Monday, March 30, 2015

New England - 1629 A few problems including mosquito bites, snow, snakes & serpents

A Short and True Description of New England

by the Rev. Francis Higginson, written in 1629 
Printed for Michael Sparke, London, 1630.

Francis Higginson (1588-1630) was an early Puritan minister in Colonial New England, and the first minister of Salem, Massachusetts.

Thus of New England’s commodities, now I will tell you of some discommodities that are here to be found.

First: in the summer season for these three months June, July and August, we are troubled with little flies called mosquitos, being the same they are troubled with in Lincolnshire and the fens, and they are nothing but gnats, which except they be smoked out of their houses are troublesome in the night season.

Secondly: in the winter season for two months space the earth is commonly covered with snow, which is accompanied with sharp biting frosts, something more sharp than is in old England, and therefore we are forced to make great fires.

Thirdly: this country being very full of woods and wildernesses, doth also much abound with snakes and serpents of strange colors and huge greatness. Yea, there are some serpents called rattlesnakes, that have rattles in their tails that will not fly from a man as others will, but will fly upon him and sting him so mortally, that he will die within a quarter of an hour after, except the party stung have about him some of the root of an herb called snake weed to bite on, and then he shall receive no harm. But yet seldom falls it out that any hurt is done by these. About three years since an Indian was stung to death by one of them, but we heard of none since that time.

1603 German ed of Badli Angeli Abbatii's De Admirabili Viperae natura.  First published in 1589.  Dresden's Sächsische Landesbibliothek

Fourthly and lastly: here wants as yet the good company of honest Christians to bring with them horses, kine and sheep to make use of the fruitful land. Great pity it is to see so much good ground for corn and for grass as any is under the heavens, to lie altogether unoccupied, when so many honest men and their families in old England through the populousness thereof, do make very hard shift to live one by the other. Thus you know now what New England is, as also the commodities and discommodities thereof.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Friday, March 20, 2015

Early America - Legal Rights for Women

People settling in the British American colonies during the 17C were searching for political or legal refuge; adventure and profit; or religious freedom.

Despite professed beliefs in enlightenment and reason, independence for most women in the British American colonies and the new republic was nearly impossible. Individualism and freedom were reserved for men almost exclusively in colonial society throughout the 17C & 18C.

Women living in the British American colonies usually did not have the right to vote or hold office. Some colonies and states did allow women to vote briefly, but by 1787, women in all states except New Jersey had lost the right to vote.

If they were married, the great majority of women could not own land in their names. Men usually willed real estate to surviving sons and only personal property to surviving daughters, ensuring that land would pass from man to man.

If a woman had somehow acquired land or economic security before she married through inheritance or her own hard work, all her property automatically was awarded to her new spouse when she married in most colonies. In England and its colonies, the common law of coverture placed married women under the direction of their husbands.

Married women could not make contracts, even for their own labor. A wife had no legal identity separate from her husband's. The interests of a wife and her children were to be determined and represented solely by her husband.

Property was power in the colonies, and married women would have neither.

Divorces were rare, and usually men were allowed to beat their wives, just as they beat their slaves and servants and dogs and horses. When a wife chose to run away from an unbearable marriage, her husband could advertise for her capture and return in local newspapers; just as he could advertise for the return of his runaway slaves and servants.

Many widows chose not to remarry because of these laws; however, most widows with younger children remarried quickly for financial and physical assistance in raising her growing family.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

1682 Pennsylvania Laws Against Adultery, Incest, Rape, & Polygamy

1682 Pennsylvania Laws
Against Adultery, Incest, Rape, & Polygamy

Chapter 7. And be it &c: That whosoever defileth the marriage bed, by Lying with another Women or Man, than their own wife or husband, being Legally convicted thereof, Shall for the first offence be publickly whipt, & Suffer one whole year’s imprisonment in the house of correction at hard Labour, to the behoof of the publick & Longer if the chief Magistrate See meet And both hee & the Woman Shall be Liable to a Bill of Divorcement, if required by the greived husband or wife, within the said term of one whole year after Conviction. And for the Second Offence Imprisonment in Manner aforesaid, during Life. And if the party with whom the husband or wife Shall defile their beds be Unmarryed, for the first offence they Shall Suffer half a year’s imprisonment in the manner aforesaid. And for the Second offence, Imprisonment for Life.

Chapter 8. And be it &c: That if any person Shall be Legally convicted of Incest, which is uncleanness betwixt near relations in blood, Such Shall forfeit one half of his Estate, and both Suffer imprisonment a whole year in the house of Correction at hard Labour, And for the Second offence imprisonment in Manner aforesaid during Life.

Chapter 10. And be it &c: That whosoever Shall be Convicted of Rape or Ravishment, that is, forcing a Maid, Widow or Wife, Shall forfeit One third part of his Estate to the parent of the said Maid & for want of a parent to the said Maid, And if a Widow to the said Widow, And if a Wife to the husband of the said wife &the Said party be whipt, & Suffer a year’s imprisonment in the house of Correction at hard Labour, And for the second offence imprisonment in Manner aforesaid
during Life.

Chapter 11. And be it &c: That whosoever Shall be Convicted of having two Wives or two husbands att one and the Same time Shall be imprisoned all their Life-time in the house of Correction at hard Labour, to the behoof of the former wife & children or the former husband & children And if a Man or Women being Unmarried do knowingly Marry the husband or wife of another person, hee or shee Shall be punished after the same Manner aforesaid.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Tea, Violence, & Divorce in 18C America

1787 Remains of the slashed & torn portrait by the Sherman Limner (perhaps Abraham Delanoy 1742-1795). Rebecca Austin Mrs John Sherman & son Henry (1789-1817).

Rebecca Austin (b 1753) married John Sherman (b 1750) on August 28, 1771. He seemed to be a young man of great promise. They both came from good families. He was 21, she was 18.

Rebecca & John had 7 children -- John in 1772; Maria in 1774; Harriet in 1776; Elizabeth in 1778; David in 1781; Charles in 1783; and Henry in 1785. Although John Sherman served in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, he apparently returned home with some regularity.

When he left the service in the summer of 1783, John Sherman tried his hand at business in New Haven for several years; but by 1788, he decided it was time to move on.

Just a year before John Sherman decided to leave the family, he had portraits of the family painted by the Sherman Limner, whose name derives from these portraits.

Rebecca filed for divorce in 1792 claiming he drank excessively & became violent when drinking and that he was adulterous. The family portraits, as well as a tea urn, apparently became a focus of John's anger with the dissolution of his marriage. (Baldwin Family Papers, #55 Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library)

In a fit of anger, John slashed the portrait of his wife & their youngest child. On January 21, 1793, John Sherman's daughter Maria wrote a letter to their grandfather Roger Sherman. Honored and much respected Grandfather, We sincerely lament the unhappy necessity, which has seperated our Parents... Our father not satisfied with heaping disgrace and sorrow upon his children, has stripped us of all the Furniture he ever purchased, not even excepting our Portraits...He has likewise taken the Desk, Tea Urn, Silver Handled Knives & Forks, best Bed and Bedding, Chairs, Tables &c...

Apparently the court determined that Rebecca Austin Sherman's allegations were true, and the divorce was finalized in January 1794. Rebecca Austin Sherman raised her children by cooking & running a boarding house, until she died in 1830.

John Sherman almost immediately remarried Anna Tucker, 10 years younger than Rebecca. John Sherman had 2 more children with his new wife, supporting his new family as a shopkeeper in Canton. He died 8 years later in 1802, his younger widow lived until 1858.

1787 Sherman Limner fl 1785-90, John Sherman (1750-1802) 

1787 Sherman Limner fl 1785-90, Maria Sherman (Mrs. Ira Hart) 1774-1857. 

1787 Sherman Limner fl 1785-90, David Austin Sherman (1781-1843) 

1787 Sherman Limner fl 1785-90, John Sherman II. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

20C Hungarian music, women, legs, dogs, & goats by Robert Bereny 1887-1953

Robert Bereny (Hungarian artist, 1887-1953) Woman Playing Cello 1928

Robert Bereny (Hungarian artist, 1887-1953) Woman with Cello 1937

Robert Bereny (Hungarian artist, 1887-1953) Self Portrait 1906

In 1904, Bereny was a student of Tivadar Zemplényi, before he went to study in Paris, where he was particularly influenced by Cézanne's art. Politcally he took part in the art life of the Hungarian Soviet Republic, and he was the leader of the department for painting in the Art Directorate. After 1919, he emmigrated to Berlin, which he left to return home in 1926. He worked in Zebegény from 1934. He was awarded the Szinnyei prize in 1936.  Obviously, I am particularly fond of his self-portraits & his bold use of color.

Robert Bereny (Hungarian artist, 1887-1953) Red Dress 1908

Robert Bereny (Hungarian artist, 1887-1953) Woman in a Green Room 1927

Robert Bereny (Hungarian artist, 1887-1953) Woman in Arm Chair 1923

Robert Bereny (Hungarian artist, 1887-1953) Girl Reading 1946-48

Robert Bereny (Hungarian artist, 1887-1953) Self Portrait 1947

Monday, March 2, 2015

20C English Music by Stanley Spencer 1891-1959

Stanley Spencer, (English painter, 1891-1959) Music Lesson at Bedales 1921  Bedales School is an independent school situated in the village of Steep, in Hampshire. The school was founded in 1893, by John Haden Badley in reaction to the limitations of conventional Victorian schools. In the first half of 20th century the progressive movement around Bedales attracted a community of artists, craftsmen & writers to live in Steep. In the early 1920s Stanley Spencer made a number of drawings & paintings of activities at the school, while staying with Muirhead Bone.

Spencer's father was a musician & taught him to play the piano,  Two sisters who lived at the end of his lane in Cookham, said that he would drop in & say "Can I have a tinkle?" He would sit down at their piano & play Bach & Chopin.

Stanley Spencer, (English painter, 1891-1959) At the Piano 1957