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The Southern States of America
The History of Virginia - Chapter III


The Economic and Social Life of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century

I. - The Plantation System.

Throughout the Seventeenth century the entire system of Virginia life rested, not upon a civil division-the township, as in New England, but upon an economic division-the plantation. A just conception of its economic framework, either in whole or part, may be obtained by studying the character of a single large plantation in any section of the colony. The community was simply a series of plantations, differing one from another really only in size; in all, the same staple crop was produced, the same kind of labor was employed. Practically, the cultivation of tobacco was the only occupation. There were no towns, no organized manufactures, few trained artizans. A perfect simplicity, an almost complete monotony, was the universal economic keynote.

Taking the plantation as the centre of the economic life, it is easy to follow the growth of one of these communities from its very birth. The pressure of the advancing landowners against the barrier of the frontier forest was, from the start, like the pressure of an army besieging a town; the progress was step by step, but ever forward, irresistibly though slowly. A public grant of one little corner in the wilderness, at the outer edge of the settlements, was followed by the grant of another corner, close at hand but slightly ahead, until what was wild land to-day became tilled and inhabited land to-morrow. Most of these patentees were men who had been long established in the colony, and who, in choosing new ground, understood by experience what were the physical conditions desirable. There were two of prime importance : first, the soil must be rich in the elements suitable for tobacco, the best indication of which would be a thick growth of towering trees; secondly, the land must lie upon the banks of a stream navigable either by ships or shallops, so as to give access to the great highway of the ocean and thereby to the markets of the world.

Having inspected the soil, satisfied himself as to its quality and defined its bounds, the would-be grantee petitioned the Governor and Council to issue, in his favor, the necessary patent, under the colony's great seal. These officers, in consenting, were presumed to represent the King, in whom the paramount title to every acre was supposed to be invested. This was the legal fiction even before the Indians had been driven from the lands which they had held long before the English throne itself had come into existence. The King's right was thought to be as positive, absolute and exclusive as if it had descended undisputed from a remote ancestry. But in spite of this view there was, especially after the revocation of the charter in 1624, a disposition to recognize the Indian's real ownership of the country back of the frontier. This arose from a desire to avoid all causes of quarrel with those restless and treacherous people. But whether the paramount title of the King had been acquired by force or by treaty, the method of conferring on the private individual title in a given area of ground was substantially the same throughout the century-the only difference was that, in the company's time, the governor and council issuing the patent had to transmit it to the quarter court in London for confirmation, while, after the company's overthrow, the patent was granted under a general law which did away with such unnecessary delay.

There were two grounds on which the public lands were conveyed to individuals. First, the performance of public services which were thought to be worthy of some reward. During the company's existence such services were generally performed only by officers of state who had made extraordinary sacrifices of ease and fortune to increase the prosperity of the colony. Latterly, meritorious service usually consisted of some form of self-exposure in defending the frontiers against Indian attack.

But by far the most important basis of conferring title was the headright. Every person who came out to the colony or paid the expense of some other person's transportation, whether a member of his own family, a friend or a servant, could claim a patent for fifty acres out of the public domain. There was but one condition imposed : the person or persons whose importation had led to the grant must remain in Virginia at least three years, unless in the interval overtaken by death.

The headright was one of the most farsighted of provisions. In that age there were no such facilities for crossing the ocean as exist at the present day, when even the European peasant can meet all the costs of the passage. So expensive was the voyage then that, unless the importer had been allowed fifty acres in compensation for his outlay for every person, including himself, brought over by him, only a small number of the agricultural servants could have found their way to Virginia; and without that class, the destruction of the primaeval forest would have gone on very slowly. But in addition to this, the headright gave the practical assurance that the appropriation of the soil would not outstrip the growth in population. If any one could have secured a patent by paying down a sum of money, vast tracts of land would have been acquired in the most favored regions, to be held simply for speculative purposes, without any attempt at seating or tilling them. Especially was this to be deprecated in times when the proximity of a navigable stream to every estate was considered to be indispensable. It would not have been long before all the eligible parts of the public domain would have been engrossed by the wealthy colonists.

The expense of the ocean passage in the Seventeenth century was about six pounds sterling. Such was the amount which citizens like William Fitzhugh or William Byrd had to pay for every servant whom they imported, which would signify that each of these opulent planters obtained the fifty acres granted in compensation, at the rate of two and two-fifths shillings, or, in our modern currency, two dollars and eighty-five cents. Very properly, no limit was set to the number of acres to be acquired under the operation of the headright. If a colonist had the means to bring in ten thousand immigrants, he was as legally entitled to 500,000 acres as the man who had brought in one was entitled to fifty acres; but, as a matter of fact, owing to the expense of importing servants, the size of the patent rarely ran over a few hundred acres. Between 1630 and 1650, the average area embraced was 446 acres; between 1650 and 1700, it was 674; but there were instances of grants for as much as 10,000 acres.

When the grant had been made, two conditions had to be observed by the patentee to avoid a forfeiture. First, the plantation had to be seated. A very liberal interpretation of this requirement was permitted-it was deemed to have been fulfilled should the patentee have erected a small cabin of the meanest pretensions on the land; had suffered a small stock of cattle to range for twelve months in its woods, or had planted an acre in corn or tobacco. In the greatest number of cases, the new plantation was promptly occupied as provided by law, since the owner, wished to erect a home of his own at once. The second requirement was the payment to the K-ing of an annual quit rent of twelve pence for every fifty acres in the tract. This rent continued throughout the century to be a cause of ill-feeling in the landowners, as they looked on it as a cloud on their titles, and they used every kind of device either to diminish its burden or to evade it altogether.

The Two Classes of Labor.

When the patentee had acquired a complete title, how did lie bring his new lands under cultivation? There were two classes of laborers employed by the planters to this end: (1) white servants bound by indentures for a term of years; (2) African slaves.

During the whole of the Seventeenth century the first class, by its superior numbers, was the most important of the two. When the Dutch ship, in 1619, disembarked its memorable cargo of negroes, the earliest to be transported to the colony, the population of all the settlements consisted largely of these indentured white servants. In 1625 they numbered about four hundred and sixty-four, while the black slaves numbered only twenty-two. Sixty years later the proportion of slaves had risen-there were six thousand white servants and two thousand Africans. During the ninth and tenth decades the proportion of negroes rose higher still, but the white servants continued to hold the economic supremacy as between the two classes of laborers.

There were, throughout the century, two influences at play to swell the number of white servants in the colony-the one in operation in England, the other in Virginia.

First as to the influence in operation in England. The great bulk of the lower classes in that country at this time were compelled, by the rigid trade laws, to earn a livelihood as laborers in the fields; but the opportunities to do so fluctuated with the prosperity or depression in agriculture. As each parish was required to support its own poor, there was among some parishes, about 1622, a disposition to shirk this charge by allowing their unemployed to wander into other parishes in search of work; this led to restrictive regulations by the parishes suffering most, and finally to the passage of a statute by Parliament which confined the great body of the English laborers to their native parishes, a measure that not only curtailed their personal liberty, but diminished and even destroyed their ability to improve their condition. But to make their state even worse, their wages were fixed at regular intervals by the landowners. In the years in which the price of wheat rose high above the average, as so often occurred, the agricultural laborer's straits were deplorable because the advance in the cost of bread was not or could not be anticipated. Confined to his native parish as to the bounds of a prison, receiving a rate of remuneration which had been dictated by his employer-a rate not furnishing an easy subsistence for himself and his family even in seasons of plenty -compelled to buy his supplies at prices set by the producers, and subject to heavy penalties for the slightest infractions of law-was it surprising that he looked upon emigration to Virginia as a providential opening for improving his condition after a term of years had been served?

Powerful as was the pressure forcing him out of England, the inducements drawing him to Virginia were more powerful still. The only thing in the colony that was said to be dear was labor, and this continued so throughout the century. The great and uninterrupted demand for agricultural servants had its origin in the physical peculiarities of the country. The very anxiety of the planters to acquire title to the richest soil, as assuring the most profitable crops of tobacco, increased the difficulties in opening up new land, because the growth of timber was in proportion to the fertility of the ground. In removing the forest-this being the supreme obstacle to be surmounted-the settler required the aid of others to carry through the work that was essential. The person who had obtained a patent to fifty or five hundred acres was, in a few years, compelled to sue out a patent to an additional tract in order to again obtain the virgin soil necessary for the production of tobacco of the finest quality in the largest quantity, since, in that age, no manures were used in enriching the fields. This course of acquiring new lands was prolonged for an indefinite series of years. Throughout the whole period he needed the assistance of laborers. As long as there was a surplus population there could be no difficulty in securing these laborers. The facilities for their transportation were ample. Not a year, during the company's existence, passed that English workingmen did not pour into the colony, and after its abolition the stream grew larger and larger in its volume.

Proportion of Criminals.

What was the proportion of criminals among this great class of agricultural servants? In those times there were three hundred offenses in the English code punishable with death, but it seemed too harsh even to the hardened judges of that age to inflict the extreme penalty for most of these offenses. Sentence to transportation was, on their part, a compromise with the more humane feelings of their natures. It is doubtful whether a single convict was imported into Virginia during the Seventeenth century whose case, when tried in the English courts, was not marked by circumstances in mitigation of its heinousness. There are many proofs that all attempts by the English government to impose on the colony utterly abandoned jail-birds met with strong, and generally with successful, opposition by the authorities at Jamestown. A large proportion of the servants who came in as convicts were simply men who had taken part in various rebellious movements, a class of population which, so far from always belonging to a low station in their native country, frequently represented the most useful and respectable elements in the kingdom. It was no crime for Irishmen to defend their own soil against the tyrannical intrusion of Cromwell, or for disaffected Englishmen or Scotchmen to rise up against the harsh and cruel measures of the Second Charles or the Second James. It was the men who loved their homes and were devoted to their church who led these movements; and their followers, in spite of ignorance and poverty, shared their courage, their steadfastness and their patriotism.

The youthfulness of the great majority of the laborers-an additional proof of the comparative smallness of the criminal element in that class-is revealed in a number of ways: by the reports of the early censuses, by the surviving cockets of merchantmen, and by the entries in the county records. It is highly probable that the average age did not exceed nineteen. A considerable section had been obtained by felonious means; it was no uncommon thing in those times to find men and women - "spirits," they were called - in the seaport towns of England who earned a livelihood by alluring very young persons to their houses by gifts of sweetmeats, and having cropped the victims' hair so as to alter their appearance beyond recognition, disposed of them to shipmasters engaged in the plantation trade. But there is reason to think that the means employed even by this class were not always so criminal ; they played on the ignorance of simple-minded adults, the restlessness of persons in the lower walks of life who were anxious for a change, the despair of those who were sunk in hopeless poverty, and the eagerness of those guilty of infractions of the law to escape from the country. There were also agents of high standing in every great port who were prepared to supply all the servants needed by emigrants of means who intended to open up new plantations. The most constant patron of these agents was the merchant who made annual shipments of various kinds to Virginia, and who exported these servants as so many bales of goods for exchange for the principal commodity of the country. In assigning servants to the planters, he could only dispose of their labor for the period covered by their indentures. In the absence of indentures the length of the term was fixed by the custom of the colony-if the servant was under nineteen years of age, his term lasted until he was twenty-four; if he was over, it lasted for five years. The length of service rarely exceeded seven, as it was contrary to public policy that it should continue too long.

Frequency of Change.

A serious drawback to indentured labor was the frequency of the change distinguishing this form of service. In a few years the servant's time would come to an end, and his place would have to be supplied by another. The planter might introduce an hundred industrious workingmen who might prove invaluable to him while their covenants lasted, but at the end of five years, when their hands had become skilful and their bodies hardened to the change of climate, they recovered their freedom and almost invariably left the plantation immediately to found homes of their own. Unless the landowner had had the foresight to provide against their departure by the importation of other servants, he would be left without men to tend or reap his crops, or to widen the area of his new grounds. It was not simply a desire to own vast tracts which led the Virginian of that day to bring in successive bands of agricultural servants, whose introduction entitled him to a proportionate number of headrights; in the great majority of cases his object was to obtain laborers who might take the place of those whose terms were on the point of expiring. It was this constantly recurring necessity-which must have been the source of much anxiety and annoyance as well as of a heavy pecuniary outlay-that caused the planter to prefer youths to adults, for, while their physical strength might have been less, yet the periods for which they were bound extended over a longer time.

The Superiority of Slave Labor.

It can be readily seen that, from this economic point of view, the slave was a far more desirable form of property than the indentured servant. As his term was not for a few years but for life, there was no solicitude as to how his place was to be filled. He not only belonged to his master up to death, but generally left behind him a family of children who were old enough to give important assistance in the tobacco fields. In physical strength he was the equal of the white laborer of the same age, and in power of endurance he was the superior. Not only was he more easily controlled, but he throve on plainer fare and was satisfied with humbler lodgings. Nor was he subject to seasoning-a cause of much loss of time in connection with the raw white laborers; nor could he demand the grain and clothing which, by the custom of the country, were allowed the white servants at the close of their terms-a heavy drain on the resources of even the wealthy planters.

In the light of the slave's economic superiority over the white servant, it is surprising to find that African bondsmen were not earlier imported, in great numbers, into Virginia-the explanation of which lies in the insufficient means then existing for their conveyance across the ocean to supply the demand. It was not until 1680 that the number brought in began to increase substantially, and this was due to the fact that the Royal African Company, which had been chartered in 1662, with the virtual grant of a monopoly, became, either directly or indirectly, extremely active in the traffic. Many of the planters after 1680 transmitted their orders for slaves to their London merchants to be filed with the company's agents in that city, while a large number also were bought, in Virginian waters, of vessels which had been licensed by the company. Many were introduced in New England bottoms straight from the West Indies. In 1649 the negro population was three hundred, in 1671 two thousand, but by 1700 their number had probably quadrupled.

A white agricultural laborer, with the usual term of five years to serve, was valued at from twelve to fourteen pounds sterling. On the other hand a raw negro, as early as 1669, was, on his arrival in the colony, sold by the Royal African Company for twenty pounds. Later on a native male negro adult brought thirty pounds sterling, and a native female from twenty-five to thirty pounds, a sum, in our present currency, equal in value to five hundred or six hundred dollars.

Having obtained all the laborers-whether white indentured servants or black slaves-he needed to bring his new plantation under cultivation, what were the crops which the patentee sought to produce? During the first years following the foundation of Jamestown there were spasmodic efforts to produce a considerable variety of commodities. Cotton was experimented with, hemp and flax, mulberry trees for silk and vines for wines. Wheat, also, was sown in small quantities down to the end of the century. But the really profitable crops soon narrowed down to maize and tobacco. Although landowners were dependent upon maize for bread, the General Assembly was compelled to pass a law from year to year to force them to plant a certain acreage in Indian corn. The irresistible disposition was to produce tobacco alone. Never has any other staple entered so deeply into the spirit and framework of any modern community-it was to the colony what the potato has been to Ireland, the coffee berry to Brazil, the grape to France and corn to Egypt; but it was something more, for it was in universal use as the currency in which all debts, from the public taxes to the grave-digger's bill, were paid. Moreover, the whole system of large plantations was directly attributable to the recurring need of virgin soil in tobacco culture, and from that system arose those social characteristics of the higher planting class which gave Virginia such unique distinction in the colonial age.

Apart from the great demand in England for the leaf, tobacco had particular advantages over all other agricultural crops. First, it could be produced in larger quantities to the acre than any other, a fact of vast importance in a country where so much labor was required to strip the surface of the thick growth of timber preparatory to tillage. Besides, as tobacco could be shipped in a more compressed bulk, a cargo of it was far more valuable than an equal cargo of any other product. The freight charge was proportionately smaller because the price at which the leaf was sold was so much higher.

New England, having practically nothing to export to England, was compelled to exchange her timber and provisions in the West Indies for rum, sugar, molasses and slaves as her only means of procuring the manufactured supplies which she could not herself make at her own hearthstones. Virginia, having a direct trade with the mother country in a commodity always in demand there-a demand that assured its inhabitants an abundance of manufactured supplies-was deprived of one of the strongest motives in which local manufactures have their origin. The English ship which carried away the planter's annual tobacco crop from his own wharf brought back all the clothes, all the furniture, all the tools and all the implements he needed. But while Virginia was not, in the modern sense, a seat of manufactures, it would be inaccurate to say that domestic manufactures in the ruder forms were unknown. There were few homes in that colony which did not contain a spinning wheel or a weaver's frame; there were no important plantations which did not number among its white servants or its slaves skilful carpenters, blacksmiths, saddlers, masons and bricklayers.

II. - Social Life Under the Plantation System.

Such, in brief outline, was the general economic history of each plantation in those early times. The entire community was made up of plantations and plantations only, and, therefore, the economic history
of the single plantation was the economic history of the entire community-with this slight modification that, as the years passed, the ownership of many estates changed hands either by purchase or descent. Long before the end of the century all the lands in the older parts of the colony had been taken up, many substantial mansions erected, influential families founded and all the varied interests of an organized social life created and cemented. When we come to examine the social framework of the community in that age, we find it much more complex than the economic framework. This was due to the existence of several distinct social classes-there was first the African slaves standing on the lowest footing, next the indentured white servants, and finally, overtopping all, the large landowners.

Although for the time being the white servants occupied a very subordinate position socially, yet it was from this class that the ranks of the small landowners were recruited chiefly. Many men who began in this humble character accumulated, after the close of their terms, good estates, exercised wide influence and even filled important offices. There is, indeed, reason to think that some of the agricultural servants were of highly respectable social origin, and that some, like Adam Thoroughgood, had simply bound themselves out in order to learn the art of tobacco growing. But the most ordinary way in which the ranks of the small landowners were swelled was by the emigration of yeomen from England. Previous to 1650, as we have seen, the average size of the patent was 446 acres. In most instances, perhaps, these patents were sued out by men who had acquired the necessary headrights by the importation of their families and a couple of agricultural servants. The social esteem in which the yeomen, as a class, were held was undoubtedly enhanced, not only by the restriction to landowners of the right of suffrage, but also by the increase in the number of slaves. The presence of negro bondsmen had a marked tendency to foster pride of race in every branch of the white population, for, to be white, gave the distinction of color even to the agricultural servants-to be white and also to be free combined the distinction of color with the distinction of liberty.

The class of large planters was necessarily small in comparison with that of yeomen, but it was they who gave charm and elevation to the colony's social life, although, as we shall see, the recreations and diversions of that life were shared by all freemen, and in a measure even by the slave and indentured servant. A citizen like Nicholas Spencer, or Richard Lee, in Westmoreland, Robert Beverley in Middlesex, Nathaniel Bacon, Sr., in York, Adam Thoroughgood in Lower Norfolk, or William Byrd in Henrico, occupied the position held by the greatest squire in an English parish. He owned the principal pew in the parish church, sat at the head of the justices on the county bench, was colonel of the county militia, and senior warden of the local vestry. It was these men and their fellows who, with their families, constituted the highest social body of the colony, and reflected as such all that was most attractive in its social character.

The Origin of the Planting Class.

What was the origin of the higher planting class? By the end of the century a large number of the conspicuous members of the landed gentry had been born in the country. But from 1618 down to 1700, not a year went by that this class did not receive accessions from England of men of equal social standing, and almost equal means, if not actual, prospective.

What were the influences which led these men to emigrate to Virginia? First, the restless and enterprising spirit of the English, which has made them the greatest colonizers of modern times; secondly, the narrow chances of fortune in that age in their native land, even for men of influential family connections. The foreign empire of England had not then spread entirely around the globe to furnish an enormous group of civil and military offices to be filled by the cadets of well-known English houses, nor was the English regular army and navy yet large enough to afford much room for the host of young men whose parents were seeking to set them up in life, nor did trade or the professions, or even the ordinary manual callings, supply all the employment needed. How natural that the father of many children-and England was as noted then as now for large families-whether landowner, clergyman, lawyer or physician, should have turned to Virginia as offering a place of settlement for at least some of his sons.
There were particular reasons why that colony should appeal to the English landowner under the circumstances : first, it was firmly loyal to the monarchy; secondly, its church establishment was modeled precisely upon that of the mother country; thirdly, the entire power of Virginian society, even in the period of manhood suffrage, was possessed and directed by the landed proprietors. That society was composed practically altogether of such proprietors and their dependents, and, therefore, on reaching the colony, the son of the English country gentleman could take up the same calling as his own ancestors had always followed, and would enter upon essentially the same general life as they had led before him-only accentuated in Virginia by the dispersion of the population.

Hardly less strong was the appeal which the colony made to the English father who was a merchant. He saw that in addition to the independence, refinement and heartiness of its social life, the colony possessed in tobacco culture a means by which his son, starting there with a fair estate, might steadily improve his fortunes. He knew, also, how profitable trading in that commodity could be made by the employment of capital and shrewdness combined.

Social Organization.

It was a conspicuous feature of the social life of Virginia in the Seventeenth century that, like the political system, it was fully organized from the beginning. There was never a period when, as in our western communities, every social division was submerged in a rude social equality. On the contrary, all the immemorial social distinctions took root there at once, as if the population of some English county had been moved bodily over sea. There was not the least desire to leave the old privileges and customs behind. Proofs of social divisions and distinctions were as conspicuous to the Englishman after his arrival in the colony as if he had passed, not across the ocean, but from Devon over into Hampshire, or from Sussex over into Surrey. For instance, one of the most ordinary social badges was the coat of arms, to which most of the prominent families appear to have had a legal right. In using these badges, such families were simply doing what their fathers had done before them in England, and what they themselves had done previous to their emigration.

Class Distinctions.

Nowhere was there a more formal recognition of class distinctions than in the legal documents. All the terms showing such distinctions were there in use, such as "yeoman" and "gentleman," "esquire" and "Honorable." In conversation, the term "mister" was doubtless applied equally to gentlemen and yeomen, but in documents it appears to have been reserved for gentlemen in the ordinary sense of the designation. So with the word "gentleman" itself-it was never in such a document employed with inexactness, but quite invariably nicely and advisedly. But the most valued of all titles was "esquire," now used so indiscriminately, but in those times with such perfect precision. It seems to have been confined to the members of the Upper House of Assembly, a position which, as well in its social dignity as in its relation to legislation, was comparable to that of a member of the House of Lords. The term "Honorable" was applied only to the incumbent of the great office of Secretary, Auditor or Treasurer.

Practically no distinction was created in the social life of Virginia in these early times by the existence of the law of primogeniture, as that law was very slightly in operation. When in operation at all, it was generally so under the Statute of Descent, which gave all the land to the eldest son should the father die intestate. But the almost universal rule then was for that father to divide his property among all his children, because in that century estates were composed entirely of land, household articles and live stock, and unless the owner provided for his younger offspring by dividing and bequeathing to them a part of this property, he would have nothing to leave them; secondly, there were then no arts, and practically no trades, as in England, for the younger sons to turn to for a livelihood, nor was there room in such professions as law and medicine for many, nor openings, as in the English towns and cities, in mercantile life, for what mercantile life did exist was restricted to a few stores, and to casual dealings in tobacco and imported goods on a large scale.

Virginians and the Mother Country.

In studying the spirit of the people, one is very much struck with the vigor of the social tie which, in those times, bound the Virginians to the mother country. They clung with tenacity to the habits and customs, the moral ideas and standards that prevailed and governed there. This was chiefly due to the fact that such a large part of the population had not left their native land over sea until long after the age of their earliest and most graphic impressions. The children of an emigrant, though born in Virginia, are likely to have had almost as vivid a conception of the mother country as their father, for that father, especially if sprung from the English landed gentry, was certain to have omitted no opportunity of recalling for their instruction or amusement his own childhood and youth in his native country, of describing all the varied scenes associated with his early experiences, of picturing the old home, of delineating the characters of the different members of the circle of kindred, and relating an hundred interesting stories drawn from the long annals of the family history. Members of all classes spoke of England as "home;" even persons born in Virginia, who had never seen and never expected to see England, always designated it by the same loving word. It was not simply the demands of business that, during the Seventeenth century, led so many citizens of the colony to visit the mother country-a deep love of their native land influenced many of those who had first seen the light there to return-while a natural curiosity to see what had been so often described to them, and a desire to meet relatives whom they had never met, prompted many of the native colonists to make the voyage.

The little band of sea captains were very active in keeping up an uninterrupted communication between English and Virginian kinsmen. Many a verbal message and letter were carried by them from relatives in Virginia to relatives in England, or the reverse ; and through them, also, there was a constant exchange of gifts testifying to mutual interest, affection and esteem. Now it was an assortment of hickory nuts or walnuts, or slips of sassafras and pawpaw; now a butt of cider, or a caged redbird or mockingbird; now a flying squirrel, opossum or raccoon.

There were numerous bequests from the Virginian branch of a family to the English, and a like interest, though of a more general character, was also reflected in bequests for the benefit of indigent persons dwelling in those English communities with which the testators had been associated in early life. In many instances Virginian children were recommended to the care of their kindred oversea while receiving an education at some English school. Love of the mother country was also disclosed in the observance of old English domestic customs, such as gifts by last will of mourning rings to relatives and friends ; bestowal, by the same instrument, of the distinction of heirlooms on articles in household use, such as silver or furniture, which had acquired certain cherished associations for one reason or another; the naming of the family residence after the ancestral seat in England; the burial in the chancel of the parish church of those citizens who, in their lifetime, had occupied a very exalted place in popular esteem.

The Home Life.

Nowhere were the characteristic features of the social life of the colony more faithfully presented than in its homes. As early as 1675 the general community had been established long enough for its principal residences, in their outer and inner aspect alike, to have acquired some of the dignity distinguishing the ancient English manor houses; and in their intimate domestic annals, much of that charm which was thrown around the society of England in that age by ease of fortune, refined manners, wide culture and the amenities springing from the closest bonds of kinship and friendship.

Even these superior residences were, as a rule, built of wood. The history of William Fitzhugh's mansion was the history of nearly all-it had gradually spread out by the erection of wing after wing as his family grew in size, until the whole covered a considerable area of ground. The homes of this class of citizens contained, in the way of halls, diningrooms and chambers, ample space for the most generous entertainment of guests as well as for the comfortable accommodation of the regular inmates. The different apartments were furnished and ornamented after the most substantial and attractive patterns afforded by England. There was every variety of handsome bed, couch, chair and table. The floors were covered with carpets, the windows shaded by linen curtains, the chimneys hung with printed cottons, the bedframes adorned with gaily colored valences, the walls, in some cases, hung with tapestry, and in all, lined above the floor with panneling. In some houses, numerous portraits, in others, collections of books were to be seen. Open cupboards offered a shining array of both pewter and silver. In every drawing-room there were to be found musical instruments such as the virginal, the handlyre, fiddle, violin, flute, recorder and hautboy.

The wardrobes of men and women alike contained clothes of the latest English fashion. On gay occasions the men strutted about in camlet coats, with sleeves ending in lace ruffles; in waistcoats, black, white and blue, or adorned with patterns of Turkeyworked texture, and in trousers made of the finest plush or broadcloth. In their shoes they wore shining brass, steel or silver buckles, while they carried in their hands or pockets silk or lace handkerchiefs, delicately scented. As to the ladies' dress, there are in the inventories numerous references to silk or flowered gowns, bodices of blue linen or green satin, waistcoats, bonnets, and petticoats trimmed with silk or silver lace, sarsanet and calico hoods, scarfs of brilliant shades of color, mantles of crimson taffeta, laced and gallooned shoes, gilt and golden stomachers.

The tables of the wealthy citizens were loaded with a most varied abundance of food. The herds of cattle which ran almost wild supplied an inexhaustible quantity of milk, butter, cheese, veal and beef, while the hams were pronounced by travelers to be equal in flavor to those of Westphalia. Deer were shot in such numbers that the people were said to be tired of venison. On every plantation a flock of sheep nibbled the pastures; poultry abounded in every houseyard, partridges in the open fields, wild turkeys in the forests. Clouds of wild pigeons broke down the limbs of trees with their weight in the spring, and in autumn, countless duck and wild geese darkened the surface of the creeks, rivers and bays. Perch, bass, shad, pike and sheepshead were to be caught almost at the very door, while oysters and other shell fish could be raked up by the bushel from the bottom of the nearest inlet. Peaches, plums and apples were produced in every orchard, and figs and grapes in every garden. Sloes, scuppernongs and pawpaws were to be found along the banks of every shady stream. Wild strawberries were so plentiful that the domestic berry was neglected. Huge pumpkins and masses of peas sprang up in every cornfield between the stalks of maize. Potatoes, artichokes, onions, cymblins, watermelons-all were cultivated in profusion. Hickory and hazel nuts were to be picked up by the peck in the woods. Every table was supplied with homebrewed beer and cider. Perry was made from the juice of pears, punch from West Indian rum. The wines in domestic use were claret, Fayal, Madeira and Rhenish. It was a characteristic of the times that these fine wines could be bought in all the taverns.

With such abundance prevailing, it was natural that the people should have been extraordinarily hospitable-a feeling further promoted by the secluded life of the plantation. By 1675 negroes had become sufficiently numerous to furnish all the principal households with trained servants for life. Domestic service of that kind became more abundant still after that date, making the liberal entertainment of friends and strangers less troublesome than ever. The spirit of hospitality was further encouraged by the facilities for getting about from residence to residence afforded by sail or rowboats, for, as we have seen, every important mansion was situated on a navigable stream. The traveler was received everywhere with distinction. Beverley declared that the only recommendation needed by the stranger was that he was "a human creature," and that he had but to inquire of anyone he met on the public road the shortest way to the nearest gentleman's seat.

The Diversions of the People.

What were the popular diversions? Very free drinking in private and public was certainly one of the most favored. Governor Berkeley declared that "Virginia was as sober and temperate a colony, considering their quality, as was ever sent out of the kingdom," by which he meant that the Virginian planters, on the whole, were less bibulous than the English gentlemen of the same period. Whenever, however, a little company of citizens gathered together, whether as appraisers to value an estate, or as commissioners to accept a new bridge, or as county justices to hear causes, a liberal supply of spirits was kept near at hand to quench their thirst. But it was not always at their own tables, or in taverns, or at the courthouses that the planters laid the ground for the inroads of gout-there is at least one recorded instance of a little band of wealthy gentlemen having built in one of the counties a large banquetting hall.
As we have seen, there were numerous musical instruments to be observed in the drawing-rooms. The county records show that, among the slaves and servants, there were some who were especially valued for their skill in performing with the fiddle, and that this skill was often called into use at the entertainments in private houses. There is some evidence of play-acting occurring under the same roofs, which was natural enough after the Restoration, when the theatre had become in England a popular passion. Governor Berkeley himself was a playwright of no mean ability, and very probably encouraged this form of amusement in the parlors of his friends among the planters.

The game of ninepins was played at all the taverns and in many private residences. Equally popular was the game of cards known as "put." These games, as well as dice throwing, led to much gambling. Wagers were always sustained by the courts if the bet had been first reduced to writing, and was not in its nature injurious to public morals. But the betting was perhaps most active at the horse races, which formed the most popular of all open-air diversions. As late as 1673 only gentlemen were permitted to enter horses on the regular race course, and in that year a tailor was heavily fined by court for daring to violate this rule. The ordinary heats took place on Saturday as a half holiday, but in some parts of the colony there were what were known as Fall and Spring races.

It was the habit of the Virginians of every class, from their early youth, to use the gun. During many years the laws of the colony required that the head of every family should keep in his house, ready to hand, at least one firearm of some sort for every person under him able to employ such a weapon. Whether directed against wild game or Indians, the aim of the gunners was among the surest of those times. There was an extraordinary variety and abundance of birds for the exhibition of quick sight and firm nerves-partridge, wild pigeon and wild turkey on land, the wild goose and wild duck on the water, furnished constant sport in season. And so with the game pursued with dogs only. Though foxes were hunted, there is no surviving record of packs of trained hounds having been used. Hares were caught in large numbers by running them down or smoking them out of hollow trees. Raccoons and opossums were tracked at night in the forests, while bears and panthers were killed even in the older parts of the colony as late as 1683. Wolf driving was, in some counties, an annual diversion, while in all, capturing wild horses furnished a profitable amusement. Under the existing custom, all animals of this kind without an owner's mark belong to whoever could overtake and catch them. Another popular sport was fishing, chiefly with the rod, but seines, cast and stationary nets, as well as gill lines, were in common use. The most exciting form of the sport, however, was "striking," a method adopted from the Indians. This was done after nightfall with spears by the light of a flaming brazier fixed in the prow of the boat.

Much diversion was also derived by the people from such public or semi-public occasions as the funeral, wedding, the assemblage at church, court and muster days.

Having in most of the counties to travel far to attend a funeral, the persons present were always treated by the family of the deceased as special guests who were in particular need of refreshment after the obsequies were concluded. Extraordinary provision was made for their entertainment. At one funeral occurring in York county in 1667, it required twenty-two gallons of cider, twenty-four of beer and five of brandy to assuage the mourners' thirst. A whole ox and a half dozen sheep were not infrequently roasted to satisfy their hunger.

The wedding was marked by a gayety that was both prolonged and extravagant. The country neighborhoods were not so thickly settled that an occasion of this kind occurred so frequently as, by rapid repetition, to dull the edge of the pleasure derived from dancing, feasting and a reunion of friends and acquaintances. Most of the guests had to come from distant plantations, and were in no humor to shorten the festivities. Of a more promiscuous character was the popular assembly at the musters. From the remotest corners of the county the people gathered, some trudging on foot, some perhaps traveling in cart and rude carriages, but the greater number riding on horseback, with their wives and daughters perched up behind them on pillions. The muster itself, by varying the character of the occasion with a military display, gave a fillip to its social pleasures. The event very probably also had its darker side in the presence of many who were disposed to indulge too freely in spirits. A free enjoyment of rough horseplay was also a characteristic of the monthly court. In spite of the fact that its principal aspects were political and business, the occasion was invariably enlivened by drunken bouts, which were not entirely confined to the lowest class of the population present. This was so well known that discontented indentured servants very often took advantage of the relaxed vigilance of that hour to make their preparations for flight.

The holding of services in the parish church gave rise to an occasion which was as remarkable for its social as for its religious aspects. In this edifice all the free people of the parish were required by law to assemble every Sabbath morning. Apart from any desire to join in public worship, the prospect of meeting friends and acquaintances must have had a strong influence in bringing a large number of persons together at the church door. Before and after the hour of service, they had a full opportunity to mingle in the closest social intercourse. For a few hours the church was the centre of overflowing life. A spirit of social kindness, as well as of religious devotion, was nourished from Sunday to Sunday; the bonds of mutual sympathy and helpfulness were made more intimate ; the more innocent vanities aired; the manners of the young improved by contact with their elders, and the minds of the old refreshed by renewed association with their neighbors.

BIBLIOGRAPHY. - Abstracts of Proceedings of the Virginia Company of London (2 Vols., Va. Hist. Society Publications); Beverley, Robert: History of Virginia (Richmond, Va., 1855); British Public Records Office, Original Papers Relating to Virginia in the Seventeenth Century; Brown, Alexander: Genesis of the United States (2 Vols., Boston, 1891); Bruce, Philip Alexander: Economic History of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century (New York, 1896); Bulloch, William: Virginia (London, 1649); Byrd, William, Sr.: Letters of (Va. Hist. Soc. Mss. Colls.); County Records for Seventeenth Century, Copies in Va. State Library, originals at Virginia Courthouses; Fitzhugh, William: Letters of (Va. Hist. Soc. Mss. Coll.); Ford, Peter: Collection of Historical Documents Relating to Colonies of North America (4 Vols., Washington, D. C., 1836-46); General Court of Virginia, Mss. Records of 1670-76 (Va. Hist. Soc. Mss. Coll.); Godwyn, Morgan: Negro's and Indian's Advocate (London, 1680); Hamor, Ralph: True Discourse; Hartwell, Chilton and Blair: Present State of Virginia, 1696-7 (London, 1727); Hellier, Thomas: Life of (London, 1680); Hening, Wm. Waller: Virginia Statutes at Large (Vols. I., II., III.); Hotten, J. C.: Original Lists of Emigrants to America, 1600-1700 (New York, 1874); James, E. W.: Lower Norfolk County Antiquary; Ludwell Mss. (Va. Hist. Soc. Mss. Coll.); McDonald Papers (7 Vols. Mss. Va. State Library); Neill, Rev. E. D.: English Colonization of America (London, 1871), History of Virginia Company of London, 1606-24 (Albany, N. Y., 1869), Virginia Carob rum, 1625-85 (Albany, 1869), Virginia Vetusta; Percy, George: Discourse; Randolph Mss. (Va. Hist. Soc. Mss. Coll.); Robinson, Conway: Transcripts of Miscellaneous Mss. (Va. Hist. Soc. Mss. Coll.); Royal Historical Mss. Commission Reports (8 Vols.); Sainsbury, E. Noel: Abstracts of Records in British Public Record Office relating to Virginia in the Seventeenth Century (Va. State Library); Smith, Capt. John: Works of (edited by Prof. Arber, Birmingham, England, 1884); Spelman, Henry: Relation of Virginia; Spottswood, Gov. Alexander: Official Letters of (Va. Hist. Soc. Pubs.); Stith, William. History of Virginia (Williamsburg, Va., 1747); Strachey, William: Hastorie of Travaile into Virginie Britannia; Virginia Historical Register (6 Vols., Va. Hist. Soc. Pubs.); Virginia Land Patents, 1621-1700 (Va. State Capitol); Virginia Magazine of History and Biography (Va. Hist. Soc. Pubs.); William and Mary College Quarterly (Williamsburg, Va.); Winder Papers (2 Vols., Va. State Library).

PHILIP ALEXANDER BRUCE,
Author of The Economic History of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century.


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