following... men and womens white Italian gloves... corks, an sortment of watchmaker's tools...a bird cage."
1755 Joseph Badger (American artist, 1708-1765). Detail of Elizabeth Gould with bird.

James McCall advertised in the 1771 South Carolina Gazette and Country Journal the he had "just received...a great Variety of Garden Seeds, Pease and Beans; Hemp, Canary, Rape, and Moss Seed for Birds."
1758 John Singleton Copley (American artist, 1738-1815) Mary & Elizabeth Royall with dog and bird.

Baroness Von Riedesel traveling through the British American southern colonies with her officer husband during the American Revolution wrote, "I had brought two gorgeous birds with me from Virginia. The main bird was scarlet with a darker red tuft of feathers on his head, about the size of a bull-finch, and it sang magnificently. The female bird was gray with a red breast and also had a tuft of feathers on its head."
1760 Joseph Badger (American artist, 1708-1765). James Badger with bird.

The Baroness continued, "They are very tame soon after they are caught and eat out of one's hand. These birds live a long time, but if two male birds are hung in the same room they are so jealous of each other that one of them dies soon afterwards."
1760 Joseph Badger (American artist, 1708 - 1765). Detail of Jemima Flucker with bird.

The Baroness related that she, "saw black birds in Virginia of the same size, which always cry 'willow.' This amused us very much because one of my husband's aides was named Willoe."
1763-65 Henry Benbridge (American artist, 1743-1812). Detail of Gordon Family with bird.

The visiting Baroness stated, "One of my servants discovered a whole nest of these red birds and fed and raised them. Knowing how much I loved them, he left Colle with two cages full on his back, but they all died before he reached me, much to our sorrow."
1766-67 John Singleton Copley (American artist, 1738-1815). Detail of Mary Boylston (Mrs Benjamin Hallowell) with bird.

In America, the New-York Magazine; or, Literary Repository of 1792, was advising its readers that, "A Goldfinch must never be let loose in an aviary, for he destroys the nests and breaks the eggs of the other birds."
1766 John Singleton Copley (American artist, 1738-1815). Detail of Elizabeth Ross (Mrs. William Tyng) with bird.

William Faris (1728-1804) was a silversmith & clock-maker living in Annapolis, Maryland, for over 50 years. He kept journals & a diary of his life there, on & off, during the last quarter of the 18C. On October 25, 1793, Faris noted, "Last night the 2 yallow Birds died." Earlier, he had written that his "poor Mocking Bird" had died. Although these are the only references to birds in the diary he kept during the 1790s, his 1804 inventory listed 11 bird cages.
1767 John Singleton Copley (American artist, 1738-1815).Young Lady with a Bird and Dog.

Isaac Weld (1774-1856) noted in his 1800 Travels through the States of North America that at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello in Virginia, "A large apartment is laid out for a library and museum, meant to extend the entire breadth of the house, the windows of which are to open into an extensive greenhouse and aviary."
1770-1775 James Peale (American artist, 1749-1831). Girl with bird.

Margaret Bayard Smith, who was a new bride in Washington DC in 1800, wrote in her diary, "In the window recesses were stands for the flowers and plants which it was his delight to attend and among his roses and geraniums was suspended the cage of his favorite mocking-bird, which he cherished with peculiar fondness, not only for its melodious powers, but for its uncommon intelligence and affectionate disposition, of which qualities he gave surprising instances. It was the constant companion of his solitary and studious hours. Whenever he was alone he opened the cage and let the bird fly about the room. After flitting for a while from one object to another, it would alight on his table and regale him with its sweetest notes, or perch on his shoulder and take its food from his lips. Often when he retired to his chamber it would hop up the stairs after him and while he took his siesta, would sit on his couch and pour forth its melodious strains. How he loved this bird!"
1770 Daniel Hendrickson (American artist, 1723-1788). Detail of Catharine Hendrickson surrounded by birds.

William Dobbs operated a Seed & Plant Store at 315 King street. He advertised in the December 2, 1811 edition of the Charleston Times: "For sale at wholesale and retail, an extensive assortment of Choice Garden Flowers and Bird seeds, the growth of 1811...Garden Tools, Flower Pots, Hyacinth Glasses."  In October 1812, Dobbs property was put up at auction through ads in the October 13 and 22 editions of the Charleston Courier. Among the items to be auctioned, “All the Personal Estate and Stock in Trade...together with his elegant collection of Singing Birds; consisting of Canary and Mocking Birds; a Glass Case, containing stuffed Birds; empty Bird Cages...”  Unfortunately, Dobbs died in the fall of 1812.  His inventory of December 3, 1812, gives a glimpse of the property owned by the seedsman: “Rose Apple Trees, Rosemary, Squills, Double Tube Roses, Amaryths, Peach Trees, 40 Canary Birds, Seeds, Bird Seed, shovels, spades, bird cages, pees, 2 green Houses and glasses, garden tools, Glasses for Roots, Shelves of Jars with Seeds in them...”
1770s Charles Willson Peale (American artist, 1741-1827). Detail Mary Tilghman & sons with bluejay.

In 1748, visitor to the British American colonies, Peter Kalm noted that turkeys, wild geese, pigeons and partridges were often tamed to the extent that “when they were let out in the morning they returned in the evening.”
1788 Charles Willson Peale (American artist, 1741-1827). Detail of Mrs. Richard Gittings with bird in cage.

In 1772, the South-Carolina Gazette carried an ad for a plantation to be rented "on the Ashley River near Charleston" with "two well-contrived aviaries." A year later, the same paper noted a lot in Charlestown which contained, "a very good Two-Story Birds House."
1790 Denison Limner Probably Joseph Steward (American artist, 1753-1822). Detail of Miss Denison of Stonington, CN possibly Matilda with bird and squirrel.  
1790 Rufus Hathaway (American artist, 1770 - 1822). Detail of Molly Wales Fobes with Birds. 
1790s Ellen Sharples (American artist, 1769-1849). Detail of Theodosia Burr of New Jersey with bird.
1796 Charles Willson Peale (American artist, 1741-1827). Thomas Elliott & Grandaughter Deborah Hibernia with white bird.
1790s Unknown American artist, Mary Ann Elizabeth Thum of Philadelphia
1790 Ralph Earl (American artist, 1791-1801) Jerusha Benedict (Ives) with Bird

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

18C Georgia Shopkeeper Mary Hughes advertises to Women Customers

 October 1, 1766 This post is from The Adverts 250 Project which is conducted by Carl Robert Keyes, professor of history at Assumption University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Students from Colonial America, Revolutionary America, Research Methods, & Public History courses at Assumption University serve as guest curators for the Adverts 250 Project. 

 18C 

GUEST CURATOR: Nicholas Commesso

oct-1-1011766-georgia-gazette
Georgia Gazette (October 1, 1766).

“MARY HUGHES, Takes this Method to inform the Ladies.”

My final post as guest curator introduces the first advertisement by a female entrepreneur I saw in the newspapers I read through. In the Georgia Gazette, Mary Hughes “Takes this Method to inform the Ladies” that she offered an extensive list of goods specifically for women, notably wax and pearl earrings, garnet necklaces, ribbons, “stomachers” (which were “the early ancestors of the corset” and “essential part of a woman’s wardrobe”), and much more. Despite other advertisements catering primarily to men, with a few products aimed for women included, Mary Hughes’ advertisement was aimed solely at women.

This short advertisement ended with Hughes explaining that “she proposes to carry on the millenary business.” A milliner specialized in making women’s hats. Based on the goods listed in her advertisement, it seemed she had all the imported materials necessary to become a continued success! To make that happen, she needed customers. Hughes’ message went on to explain that she would be “very much obliged to those ladies who will grant her their favours.” To me, it seems that this last invitation had a sense of desperation. Perhaps that was not the case; perhaps it is just the formal language that makes it so much different from modern advertisements. Today, I believe this would sound more like a request for charity rather than generating business for her shop.

**********

ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY: Carl Robert Keyes

I’m both surprised and not surprised that this was the first advertisement for consumer goods and services that Nick encountered during his week as guest curator. I’m not surprised because such advertisements by female entrepreneurs were often rare. They certainly appeared in disproportionately low numbers compared to the number of women that historians know operated their own shops or provided other services in eighteenth-century America, especially in urban ports.

On the other hand, advertisements placed by women were present in colonial newspapers. That Nick did not encounter any others earlier in the week says something about what often comes down to serendipity in the research process. Women did place newspaper advertisements in the 1760s, but they were less likely to do so than their male counterparts. As a result, some issues occasionally featured greater numbers of advertisements by women, while others were completely devoid of marketing efforts conducted by women. Chance, as much as any other factor, explains why Nick did not encounter advertisements by women in any of the other newspapers he consulted this week.

Historians have to work with the sources available to us. We tell the stories that the documents allow us to tell, not always the stories that we would like to tell or that we wish the documents would allow us to tell. Uncovering the history of women in the colonial marketplace and, especially, the history of women in eighteenth-century advertising requires special attention and effort. As often as possible, I select advertisements placed by women to feature on the Adverts 250 Project, both as a matter of principle and as an informal part of my methodology. Women’s participation in the marketplace as producers and retailers was already underrepresented in the public prints in the eighteenth century. I do not wish to compound the problem by overlooking their commercial notices when they did appear.

As a result, I especially appreciate that Nick selected Mary Hughes’ advertisement to feature and analyze. He certainly had other choices for today, but by telling a story that he had not yet told he joined other historians in the endeavor to include women in our narratives of the past.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

18C American Woman - Millicent Conway Gordon 1727-1748

1750 John Hesselius 1728-1778 Millicent Conway Gordon1727-1748 Virginia Museum of History & Culture.

Milicent Agatha Conway (1727-1748) was born in Lancaster, Virginia, her father was Edwin Conway
(1681–1763) & her mother was Anne Ball (1686-1764). She married James Gordon III (1714-1768), who was born in Sheepbridge, Newry, Down, Ireland, on March 28, 1742, in Lancaster, Virginia. They had 4 children during their marriage. She died as a young mother on February 2, 1748, in Lancaster, Virginia, at the age of 21. Milicent Conway Gordon was the 1st wife of James Gordon III & the mother of Ann (Nancy) & Sarah (Sallie) Gordon & babies Agatha & a boy who both died as infants.. She died in 1748 indicating that this is a post-mortem portrait of her. Of the 5 Gordon family portraits painted by Hesselius, this is the only one signed & dated on the front of the canvas.

Here Milicent Agatha Conway is portrayed wearing a blue dress with a red underskirt. She has a gold tasseled cord around her waist & pearls at her elbows. Her right hand rests on a table. Her left hand points downwards. A red curtain is on her right & is wrapped around a column & over the top of the table. John Hesselius signed & dated the painting on the right side of the canvas next to her left elbow. See: Carolyn J. Weekley, Painters & Paintings in the Early American South (2013), 255-256.

The Virginia Museum of History & Culture tells us that the, "Gordon portraits depict the family of an Ulster merchant & planter of Scottish origin who emigrated to Lancaster County in 1738. Through trade with merchants in the British Islands & the West Indies, voracious land purchasing, & active public service, James Gordon quickly rose to prominence, which he celebrated in 1751 by commissioning a sizeable group of large, expensive portraits of himself, his successive wives, his 3 children, & his brother who had emigrated with him. Posed in contemporary clothing before grandiose, artificial settings of an outdated 17C portrait tradition, the sitters seem provincial. The commission for the Gordon portraits seems to have resulted simply from the sudden availability in Virginia in 1751 & 1752 of artists John Hesselius or Robert Feke. Both appeared in the colony at this time..."

Artist John Hesselius (1728-1778) was one of the major American-born artists working in the Middle Colonies & the South in the third quarter of the 18C. The son of Gustavus Hesselius (1682-1755), a Swedish portrait painter who came to America in 1711.  His father was Gustavus Hesselius painted mostly in Maryland & Pennsylvania. John was probably born in Philadelphia. His earliest signed work is dated 1750.  It seems likely that Gustavus Hesselius was John Hesselius’s first instructor. John Hesselius also studied with Robert Feke & his early portraits are stylistically more similar to Feke’s. Hesselius latest signed work dates to 1777.

During his career, Hesselius traveled extensively in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, & possibly in New Jersey. His work seems to have been confined to portraits. All known examples are in oil on canvas, & there is little reason to suspect that he deviated from this practice. He worked exclusively in the late English Baroque & English Rococo traditions of painting, & his style shows the influence of Robert Feke & John Wollaston more strongly than that of his father.

Hesselius married Mary Young Woodward, the widow of Henry Woodward, in 1763, & after that date his energies were divided between his art & the management of his plantation near Annapolis, Maryland. He was also active in the religious affairs of St. Anne’s Parish in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. His interests appear to have been many, & as an artist & landowner he associated with most of the leading citizens of the colony. Hesselius contributed to American painting, & he extended & modified the English tradition of painting in the Colonies.

Monday, August 24, 2020

18C New York Milliner Elizabeth Colvil Going Out of Business Sale

  This post is from The Adverts 250 Project which is conducted by Carl Robert Keyes, professor of history at Assumption University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Students from Colonial America, Revolutionary America, Research Methods, & Public History courses at Assumption University serve as guest curators for the Adverts 250 Project. 

 

dec-15-12151766-new-york-mercury
New-York Mercury (December 15, 1766).

She has employ’d a young woman lately arrived from London.”

When she decided to “decline Business for the present,” shopkeeper and milliner Elizabeth Colvil announced the eighteenth-century equivalent of a going-out-of-business sale. She “resolved to dispose of all her shop goods by wholesale and retail, at prime cost, for ready money only; the sale to continue till all are sold.” Colvil was liquidating her merchandise, enticing prospective customers with low prices in order to move the process along as quickly as possible.

In and of itself, that sort of promotion distinguished Colvil’s advertisement from many others of the period, but it was not the only aspect of her announcement that set it apart. After listing much of her remaining merchandise and promising “sundry other goods too tedious to mention,” Colvil indicated that she had hired an assistant, a young woman who had recently arrived from London. Her assistant, “who understands the millinary business, in all its branches,” would stay on until Colvil closed shop. At that time, she would pursue the business on her own “in the most extensive manner.” Although Colvil was not selling her shop to her assistant, she was setting her up as her successor.

To that end, Colvil made an appeal to current and prospective customers: “those ladies that shall please to favour her [the young woman recently arrived from London] with their custom, may rely on being served on the best terms, and their work done in the neatest and most fashionable manner.” Colvil voiced a strong endorsement of her assistant, directing the women of New York to patronize her assistant’s shop once Colvil had departed the marketplace.

This differs significantly from most eighteenth-century advertisements in which male merchants, shopkeepers, and artisans indicated the amiable end of a partnership or the transfer of a business from one man to another. In such cases they used advertisements to announce a change in status but did not incorporate an extensive endorsement of the new business or its proprietor.

Elizabeth Colvil probably knew a thing or two about the particular difficulties of being a woman and operating a business in eighteenth-century America. As a result, she attempted to assist her assistant in launching her own shop, recognizing that a young woman, especially one new to the city and unknown to most of its residents, would benefit from establishing a good reputation as quickly as possible. Colvil’s endorsement in her advertisement was the first step. The assistant working with customers was the second. She could build up a clientele, drawing on Colvil’s network of patrons, while the senior shopkeeper and milliner was still active in the business. In this advertisements, Elizabeth Colvil advocated on behalf of a fellow female entrepreneur.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Friday, August 14, 2020

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Elizabeth Van Dyck, 18C New York Female Entrepreneur

 

, , , 

Jul 30 - 7:30:1770 New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (July 30, 1770).

“TO BE SOLD, By ELIZABETH VAN DYCK.”

The front page of the July 30, 1770, edition of the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury featured a letter “To the PRINTER” reprinted from the Public Ledger and several advertisements for consumers goods.  Many of those notices used the names of the advertisers as headlines, setting them in larger type and often in capitals.  At a glance, readers saw that ABEEL & BYVANCK; GEORGE BALL; RICHARD CURSON; Herman Gouverneur; Greg, Cunningham and Co.; PHILIP LIVINGSTON; JOHN McKENNEY; and ELIZABETH VAN DYCK all offered goods for sale to consumers in the city and beyond.

In many ways, those advertisements each resembled the others.  With the exception of George Ball and the partnership of Abeel and Byvanck, each advertiser purchased a “square” of space and filled most of it with a short list of their merchandise.  Abeel and Byvanck’s advertisement occupied two squares and George Ball’s four.  Each of those longer advertisements divided the list of goods into two columns, as did Richard Curson’s advertisement.  With minor variations, these advertisements for consumer goods adhered to a standard format.

That meant that the most distinguishing feature of Elizabeth Van Dyck’s advertisement was that it promoted a business operated by a female entrepreneur.  Women comprised a substantial minority of shopkeepers in colonial American port cities, with some estimates running as high as four out of ten.  Yet they did not place newspaper advertisements in proportion to their presence in the marketplace as purveyors of goods rather than consumers.  Van Dyck was the only female shopkeeper who advertised in that issue of New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury, while more than a dozen advertisements for consumer goods deployed men’s names as their headlines.  No female shopkeepers advertised in the New-York Gazette and Weekly Post-Boy published the same day, nor the New-York Journal three days later.

The representation of the marketplace among the advertisements in New York’s newspapers presented it as primarily the domain of men, at least as far as wholesalers and retailers were concerned.  Even though women operated shops in the bustling port in the early 1770s, they did not establish a presence in the public prints in proportion to their numbers.  When Van Dyck chose to join the ranks of her male counterparts who advertised, she composed a notice that conformed to the standard format.  She struck a careful balance, calling attention to her business but not calling too much attention to it.  In so doing, she claimed space for herself in the market, both the actual market and the representation of it in the newspaper, while demonstrating that women’s activities as entrepreneurs need not be disruptive to good order.

Sunday, July 12, 2020