ESTATE INVENTORIES: Enumerating Clothing in the 18th Century ©

How often have we heard someone say people only had one or two changings of clothing during the 18th century?  There are a great many factors that determined this in each family just as there are several ways of seeing exactly what sort of clothing someone had. 

A perusal of estate inventories will show exactly what someone owned when they died, at least what they owned that was in good enough condition to sell.    

An estate inventory is a legal accounting of anything of value owned by an individual at the time of their death, and given there was a huge market for used clothing in Europe and the colonies articles of clothing could be sold along with livestock, household goods (bed linens, pots, pans, candle sticks, furniture, crockery, etc.), farm implements, tools, food supplies on hand (bushels of grain or produce, salted/smoked meat, molasses, pickled herrings), lumber, fabric, books, etc.  Only rarely did this include every day work clothing the condition of which made it of value only to the rag buyer.

There is a difference in patched and well-worn work clothes and average “every day” clothes.  In examining an estate inventory from NC, 1753 we find an old mantle (cloak or shawl), old woolen jacket, 5 homespun petticoats, a cotton jacket, 2 pairs of stockings, a quilted petticoat, 3 homespun petticoats (probably of a different fabric to be listed separately), 2 shifts, 6 aprons, 4 “fine” caps, a checked handkerchief, a half yard of homespun, a pair of pockets, a single pocket, a hat, basket, and pair of gloves. 

When Mary Wickham died in 1705 the following articles of clothing were enumerated:  4 petticoats, 2 gowns, 7 hoods, 11 handkerchiefs, 6 aprons, 10 caps, 4 cornetts, 2 pair sleeves, 1 neckcloth, 1 pair of bodyes (stays), 1 pair of stockings, 3 hoods, 2 shifts, 2 waistcoats, and 2 pairs of women’s gloves.

An estate inventory from 1770 in NC listed two bonnets, one white and one black.  We can sometimes compare articles of clothing with myths about the age of women who wore various garments.  Example:  the myth that only young women wore short gowns is debunked by the inventory of an unmarried woman approaching 50 dying in the 1770s with short gowns listed in her estate inventory.  The same inventory proves that short gowns were worn outside of Pennsylvania, despite some previously expressed thoughts to the contrary, and that gowns were often of brilliant colors – in this case crimson silk and purple and white chintz. 

Another from 1755:  1 pair of stays, 1 silk gown, 1 chintz gown in black and white, 1 calico gown, 1 striped gown, stockings, 1 skirt, 1 cloak, a velvet hood, a muslin (fine sheer cotton) apron, 3 shifts, 2 handkerchiefs, caps, and an apron. 

The estate inventory of Andreas Hagenbuch, PA, 1785 listed 2 hats, a brown coat and a blue jacket without sleeves (waistcoat), a brown jacket and a white jacket without sleeves, two jackets (unspecified), a greatcoat, 2 pairs of deerskin breeches, a linen jacket, linen drawers, four shirts, four new shirts, stockings, two pairs of shoes, and a great deal of linen fabric, in varying grades (almost 60 yards), mittens, and 3 caps.

On the more elaborate end of the scale, we see Mary Cooley’s [1778, Williamsburg] clothing consisted of:  1 Brown damask Gown, 1 black Callimanco Gown, 1 Striped Holland Gown, 1 dark ground Callico, 1 Callico Do, 1 flower’d Do, 1 India brown Persian Do, 1 Purple Do,1 flower’d Crimson Sattin Do.,

1 Cotton Wrapper, 1 Striped holland Gown, 8 pair Stockings,4 Pocket Handkerchiefs,

2 single Handkerchiefs,6 double Do, 15 Caps, 4 Aprons, 1 Sattin Cloak1,  1 Sattin Hat, 1 Fan,

1 black Shalloon Petticoat, 1 blue Callimanco (fabric made of worsted, long fibers of wool, it came in a wide array of patterns, stripes, floral, etc., and brilliant colors) petticoat , 1 India Cotton Petticoat, 1 pair Stays , blue Quilted Petticoat, 4 pr. Leather Shoes, 1 pr. black Sattin Shoes, Parcel Stone blue, Parcel Tape,  parcel Thread, 2 black Laces, Parcel of Ribbon, 36 Needles & Case, Parcel Sewing Silk, paper Pins, and 1 pr. Silver buckles.  [Do, aka Ditto, means Same].

Martha Jefferson, wife of Thomas Jefferson, not surprisingly left even more clothing including 16 gowns, two gowns to be made up, 9 petticoats, 18 aprons, and 20 shifts plus stockings, night caps, bonnets, shoes, handkerchiefs, pockets, etc.  She was obviously able to afford what she wanted.

At this point, the reader should be asking if these are a small sample of what people had when they died, what were they purchasing in their lifetime and how much?  The Diary of William Sample Alexander in the Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, UNC at Chapel Hill is one of many documents which answers this question.

A 1770s, NC, shopping list entitled “Memorandum of things to fetch for the family [probably including extended family]” lists the following clothing items:  blue Sagathy [light weight wool, sometimes wool and silk] for one suit of clothes, a piece of linen,  pairs of silver buckles, 1 dozen linen handkerchiefs, white persian [thin plain silk] red lining and black tafety [taffeta] with trimmings (bonnets), a yard of cambric (fine white linen), half a yard of lawn (delicate linen used for shirts), 2 calf skins, check silk handkerchief, 2 pairs men’s stockings thread and cotton, 1 pair black silk mitts, red Durant (Durance, glazed worsted) for two petticoats, 9 yards pale blue calamanco, 2 ¼ yards of fine holland (good quality linen), 1 ladies Barcelona handkerchief black, 11 yards crape black and blue, 1 yard black ell wide persian, 3 yards black ferritin, 1 pair black gloves, 1 pair women’s shoes white or blue damask, one pattern for gown red and white calico, 2 silk handkerchiefs, 2 black 1 check, and light colored Sagathy for coat and jacket.  Lawn and cambric fabrics in this quantity were probably for ladies’ caps or fichus.

I’ve heard that women had their gowns professionally made because they lacked the skills to make them at home.  The amount of fabric purchased here and found in the above inventories indicates gowns and other clothing were being made at home.  Perhaps the blog writer meant to say formal gowns weren’t made at home.  A great many men and women had sewing skills enough to make their own clothing or to remake used clothing. 

These are just a smattering of available estate inventories, and the reader may have one belonging to an ancestor for comparison.  Good luck with your research and your sewing!  Posts are copyrighted and may not be reproduced without permission.  Thistledewbooks @ yahoo . com


The source of this information is given at the end.  It is a condensed version of the Introduction found in an 18th century Bible.  Anyone interested in purchasing a period Bible might want to check out  They offer quality facsimile editions of several historic Bibles and they are knowledgeable, friendly and eager to assist customers who seek to match a Bible to their impressions.  Below, right, is the Bible I purchased for Martin and we are well pleased with the quality.  1769 Oxford Standardized Revision of the 1611 King James Bible containing the 14 books of the Apocrypha which were later removed in the 1880s.

In the reign of Josiah, copies were written out, and a search made for all the other parts of the Scriptures by which means copies of the whole became multiplied among the people, who carried them into Babylon in their captivity.  (2 Kings xxii.  10, &c. 2 Chron. Xxxiv.  14, c.)

After their return from captivity and re-settlement in Jerusalem the prophet Ezra collected as many copies as he could of the sacred writings and translated into the Chaldee language.  About two hundred years later translations into Greek were made. 

After the establishment of Christianity, authors undertook new translations claiming to make them more conformable to the Hebrew text.  The first was the Jewish proselyte Aquila.  Others followed including Symmachus (a Samaritan). 

During Solomon’s time he complied and sent the Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Solomon’s Song, and Job, the only books then extant. 

Latin churches had in the first ages a translation of the Bible in their language, understood by every one and many versions followed.  One was called the common translation by St. Jerom the Vulgate.  This translation was so highly applauded by the Christian church, that some authors have pretended it was brought to perfection by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.  St. Jerom’s version was soon received in many churches and in the 6th century it became as general, and in as great esteem, as the ancient Vulgate.

The sixteenth century brought new Latin translations made of the Bible from the Hebrew text.  Sanctes Paginus, a Dominican monk, was the first. He was encouraged by pope Leo X.  Paginus’s version was first shown at Lyons in 1527.  His work was revised by Arias Montanus.

Cardinal Cajetan next attempted a translation and while he was not versed in the Hebrew he sought the aid of two persons, one a Jew and the other Christian.  Next Isidore Clarius, monk of Mount Cassin, undertook a translation which he claimed corrected some 8,000 passages of the Bible.  Besides translations made by catholic authors, there are some performed by protestant translators, the first of whom was Sebastian Munster. 

Munster’s version is more intelligible and written in much better Latin than that of Pagninus.  Leo Juda, a Zuinglian, printed a version in Zurich in 1543 which was followed by that of Robert Stepohens in 1545.  His was written in a more elegant style than Munster’s but some thought he often departed from the literal meaning of the Hebrew text for the sake of an elegant Latin expression. 

The next generation of translators included Sebastian Castalio, Junius and Tremellius, and Theodore Beza.  At this time there were versions done in Arabic, Coptic/Egyptian, Persian, Armenian, Georgian, Roman, and French.  Peter de Vaux, chief of the Waldenses lived about 1170.  Raoul de Presle’s translation was done during the reign of Charles V, King of France about 1380.  A version was published at Louvain by order of the emperor Charles V in 1550 and Isaac le Maitre de Sacy followed with his version published in 1672.  Versions followed in 1666, 1667, and 1670 and multiple translations of the New Testament.

Nicholas Malerme, a Benedectine monk printed the first Italian version at Venice in 1471.  It was translated from the Vulgate.  The first Spanish Bible mentioned by Cyprian de Valera appeared about 1500 followed by epistles and gospels by Ambrose de Montesin in 1512, the whole Bible by Cassiodore de Reynas in 1569 and the New Testament dedicated to the emperor Charles V byt Francis Enzinas, aka Driander, in 1543. 

The first known German translation of the Bible is that of Ulphilas, bishop of the Goths, about the year 360.  At the time the source of this information was printed, the oldest German printed Bible extant was that of Nuremberg printed in 1447, author uncertain.  The German Bible of John Eckius of 1537 has Emzer’s New Testament added and one by Ulembergius of Westphalia followed in 1630.  Martin Luther worked eleven years in translating the Old and New Testaments and published his work in 1522. 

There were Flemish Bibles, Danish versions, and Swedish adaptations including a revision in 1617 by order of king Gustavus Adolphus.  Near the mid-16th century, Bedell, bishop of Kilmore had a translation of the Old Testament in the Irish language. 

Adelm, bishop of Sherbourn who lived in 709 created an English-Saxo version of the Psalms, and Eadfrid, or Ecbert, bishop of Lindisferne, about te year 730 translated several books of scripture.  The Venerable Bede who died in 735 translated the whole Bible into Saxon.  A work made by Elfric, abbot of Malmesbury followed, published at Oxford in 1699.  Matthew Parker, archbishop of Canterbury published an Anglo-Saxon version of the four Gospels in 1571, author unknown. 

John de Trevisa, a secular priest translated the Bible into English at the request of Lord Berkeley and finished it in 1357.  Wickliff followed during the reigns of Edward III and Richard II.  Manuscript versions are found in libraries today.  In 1534 an English version was done by William Tindal and Miles Coverdale.  During this time Cromwell and Cranmer voiced opinions on whether or not the people should have access to English Bibles.

Queen Elizabeth I caused to be done a version worked on by several learned men to compare it with the Hebrew and Greek languages and the effort was directed by Archbishop Parker. 

Perhaps the best known today, is the King James Version which proceeded from the Hampton-court conference in 1603, where many exceptions were made to the Bishops Bible, king James ordered a new one.  Fifty-four learned persons were appointed by the king as appear in his letter to the archbishop, dated 1604.  The King James Bible was published in 1610 and dedicated to the king.  Previous versions fell into disuse except the epistles and gospels in the Common-Prayer book which continued according to the bishop’s translation till the alteration of the Liturgy in 1661.  The psalms and hymns continued.

The men dedicated to producing the King James Bible included Andrew Downs who was responsible for the work on the Apocrypha. 

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Source:  “The Holy Family Bible Containing the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, and the Apocrypha at Large, with Concise Explanatory Notes, on all the Difficult Texts of Scripture; wherein the Objections of Infidels are obviated, and the obscure Passages explained to the meanest Capacity”.  MDCCLXXVII.  Preliminary Discourse dated July 25, 1777.    

Woven and Checked Cotton©

There has been some notion espoused among a few amateur historic clothing enthusiasts that there were no cotton woven checks or plaids in the 18th century or that checked cotton was not used for clothing.  I don’t agree, but after reading a few notations, you may decide for yourself what you think. 

The theory that checked cottons were only for furniture is like saying toile was never used for clothing – a statement proven unfounded by the existence of such a dress, ca. 1780, in the Snowshill Collection.  There is no known history on this dress so we don’t know why this fabric was used or where the dress was worn.  It could have been made to showcase the production of the toile fabric, as a promotion, perhaps a prize was offered for any item promoting its production, or as a costume of some sort as easily as it might have been worn like any other dress.  Admittedly toile was very rare in clothing based on the absence of it in paintings and extant 18th century garments but, at least once, it did exist.

The dress from the Snowshill Collection is also found in the 1988 edition of Nancy Bradfields’s “Costume in Detail”.  The man’s robe is later, ca. 1830, in printed cotton toile, found in the Victoria & Albert Museum collection, London.

The Chester County Historical Society in Pennsylvania has in its collection a man’s banyan (robe), attribution ca. 1780-1830, made of small checked cotton in brown and white.  See Burnston’s “Fitting and Proper” pg 73. 

Beverly Lemire in “The Cambridge History of Western Textiles” notes more than a million pieces of cottons were imported to England in 1684.  The inadequate ban of Indian fabrics in Europe about 1720 was due to the fear they would wreak havoc on the economy by lessening the consumption of linens and wool produced at home.  

“The cotton-thread is always washed before it is given to be woven.  The method of washing in question renders it whiter than the ordinary bleaching.  It may be performed equally well upon the woven cotton…where four families have for a long time possessed it as a secret”.  Having been written in 1805 “for a long time” definitely puts woven cotton firmly in the 18th century and the washing process consisted of washing and placing into a lye solution several times, each time rinsing with clear water.  It was then put into a mordant and dyed.

Pre-1800 sources mention a check apron numerous times, and these are enumerated seperately from linen aprons indicating the checked aprons were either cotton or wool.  The records note one man stole “five checked aprons” among other things – again separated from linen aprons.  The piece also lists a check gown.  Check neckerchiefs and scarves, are easily documented.   

“In John Holker’s manuscript of about 1750, swatches…of blue and white linen and cotton checks were made in the Manchester area for home consumption and for export, especially to the colonies.  They were used for sailors’ blouses, children’s clothing and linings”. 

Rhode Island and Pennsylvania were producing stripes, checks, and ginghams, before 1810, and the Germans of Pennsylvania were said to be fond of checks.  “But by far the greater part of the goods made of those materials (cotton, flax, and wool), are manufactured in private families mostly for their own use, and partly for sale.  They consist principally of coarse cloth, flannel, cotton stuffs, and stripes of every description, linen, and mixtures of wool with flax or cotton”.  – 1810.

Before 1809 a Pennsylvanian wrote, “My family of eighty persons are clothed in our own homespun.  Our wool, flax, and cotton, are of our own raising; as are our dye-stuffs.  Our wheels and looms are also of our own manufacture”.  We can’t say what sort of clothing was made from the cotton, but we certainly can’t claim checks and stripes weren’t produced or how much earlier production began. 

A premium of five dollars was offered for the, “best specimen of Cotton Homespun, not less than ten yards”, in the “American Farmer” March 7, 1823, published in Baltimore, just one of such occurrences.

Primary sources note woven cotton and cotton checks were worn by the German emigrants in Pennsylvania so let’s take a quick look at the industry there.  NOTE:  Because these sources were published just after 1800, doesn’t mean they weren’t already in existence and successful by the date of publication.

Prior to 1810 factories in New York were weaving cotton fabrics from cotton grown in New Orleans and Alabama – some 1000 bales annually. John Siddal of Wilmington, Delaware, was, “intimately acquainted with spinning and weaving cotton, for nearly 40 years” and employed some forty hands. 

“Pennsylvania exceeds all the other states…there were 64 cotton manufactories”, in 1810 with eight in Philadelphia alone. 

In 1826, we find, “There is Goody, with her clean check apron, quite nice and spruce, just as was common fifty years ago, in my grandmother’s days, though now almost out of fashion”.  The author went on to say, “Let us first state, that stripes, checks, and ginghams are figured by different coloured threads in the weaving; but any thing of a varied pattern, must be printed”, clearly differentiating the block printed cottons from the stripes and checks achieved by the weaving pattern of different colored cotton threads.  If common fifty years before her grandmother was wearing them ca. 1776.

The author noted that at the time of publication (1826) spinning jennys were used to spin this fabric but in former times they were spun by hand.

Norway produced 923 yards of striped cotton, in 1818 and in 1819 reported another 399 yards of checked cotton.  British Northern Colonies produced 797 yards of striped and checked cotton. These were noted in just a single report published in 1823, certainly not a full accounting of the fabric thus produced. 

Catherine Parr Strickland penned in 1826 a description of her clothing that differentiated between a checked apron and a linseywoolsey apron further solidifying that at least some of these checked aprons were made of cotton.   

“…a piece of checked, or other cotton cloth…” – 1821.

“There, opening a chest of drawers, she drew out a piece of pink-checked cotton…”. 

Checked cloths of red and yellow.  1820.

Blue checked cotton cloth.  1829.

“…their bathing-cloaths, which are usually of blue and white checked cotton”.  1768.

A chest having been opened, “It was discovered that a checked cotton dress…”.  1802.

“…calico or cotton petticoat”.  1766.

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Porter, Sir James.  “Observations on the Religion, Law, Government, and Manners”.  1768.

“The Repertory of Arts, Manufactures, and Agriculture”.  1802, 1805 and 1810.

Hutchinson, William.  “The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham”.  1823

“The Proceedings on the King’s Commissions of the Peace, Court of Oyer and Terminer and Gaol Delivery”.  1778.

“Scenes of Wealth or Views & Illustrations of Trades Manufactures Produce & Commerce for the Amusement and Instruction of Tarry at Home Travellers.  1826.  London.

“The Young Emigrants”.  1826. 

“Tour of Africa”.  1821.  London.

“The Pocket Magazine”.  1821.

“The Monthly Magazine”.  1810.

“The Register of Pennsylvania”.  March 1828.


Note:  the publication date is given for the entry below, however, this industry didn’t just spring up the day before, weaving of cotton had begun years before and it is the growth of the industry that is being reported.  That growth was due in large part to the revocation of a heavy tax on British cotton thread and cloth in 1774, the introduction of the Flying Shuttle (1733) and the Spinning Jenny (1765),  and invention of the cotton gin in the 1790s.

The same source as the first entry below also said, “The number of criminals, in December 1781, was 206.  They were spinning, weaving, making nets, making and mending clothes, or working in the bakehouse and kitchen…”.

“For the following information respecting the number of hand Looms in the city [Philadelphia] for weaving cotton goods, we are indebted to a member of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting Domestic Manufactures…There are in Philadelphia and its vicinity 104 warping mills at work, each of which is sufficient to employ from 40 to 50 weavers, making the number of weavers about 4500.  Dyers over 200; spoolers 3000, bobbin winders 2000.  Weavers can now average 5 dollars per week, dyers 5, warpers 5, spoolers from 50 cents to 1.50, and bobbin winders 1…Houses occupied by weavers about 1500, average rent 60 to 80 dollars per year, Indigo used per week 2200 lbs., flour used as sizing per week 30 to 40 bbs., quantity of goods produced per day 81,000 yards, average value 16 cents per yard.”  Philadelphia 25th June, 1827.

A parade of sorts was held in 1828 and reported in July to promote the industry, “Mrs. Hewson and her four daughters, all dressed in cottons of their own manufacture; on the back part of the carriage, on a lofty staff, was displayed the calico printers’ flag; in the centre, thirteen stars in a blue field, and thirteen red stripes in a white field; round the edges of the flag were printed thirty-seven different prints of various colors…as specimens of printing done at Philadelphia…Then followed the weavers’ flag, a rampant lion in a green field, holding a shuttle in his dexter paw…behind the flag walked the weavers of the factory, accompanied by other citizens of the same trade, in number about one hundred; the cotton card makers annexed themselves to this society”.  1828.

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Hazard, Samuel.  “The Register of Pennsylvania”.  1828.


One of the least understood aspect of 18th century clothing is the colors available in fabric, threads, and other materials such as embroidery floss.  A common myth is that they wore only blue and brown and nothing could be farther from the truth.  A cursory look at fabric swatch books from the period will quickly dispel this myth, but also remember when viewing original garments, they were made with dyes that faded with time and laundering.  Garments in which one can see the fabric inside a seam where it wasn’t exposed to light for over a hundred years are a better indication of the original color. 

Early designs were painted or stamped onto fabric and we know that prior to the 19th century dyes were natural vegetable or in a few instances animal-based products, for example cochineal.  Mordants allowed a wider range of colors from dyes. 

Even homespun wool, linen, linsey-woolsey, etc. could be dyed in a wide variety of colors.

Some “in-the-know” textile aficionados like to claim there were no 18th century woven cotton checks or plaids, however, others, like myself, disagree.  One such source is Florence Montgomery who lists these in her “Textiles in America 1650-1870”.  I wouldn’t recommend making an abundance of such garments, however, I don’t think it is possible to declare they were never used either.

RED: saw a red petticoat hanging to dry.  1769.   …used to shew her old red petticoat on the next hedge as often as she washed it.  1754. …judged from his red coat to be high in office.  1709.  …deep, ruby glowing red—old curtain of the window.  1709.  Mrs. V. herself…stood there in a gown of red and white.  1709.  A regiment of soldiers clothed in red.  1709.  …a red waistcoat appears at an opening below.  1789.  He wore a red waistcoat.  1738.  Scarlet petticoat.  1791.

Madder produced anything from pink to red, purple and black, etc.  Brazil wood from the East Indies and other plants produced shades of red. Cochineal was an excellent red dye.  It is scale insects raised on cacti and both the cacti and cochineal were farmed. 

YELLOW:  Marigold, turmeric, golden dock, nettle, fustic (Morus tinctoria, from America), purging buck-thorn, sumach [sic], barberry, plumb-tree, apple tree, lesser burdock, sweet willow, birch-tree, hedge-nettle, St. John’s wort, Queen Anne’s Lace, anatto, etc. dyed a lovely yellow.  Saffron was used to dye yellow, however, today genuine saffron is very expensive. 

BLUE:  Duke of Dorset…blue striped coat and breeches with white silk waistcoat embroidered with silver spangles. Woad and indigo produce shades of blue as will logwood, Prussian blue, or ultramarine.  

Recipes:  Take a sufficient quantity of urine and four ounces of indigo, pound to powder and dissolve in the urine by gentle heat, close-covered.  The longer it stands the darker the color will be.

Another:  To a gallon of water put a pound of woad, infuse it in a scalding or almost boiling heat for 24 hours; then put into it wool, cotton, stuffs, flannel, or cloth of a white colour

VIOLET:  Logwood from the West Indies imparted a lovely violet color as did a number of berries.

GREEN:  Green came from ragwort (introduced into the U.S. from Eurasia), wild cicely, Iris germanica, etc. as well as from an over-dying process of blue on yellow.

 Duke of Queensbury, a plain green striped silk coat, waistcoat and breeches.  Green dress trimmed with gold.  1791.

Recipe:  First make it a sad blue, then take aum two pounds; boil and enter your cloth; boil three hours, and wash it, then dip it into a good yellow dye.

Another:  Take water a sufficient quantity, make it as hot as you can endure your hand in, in which put verdegrease two ounces in fine powder; enter twenty yards of stuff, and handle it well with your hands; let it lye in the liquor all night, stirring it some time, and then let it lie till it is deep enough. 

I’ve heard people comment on the absence of greens during the 18th century, however, as will be seen below, greens were actually common.  The difference with green is that it often required a two step process, especially for a dye that resisted fading quickly, first dying yellow then overdying in blue.

BLACK: Black was colored with water horehound, herb-christopher, barberries, Genipa Americana (an American tree, and oak.  Black was sometimes a process of over-dying. 

Recipe:  Alder-bark or tops, boiled in a copper pot, to which is added nut-galls, bruised, a pound of sumach, and 4 oz. of log-wood is a typical period recipe to dye cloth black.  First dyeing in walnut hull dye and then over-dyeing in log-wood will also produce black.

Let’s look at examples from sources actually published during that time and see if it doesn’t open up a world of color and brightness. 


“Sacques of plain silks, the most favourite colours are Aurora, apple-green, and deep blue”.  1774. 

PINK: Pink striped silk waistcoat.  1791.

PURPLE: A purple English broadcloth coat…richly embroidered in gold.  A purple figured velvet coat beautifully embroidered…  Their dresses were an embroidery of purple velvet…  1792.  Court attire.

COMBINATIONS: A lilac figured velvet coat, green silk damask waistcoat, black satin breeches, scarlet stockings. 


Green coat, green under vest, blue cloth coat, grey cloth under jacket, black velvet breeches, deep blue waistcoat, dark olive coat, pale blue stockings, two homespun linen shirts, striped jacket of linen-blue and white stripes, yellow linsey trousers, a chip hat with a broad striped green, blue, and yellow ribbon, blue stockings, olive corduroy vest, striped trowsers in cotton, grey woolen stockings, striped brown linsey trowsers, brown stockings, striped green cloth coattee, linsey vest and trowsers-striped red and blue, blue cloth trowsers, three shirts, one of which was check, the others white, forest cloth coat turned of a brown and yellow mixed colour, striped nankeen coat, grey coat, one spotted velvet jacket, stampt cotton waistcoat, red striped trowsers, dark olive trowsers, black and white striped cotton trowsers, blue jacket, black home-made linsey under jacket, red waistcoat, olive colored trowsers, striped homespun trowsers, “mixed-cloth coat”, a clouded-green coat, striped cotton jacket, checked woolen shirt, “mixt cloth coatee”, an excellent dark brown mixed superfine cloth coat, blue superfine cloth coat with yellow buttons, green twilled old silk waistcoat, lead coloured corduroy breeches, fancy striped cotton stockings, shoes tied with ribbons, old light brown sailor’s jacket, his outside garment a blue coatee the body a deep blue and the sleaves a pale blue twilled cloth, green linsey coat, yellow and white striped linen trowsers, coat of bottle-green, yellow stript nankeen coattee, brown homespun shirt, striped muslin jacket, striped cotton jacket, a red home made coating jacket, bottle-green corduroy trowsers, coats lined with blue and brown linsey, striped purple and yellow trowsers, mixed red and blue broad-cloth jacket,

ODD YEARS:  Blue knit breeches / two striped and one white shirt, Virginia 1769.

1756: Red petticoat, striped jacket and gown.

“an Irish servant lad named Patrick Flanley about 19 years old…by trade a Leather Breeches Maker and Skinner; Had on when he went away a grey homespun cloth coat, almost new, lin’d with blue shalloon in the forepart and with brown cloth in the back, Mohair Buttons, a Leather Fawn skin vest…lined with scarlet shalloon, a worn oxenbrig [sic] shirt, a pair of purple sheepskin Breeches, and a pair of old round toe’d Pumps”.  – New-York Mercury.  1754.

“…a brown stable Frock, a yellow livery Waistcoat, old leather Breeches, boots, and black velvet cap with a silver tassel…livery coat blue faced with yellow”.  Covent Garden Journal (London), 25 Jan, 1752.

1773:  Wilmington, VA.  Green petticoat, took some striped blue and white cotton, calico with red flowers, dark colored calico. 

1756:  An orange-coloured linsey bedgown, striped red and brown linsey petticoat, petticoat of brown cloth bound about the tail with black, and the third of black linen. 

Mid-18th century:  A green velvet waistcoat with silver buttons, a red gown and petticoat.

1789 Albany.  Green jacket and overalls. 

Recommended sources:   Colonial Williamsburg cottons,, Brunley & Trowbridge.

Mend It, Patch It, Make It Do©

While we strive for historical accuracy to the strictest degree in everything we make, it is important to realize the common person was not error-proof in making clothing and accessories. In the following photos the reader will see what might today be viewed as shoddy workmanship, however, for several reasons these garments are not extraordinary.

Pieced linings were common in eras when every scrap of fabric was used, and nothing was wasted. Then as now, some seamstresses and tailors were more meticulous with their stitches and buttonhole binding than others and there was quite a variance in skill level for those making clothing at home.

Below are just a few examples of pieced linings then the subject of patched clothing is another topic to be explored.


Jacket, late 18th century, reportedly French made. Note how many different fabrics are used to make the lining and the different sizes and shapes of the pieces. Collection of The Met.
A pieced lining found in a Spencer ca. 1815.
This coat belonged to Thomas Jefferson, ca. 1800, housed in the Monticello Collections. The article and photograph were found in the Colonial Williamsburg web archives. Light spots are seen in the middle photo, and period repairs on the elbows are seen in the photo on the right. They date this to being worn ca. 1800 and think it may have been worn during Jefferson’s term as President. The garment clearly demonstrates that even well-to-do people wore patched and repaired clothing and would not have hesitated to piece a lining.
Pieced coat lining, ca. 1745, collection of the Manchester Gallery of Costume.
Look closely at the area by the fourth buttonhole from the bottom on the stomacher part of the gown. The bottom (right) front of this part of the garment has been carefully pieced together and the horizontal seam can be clearly seen between the button/buttonhole and the ruched trim.
The website dates this waistcoat to ca. 1780s-90s, Nordiska Museet. Count the number of pieces sewn together to make the outer front of this waistcoat, and also note that no particular effort was made to align the stripes where the pieces are sewn together. This was almost certainly done to stretch a small piece of fabric enough to cut out the outer garment. The lining is also pieced using at least two different fabrics.
The lining on these stays is heavily patched.
Stays with patched lining and rather crude stitching. These were sold on ebay. Ca. 1780s-90s.

A La Polinaise

Polinaise is a fancy way of saying the skirt of a jacket is bunched up in the back.  Costume historians disagree on the specifics which will be largely ignored here as originals are found to support both theories. 

There is no question that the bunched-up skirts were worn and that they can be accurately recreated, the differing opinion is on what the garment should be called.  One school of thought dubs any such looped up jacket/gown as polonaise, while others refer to anything that does not meet the classifications below by the French term as “robe à l’anglaise retroussé”.   Retroussée, in this instance, is defined as skirts “looped up”. 

There’s a lot in a name, but in the end, I think it’s important to “recreate” rather than create your own version of what was worn during the 18th century and less important what you call it. 

Below is what some define as polonaise.  The issue under debate is whether the robe must meet at the neckline and have additional pleats at the sides to be called polonaise.  

What Is the 18th Century Definition of a Polonaise?

* The dress version — the robe à la polonaise (French/English; also called “polonese” or “poloneze” in English):

* Bodice and skirt of the robe are cut in one — no waist seam

* Robe has four pieces:  two backs, and two fronts

* The skirt of the robe is usually looped up using two ribbons, tapes, or cords, forming three swags

* The center-front of the robe meets at the neckline, then slopes away in an inverted “V” shape towards the waist and into the skirt (See below)

* Inverted pleats emerged at the waist from the side-back and center-back seams, creating more fullness in the skirt (see below)

* The bodice of the robe usually has 1-3 pleats at the side back, which serves to fit the robe closer to the body

* Under the robe is worn a separate or false waistcoat, bodice, or stomacher

* The sleeves generally ended just below the elbow, usually with a cuff (called “sabot”)

Photos: Glasgow Museums Collection. The noted features above are the inverted “V” front, and the pleated back. See above.

Article abstract:  The robe à la polonaise as worn in France and England in the late eighteenth century was a substantially different style from other fashionable gowns of the period and was remarkably popular in its own right. In addition to the looped-up overskirt, the polonaise was distinguished by the robe cut without waist seam and inverted `V’ front opening. It was probably derived from the Polish robe called `kontusz,’ as well as the looped-up skirts of the robe à la française. Contemporaries regarded it as a more `natural’ style of dress in line with the Enlightenment, and it was thought to be most appropriate for wear by middle- and upper-class women of young to middle age. The style featured revivals in the 1790s and late nineteenth century.  – Source:  Van Cleave, Kendra, and Brooke Welborn. “`Very Much the Taste and Various are the Makes’: Reconsidering the Late-Eighteenth-Century Robe à la Polonaise.” Dress 39, no. 1 (May 2013): 1-24.

The “bunching” is often referred to as “kilting” and is achieved by pulling up the bottom of the jacket/gown with loops, either on the under side or the outer side. 

This lovely green Polonaise, ca. 1780. Note there is no inverted “V” on the front of the bodice, nor are there visible side pleats on the skirt. The skirt is cartridge pleated onto the bodice. The Met. Robe a la Polonaise, ca. 1780.
“Polonaise”, ca. 1780, Musee Galliera, Paris.
Source below
“Robe a la Polonaise”, ca. 1787, The Met. There are pleats at the waist but there is no inverted “V” in front. Instead, there is contrasting trim that gets steadily wider from the neckline to the bottom of the skirt and continues around the bottom back. This trim was sometimes gathered, or ruched.
The buttons were sometimes placed as shown, and sometimes higher where the skirt joins the bodice. Loops attached to the under-side of the skirt are hung from self-fabric covered buttons.
Interior of a jacket/gown showing how the skirt is draped on the under-side. The tapes do not show on the outside when worn in this manner.
In this diagram from Janet Arnold the gown is labeled Polonaise 1770-1785. There is no inverted “V” in front and the skirt appears to be cartridge pleated although this does not show clearly. Note the placement of the buttons on which the ribbons hang to create the kilting effect.

The polonaise gown first came into fashion in the 1770s. It was a style of gown with a close-fitting bodice and the back of the skirt gathered up into three separate puffed sections to reveal the petticoat below. The method of suspending the fabric varied. Most often the dress had rows of little rings sewn inside the skirt through which a cord ran from hem to waist. Alternatively, ribbon ties would be used, with the ribbons forming decorative bows. However, in some instances the skirt was held in place by simple cords sewn to the inner waist of the dress and looped over buttons attached to the outside waistline. The stays underpinning the bodice of the polonaise were not markedly different from those which supported the robe à la française.  – The Met Museum. 


From The Met, 1774-93. Detail showing button placement.
The Met, “Robe a la Polonaise”, 1780-85. There is no inverted “V” and the skirt appears to be cartridge pleated to the bodice.

Muffs: A Useful Accessory

Muffs were used for centuries to keep the hands warm, and sometimes to keep up with incidental items. The diarist, Samuel Pepys penned on Sunday Nov. 30, 1662, “This day I first did wear a muffe, being my wife’s last year’s muffe, and now I have bought her a new one, this serves me very well.”
Yes, they’ve been worn by men and women although more so and for a longer time period by women and girls. It is a simple stuffed cylinder, open on both ends into which one places the hands for warmth. They were made of silk, wool, fur, etc.

While the images below are prime examples, muffs were not limited to the elite.  As is often the case, the better examples are what were preserved and the better off families could afford painted portraits.  

“Angora muffs. – These muffs are made with the Beard of goats from Angora, the country where these animals have been for a long time, silky and overall very white; that which is used for men’s muffs is of a great beauty. The price is 120 or 100 livres. One has them even for 4 louis or 84 livres.” – Notice de l’Almanach sous verre, 1786.


Mrs. Wilbraham Bootle, 1781, by George Romney. Ntl. Gallery of Scotland
“November”, 1781. “Birds dead!”. Carrington Bowles, London.
Madame de Pompadour with a fur muff. 1763.
Sold by Kerry Taylor Auctions, embroidered muff, 1770s-80s
British, ca. 1780. The Met.
Attributed to Francois Hubert Drouais, Paris, 1727-1775. Oil on canvas. Sold by Sotheby’s.

Last Will & Testament of George Washington

The following is the will left by George Washington in which he provides for his widow, Martha Washington, and an extensive list of relatives who either profited by the forgiveness of a debt or by receiving specified property.  He was obviously a wealthy man.  

He provided for the freedom of his slaves upon Martha’s death.  He said while he wished to free them upon his own death, doing so would be difficult because of the marriages of some with those of Martha and he did not want to separate families.  Upon Martha’s death all were to be freed.  The elderly and the children were to be taught to read and write and taught a trade.  While doing so they were to be supported from his estate.  He left options for William Lee “for his faithful services during the Revolutionary War”.  

He arranged for the dispensation of various historical relics which he possessed at the time of his death, including a box made from an oak tree “that sheltered the Great Sir William Wallace after the battle of Falkirk” and a gold-headed cane left to him by Dr. [Benjamin] Franklin.

Lastly he expressed his wishes for a notable university in this country and left funds for the building of it.  


[Mount Vernon, 9 July 1799]
In the name of God amen I George Washington of Mount Vernon a citizen of the United States, and lately President of the same, do make, ordain and declare this Instrument; which is written with my own hand and every page thereof subscribed with my name, to be my last Will & Testament, revoking all others.
Imprimus. All my debts, of which there are but few, and none of magnitude, are to be punctually and speedily paid and the Legacies hereinafter bequeathed, are to be discharged as soon as circumstances will permit, and in the manner directed.
Item. To my dearly beloved wife Martha Washington I give and bequeath the use, profit and benefit of my whole Estate, real and personal, for the term of her natural life except such parts thereof as are specifically disposed of hereafter: My improved lot in the Town of Alexandria, situated on Pitt & Cameron streets, I give to her and her heirs forever;1 as I also do my household & Kitchen furniture of every sort & kind, with the liquors and groceries which may be on hand at the time of my decease; to be used & disposed of as she may think proper.
Item Upon the decease of my wife, it is my Will & desire that all the Slaves which I hold in my own right, shall receive their freedom. To emancipate them during her life, would, tho’ earnestly wished by me, be attended with such insuperable difficulties on account of their intermixture by Marriages with the dower Negroes, as to excite the most painful sensations, if not disagreeable consequences from the latter, while both descriptions are in the occupancy of the same Proprietor; it not being in my power, under the tenure by which the Dower Negroes are held, to manumit them. And whereas among those who will recieve freedom according to this devise, there may be some, who from old age or bodily infirmities, and others who on account of their infancy, that will be unable to support themselves; it is my Will and desire that all who come under the first & second description shall be comfortably cloathed & fed by my heirs while they live; and that such of the latter description as have no parents living, or if living are unable, or unwilling to provide for them, shall be bound by the Court until they shall arrive at the age of twenty five years; and in cases where no record can be produced, whereby their ages can be ascertained, the judgment of the Court, upon its own view of the subject, shall be adequate and final. The Negros thus bound, are (by their Masters or Mistresses) to be taught to read & write; and to be brought up to some useful occupation, agreeably to the Laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia, providing for the support of Orphan and other poor Children. and I do hereby expressly forbid the Sale, or transportation out of the said Commonwealth, of any Slave I may die possessed of, under any pretence whatsoever. And I do moreover most pointedly, and most solemnly enjoin it upon my Executors hereafter named, or the Survivors of them, to see that this clause respecting Slaves, and every part thereof be religiously fulfilled at the Epoch at which it is directed to take place; without evasion, neglect or delay, after the Crops which may then be on the ground are harvested, particularly as it respects the aged and infirm; seeing that a regular and permanent fund be established for their support so long as there are subjects requiring it; not trusting to the uncertain provision to be made by individuals.2 And to my Mulatto man William (calling himself William Lee) I give immediate freedom; or if he should prefer it (on account of the accidents which have befallen him, and which have rendered him incapable of walking or of any active employment) to remain in the situation he now is, it shall be optional in him to do so: In either case however, I allow him an annuity of thirty dollars during his natural life, which shall be independent of the victuals and cloaths he has been accustomed to receive, if he chuses the last alternative; but in full, with his freedom, if he prefers the first; & this I give him as a testimony of my sense of his attachment to me, and for his faithful services during the Revolutionary War.3
Item. To the Trustees (Governors, or by whatsoever other name they may be designated) of the Academy in the Town of Alexandria, I give and bequeath, in Trust, four thousand dollars, or in other words twenty of the shares which I hold in the Bank of Alexandria, towards the support of a Free school established at, and annexed to, the said Academy; for the purpose of Educating such Orphan children, or the children of such other poor and indigent persons as are unable to accomplish it with their own means; and who, in the judgment of the Trustees of the said Seminary, are best entitled to the benefit of this donation. The aforesaid twenty shares I give & bequeath in perpetuity; the dividends only of which are to be drawn for, and applied by the said Trustees for the time being, for the uses above mentioned; the stock to remain entire and untouched; unless indications of a failure of the said Bank should be so apparent, or a discontinuance thereof should render a removal of this fund necessary; in either of these cases, the amount of the Stock here devised, is to be vested in some other Bank or public Institution, whereby the interest may with regularity & certainty be drawn, and applied as above. And to prevent misconception, my meaning is, and is hereby declared to be, that these twenty shares are in lieu of, and not in addition to, the thousand pounds given by a missive letter some years ago; in consequence whereof an annuity of fifty pounds has since been paid towards the support of this Institution.4
Item. Whereas by a Law of the Commonwealth of Virginia, enacted in the year 1785, the Legislature thereof was pleased (as an evidence of Its approbation of the services I had rendered the Public during the Revolution and partly, I believe, in consideration of my having suggested the vast advantages which the Community would derive from the extensions of its Inland Navigation, under Legislative patronage) to present me with one hundred shares of one hundred dollars each, in the incorporated company established for the purpose of extending the navigation of James River from tide water to the Mountains: and also with fifty shares of one hundred pounds Sterling each, in the Corporation of another company, likewise established for the similar purpose of opening the Navigation of the River Potomac from tide water to Fort Cumberland, the acceptance of which, although the offer was highly honourable, and grateful to my feelings, was refused, as inconsistent with a principle which I had adopted, and had never departed from namely not to receive pecuniary compensation for any services I could render my country in its arduous struggle with great Britain, for its Rights; and because I had evaded similar propositions from other States in the Union; adding to this refusal, however, an intimation that, if it should be the pleasure of the Legislature to permit me to appropriate the said shares to public uses, I would receive them on those terms with due sensibility; and this it having consented to, in flattering terms, as will appear by a subsequent Law, and sundry resolutions, in the most ample and honourable manner, I proceed after this recital, for the more correct understanding of the case, to declareó5
That as it has always been a source of serious regret with me, to see the youth of these United States sent to foreign Countries for the purpose of Education, often before their minds were formed, or they had imbibed any adequate ideas of the happiness of their own; contracting, too frequently, not only habits of dissipation & extravagence, but principles unfriendly to Republican Governmt and to the true & genuine liberties of Mankind; which, thereafter are rarely overcome. For these reasons, it has been my ardent wish to see a plan devised on a liberal scale, which would have a tendency to sprd systemactic ideas through all parts of this rising Empire, thereby to do away local attachments and State prejudices, as far as the nature of things would, or indeed ought to admit, from our National Councils. Looking anxiously forward to the accomplishment of so desirable an object as this is (in my estimation) my mind has not been able to contemplate any plan more likely to effect the measure than the establishment of a UNIVERSITY in a central part of the United States, to which the youth of fortune and talents from all parts thereof might be sent for the completion of their Education in all the branches of polite literature; in arts and Sciences, in acquiring knowledge in the principles of Politics & good Government; and (as a matter of infinite Importance in my judgment) by associating with each other, and forming friendships in Juvenile years, be enabled to free themselves in a proper degree from those local prejudices & habitual jealousies which have just been mentioned; and which, when carried to excess, are never failing sources of disquietude to the Public mind, and pregnant of mischievous consequences to this Country: Under these impressions, so fully dilated,
Item I give and bequeath in perpetuity the fifty shares which I hold in the Potomac Company (under the aforesaid Acts of the Legislature of Virginia) towards the endowment of a UNIVERSITY to be established within the limits of the District of Columbia, under the auspices of the General Government, if that government should incline to extend a fostering hand towards it; and until such Seminary is established, and the funds arising on these shares shall be required for its support, my further Will & desire is that the profit accruing therefrom shall, whenever the dividends are made, be laid out in purchasing Stock in the Bank of Columbia, or some other Bank, at the discretion of my Executors; or by the Treasurer of the United States for the time being under the direction of Congress; provided that Honourable body should Patronize the measure, and the Dividends proceeding from the purchase of such Stock is to be vested in more stock, and so on, until a sum adequate to the accomplishment of the object is obtained, of which I have not the smallest doubt, before many years passes away; even if no aid or encouraged is given by Legislative authority, or from any other source.6
Item The hundred shares which I held in the James River Company, I have given, and now confirm in perpetuity to, and for the use & benefit of Liberty-Hall Academy, in the County of Rockbridge, in the Commonwealth of Virga.7
Item I release exonerate and discharge, the Estate of my deceased brother Samuel Washington, from the payment of the money which is due to me for the Land I sold to Philip Pendleton (lying in the County of Berkeley) who assigned the same to him the said Samuel; who, by agreement was to pay me therefor. And whereas by some contract (the purport of which was never communicated to me) between the said Samuel and his son Thornton Washington, the latter became possessed of the aforesaid Land, without any conveyance having passed from me, either to the said Pendleton, the said Samuel, or the said Thornton, and without any consideration having been made, by which neglect neither the legal nor equitable title has been alienated; it rests therefore with me to declare my intentions concerning the Premises and these are, to give & bequeath the said land to whomsoever the said Thornton Washington (who is also dead) devised the same; or to his heirs forever if he died Intestate: Exonerating the estate of the said Thornton, equally with that of the said Samuel from payment of the purchase money; which, with Interest; agreeably to the original contract with the said Pendleton, would amount to more than a thousand pounds.8 And whereas two other Sons of my said deceased brother Samuel namely, George Steptoe Washington and Lawrence [Charles] Augustine Washington, were, by the decease of those to whose care they were committed, brought under my protection, and in conseq[uenc]e have occasioned advances on my part for their Education at College, and other Schools, for their board cloathing and other incidental expences, to the amount of near five thousand dollars over and above the Sums furnished by their Estate wch Sum may be inconvenient for them, or their fathers Estate to refund. I do for these reasons acquit them, and the said estate, from the payment thereof. My intention being, that all accounts between them and me, and their fathers estate and me shall stand balanced.9
Item The balance due to me from the Estate of Bartholomew Dandridge deceased (my wife’s brother) and which amounted on the first day of October 1795 to four hundred and twenty five pounds (as will appear by an account rendered by his deceased son John Dandridge, who was the acting Exr of his fathers Will) I release & acquit from the payment thereof. And the Negros, then thirty three in number) formerly belonging to the said estate, who were taken in execution sold and purchased in on my account in the year [ ] and ever since have remained in the possession, and to the use of Mary, Widow of the said Bartholomew Dandridge, with their increase, it is my Will & desire shall continue, & be in her possession, without paying hire, or making compensation for the same for the time past or to come, during her natural life; at the expiration of which, I direct that all of them who are forty years old & upwards, shall receive their freedom; all under that age and above sixteen, shall serve seven years and no longer; and all under sixteen years, shall serve until they are twenty five years of age, and then be free. And to avoid disputes respecting the ages of any of these Negros, they are to be taken to the Court of the County in which they reside, and the judgment thereof, in this relation shall be final; and a record thereof made; which may be adduced as evidence at any time thereafter, if disputes should arise concerning the same. And I further direct, that the heirs of the said Bartholomew Dandridge shall, equally, share the benefits arising from the services of the said negros according to the tenor of this devise, upon the decease of their Mother.10
Item If Charles Carter who intermarried with my niece Betty Lewis is not sufficiently secured in the title to the lots he had of me in the Town of Fredericksburgh, it is my will & desire that my Executors shall make such conveyances of them as the Law requires, to render it perfect.11
Item To my Nephew William Augustine Washington and his heirs (if he should conceive them to be objects worth prosecuting) and to his heirs, a lot in the Town of Manchester (opposite to Richmond) No. 265ódrawn on my sole account, and also the tenth of one or two, hundred acre lots, and two or three half acre lots in the City, and vicinity of Richmond, drawn in partnership with nine others, all in the lottery of the deceased William Byrd are given as is also a lot which I purchased of John Hood, conveyed by William Willie and Samuel Gordon Trustees of the said John Hood, numbered 139 in the Town of Edinburgh, in the County of Prince George, State of Virginia.12
Item To my Nephew Bushrod Washington, I give and bequeath all the Papers in my possession, which relate to my Civel and Military Administration of the affairs of this Country; I leave to him also, such of my private Papers as are worth preserving;13 and at the decease of wife, and before if she is not inclined to retain them, I give and bequeath my library of Books and Pamphlets of every kind.14
Item Having sold Lands which I possessed in the State of Pennsylvania, and part of a tract held in equal right with George Clinton, late Governor of New York, in the State of New York; my share of land, & interest, in the Great Dismal Swamp, and a tract of land which I owned in the County of Gloucester; withholding the legal titles thereto, until the consideration money should be paid. And having moreover leased, & conditionally sold (as will appear by the tenor of the said leases) all my lands upon the Great Kanhawa, and a tract upon Difficult Run, in the county of Loudoun, it is my Will and direction, that whensoever the Contracts are fully, & respectively complied with, according to the spirit; true intent & meaning thereof, on the part of the purchasers, their heirs or Assigns, that then, and in that case, Conveyances are to be made, agreeably to the terms of the said Contracts; and the money arising therefrom, when paid, to be vested in Bank stock; the dividends whereof, as of that also wch is already vested therein, is to inure to my said Wife during her lifeóbut the Stock itself is to remain, & be subject to the general distribution hereafter directed.15
Item To the Earl of Buchan I recommit “the box made of the Oak that sheltered the Great Sir William Wallace after the battle of Falkirk” presented to me by his Lordship, in terms too flattering for me to repeat, with a request “to pass it, on the event of my decease, to the man in my country, who should appear to merit it best, upon the same conditions that have induced him to send it to me.” Whether easy, or not, to select the man who might comport with his Lordships opinion in this respect, is not for me to say; but conceiving that no disposition of this valuable curiosity can be more eligable than the re-commitment of it to his own Cabinet, agreeably to the original design of the Goldsmiths Company of Edenburgh, who presented it to him, and at his request, consented that is should be transferred to me; I do give & bequeath the same to his Lordship, and in case of his decease, to his heir with my grateful thanks for the distinguished honour of presenting it to me; and more especially for the favourable sentiments with which he accompanied it.16
Item To my brother Charles Washington I give & bequeath the gold headed Cane left me by Doctr Franklin in his Will. I add nothing to it, because of the ample provision I have made for his Issue.17 To the acquaintances and friends of my Juvenile years, Lawrence Washington & Robert Washington of Chotanck, I give my other two gold headed Canes, having my Arms engraved on them; and to each (as they will be useful where they live) I leave one of the Spy-glasses which constituted part of my equipage during the late War.18 To my compatriot in arms, and old & intimate friend Doctr Craik, I give my Bureau (or as the Cabinet makers call it, Tambour Secretary) and the circular chairóan appendage of my Study.19 To Doctor David Stuart I give my large shaving & dressing Table, and my Telescope.20 To the Reverend, now Bryan, Lord Fairfax, I give a Bible in three large folio volumes, with notes, presented to me by the Right reverend Thomas Wilson, Bishop of Sodor & Man.21 To General de la Fayette I give a pair of finely wrought steel Pistols, taken from the enemy in the Revolutionary War.22 To my Sisters in law Hannah Washington & Mildred Washington; to my friends Eleanor Stuart, Hannah Washington of Fairfield, and Elizabeth Washington of Hayfield, I give, each, a mourning Ring of the value of one hundred dollars. These bequests are not made for the intrinsic value of them, but as mementos of my esteem & regard.23 To Tobias Lear, I give the use of the Farm which he now holds, in virtue of a Lease from me to him and his deceased wife (for and during their natural lives) free from Rent, during his life; at the expiration of which, it is to be disposed as is hereinafter directed.24 To Sally B. Haynie (a distant relation of mine) I give and bequeath three hundred dollars.25 To Sarah Green daughter of the deceased Thomas Bishop,26 & to Ann Walker daughter of Jno. Alton, also deceased, I give, each one hundred dollars, in consideration of the attachment of their fathers to me; each of whom having lived nearly forty years in my family.27 To each of my Nephews, William Augustine Washington, George Lewis, George Steptoe Washington, Bushrod Washington and Samuel Washington, I give one of the Swords or Cutteaux of which I may die possessed; and they are to chuse in the order they are named. These Swords are accompanied with an injunction not to unsheath them for the purpose of shedding blood, except it be for self defence, or in defence of their Country and its rights; and in the latter case, to keep them unsheathed, and prefer falling with them in their hands, to the relinquishment thereof.28
And now
Having gone through these specific devises, with explanations for the more correct understanding of the meaning and design of them; I proceed to the distribution of the more important parts of my Estate, in manner following
First To my Nephew Bushrod Washington and his heirs (partly in consideration of an intimation to his deceased father while we were Bachelors, & he had kindly undertaken to superintend my Estate during my Military Services in the former War between Great Britain & France, that if I should fall therein, Mount Vernon (then less extensive in domain than at present) should become his property) I give and bequeath all that part thereof which is comprehended within the following limits viz. Beginning at the ford of Dogue run, near my Mill, and extending along the road, and bounded thereby as it now goes, & ever has gone since my recollection of it, to the ford of little hunting Creek at the Gum spring until it comes to a knowl, opposite to an old road which formerly passed through the lower field of Muddy hole Farm; at which, on the north side of the said road are three red, or Spanish Oaks marked as a corner, and a stone placed. thence by a line of trees to be marked, rectangular to the back line, or outer boundary of the tract between Thomson Mason & myself. thence with that line Easterly (now double ditching with a Post & Rail fence thereon) to the run of little hunting Creek. thence with that run which is the boundary between the Lands of the late Humphrey Peake and me, to the tide water of the said Creek; thence by that water to Potomac River. thence with the River to the mouth of Dogue Creek. and thence with the said Dogue Creek to the place of beginning at the aforesaid ford; containing upwards of four thousand Acres, be the same more or less together with the Mansion house and all other buildings and improvemts thereon.29
Second In consideration of the consanguinity between them and my wife, being as nearly related to her as to myself, as on account of the affection I had for, and the obligation I was under to, their father when living, who from his youth had attached himself to my person, and followed my fortunes through the viscissitudes of the late Revolution afterwards devoting his time to the Superintendence of my private concerns for many years, whilst my public employments rendered it impracticable for me to do it myself, thereby affording me essential Services, and always performing them in a manner the most felial and respectful for these reasons I say, I give and bequeath to George Fayette Washington, and Lawrence [Charles] Augustine Washington and their heirs, my Estate East of little hunting Creek, lying on the River Potomac; including the Farm of 360 Acres, Leased to Tobias Lear as noticed before, and containing in the whole, by Deeds, Two thousand and Seventy seven acres be it more or less. Which said Estate it is my Will & desire should be equitably, & advantegeously divided between them, according to quantity, quality & other circumstances when the youngest shall have arrived at the age of twenty one years, by three judicious and disinterested men; one to be chosen by each of the brothers, and the third by these two. In the meantime, if the termination of my wife’s interest therein should have ceased, the profits arising therefrom are to be applied for th[e]ir joint uses and benefit.30
Third And whereas it has always been my intention, since my expectation of having Issue has ceased, to consider the Grand children of my wife in the same light as I do my own relations, and to act a friendly part by them; more especially by the two whom we have reared from their earliest infancyónamelyóEleanor Parke Custis, & George Washington Parke Custis. And whereas the former of these hath lately intermarried with Lawrence Lewis, a son of my deceased Sister Betty Lewis, by which union the inducement to provide for them both has been increased; Wherefore, I give & bequeath to the said Lawrence Lewis & Eleanor Parke Lewis, his wife, and their heirs, the residue of my Mount Vernon Estate, not already devised to my Nephew Bushrod Washington; comprehended within the following descriptionóviz.óAll the land North of the Road leading from the ford of Dogue run to the Gum spring as described in the devise of the other part of the tract, to Bushrod Washington, until it comes to the Stone & three red or Spanish Oaks on the knowl. thence with the rectangular line to the back line (between Mr Mason & me) thence with that line westerly, along the new double ditch to Dogue run, by the tumbling Dam of my Mill; thence with the said run to the ford aforementioned; to which I add all the Land I possess West of the said Dogue run, & Dogue Crk bounded Easterly & Southerly thereby; together with the Mill, Distillery, and all other houses & improvements on the premises, making together about two thousand Acres be it more or less.31
Fourth Actuated by the principal already mentioned, I give and bequeath to George Washington Parke Custis, the Grandson of my wife, and my Ward, and to his heirs, the tract I hold on four mile run in the vicinity of Alexandria, containing one thousd two hundred acres, more or less, & my entire Square, number twenty one, in the City of Washington.32
Fifth All the rest and residue of my Estate, real & personal not disposed of in manner aforesaid In whatsoever consisting wheresoever lying and whensoever found a schedule of which, as far as is recollected, with a reasonable estimate of its value, is hereunto annexed I desire may be sold by my Executors at such times in such manner and on such credits (if an equal, valid, and satisfactory distribution of the specific property cannot be made without) as, in their judgment shall be most conducive to the interest of the parties concerned; and the monies arising therefrom to be divided into twenty three equal parts, and applied as follow33óviz.
To William Augustine Washington, Elizabeth Spotswood, Jane Thornton, and the heirs of Ann Ashton; son, and daughters of my deceased brother Augustine Washington, I give and bequeath four parts; that is one part to each of them.34
To Fielding Lewis, George Lewis, Robert Lewis, Howell Lewis & Betty Carter, sons and daughter of my deceased Sister Betty Lewis, I give & bequeath five other parts one to each of them.35
To George Steptoe Washington, Lawrence Augustine Washington, Harriot Parks, and the heirs of Thornton Washington, sons & daughter of my deceased brother Samuel Washington, I give and bequeath other four parts, one part to each of them.36
To Corbin Washington, and the heirs of Jane Washington, Son & daughter of my deceased brother John Augustine Washington, I give & bequeath two parts; one part to each of them.37
To Samuel Washington, Francis Ball & Mildred Hammond, son & daughters of my Brother Charles Washington, I give & bequeath three parts; one part to each of them. And to George Fayette Washington[,] Charles Augustine Washington & Maria Washington, sons and daughter of my deceased Nephew Geo: Augustine Washington, I give one other part; that is to each a third of that part.38
To Elizabeth Parke Law, Martha Parke Peter, and Eleanor Parke Lewis, I give and bequeath three other parts, that is a part to each of them.39
And to my Nephews Bushrod Washington & Lawrence Lewis, and to my ward, the grandson of My wife, I give and bequeath one other part; that is, a third thereof to each of them. And if it should so happen, that any of the persons whose names are here ennumerated (unknown to me) should now be deceased or should die before me, that in either of these cases, the heirs of such deceased person shall, notwithstanding, derive all the benefits of the bequest; in the same manner as if he, or she, was actually living at the time.
And by way of advice, I recommend it to my Executors not to be precipitate in disposing of the landed property (herein directed to be sold) if from temporary causes the Sale thereof should be dull; experience having fully evinced, that the price of land (especially above the Falls of the Rivers, & on the Western Waters) have been progressively rising, and cannot be long checked in its increasing value. And I particularly recommend it to such of the Legatees (under this clause of my Will) as can make it convenient, to take each a share of my Stock in the Potomac Company in preference to the amount of what it might sell for; being thoroughly convinced myself, that no uses to which the money can be applied will be so productive as the Tolls arising from this navigation when in full operation (and this from the nature of things it must be ‘ere long) and more especially if that of the Shanondoah is added thereto.
The family Vault at Mount Vernon requiring repairs, and being improperly situated besides, I desire that a new one of Brick, and upon a larger Scale, may be built at the foot of what is commonly called the Vineyard Inclosure, on the ground which is marked out. In which my remains, with those of my deceased relatives (now in the old Vault) and such others of my family as may chuse to be entombed there, may be deposited. And it is my express desire that my Corpse may be Interred in a private manner, without parade, or funeral Oration.40
Lastly I constitute and appoint my dearly beloved wife Martha Washington, My Nephews William Augustine Washington, Bushrod Washington, George Steptoe Washington, Samuel Washington, & Lawrence Lewis, & my ward George Washington Parke Custis (when he shall have arrived at the age of twenty years) Executrix & Executors of this Will & testament,41 In the construction of which it will readily be perceived that no professional character has been consulted, or has had any Agency in the draught and that, although it has occupied many of my leisure hours to digest, & to through it into its present form, it may, notwithstanding, appear crude and incorrect. But having endeavoured to be plain, and explicit in all Devisesóeven at the expence of prolixity, perhaps of tautology, I hope, and trust, that no disputes will arise concerning them; but if, contrary to expectation, the case should be otherwise from the want of legal expression, or the usual technical terms, or because too much or too little has been said on any of the Devises to be consonant with law, My Will and direction expressly is, that all disputes (if unhappily any should arise) shall be decided by three impartial and intelligent men, known for their probity and good understanding; two to be chosen by the disputants each having the choice of one and the third by those two. Which three men thus chosen, shall, unfettered by Law, or legal constructions, declare their sense of the Testators intention; and such decision is, to all intents and purposes to be as binding on the Parties as if it had been given in the Supreme Court of the United States.
In witness of all, and of each of the things herein contained, I have set my hand and Seal, this ninth day of July, in the year One thousand seven hundred and ninety [nine] and of the Independence of the United States the twenty fourth.

Marker Dedication

Sunday, December 6, 2020 the Alabama Society DAR, Phillip Hamman Chapter, dedicated a grave marker for Revolutionary War soldier, Phillip Hamman. The Alabama Society SAR were invited to be Color Guard.

Phillip Hamman arrived in America from Germany on 16 October, 1772, debarking from the ship Crawford, after which he settled in Greenbrier Valley, Virginia. He served with Capt. John Lewis’s Co. at the Battle of Point Pleasant on Oct. 10, 1774. He joined the 12th VA Regt in the spring of 1776. He later served as an Indian Scout. He and his wife, Christina, died in Jackson Co., AL. Their remains were moved to Valley Head, AL.