Category Archives: Family

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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)



Family Marriage Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s Grand-daughter, David Garrick, and A Mulberry Tree

Elizabeth Hall and Thomas Nash c.1626. 
 On display at Nash’s House, Stratford-On-Avon  © SBT   

Shakespeare’s last known living relative, his grand-daughter Elizabeth, is an elusive figure in Shakespeare scholarship and little is known about her. I found the following snippets in a little leaflet from Abington Park Museum in Northamptonshire, which is located on the site of Elizabeth’s former home.

In 1607, Shakespeare’s eldest daughter Susannah married Dr John Hall of Stratford-on-Avon. In 1608, Susannah gave birth to Elizabeth. Elizabeth eventually married Thomas Nash, but he died in 1647, and in 1649, she married for a second time. Her husband was Mr (later Sir) John Bernard of Abington. He was a widower; his first wife, also an Elizabeth, was the daughter of Sir Clement Edmonds.

Elizabeth Nash and John Bernard were married on 5th June 1649, near Stratford-on-Avon. They moved to Abington Manor in Northamptonshire after their wedding and lived there for twenty years. During their marriage, Elizabeth gave birth to eight children, all of whom tragically predeceased her. She died in February 1670, just a few weeks after her husband Sir John had sold their home to William Thursby of Middle Temple, London. Besides an entry in the burial register, there are few formal records of Elizabeth, and certainly little surviving recognition of her as the last living descendant of Shakespeare. No stone marks the spot where she was buried. However, since Abington Church was partially destroyed in 1823, it is possible that a monument or inscription related to her disappeared at this time.

Possible portrait of Elizabeth c.1660

Elizabeth’s husband followed her to the grave in 1674. In 1902, a member of the Bernard family had the following inscription added to his memorial:

Also to Elizabeth, second wife of Sir John Bernard, Knight (Shakespeare’s Grand-daughter and the Last of the Direct Descendants of the poet), who departed this life on 17th February, MDCLXIX, Aged 64 years. Mors set janua vitae.

It is impossible to know if any of Shakespeare’s manuscripts or personal papers went with Elizabeth to Abington Manor. Elizabeth’s mother Susannah was still alive when her daughter married John Bernard in 1649, and it would seem reasonable to suppose she visited her daughter in her new home at least once. However Susannah died in July 1649, just a month after the wedding. She was Shakespeare’s sole surviving executor, her husband having died c.1636, and as such she may have had some of Shakespeare’s papers in her possession. It is impossible to say whether Susannah passed on her father’s papers to Elizabeth. If she did, it is (tantalisingly!) and theoretically possible they still exist somewhere, but they are unlikely to be at Abington Manor, since William Thursby pulled down most of the old house when he rebuilt it in 1678.

Postcard of Abington Manor c.1901-10

Abington Manor also has another connection with Shakespeare. Anne Hanbury, wife of John Harvey Thursby, who owned the house in 1764, was a big Shakespeare enthusiast, and a close friend of the actor David Garrick. Garrick visited Abington Manor in 1778, and supposedly planted a cutting from the Mulberry tree in Shakespeare’s Stratford garden. It seems unlikely the cutting did indeed originate from Shakespeare’s tree, since Francis Gastrell, owner of New Place, famously cut down the Mulberry tree in 1756. The wood was supposedly sold to a Thomas Sharpe who, in a rather enterprising manner, is said to have carved Shakespeare mementos from it. (Some of these can be seen at Nash House in Stratford-on-Avon).
Garrick as Richard III (William Hogarth, 1745) 
However, a more recent owner of Abington wrote that Garrick had been occupied with organising Shakespeare celebrations in Stratford prior to retiring from the stage in 1776, and might have had access to a cutting or sapling of Shakespeare’s tree. In any event, the tree at Abington once sported a brass plate, now in Abington Park Museum, which bears the following inscription:

David Garrick, Esq. planted this Tree, at the request of Anne Thursby, as a growing Testimony of their Friendship, Feby, 1778.

Anne Thursby died on 22nd April 1778. She was apparently a woman of high spirits who was rumoured to gamble. Her epitaph reads:

Here lies the Daughter of William Hanbury of Kelmarsh in the country of Northampton and wife to John Harvey Thursby the Second. What sort of Woman she was the Last Day will determine.

      Woodcut of Mulberry Tree (1607)

Source: Abington Park Museum, Northamptonshire. Thanks to Paul Fraser Webb.

© 2009-2012 All Rights Reserved
Children Family Household School

Thou shalt be burned with them in Hell Fire


These fragments come from a 17th century book entitled A Little Book for Children and Youth.  As well as revealing details of the ubiquitous religious tyranny which children in this period were subjected to, the text also offers some lovely domestic detail about a typical day in the life of a 17th century school child.

The reason why I write these instructions for little Children is because I find by sad Experience how the Towns and Streets are filled with lewd wicked Children, and many Children as they have played about the Streets have been heard to curse and swear and call one another Nick-names, and it would grieve ones Heart to hear what bawdy and filthy Communications proceeds from the Mouths of such. And the little ones they learn of the bigger, and so soon as they go or speak they are running fast to Hell. But my dear Child, thou that hast this little book in thine hand to read, I hope thou wilt not learn of the naughty Children to swear and lye and call thy Play-fellows Nick-names, and profane the Sabbath as they do.  If thou do as they do, thou shalt be burned with them in Hell Fire, for they are the Devil’s Children.

A Child of God is one that dearly loves God and Christ. He knows that the Lord Jesus Christ so loved him that he came down and suffered Hunger and Thirst, Misery and Sorrow. Now this Child that loves Jesus has a special love for them that he think loves Christ, and if at any time he hear any discoursing of Christ, and of good things, O! how he does love to be among them, and will sit three or foure hours together a listening. He is very careful of himself that he do not Curse or Swear or Lye nor do anything that is offending to God. And if at any time he unawares tells a Lye, or speaks a naughty Word, or Plays, when the poor child thinks upon what he has done he falls a-weeping and he cannot be contented until he has been upon his knees in some corner, and there begged pardon for what he has done.

A good Child is one that loves his Book, and if his Father and Mother send him to School, then up he gets in the morning betimes, he dresses himself, and then as soon as he is drest, he goes into some corner to Prayers, and having done, he goes to his Father and Mother and makes obedience to them, and then he prays to his Mother to give him Breakfast that he may be gone, then away he hies to School and strives to be there before any of the rest of the Schollars. And those two hours at Noon, which are allowed to Schollars to play, if his School-fellows are rude and wanton, he will not go to play amongst them, but will seek about the Town or Street to find out such Children as are good and civil, and will spend the time in Discoursing  with them about God and Christ, and the matters of another World. And so will keep them company until one of the clock, that is time to go to School again. And whilst he is at School, let the other Schollars play and do what they will, this good Child will be careful to mind his Book, and learn his Lesson. And then towards Night as soon as he comes home, having made obedience to his Father and Mother, he asketh his Mother if she have anything for him to do. If she says no, then he takes his Bible and reads a chapter, and then he tell his Father and Mother what he has learn’d at School and then he goes by himself into some corner to Prayers.

© 2009-2012 All Rights Reserved
Curiosities Death Family

She had a colour as fresh as a rose

These fragments come from a strange and troubling late 17th century account of a young girl who was dug up from her grave and put on public view by her father. Whether the exhumation took place to confirm the allegedly abusive behaviour of her employers, or whether her father had decided to exploit her death for financial gain, is a mystery.

There was a person who lived in Newgate-Street, a Servant, whose name was Grace Ashburne, a Hartfordshire woman, bound an apprentice to the wife of one Mr. Beachcroft, a Taylor, who now lives in Kings-head Alley in Newgate-Street. The wife of the person aforementioned was to instruct her in her art and trade of a Hood and Scarfe maker, which she did for a considerable time, although by relation of the neighbourhood, with many dry rubs and blows (which might possibly hasten her untimely End). This person, [Grace] was buryed on Christmas Eve last, and was heard by several neighbors most lamentably to groan and cry out in her grave, to the great astonishment of the neighbourhood; who upon complaint occasioned her to be taken out of her grave, after she had been buried four days.

Upon first taking out of the grave, several credible persons affirm that she was not only warm, but breathed, to the great astonishment of the beholders. Upon which her father (who is now a prisoner in the Fleet) caused her to be taken where some hundreds of spectators have been to view the dead corpse, amongst the multitude I myself was one.  She had a colour as fresh as a rose, nay more fresh than can possibly be conceived, yet on her arms she hath several bruises, and a scar on her head, which was reported to have been given her by her unkind master (through her mistresses perswasion) some months before her death.

Having been exposed to publick view for several hours, at a penny a piece, at a Smiths shop in the Long Walk near Christs Church Hospital, she was once more carried to her last home (the Grave).  A jury sat on her, who found the case so foul, that through some means they were contented to defer their evidence, or bring in their Verdict, until the Twenty Third of January.

In the time of this maids servitude she was much abused. Both master and mistriss were very harsh to her, as themselves cannot disown, unless they will contradict the whole neighbourhood. But to conclude, for certain the poor wench is dead, and her master is living, and her unkind dame too, who each of them live in one house in Newgate Street, in Kings head Alley, where any person may be informed of the truth of this relation.  For a truth, this I dare affirm, the poor girl was abused, and many times hath in the hearing of several, wished her self rather to be buryed alive, than to live under such hard and severe usage, and now her prayers have taken effect, let the world judge.

© 2009-2012 All Rights Reserved

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