Historical Archaeology
Anthropology P330, Spring 2009
Dr. Mullins

In this exercise you will evaluate the contents of two probate inventories from a single inn in Annapolis, Maryland. The inventories were made for two innkeepers who died a decade apart in 1723 and 1733. At a man’s death a record was made of all his possessions, placing values on all goods in order to settle any outstanding debts; modest items with little or no value were generally ignored, but valuable goods like real estate, furnishing, and slaves were systematically recorded. These probates record the possessions of the two innkeepers and the values for their goods. A short section summarizing what we know about these two innkeepers is provided with each probate, and a history of the inn subsequent to the 1733 probate is included at the end of the handout.

Annapolis had become the capital of Maryland in the late-seventeenth century, and by the time of these probates it was dotted with inns that catered to the seasonal legislative trade, regional craftspeople (e.g., Chesapeake Bay shipwrights), marketers who sold to plantations throughout southern Maryland, and Annapolis residents. These inns were multi-purpose venues that often served food and drink, provided spaces for gaming and wagering of all sorts, and sometimes included sleeping spaces. Inns ranged from quite luxurious to spare and rundown, with various sorts of inns catering to various sorts of clientele. Many inns were run by women in their husbands’ name, and it is likely that when these men were married Esther Evans and subsequently Deborah Maccubbin managed most of their establishments’ everyday operations.

Preparing your analysis

You will prepare a short written paper that compares these probates, examining their relative fortunes, the degree to which each inn suggests adherence to Georgian material culture, and changes to the inn's material assemblages in the 10 years between the probate inventories. The paper must minimally include consideration of the following:

How much is each estate worth? What are some possible explanations for the difference? Given that many of the items in the 1723 inventory do not appear in the later one, what are some possible explanations for what happened to them?

About how many customers could the inn have slept in 1723? In 1733? How many people could have been served food or drink? Was there a change in what was served to customers? Can you find any signs that the inn changed in other ways?

What is the condition of most of the items in Evans' inventory? In Palmer's? What does this tell us about the two mens' operations?

Which inventory exhibits more "Georgianization"? In what ways? That is, what material culture in the inventories suggests the sort of Georgian cultural practices discussed by Deetz? Cite specific examples.

You can include other elements in your analysis; indeed, good papers will suggest some other patterns, contrasts, or similarities which might effect how we interpret the two assemblages. You can organize you finished paper in whatever form you find most suitable: one long narrative, sections which analyze each of the above points, and so on. Be clear and thorough. Most papers will be at least three pages in length, and stronger papers will be longer. Type and double space your analysis, spell-check your text, and staple it to this exercise. The exercise is due FEBRUARY 3.

What in the world are "briches"?: or, how to read the inventories

These probates were originally composed over 250 years ago, and the grammar, spelling, monetary system, and organizational conventions are in some cases confusing. The probates are transcribed here basically unchanged from the period spellings, textual illegibilities, and so on. The far right column is an itemization of each lot of goods or object which is inventoried. The value is expressed as pounds/shillings/pence; e.g., 10/2/0 is 10 pounds, 2 shillings, and 0 pence. There were 20 shillings in a pound and 12 pence in a shilling. Within some entries you'll see values for individual items within a lot: e.g., "1 Chest Drawers at L3 To 7 leather chairs at 2/14/0" indicates that the chest drawers was valued at 3 pounds (pounds is expressed as L) and seven leather chairs were collectively valued at 2 pounds 14 shillings. Sometimes within entries "S" is used to indicate shillings value (e.g., "2S" means two shillings), and "D" is used to indicate pence (e.g., "2d" means two pence).

All editorial changes made during transcription are indicated by brackets [like this]; this indicates illegible text, missing text, or guesses at words which are unclear. Some period conventions occur: e.g., "PENNYWT" refers to penny weight, a system of weighing an object; "dram," another measurement system for fluid capacity; "pcll" is shorthand for parcel, i.e., a single lot of objects; "osnaburg," spelled several different ways, is a type of textile; "DO" or "Do" means ditto, meaning that entry is the same type of object or good as that in the last entry; and so on. If you cannot figure out what an object actually is, consult the Oxford English Dictionary, a gargantuan tome located in the reference section of the library that contains the definitions and etymologies for millions of now-archaic words. Some words in the probates are mis-spelled but sound like the literal spelling in the inventory: "poowter" for pewter, "linnon" for linen, and so on.

In most ways, these two inventories were originally recorded using the same techniques. The 1723 Evans inventory was conducted room-by-room and is recorded that way with each room's name bolded (e.g., In ye New House 1st room). The second inventory was conducted in the same manner--i.e., the executors walked through the house a room at a time and made a record of all goods--, but the rooms themselves are not identified. However, the Evans inventory indicates that it was conducted in two "houses"--based on what we know about inns (e.g., innkeepers were residents of their inn) and the contents of the assemblage, the "new" house is likely an addition or small outbuilding adjacent to the inn. The 1733 Palmer inventory doesn't indicate rooms or "houses," so we cannot know what architectural changes may have been made in the interim or if each assemblage was recorded in the same structure(s).

INVENTORY, RICHARD EVANS

1723

[Apart from what his inventory tells us, we know little about Richard Evans. He died on October 9, 1723, leaving his entire estate to his wife Esther.]

An Inventory of the Goods and chattles of Mr. Richard Evans late of Ann Arundel County Deceased Appraised in Currt Money by us Caesar Ghisleling & Petr Overard Nov 4th 1723

In ye New House 1st room

one feather bed and furniture w/blue & wh[ite] curtains 10/0/0

one Do with red and white curtains L10 one small Boll 10/2/0

six leather chairs, 1 old cane also, 1 table & looking Glass 4/10/0

2nd Room

one old Table and 3 benches 0/13/6

12 Bushels of Indian Corne & 2 bushels of oats at 1sh 6p the bushel 1/1/0

In the Dining Room in the other house

1 Large Oval Table at 2/10/0 1 small at 0/15/0 3/5/0

1 Chest Drawers at L3 7 leather chairs at 2/14/0 5/14/0

1 Large Looking Glass at L3 1 small at 0/2/6 3/2/6

8 Punch bowls at 12s 27 picturs & 2 pr of Old Window curtains 1/9/0

2 Quart Decanters 2 pint ditto & 13 dram cups & 2 Tea pots 0/14/2

6 Glases [?] 2 Brushes 1 pair of tongs & Joint stool at 0/9/6

2 watches at L6 one ivory foot rule at 2s 6/2/0

12 oz and 14 pennywt of old silver at 5s p oz 3/3/6

a pcll of wearing apparell 10/0/0

a pcll of Table Linen & 6 pr sheets & 12 Towels 6/14/0

1 pc New Linnon Cont 25 yds [illegible] 7 3 yds Scotch cloth 3/5/4

[more cloth?]...Garlick Holland 25 yds 3/10/6

6 yds of Garlick Holland at 2d p yd & 47 ells osnabrig at [illegible] 3/6/10

osnabrig [illegible] 2/3/3

Outward closet

3 Small Punch Bowls 6 Chocolate Basons & 6 Teacups & Saucers 0/6/3

3 Quart mugs 6 Pint Do & 8 Custard Cups 0/5/3

1 Lawn sifter 1 stone Jugg 2 Cups 9 old books & 2 case bottles 1/2/0

2 pr yarn stockings 6 pnd double refin'd sugar & 12 pewter spoons [this parcel valued w/line below]

1/2 Doz Buckhorn handknives & forks 1/2 doz Ivory hand'd Ditto 1/2 Doz mettle hand'd Ditto & 5 maple hand'd knives & 6 forks 3/0/0

Inward Closet

6 pr Negro shoes at 1/4/0 2 old chairs at 4s 1/8/0

1 pr of Leather Baggs 0/9/0

In the Other Room

1 Cupboard 1 Looking glass 9 straw chairs & 1 small table 1/19/0

1 pr hand irons 33lb at 4d p lb 1 Joint Stool & 8 glasses 0/18/0

8 picturs 3 Decanters & 1 glovers shaving knife 0/9/6

1 pr Large Stilliards 1 barber sifter[?] & 1 pr tongs 1/0/0

2 pottle muggs 6 Quart Do & 2 pint Do 0/7/3

In the Outward Closet

a box of currants wh 34 lb & 10lb of Raisons at 7 p lib 1/15/8

3 lb and 1/4 of Country Candle wick 3s 25g pd of sugar 4/3/0

Inward Closet

13 bottles of claret at 2s 3d p bottle 1 pr boots 12s 2/1/3

5 Gallons of Cherry Rum at 4s per Gallon 1/0/0

Upstairs 1st Chamber

2 Trundle begs and furniture & 1 Japan'd table 11/12/0

2 half sided Do. with curtains 1 hair trunk 6 wooden chairs 13/18/0

2nd Chamber

4 Trundle flockbeds & furniture & 1 close stool 12/15/0

In the Kitchen

1 feather bed and furniture with blue curtains 4/0/0

1 Desk -- 7 straw chairs 1 looking glass and 12 brass candlesticks 4/16/0

2 spits 2 brass ladles & 2 Iron Do. & 12 shervers & 2 chaffing dishes 0/19/0

1 Grid Iron 3 Pot racks 1 Jack 1 fire shovel & 1 pr Tongs 3/1/6

1 pr bellows 2 Candles boxes 4 dish covers & 2 cullender 0/19/0

1 warming pan 2 dozn of patty pans & 1 brass pestle & mortar 1/2/0

2 copper sauce pans & 1 brass Do. 0/9/0

2 tin funnels 1 dripping pan & 1pr small Stilliards 0/8/6

1 pr Small Tongs 2 pr Scales and weights 0/8/6

2 pr of Money Scales & weights 1 box iron & [illegible] 0/16/0

2 frying pans 1 brass skillet and frame & 3 pr of snufters 0/10/3

1 flesh fork & skimer & 3 fire pans 0/3/0

112 lb good pewter 7/10/0

2 iron kettles and 4 iron pots with pot hooks wht 247 lbs 3/1/9

2 brass Do wh 68lb at 1s p lib 6 old chests 5/4/0

18 pair of Leather briches & 2 pair of Gloves 14/12/0

1 Sadle 2 bridles 1 sugar Axe and hamer and 1 punch strainer 2/1/6

1 Horselock 1 hatchet & 2 hammers 0/5/0

2 old tables 2 old sifters & 1 Tin fish kettle 0/13/0

6 sheepskins 4:6 1 loaf single Refin'd sugar 0/12/6

2 Gallons Aniseed and 2 juggs 0/11/0

In the Kitching Loft

2 Doz & 10 buckets at 10-6 per doz & 1 skroon frame at 5 1/14/19

In the Cellar

6 Doz & 1 bottle of white 7 red Wine 8/4/3

1 Gallon Lime juice 0/4/0

In the Stable loft

2 load and 1/2 of hay 5/15/0

2 old worme eaten boats 0/15/0

a pcell of old lumber 1/0/0

a bay horse branded 6/0/0

one py'd cow 3/0/0

one servntman named [illegible] Griffith haveing 5 years and 2 months to serve 14/0/0

one Negro Girl Named Hannah 25/0/0

cash 118/3/94 [?]

55 Gall Rum 48 Gal Madera Wine 10/19/9

39 doz & 9 empty bottles 4/19/65

[total value of estate] 448/4/10 1/4

INVENTORY OF NATHANIEL PALMER

1733

[On December 3, 1723 (less than two months after the death of her first husband Richard Evans), Esther Evans married Nathaniel Palmer. Esther herself died exactly 10 months later, on October 3, 1724. At the time of his wedding to Richard Evans' widow Esther, Nathaniel was described as a currier (i.e., a leather worker). In his 1732 will, however, Nathaniel is called an innkeeper, suggesting that he switched professions on marrying Esther, continuing to run Richard Evan's inn.]

A True and perfect Inventory of all the Goods & chattles of Nathaniel Palmer Deceased Appraisd in Currant Money by us the Subscrivers this second day of March 1733 as followeth /viz/

1 feather bed 2 quilts 2 blankets 2 sheets 2 pillows 1 bolster with curtains and vallins bedstead cord and mattr all pretty much wore 1 quilt excepted 7/0/0

1 Doz leather chairs half wore & 1 old Do. 3/1/0

1 chest of Drawers 2/5/0

8 old tables and 1 stand 4/8/0

3 old chests 0/9/0

2 gross & 1 doz of glass bottles at 2/6 3/7/6

12 silver spoons 32 1/3 oz at 6/ 6/14/0

cupboard 10s and looking Glass 10s 1/0/0

10 old brass candlesticks, 2 pr snifters 1 small pestle and mortar and 1 small ladle 1/5/0

2 washing tubs 4 pails old, 1 Biggen 1 half bushel 1 cooler 0/14/0

3 saucepans 12s a parcel old tinware 8s 1/0/0

2 spits scowers 2 pr tongs & 1 shovel 0/15/0

2 old frying pans 2 fleshforks 1 skimmer & 1 warming pan all old 0/13/6

1 old watch broken 45/ 3 pr sheets at 14/ pr 4/7/0

3 sheets very much wore at 5/ five Do. good for little 2/ 1/5/0

2 Table cloaths 30/ 3 Huckabuck Do. 20/ 3 old oznabrig Do. 2/ 2/16/0

7 Huckaback napkins at 1/3 six oznabrig at 6 19 pillowbays and old towels 1/1/3

a parcel of Earthen and glassware 22: one China bowl /7/ 1/7/0

11 ells ozenb.[pt.of line missing?]...coarse linen 0/10/10 1/2

79 wt good Pewter at 1/ fifty odd pnds old ditto 5/17/3

1 pr And irons wt 28 1/2 lb ? ? pr small stilliards 0/19/0[?]

1 box iron and pewter well-a-staind 3/ 3 old iron pots wt 154lbs at 3d 2/1/2

3 pot racks and 1 spit rack 18/ 1 Copper kettle 22lbs 2/14/0

1 brass kettle weight 57lb at 18d per 4/5/6

1 Bed with furniture 5/0/0

1 Do. L4 and [2?] Do. L3 and flock Do. 35s 11/15/0

a Backgammon Table [illegible] scales 6/ 0/16/0

1/2 dozen knives & forks 0/5/0

1 old gray horse L3 1 cow L1/1/0 4/1/0

1 man servant 1 year to serve 1/0/0

1 old Negro woman 16/0/0

14 hydes at 5/ per and Gun saddle & bridle 4/15/0

a parcel old lumber 10/ twelve gallons flat beer & casks 0/16/0

6 1/2 gal rum at 2/6 5 gallons Brandy at 5/ 2/1/3

3 bottles wine 8 Gal. cyder 0/8/0

wearing apparel 6/10/0

[total value of state] 112/14/3 1/2

Mrs Deborah Palmer Exx Nathaniel Palmer deceased makes oath to the truth of the within inventory Except a Negro Boy called Guy claimed by Mr John Maccubbin and two Mares which she cannot find and that she knows of no Relations to the Dec'd sworn to before this 3d May 1733

approved by us the Creditors to the Deceas'd Amos Woodward, Nic Hammond, James Donaldson, Thos. Jobson

What happened after these inventories?

Sometime after Esther's death, Nathaniel Palmer married a woman named Deborah Maccubbin (from a plantation not far from Annapolis). After Nathaniel died in 1733, she continued to run the inn on her own until her marriage to an Annapolis lawyer, William Wilkins, in 1735. The Wilkins carried on the business (actually, since William continued to practice law, it is likely that Deborah continued the business) for many years. William Wilkins died in 1761, leaving a third inventory for the inn, which was then a prosperous operation. Deborah was still in business as late as 1783, as a tax list from that year lists her as an innkeeper.

Email me if you have any questions.

Page last updated October 24, 2008