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One large frying pan & three paires of Irish stockings

From John Smith’s The Generall Histories of Virginia (1624)


This post comes from a text published in 1622, advising prospective pilgrims travelling to the New World on the provisions they needed to take with them; ‘such necessaries as either private families or single persons shall have cause to furnish themselves’ to prevent the hindrance of the ‘Progresse of that noble Plantation.’ What’s particularly interesting is that the text sheds light not only on what may have been a typical family’s belongings, but also on the costs involved in purchasing everyday items such as shirts and wooden spoons. I’ve used the National Archives to gather the modern price equivalents: a penny in 1620 was worth about 40p, a shilling about £4.80, and a pound about £96.


Apparrell. Apparrell for one man, and so after the rate for more.

One Monmouth Cap — 00 li. 01 s. 10 d.
Three falling bands [collars] — li. 01 s. 03 d.
Three shirts — li. 07 s. 06 d.
One waste-coate — li. 02 s. 02 d.
One suite of Canvase — li. 07 s. 06 d.
One suite of Frize [woollen cloth] — li. 10 s. 00 d.
One suite of Cloth — li. 15 s. 00 d.
Three paire of Irish stockings — li. 04 s. — d.
Foure paire of shooes — li. 08 s. 08 d.
One paire of garters — li. 00 s. 10 d.
One doozen of points [laces] — li. 00 s. 03 d.
One paire of Canvase sheets — li. 08 s. 00 d.
Seven ells [one ell was c.45 inches] of Canvase, to make a bed and boulster, to be filled in Virginia 8. s.—
One Rug for a bed 8. s. which with the bed serving for two men, halfe is—li. 08 s. 00 d.
Five ells coorse Canvase, to make a bed at Sea for two men, to be filled with straw, iiij. s.—
One coorse Rug at Sea for two men, will cost vj. s. is for one—— li. 05 s. 00 d.

[sub-total] 04 li. 00 s. 00 d.


Victuall. For a whole yeere for one man, and so for more after the rate.

Eight bushels of Meale —02 li. 00 s. 00 d.
Two bushels of pease at 3. s.— li. 06 s. 00 d.
Two bushels of Oatemeale 4. s. 6. d. — li. 09 s. 00 d.
One gallon of Aquavitae — li. 02 s. 06 d.
One gallon of Oyle — li. 03 s. 06 d.
Two gallons of Vineger 1. s. — li. 02 s. 00 d.
[sub-total] 03 li. 03 s. 00 d.


Armes. For one man, but if halfe of your men have armour it is sufficient so that all have Peeces and swords.

One Armour compleat, light — li. 17 s. 00 d.
One long Peece, five foot or five and a halfe, neere Musket bore — 01 li. 02 s. — d.
One sword — li. 05 s. — d.
One belt — li. 01 s. — d.
One bandaleere [a broad belt to support a musket] — li. 01 s. 06 d.
Twenty pound of powder — li. 18 s. 00 d.
Sixty pound of shot or lead, Pistoll and Goose shot — li. 05 s. 00 d.
[sub total] 03 li. 09 s. 06 d.


Tooles. For a family of 6 persons and so after the rate for more.

Five broad howes [hoes] at 2. s. a piece — li. 10 s. — d.
Five narrow howes at 16. d. a piece — li. 06 s. 08 d.
Two broad Axes at 3. s. 8. d. a piece — li. 07 s. 04 d.
Five felling Axes at 18. d. a piece — li. 07 s. 06 d.
Two steele hand sawes at 16. d. a piece — li. 02 s. 08 d.
Two two-hand-sawes at 5. s. a piece — li. 10 s. — d.
One whip-saw, set and filed with box, file, and wrest — li. 10 s. — d.
Two hammers 12. d. a piece — li. 2 s. 00 d.
Three shovels 18. d. a piece — li. 04 s. 06 d.
Two spades at 18. d. a piece — li. 03 s. — d.
Two augers [tool to bore holes in wood] 6. d. a piece — li. 01 s. 00 d.
Sixe chissels 6. d. a piece — li. 03 s. 00 d.
Two percers [tool for boring holes] stocked 4. d. a piece — li. 00 s. 08 d.
Three gimlets [ditto] 2. d. a piece — li. 00 s. 06 d.
Two hatchets 21. d a piece — li. 03 s. 06 d.
Two froves to cleave pale [?] 18. d.— li. 03 s. 00 d.
Two hand-bills 20. a piece — li. 03 s. 04 d.
One grindlestone 4. s. — li. 04 s. 00 d.
Nailes of all sorts to the value of 02 li. 00 s. — d.
Two Pickaxes — li. 03 s. — d.
[sub-total] 06 li. 02 s. 08 d.


Household Implements. For a family of 6 persons, and so for more or lesse after the rate.

One Iron Pot 00 li. 07 s. — d.
One kettle — li. 06 s. — d.
One large frying-pan — li. 02 s. 06 d.
One gridiron — li. 01 s. 06 d.
Two skillets — li. 05 s. — d.
One spit — li. 02 s. — d.
Platters, dishes, spoones of wood — li. 04 s. — d.
[sub-total] 01 li. 08 s. 00 d.


For Suger, Spice, and fruit, and at Sea for 6 men —00 li. 12 s. 06 d. So the full charge of Apparrell, Victuall, Armes, Tooles, and houshold stuffe, and after this rate for each person, will amount unto about the summe of 12 li. 10 s. — d.

The passage of each man is 06 li. 00 s. — d.
The fraight of these provisions for a man, will bee about halfe a Tun, which is 01 li. 10 s. — d.

So the whole charge will amount to about 20 li. 00 s. 00 d [c.£1920 today]

Nets, hookes, lines, and a tent must be added, if the number of people be gretter, as also some kine. And this is the usuall proportion that the Virginia Company doe bestow upon their Tenants which they send. Whosoever transports himselfe or any other at his owne charge vnto Virginia, shall for each person so transported before Midsummer 1625, have to him and his heires for ever fifty Acres of Land upon a first, and fifty Acres upon a second division.


From Thomas Hariot’s A Brief Report of the New Found Land of Virginia (1590)



Colonies Exploration

Her men came amongst us with their Bowes and Arrowes

These fragments come from a description of Sir Walter’s Raleigh’s discovery of Virginia in 1584.

Queene Elizabeth, granted her Letters Patents to Sir Walter Raleigh for the discovering and planting new Lands & Countries, not actually possessed by any Christians. Sir Richard Grenvell the valiant, Mr William Sanderson a great friend, and divers other Gentlemen and Merchants, with all speede provided two small Barkes well furnished with all necessaries, under the command of Captaine Philip Amidas and Captaine Barlow. The 27. of Aprill 1584 they set sayle from the Thames, the tenth of May passed the Canaries, and the tenth of June the West Indies: which unneedfull Southerly course, (but then no better was knowne) occasioned them in that season much sicknesse.

The second of July they fell with the coast of Florida in shallow water, where they felt a most delicate sweete smell, though they saw no land, which ere long they espied, thinking it the Continent: an hundred and twenty myles they sayled not finding any harbor. The first that appeared, with much difficulty they entered, and anchored, and after thankes to God they went to view the next Land adjoyning to take possession of it for the Queenes most excellent Majestie. Which done, they found their first landing place very sandy and low, but so full of grapes that the very surge of the Sea sometimes over-flowed them: of which they found such plenty in all places, both on the sand, the greene soyle and hills, as in the plaines as well on every little shrub, as also climbing towardes the tops of high Cedars, that they did thinke in the world were not the like abundance.

We passed by the Sea-side towards the tops of the next hills being not high: from whence we might see the Sea on both sides, and found it an Isle of twentie myles in length, and six in breadth, the vallyes replenished with goodly tall Cedars. Discharging our Muskets, such a flocke of Cranes, the most white, arose by us, with such a cry as if an Army of men had shouted altogether. This Isle hath many goodly Woods, and Deere, Conies, and Foule in incredible abundance. Till the third day we saw not any of the people, then in a little Boat three of them appeared, one of them went on shore, to whom we rowed, and he attended us without any signe of feare; after he had spoke much though we understood not a word, of his owne accord he came boldly aboard us, we gave him a shirt, a hat, wine and meate, which he liked well, and after he had well viewed the barkes and us, he went away in his owne Boat, and within a quarter of a myle of us in halfe an houre, had loaden his Boat with fish, with which he came againe to the poynt of land, and there divided it in two parts, and so departed.

The next day came divers Boats, and in one of them the Kings Brother, with forty or fifty men, proper people, and their behaviour very civil; his name was Granganamco, the King is called Wingina, the Country Wingandacoa. Leaving his Boats a little from our Ships, he came with his trayne to the poynt: where spreading a Matte he sat downe. Though we came to him well armed, he made signes to us to sit downe without any shew of feare, stroking his head and brest, and also ours, to expresse his love. After he had made a long speech unto us, we presented him with divers toyes, which he kindly accepted. He was greatly regarded by his people, for none of them did sit, nor speake a word, but foure, on whom we bestowed presents also, but he tooke all from them, making signes all things did belong to him.

A day or two after shewing them what we had, Granganamco taking most liking to a Pewter dish, made a hole in it, hung it about his necke for a brest-plate: for which he gave us twenty Deere skins, worth twenty Crownes; and for a Copper Kettell, fiftie skins, worth fiftie Crownes. Much other trucke we had, and after two dayes he came aboord, and did eate and drinke with us very merrily. Not long after he brought his wife and children, they were but of meane stature, but well favoured and very bashfull; she had a long coat of Leather, and about her privities a peece of the same, about her forehead a band of white Corrall, and so had her husband, in her eares were bracelets of pearle, hanging downe to her middle, the bignesse of great Pease; the rest of the women had Pendants of Copper, and the Noblemen five or sixe in an eare; the apparrell as the wives, onely the women weare their haire long on both sides, and the men but on one; they are of colour yellow, but their hayre is blacke, yet we saw children that had very fayre Chesnut coloured hayre.

After that these women had beene here with us, there came downe from all parts great store of people, with Leather, Corrall, and divers kinde of dyes, but when Granganamco was present, none durst trade but himselfe, and them that wore red Copper on their heads, as he did. When ever he came, he would signifie by so many fires he came with so many boats, that we might know his strength. Their Boats are but one great tree, which is but burnt in the forme of a trough with gins and fire, till it be as they would have it. For an armour he would have engaged us a bagge of pearle, but we refused, as not regarding it, that wee might the better learn where it grew. He was very just of his promise, for oft we trusted him, and he would come within his day to keepe his word. He sent us commonly every day a brace of Bucks, Conies, Hares, and fish, sometimes Mellons, Walnuts,Cucumbers. Pease, and divers rootes.

After this acquaintance, my selfe with seaven more went twenty myle into the River Occam, that runneth toward the Cittie Skicoack, and the evening following we came to an Isle called Roanoak from the harbour where we entred 7. leagues. At the North end was 9 houses, builded with Cedar, fortified round with sharpe trees, and the entrance like a Turnpik. When we came towards it, the wife of Granganamco came running out to meete us, (her husband was absent) commanding her people to draw our Boat ashore for beating on the billowes. Others she appoynted to carry us on their backes a land, others to bring our Oars into the house. When we came into the other roome, (for there was five in the house) she caused us to sit downe by a great fire; after tooke off our clothes and washed them, of some our stockings, and some our feete in warme water, and she her selfe tooke much paines to see all things well ordered, and to provide us victuall.

After we had thus dryed our selves, she brought us into an Inner roome, where she set on the bord standing sodden venison, and rosted fish; in like manner mellons raw, boyled rootes and fruites of divers kindes. There drinke is commonly water boyled with Ginger, sometimes with Saxefras, and wholsome herbes, but whilest the grape lasteth they drinke wine. More love she could not expresse to entertaine us; they care but onely to defend themseles from the short winter, and feede on what they finde naturall in sommer. When we were at meate two or three of her men came amongst us with their Bowes and Arrowes, which caused us to take our armes in hand. She perceiving our distrust, caused their Bowes and Arrowes to be broken, and they beaten out of the gate: but the evening approaching we returned to our boate, where at she much grieving brought our supper halfe boyled, pots and all, but when she saw us but put our boat a little off from the shoar and lye at Anchor, perceiving our jelousie, she sent divers men & 30 women to sit all night on the shoare side against us, and sent us five Mats to cover us from the raine, doing all she could to perswade us to her house. Though there was no cause of doubt, we would not adventure: for on our safety depended the voyage: but a more kinde loving people cannot be found.

© 2009-2012 All Rights Reserved

That tract of land formerly called the New Netherlands

These fragments come from a description of New York from 1670.

That Tract of Land formerly called The New Netherlands, doth Contain all that Land which lieth in the North-parts of America, betwixt New-England and Mary-Land in Virginia, the length of which Northward into the Countrey, as it hath not been fully discovered, so it is not certainly known. The bredth of it is about two hundred miles: The principal Rivers within this Tract, are Hudsons River, Raritan-River, and Delewerhay-River. The chief Islands are the Manahatans-Island, Long-Island, and Staten-Island.

And first to begin with the Manahatans Island, so called by the Indians, it lieth within land betwixt the degrees of 41. and 42. of North-latitude, and is about 14 miles long, and two broad. It is bounded with Long-Island on the South, with Staten-Island on the West, on the North with the Main Land: And with Conecticut Colony on the East-side of it. Only a part of the Main Land belonging to the New-York Colony, where several Towns and Villages are setled, being about thirty miles in bredth, doth intercept the Manahatans Island, and the Colony of Conecticut before mentioned.

For about ten miles from New-York is a place called Hell-Gate, which being a narrow passage, there runneth a violent stream both upon flood and ebb, and in the middle lieth some Islands of Rocks, which the Current sets so violently upon, that it threatens present shipwrack; and upon the Flood is a large Whirlpool, which continually sends forth a hideous roaring, enough to affright any stranger from passing further. It is a place of great defence against any enemy coming in that way, which a small Fortification would absolutely prevent, and necessitate them to come in at the West end of Long-Island by Sandy Hook where Nutten-Island doth force them within Command of the Fort at New York, which is one of the best Pieces of Defence in the North parts of America.

New York is built most of Brick and Stone, and covered with red and black Tile, and the Land being high, it gives at a distance a pleasing Aspect to the spectators. The Inhabitants consist most of English and Dutch, and have a considerable Trade with the Indians, for Beavers, Otter, Raccoon skins, and other Furrs, as also Bear, Deer, and Elke skins. They are supplied with Venison and Fowl in the Winter, and Fish in the Summer by the Indians, which they buy at an easie rate.  Having the Countrey round about them, they are continually furnished with all such provisions as is needful for the life of man, not only by the English and Dutch within their own, but likewise by the Adjacent Colonies.

The Commodities sent from thence is Furs and Skins before-mentioned. Likewise Tobacco, made within the Colony, as good as is usually made in Mary-land: Also Horses, Beef, Pork, Oyl, Pease, Wheat, and the like.

Long-Island, the West-end of which lies Southward of New-York, runs Eastward above one hundred miles, and is in some places eight, in some twelve, in some fourteen miles broad; it is inhabited from one end to the other. On the West end is four or five Dutch Towns, the rest being all English to the number of twelve, besides Villages and Farm houses. The Island is most of it of a very good soyle, and very natural for all sorts of English Grain; which they sowe and have very good increase of, besides all other Fruits and Herbs common in England, as also Tobacco, Hemp, Flax, Pumpkins, Melons, &c.

The Fruits natural to the Island, are Mulberries, Posimons, Grapes great and small, Huckelberries, Cramberries, Plums of several sorts, Rosberries and Strawberries, of which last is such abundance in June, that the Fields and Woods are died red: Which the Countrey-people perceiving, instantly arm themselves with bottles of Wine, Cream, and Sugar, and in stead of a Coat of Male, every one takes a Female upon his Horse behind him, and so rushing violently into the fields, never leave till they have disrob’d them of their red colours, and turned them into the old habit.

The greatest part of the Island is very full of Timber, as Oaks white and red, Walnut-trees, Chesnut-trees, which yield store of Mast for Swine, and are often therewith sufficiently fatted with Oat-Corn: as also Maples, Cedars, Saxifrage, Beach, Birch, Holly, Hazel, with many sorts more.

The Herbs which the Countrey naturally afford, are Purslain, white Orage, Egrimony, Violets, Penniroyal, Alicampane, besides Saxaparilla very common, with many more. Yea, in May you shall see the Woods and Fields so curiously bedecke with Roses, and an innumerable multitude of delightful Flowers, not only pleasing the eye, but smell, that you may behold Nature contending with Art, and striving to equal, if not excel many Gardens in England: nay, did we know the vertue of all those Plants and Herbs growing there (which time may more discover) many are of opinion, and the Natives do affirm, that there is no disease common to the Countrey, but may be cured without Materials from other Nations.

There is several Navigable Rivers and Bays, which puts into the North-side of Long-Island, but upon the South-side which joyns to the Sea, it is so fortified with bars of sands and sholes, that it is a sufficient defence against any enemy, yet the South-side is not without Brooks and Riverets, which empty themselves into the Sea. Neither do the Brooks and Riverets premised, give way to the Frost in Winter, or draught in Summer, but keep their course throughout the year.  These Rivers are very well furnished with Fish, as Bosse, Sheepsheads, Place, Pearch, Trouts, Eels, Turtles, and divers others.

The Island is plentifully stored with all sorts of English Cattel. Horses, Hogs, Sheep, Goats, &c. no place in the North of America better, which they can both raise and maintain, by reason of the large and spacious Medow, or Marches wherewith it is furnished, the Island likewise producing excellent English grass, the seed of which was brought out of England, which they sometime mow twice a year.

For wilde Beasts there is Deer, Bear, Wolves, Foxes, Racoons, Otters, Musquashes and Skunks. Wild Fowl there is great store of, as Turkies, Heath-Hens, Quailes, Partridges, Pidgeons, Cranes, Geese of several sorts, Brants, Ducks, Widgeon, Teal, and divers others: There is also the red Bird, with divers sorts of singing birds, whose chirping notes salute the ears of Travellers with an harmonious discord, and in every pond and brook green silken Frogs, who warbling forth their untun’d tunes strive to bear a part in this musick.

Upon the South-side of Long-Island in the Winter, lie store of Whales and Crampasses, which the inhabitants begin with small boats to make a trade Catching to their no small benefit. Also an innumerable multitude of Seals, which make an excellent oyle; they lie all the Winter upon some broken Marshes and Beaches, or bars of sand before-mentioned, and might be easily got were there some skilful men would undertake it.

To say something of the Indians, there is now but few upon the Island, and those few no ways hurtful but rather serviceable to the English. Since the English first setling of those parts; for since my time, where there were fix towns, they are reduced to two small Villages, and it hath been generally observed, that where the English come to settle, a Divine Hand makes way for them, by removing or cutting off the Indians, either by Wars one with the other, or by some raging mortal Disease. They live principally by Hunting, Fowling, and Fishing: their Wives being the Husbandmen to till the Land, and plant their corn.

Now to conclude, its possible some may say, what needs a Relation of a place of so long standing as New York hath been? In answer to which I have said something before, as to satisfie the desires of many that never had any Relation of it.  Secondly, though it hath been long setled, yet but lately reduced to his Majesties obedience, and by that means but new or unknown to the English; Else certainly those great number of Furs, that have been lately transported from thence into Holland had never past the hands of our English Furriers: Thirdly, never any Relation before was published to my knowledge, and the place being capable of entertaining so great a number of inhabitants, where they may with Gods blessing, and their own industry, live as happily as any people in the world. A true Relation was necessary, not only for the encouragement of many that have a desire to remove themselves, but for the satisfaction of others that would make a trade thither.

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