Next Tea Party Friday March 4th

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Forbidden Love and Wedding Banns in Colonial America

The institution of marriage is as old as time itself. With it there are many customs and practices that have been observed. In Colonial America, the popular months for weddings were late December, January and early February. In order for a marriage to take place the couple would need to obtain a marriage license or publish their intent to wed by posting banns.

In 1628, an act in Virginia forbade marriages “without lycence or asking in church.” In 1632, the act stated that “noe mynister shall celebrate matrymony betweene any persons without a facultie or lycense graunted by the Governor except the banes of matrymony have beene first published three severall Sondayes or holidayes” in a church where the couple resided.

The Banns:

The banns of marriage is a proclamation of the intention of a couple to wed. The upcoming marriage would be announced verbally or posted prominently in a Christian church or meeting house on three consecutive Sundays or in a public place. If the bride and groom were from different parishes or towns, then the publication would be made known at both locations. The purpose was to give the community the opportunity to site any reason that would impede a legal union between the pair. In some instances, the third and final announcement would also suffice as an official proclamation that the couple was then married.

Example of Banns:
I publishe the Banns of Marriage between Robert Preston of New Haven and Priscilla Fuller of Milford. If any known cause or just impediment why these two persons should not be joined together in Holy Matrimony, ye are to declare it. This is the 1st time asking.

Impediments to Marriage: 
Note: Laws varied from colony to colony and during various time periods, but these are some general prohibitions.

Age of Consent - Between 1650 and 1750, most women married at about the age of 20-22, while men married at about 24-27 years of age. This was slightly younger in the South as it was in New England. However, it was not typically legal for a female to marriage prior to the age of 16 without her parent's consent. Parents could not arbitrarily withhold permission for their offspring to marry. In fact, some children sued their parents for doing so.

Kinship - Marriages that fell within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity (blood relations) were not allowed. However, first cousin marriage was permissible as well as marriage between brother and sister-in-laws. (First cousin marriage continued until the 19th century and although it is not widely socially acceptable in our current time, it is in most states legal.) 

Bigamy - Forbidden when one partner was already married. (The first divorce in the colonies was granted in 1639 on the grounds of bigamy, while in England divorce could only be obtained by an act of Parliament.) 

Indentured servants - The terms of a contract of indenture had to be complete before a person could marry.

Interracial Matrimony
- Marriage between a white person and a black or Native American person was prohibited according to such laws instituted in Virginia in 1691. This would result in banishment from the colony. Naturally, there were exceptions, such as John Rolfe and Pocahontas. In Pennsylvania in 1726 a free black man marrying a white woman could be forced into slavery. (It wasn't until 1967 when the US Supreme Court overturned laws declaring it illegal for an interracial couple to marry.)

During my research of vital records I came across some marriages that were forbidden to take place, proving the effectiveness and wisdom of publishing the wedding banns.

On June 27, 1767 the banns of marriage were forbidden by Hannah York as she had not been asked or ever consented to be wed to Jeremiah Varell.
The nuptials of Anstrice Fellows and William Baker, sojourner, were posted on Sept. 3, 1837. Yet the banns were forbidden by a court of justice as William Baker had a wife living.
The Bonds:

Since the publishing of banns required three weeks, the more expedient method of getting married would be for the bridegroom to obtain a license in the bride's county of residence. This was very expensive and also required a bond to ensure that there was no impediment to the marriage. In order for a bond to be issued, a close relative or friend would go with the bridegroom to the clerk and essentially guarantee that the groom had no reason that would prevent him from legally marrying the bride. If this was later found to be untrue, the groom would be required to pay a penalty in the the amount of the bond (usually $500 or greater).
A marriage bond was useful especially in frontier regions as the country expanded when it was not always possible for people to be familiar with the identity of the groom or bride. This was the precursor to "if anyone knows just cause that these two should not be wed, speak now or forever hold your peace."

Certification that banns have been published.

Pattern for Romance

Now on Audible (Listen to sample)

Honour Metcalf’s quilting needlework is admired by a wealthy customer of the Boston Mantua-maker for whom she works. In need of increasing her earnings, she agrees to create an elaborate white work bridal quilt for the dowager’s niece. A beautiful design emerges as she carefully stitches the intricate patterns and she begins to dream of fashioning a wedding quilt of her own.

New Englander Carla Olson Gade writes from her home amidst the rustic landscapes of Maine. With eight books in print, she enjoys bringing her tales to life with historically authentic settings and characters. An avid reader, amateur genealogist, photographer, and house plan hobbyist, Carla's great love (next to her family) is historical research. Though you might find her tromping around an abandoned homestead, an old fort, or interviewing a docent at an historical museum, it's easier to connect with her online at carlagade.com. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Care and Feeding of Colonial Livestock

Google books is an invaluable resource!
It started, as so often happens, as a quest to find a scrap of research info. I just wanted to know whether or not a backcountry farmer would feed oats to his saddle horse. I mean, they couldn't just drive down to their local feed store and bring home a bag of Omelene.

I asked my trusty 18cLife Yahoo group, which led to a whole array of answers.

Among other things, I was pointed to a handy resource: an old book, now available online, titled The Discipline of the Light-Horse by Captain Hinde of the Royal Regiment of Foresters. I discovered that oats were, indeed, common provender for horses since at least colonial times, and I plan on taking time to read the entire book. Though written with an eye to the War of 1812, it contains many references to the American Revolution.

Something else I learned, though, was that Germanic settlers--Germans, yes, but also Dutch and other continental Europeans of varying religious backgrounds--were the ones who introduced the concept of large-scale farming with big barns and big hay wagons. The practice of farming the land on purpose (for "business," some said) and rotating crops were a curiosity to their British neighbors, who generally turned out their livestock to roam and graze, then herded them in as needed. Thus, the term "Cow Pens" where the famous South Carolina battle got its name was an actual area where pens were built for the periodic containment of cattle. Saddle and work horses might either be pastured or staked out to graze. Horses and cattle both do just fine on grass only, or hay with a bit of grain in the winter, but they'd need to spend a lot of time grazing because it takes a lot of grass to feed that large of an animal. Hogs and chickens or other yard fowl were also left to roam.

Cattle drives were a thing long before the West was won
The purpose of fencing or stables in colonial times, in the backcountry or on the frontier, was more for the purpose of keeping predators out than containing livestock.

The rich meadows and forests of South Carolina were actually considered cattle country at one time, and many savvy cattlemen were of African descent, whether enslaved or not, trusted with the keeping and care of herds. The Florida "Crackers" (as in, the cracking sound of the cattle drivers' whips) were also famed for their ability to work cattle in the harsh conditions of central Florida, through heat and torrential rains.

So, what did the colonial farmer raise crops for, if not to feed his livestock? The concept of the cash crop (tobacco, rice, indigo) dates back to at least the first settlement at Jamestown, and like it or not, much of the grains grown (corn, barley) went into grain liquor, especially the making of whiskey. (There's a whole discussion, in fact, on how the different spellings of whisky and whiskey denote a British-made product or an American-made one.)

I was able to find "provenance for my provender," in the case of whether to feed a favored saddle horse at least an occasional bit of oats, but it probably wasn't the norm for every farmer, especially not in the Carolinas.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance Book Review by Tina Rice

Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance, 2nd Edition (Hearts Overcoming Press, January 2016) by Carrie Fancett Pagels. Under new cover beautifully designed by Roseanna White. 

Blurb: Abducted against his will, theater manager Matthew Scott is conscripted into the Confederate army because of his Copperhead senator father’s political leanings. Injured at Malvern Hill, Matthew is taken by the Union army to Shirley Plantation in Virginia where he is tended by seamstress Angelina Rose, a freed slave. Given an opportunity to leave the South and start a new life for herself, Angelina remained for the sake of her sister’s orphaned twins who are still enslaved. Matthew must use his acting skills to remain safe. Will his return to Shirley Plantation settle a mystery concerning his father’s past? And will Matthew find the family he longs for?
Shirley Plantation in Charles City, Virginia

Five Stars *****
Review by Tina Rice

Matthew Scott heads a very successful theatrical group in Ohio and has no plans in joining the war on either side. However, because of his father's political ties, he is conscripted to fight in the Confederate Army. During a battle he is wounded and taken to the Shirley Plantation along with other wounded soldiers where the Army has set up a field hospital.

Angelina Rose is a freed slave and is a servant at the Plantation. However, things change quickly when the Army takes over the Plantation making it a field hospital. Angelina is disguised in a black mourning dress as the widow of a Carter relative. Since she is 1/8 African and is light skinned, she easily passes as a family member. She has a job lined up as a seamstress but would not leave her niece and nephew behind who are still slaves. Besides, God has impressed on her to wait.

While helping the wounded Angelina meets a handsome soldier, Matthew and is drawn to him. But will he still be interested in her when he learns of her heritage? What secrets will Matthew learn about his own heritage and how will that affect his life? Can Matthew and Angelina trust God to guide them and will their growing love survive the many secrets as they are revealed? What does the future hold for them?

I love books about the south and the Civil War time period, not about the war but the history, people and the relationships. This book is full of history of that time as well as the struggles of the soldiers and the families left home waiting for their return. As a nurse the field hospital and medical practices of the 1800's is fascinating. I enjoyed reading about the characters, their struggles, triumphs and faith-how they sought God in their decisions, small or large. The story ended too soon for me, would have liked to read more of their story.

Bio: Tina Rice is a newer member of Colonial Quills. She is a reader/reviewer who loves Christian fiction and colonial times. Tina lives with her family in Maryland.

Giveaway of a paperback or ebook copy (USA only for paperback): Answer this question: How many books have you read where the heroine was a former slave?  

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Use of Oxen in Colonial Times by Cynthia Howerter

During a visit to Colonial Williamsburg several years ago, I encountered a man driving a pair of yoked oxen down Duke of Gloucester Street. The late Darin Tschopp was not only a caring oxen driver, he was also an excellent teacher with a vast knowledge of oxen and their use in colonial America.

Having never seen oxen before, I stopped and listened as Mr. Tschopp spoke to onlookers about his team.

Like the rest of the gathering crowd, I stood well away from the bovines, mostly because their horns looked intimidating and they were huge animals, but also because I lacked knowledge about the temperament of such powerful-looking beasts.

Mr. Tschopp explained that oxen are gentle, but I was dubious until a young boy stepped forward. The animals stood still and contented while the lad stroked their heads and ears. This was a point of favor with the colonists who needed animals to perform all of the heavy labor without being aggressive to their handlers.

Mr. Tschopp explained that oxen are smart. Capable of learning twenty verbal commands, training begins when they are calves. Small yokes pair two young oxen together to get them used to working as a team. Unless something happens to one, the same two are generally always teamed together. As oxen grow, they're given light loads to pull that don't cause injuries to the still immature bodies. They reach maturity at about four years of age. After that, it's their job to handle heavy chores.

Because of their size and strength, colonists used oxen for strenuous work on farms and in towns. On another visit to Colonial Williamsburg, I observed a team of oxen yoked to a cart loaded with firewood. I took the photo below after the cart had been emptied next to a summer kitchen.

Settlers in the colonies' backcountry discovered that Indians were less likely to steal oxen than horses. On farms and plantations, oxen's great strength enabled them to pull heavy objects like downed trees and bulky stones as well as drag plows through fields. Capable of pulling several tons, oxen teams transported supplies for the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War over rough terrain and crude paths that served as roads. Washington's army depended on these animals.

Eventually, Mr. Tschopp and his team made their way to a small field at the edge of town where I observed these beautiful animals responding to their master's commands. The oxen driver used no whip on the animals, just words which he spoke in a gentle but firm manner.

In memory of Colonial Williamsburg's oxen driver Darin Tschopp 
who allowed me to observe that gentleness comes in all sizes.

Award-winning author Cynthia Howerter loves using her training in education, research, writing, and speaking to teach and inspire others about a time in America that was anything but boring. A member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), Cynthia believes history should be alive and personal.

You can find Cynthia Howerter on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Google+.

Visit her website: Cynthia Howerter - all things historical.

Photographs ©2016 Cynthia Howerter

Monday, February 1, 2016

Do you dance, Mr. Darcy?

"What a charming amusement for young people this is, Mr. Darcy! There is nothing like dancing, after all. I consider it as one of the first refinements of polished societies."
"Certainly, sir; and it has the advantage also of being in vogue amongst the less polished societies of the world; every savage can dance.”

That is taken, as most can guess, from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. And, as aptly stated, every "savage" can dance. And colonist, too, for that matter.

So what were the colonial's kicking their heels to as they settled the Americas?

Hornpipes—sprightly, free-form solo dance pieces—it seems. At least at the very beginning. But, as the colonists sought to emulate the culture in England, where dancing was very popular, homes, taverns, and official buildings hosted balls. Soon, good dancing became associated with good breeding. If you really wanted to impress someone, a dance like the minuet, with its more complicated moves requiring balance and coordination, would be important to master.

Besides the minuets, other "fancy dances" consisted of allemandes, hornpipes, and such.

Then there were "country dances." They often included jigs and reels—more loosely structured dances derived from the traditions of Africans and Scots. Some of these were later formalized for the upper class, as well.

In America, more than just maneuvering around one's partner was seen on the dance floor. In the time leading up to and during the American Revolution, dancers used the ballroom to make political statements. Their dress, choice of partners, and selection of dances were all employed. Wearing a homespun gown or suit to a ball demonstrated an alliance to the patriot cause, as did refusing to dance with Tories. The ballroom sometimes gave colonial women an unusual amount of power, since they were encouraged to make conversation with men. They could thereby voice their opinions without stepping outside the bounds of acceptable female behavior.

But even the men had statements to make. Unlike in England where aristocracy was entrenched and well defined, Colonial society was far more fluid. The nouveau riche were everywhere, and a hefty pocketbook could buy your way into the upper class provided you fit in socially...or, in other words, you could dance. A difficult task for many newly rich who hadn't received the same training as those born to wealth. The dance master became a gatekeeper into "polite society."

While dancing was definitely an enjoyable activity for many in America, with all the pressure to perform to meet society's expectation, I do not doubt that some shared a certain Englishman’s sentiment:

“Do you dance, Mr. Darcy?" 
"Not if I can help it!"

Excited to announce this month's release of Dancing Up a Storm, an anthology with my short story, "When I'm Gone.

Summer 1942. Just before the competition that could launch their careers as professional ballroom dancers, Elaine Mathews’s partner, James Larson, gets drafted into the army. Now, with her dreams and the man she loves hanging in the balance, Elaine must acknowledge what she’s most afraid to lose.

Angela K Couch is an award-winning author for her short stories, and a semi-finalist in ACFW’s2015 Genesis Contest for her Revolutionary War novel that will be published by Pelican Book Group. As a passionate believer in Christ, her faith permeates the stories she tells. Her martial arts training, experience with horses, and appreciation for good romance sneak in there, as well. Angela lives in Alberta, Canada with her “hero” and three munchkins.

www.angelakcouch.com     Facebook     Twitter    Amazon