Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Rebecca Austin Sherman's (1753-1830) messy Divorce from her Revolutionary War husband

1787 Sherman Limner fl 1785-90 (perhaps Abraham Delanoy 1742-1795). Rebecca Austin Mrs John Sherman & son Henry (1789-1817).


Rebecca Austin (1753-1830) married John Sherman (1750-1802) 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. John Sherman was born in New Milford, New Haven, Connecticut, the son of Roger Sherman, a respected attorney at the Continental Congress who helped draft the Articles of Confederation. Thomas Jefferson referred to young John Sherman's father as "Mr. Sherman of Connecticut, who never said a foolish thing in his life;" and John Adams called the elder Sherman, "an old Puritan, as honest as an angel." Roger Sherman was the only American to sign four signficant historical documents: The Continental Association of 1774; the Declaration of Independence; The Articles of Confederation; and The Federal Constitution.

Rebecca's father David Austin was also prominent in the New Haven community. He was named the first president of the New Haven Bank on Dec 22, 1795. He served as deacon of the North Church for 43 years and an alderman under Mayor Roger Sherman. From 1793 to 1801 he was the Collector of Customs.

Rebecca Austin and John Sherman had children John, born 1772; Maria, born 1774; Harriet, born 1776 died 1795; Elizabeth, born 1778; David Austin, born 1781; Charles Sherman born 1783; and Henry Sherman was born in 1785. Although John Sherman served in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, he apparently returned home occasionally.

John Sherman was not a foot soldier, he was assigned to headquarters. He enlisted in 1776; and by January 1, 1777, he was Paymaster for the 6th Connecticut Regiment under Colonel Butler. On October 7, 1777, he received his commission as 2nd Lieutenant; and on May 10, 1780, he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant. On June 1, 17781, he was transferred to the 4th Connecticut Regiment under the command of Colonel Samuel Whiting. He served in "Booth's Company" under Captain James Booth, until he was detached to the 11th Connecticut Regiment (by order of Brigader General Sillick Silliman) as part of the "Short Levy" of 1782. On January 1, 1783, he was again transferred to the 2nd Connecticut Regiment, where he served until June of 1783; when he left the army at the rank of Captain in Colonel Gideon Burt's Massachusetts Regiment. He received his Captain's commission by brevet at the close of the war.

When he returned home 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.


In 1788, John Sherman determined to leave his wife and family, wrote to his father on December 8, "Most respected Parent, My departure from this is absolutely necessary on Account of my entering into business; the Trade of this City at present is not an Object of Importance, & and scarcely of Support, I am now in the prime of life, I hope my Friends will not think me lost, my determinations are Just, that is to pay all their dues and owe no one anything, in consequence of which I shall advise you & Esq Austin, likewise Mrs. Sherman the place of my residence, the Settlement of my Public Accounts will be attended to by me as soon as the Public are ready to make me payment for my Services, otherwise I should have left the United States for a few years, & this is only what prevents. I most probably shall fix my residence at Charles Town, or Savannah, unhappy it is tho past. I did not take your advice, it would not have obliged me to take the present measure (I think the most unfeeling Heart would not wish to distress Mrs. Sherman & the Children in my absence) (I leave them to your care you will please to assert their rights & be their Just protector, & may the most Cordial Friendship ever subsist betwixt you & Esq. Austin. I wish each of you the length of days & that your usefulness may be preserved to the last & and that each of your Families may be happy (my own unhappiness is proceeds from myself only.) I am with every respect, Your son John Sherman."
(Baldwin Family Papers, #55, Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library.)


Just a year before John Sherman decided to leave the family, he had portraits of the family painted in 1787, by the Sherman Limner, whose name derives from these portraits. The portraits are of John Sherman; his wife Rebecca holding baby Henry; John's daughter Maria (1774-1857); his son John II; and his son, David Austin (1781-1843), whose portrait is signed on the reverse Jany 2d 1787.
Rebecca filed for divorce in 1792 claiming he drank excessively and became violent when drinking and that he was adulterous. In 1792, there was a motion for the continuance in the plea for divorce of Rebecca Austin Sherman vs John Sherman, New Haven 1792. The family portraits apparently became a focus of John's anger with the dissolution of his marriage. (Baldwin Family Papers, #55 Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library)


On December 10, 1792, son David Austin wrote to his grandfather Roger Sherman that his father, "then catched down any likenesses and Swore it should not be in the house and that he woyld throw it into the street, I told him if he did not like to see it, I would take it away but he must not throw it into the street and ruin it as I was at the expense of the drawing and I did not choose it should not be destroyed." (Baldwin Family Papers, #55 Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library)

A fragment of a letter from the husband John Sherman to Simeon Baldwin exists from December 19, 1792. John Sherman wrote about his wife, "she means to bring in her cut portrait as an Evidence the whole of them were made at my Expense to flatter her Vanity & if the original had been present I should not have done it." The portrait of Rebecca Sherman and her son Henry was slashed. (Baldwin Family Papers, #55 Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library)

On January 21, 1793, John Sherman's daughter Maria and her two sisters wrote a letter to their grandfather Roger Sherman. Honored and much respected Grandfather, We sincerely lament the unhappy necessity, which had seperated our Parents. We hope it will not be the means of depriving us of your parental regard and protection. We shall ever retain a grateful remembrance of your past kindness, and hope you will ever continue it to us. The mortifiyig and disagreeable situation we are in, we hope will apologize for the freedom we have taken in addressing you. 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 out Portraits, and the arms of the Family from which we are descended, which we would wish to retain. as a remembrance of the family from which we are descended. The Carpet Mama thinks she ought to have, as he made a present of it to her, on his return from the Army before Evidences, as a reward for her faithfulness and Industry. He has likewise taken the Desk, Tea Urn, Silver Handled Knives & Forks, best Bed and Bedding, Chairs, Tables &c., which Mama is very willing he should have. He has been here, & with Roger taken account of all the Provisions, & Stores we have in the House, which are very considerable, and threatened taking them away. He has also given orders to Mr. Baldwin, to receive all the Money due to us from our Boarders, when they return at the end of Vacation. We intreat you Sir, to interpose in our affair, & not suffer him to add affliction, to his already afflicted Children. We shall do everything in our power to assist Mama in the maintenance of the Family , and endeavor to be as little burden to our Friends as possible. We rejoice dear Sir, in the prospect of your speedy return, and hope to find in you an indulgent Father, & unfailing Friend. We hope our future conduct will be such as to merit your approbation and esteem. With the greatest respect Dear Sir, we subscribe ourselves your dutiful & Affectionate Grandchildren, Maria Sherman Betsey Sherman Harriet Sherman (Baldwin Family Papers, #55 Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library)

In 1793, Sherman wrote that if "A bill of divorce is granted to Mrs. Sherman & and all connections on my part with the Family ceases forever...I am disposed to render them every assistance so far as it respects the children that Humanity & and reason can demand." (Baldwin Family Papers, #55 Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library)


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 running a boarding house, until she died in 1830.

John Sherman remarried Anna Tucker, ten years younger than Rebecca, in September 4, 1794, at Canton, Massachusettes. John Sherman had two more children with his new wife. Sherman supported his new family as a shopkeeper in Canton. He died 8 years later, his widow lived until 1858.


1787 Sherman Limner fl 1785-90 (perhaps Abraham Delanoy 1742-1795), John Sherman (1750-1802) Christies NY 2006


1787 Sherman Limner fl 1785-90 (perhaps Abraham Delanoy 1742-1795) Maria Sherman (Mrs. Ira Hart) 1774-1857. Christies NY 2006.


1787 Sherman Limner fl 1785-90 (perhaps Abraham Delanoy 1742-1795) David Austin Sherman (1781-1843) Christies NY 2006.

1787 Sherman Limner fl 1785-90 (perhaps Abraham Delanoy 1742-1795). John Sherman II. Christies 2006.

On Divorce in the American Colonies & Early Republic


In colonial New England, the legal aspects of marriage differed from mother England, where marriage was an indissoluble religious sacrament. Anglican church courts could order separations of unhappy spouses without right of remarriage; and, by the 18th century, rich men in England could buy private legislative acts authorizing their divorces, if they could prove, in one way or another, their wives' adultery.

The first American couple obtained a divorce in a Massachusettes Puritan court in 1639. In 18th century New England, marriage was a civil contract, and divorces were granted after a judicial proceeding, when a wife's or husband's misconduct was proved. Divorces were occasionally granted elsewhere in colonial North America, but other colonial legislatures did not pass laws allowing divorce before the American Revolution. Because the colonies were more open than the mother country and in a state of constant flux, many unhappy spouses just ended their unbearable marriages by disappearing and marrying again elsewhere.

By the early 19C, each new American state, except South Carolina, enacted laws authorizing divorce under limited circumstances. A full divorce with right of remarriage for the "innocent" party could be granted if adultery of the "guilty" spouse were proved. In some states, such as New Hampshire, a variety of other grounds, including incest, bigamy, abandonment for 3 years, and extreme cruelty, would also justify a divorce decree. In many states, only the innocent party was set free from the "bonds of matrimony," leaving the guilty party unable to remarry during the lifetime of the innocent spouse who retained the right to inherit land or other property from the guilty one. In most of the new states, courts heard divorce cases; but in Maryland a divorce required a private bill of divorce by the state legislature.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Timeline for American Women 1740-1749

1740

A great fire destroys half of Charleston, South Carolina.

Large numbers of women join churches during the Great Awakening of the 1740s. Some have called this the “feminization of the church.” Open-air preaching, the charismatic phenomena, and the involvement of the poor all gain more public attention for this movement. Support comes from most American Protestant denominations, but not from Anglicans.

Fifty black slaves are hanged in Charleston, South Carolina, after plans for a 1739 revolt are found.

Aaron Moses witnesses a will, becoming the first Jewish person on record in North Carolina.

South Carolina passes the comprehensive Negro Act, making it illegal for male and female slaves to move abroad, assemble in groups, raise food, earn money, and learn to read English. Owners are permitted to kill rebellious slaves if necessary.

Georgia and Carolina attempt to invade Florida in retaliation for the territory's policy toward runaway slaves.

War of the Austrian Succession begins after the death of Emperor Charles VI and eventually results in France and Spain allied against England. The conflict is known in the American colonies as King George's War and lasts until 1748.

1741

Elizabeth Lucas Pinckney introduces indigo cultivation in South Carolina; by 1742 she has a successful crop.

Elizabeth Pinckney sights a comet whose appearance was predicted by Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727).


American revivalism is inflamed by Jonathan Edwards' vivid sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God delivers at Enfield, Massachusettes.

The second slave uprising takes place in New York; 26 slaves are killed and 71 deported.

The first labor strike occurs in New York City when bakers protest the regulation of the price of bread.

A law is enacted requiring all newly freed slaves to leave North Carolina within 6 months.

1742

Moravians (Church of the United Bretheran) found a school in Germantown, Pa. (later Bethlehem); this will grow into the Moravian Seminary for Young Females (from 1805, the Young Ladies Seminary), one of the earliest American girls’ boarding schools.

Georg Frederic Handel’s (1685-1759) "The Messiah" is performed in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

The fishing industry grows in New England; there are nearly 1,000 fishing boats.

"COMPLETE HOUSEWIFE," an English cookbook by Eliza Smith, appears in Williamsburg. Virginia.

Cornelia Smith Bradford (c. 1700-1755) takes over the responsibilities for the AMERICAN WEEKLY MERCURY. From 1742 until 1744, she published the paper with the help of one assistant. After 1744, she became the sole editor and printer until the paper folded in 1746.


Printer Ann Franklin (1695-1763) of Newport, Rhode Island, printed on one sheet A SHORT NARRATIVE OF THE UNJUST PROCEEDINGS OF MR. GEORGE GARDNER OF NEWPORT DISTILLER, AGAINST ANN MAYLEM WIDOW AND ADMINISTRATRIX TO THE ESTATE OF JOHN MAYLEM (1695-1742) LATE OF NEWPORT DISTILLER DECEASED.


Isabella Marshall (Mrs. John Graham) 1742-1814, was born in Scotland. She moved to New York City where she opened a school for girls and formed relief societies for the destitute sick, widows, and orphans.

1743

The first American town meeting is held in Boston’s Faneuil Hall.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), 3rd U.S. President, is born in Virginia.

In Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin drafts the founding document for the American Philosophical Society.

A “pesthouse” is established in Philadelphia to quarantine immigrants.

1744

Benjamin Franklin publishes his design for an improved stove in Account of the New Invented Pennsylvania Fire Place (or Franklin Stove) which provides much more heat on much less fuel than regular fireplaces.

Abigail Smith (1744-1818), wife of John Adams, is born on November 11, in Weymouth, Massachusettes.

Elizabeth (Eliza) Pinckney (1722-1793) develops indigo as a commercial crop in the Carolinas.

Sarah Parsons Moorhead (fl. 1741-1742) writes "LINES... DEDICATED TO THE REV. MR. GEORGE TENNENT." Moorhead's poem sharply criticizes the Great Awakening evangelical clergyman: "O dear sacred TENNENT, pray beware. / Lest too much Terror, prove to some a Snare." She believed that the religious revivalism of the period had become an emotional "Drunkard's song." She lived in Boston during the 1740s.


1745

Thomas Cadwalader (1708-1779) publishes America’s first medical pamphlet describing the treatment of lead poisoning caused by drinking rum distilled in lead pipes.

Men and women make Whist a popular card game.

The first carillon in America is installed in the belfry of Christ Church, Boston.

Cadwallader Colden writes Explication of the First Causes of Action in Matter, and, of the Causes of Gravitation. In this scientific critique, Colden takes on Newtonian physics by claiming to have discovered the cause of gravity. Colden's contemporaries are baffled by his logic and subsequent scholars have dismissed his ideas. Plantae Coldenghamiae, a treatise on medicine, moral philosophy, and natural science, would follow it in 1749.

1746

Benjamin Franklin (1705-1790) explains weather patterns, pressure systems, and water spouts. He begins his experiments with electricity.

The College of New Jersey is founded; it becomes Princeton University in 1896.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) contracts for "A Dictionary of the English Language."

Lucy Terry (c. 1730-1821) writes "BARS FIGHT, AUGUST 28, 1746." Lucy Terry Prince was among the residents of Deerfield, Massachusetts, traumatized by an Abenaki raid on the village. Lucy, a slave, described the horrific event in "The Bars Fight," the earliest known poem by a black writer in North America. The work is also the most accurate account of what happened that day. Five colonists died, one was badly wounded, and another was taken captive.

1747

The first legal society, the New York Bar Association, is founded in New York City.

A measles epidemic sweeps through Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.

In England, Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) publishes “A Plan of a Dictionary of the English Language.”

A new wave of Highlanders begins arriving in North Carolina after the failed revolt in Scotland in 1746. Forced from their Scottish homelands, these immigrants settle mainly in the Cape Fear Valley.

The Ohio Company is formed to extend colonial settlements of Virginia westward; rivalry for the West, especially for the upper Ohio Valley, increases between France and Great Britain.

1748

A circulating library opens in Charleston, South Carolina.

Martha Wayles (1748-1782), wife of Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), is born on October 30 in Charles City County, Virginia.

Lucy Terry's (c. 1730-1821) "Bars Fight" is published.


Georgia becomes a Crown Colony and Trustees of Georgia colony revoke their prohibition on slavery in the colony, marking a legal recognition of slavery there.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) invents the lightning rod, installing one on his Philadelphia house.

The Philadelphia Academy is founded; it becomes the University of Pennsylvania in 1791.

The Ohio Company makes its first settlement around the forks of the Ohio River.

James Davis installs North Carolina’s first printing press in New Bern. His first publications are government documents.

Black slavery is legalized in Georgia.

First American repertory acting company established in Philadelphia; it opens with Thomas Keane in Richard III.

1749

Jewish Congregation Beth Elohim (The House of God) is founded in Charleston, South Carolina.

Georgia repeals its prohibition and permits the importation of black slaves.

See Burt, Daniel S., editor. THE CHRONOLOGY OF AMERICAN LITERATURE: AMERICA'S LITERARY ACHIEVEMENTS FROM THE COLONIAL ERA TO MODERN TIMES. Houghton Mifflin Internet.
HISTORY MATTERS. American Social History Project / Center for Media and Learning (Graduate Center, CUNY) and the Center for History and New Media (George Mason University). Internet. http://historymatters.gmu.edu

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Timeline for American Women 1730-1739

1730

The population in the colonies is estimated at 655,000

William Parks of Maryland establishes a printing press in Virginia.

Baltimore is founded in the Maryland colony.

Both men & women begin wearing white stockings, made of silk or cotton.

John Wesley (1703-1791) & Charles Wesley (1707-1788) found the Methodist sect in Oxford, England

North Carolina Cherokee leaders visit London & confer with the king. They pledge friendship to the English & agree to return runaway slaves & to trade exclusively with the British.

America's first synagogue, Shearith Israel (The Remnant of Israel) is built on Mill Street in Lower Manhattan.

1731

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) and members of his Junto Club found a circulating library in Philadelphia, the Library Company of Philadelphia.

Martha Dandridge Custis (1731-1802), wife of George Washington, is born on June 2 near Williamsburg, Virginia.

Work is begun on building Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

Public concerts are held in Boston & Charleston, S.C.

The Spanish reverse a 1730 decision & declare that slaves fleeing to Florida from Carolina will not be sold or returned.

1732

George Washington (1732-1799), first President of the United States, is born on February 22 in Virginia.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) begins publishing "POOR RICHARD’S ALMANACK" (for the year 1733) which contains weather predictions, humor, proverbs, & epigrams.

A theatrical company from London performs for the first time in New York City.

Georgia is the last of the thirteen English colonies to be settled. It is established not so much for economic opportunity, but to be a military barrier between Spanish-owned Florida & the Carolinas. It is also set up as a refuge for former prisoners & the poor. It also would prevent slaves escaping from South Carolina from reaching Florida, where they could gain their freedom. Charter of Georgia; June 9.

Slaves aboard the ship of New Hampshire Captain John Major kill both captain & crew, seizing the vessel and its cargo.

1733

The Molasses Act, passed by the English Parliament, imposes heavy duties on molasses, rum and sugar imported from non-British islands in the Caribbean to protect the English planters there from French and Dutch competition.

James Oglethorpe (1696-1785) names Georgia in honor of King George II. He also founds the city of Savannah.

The first serious outbreak of influenza sweeps through New York City and Philadelphia; about three-fourths of the population is affected.

The New York "WEEKLY JOURNAL" is published by John Peter Zenger (1697-1746), opposing policies of the colonial government.

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) preaches on “The Great Awakening” in New England—a religious revival that emphasizes man’s sinful nature.
Jews settle in Savannah, Georgia.

Quaker Elihu Coleman's A Testimony against That Anti-Christian Practice of MAKING SLAVES OF MEN is published.

Rebekah Chamblit (1706-1733) reportedly conveys A DECLARATION, DYING WARNING AND ADVICE OF REBEKAH CHAMBLIT. A YOUNG WOMAN AGED NEAR TWENTY-SEVEN YEARS, EXECUTED AT BOSTON SEPTEMBER 27TH. 1733. BEING THEN FOUND GUILTY OF FELONY, IN CONCEALING THE BIRTH OF HER SPURIOUS MALE INFANT, OF WHICH SHE WAS DELIVERED WHEN ALONE THE EIGHTH DAY OF MAY LAST, AND WAS AFTERWARDS FOUND DEAD... (See the Declaration on this blog.)

1734

John Peter Zenger, editor of the NEW YORK WEEKLY Journal, is imprisoned in New York for upholding freedom of the press. He is accused of libeling New York Governor William Cosby. In 1735, Zenger is acquitted when his attorney, Andrew Hamilton, says that the charges cannot be libelous because the accusations against Cosby were true. While Zenger is imprisoned, his wife continues to publish the newspaper.

1735

John Adams (1735-1826), 2nd President of the U.S., is born on October 30, in Massachusetts.

The first opera performed in the colonies, “Flora,” opens in Charleston, South Carolina.

Women’s status in the colonies changes due to increasing wealth. Newspapers tell of runaway wives and elopements.

John Peter Zenger: A BRIEF NARRATIVE OF THE CASE AND TRYAL OF JOHN PETER ZENGER. Zenger explains the story of the court case that links his name to the notion of freedom of the press. Arrested for alleged libelous statements made in several issues of the New-York Weekly Journal in 1734, Zenger had been brought to trial in 1735. The jury found him not guilty, & the acquittal gained an important precedent for American freedom of the press

Under an English law Georgia prohibits the importation & use of black slaves. Georgia petitions Britain for the legalization of slavery.

Louis XV, King of France, declares that when an enslaved woman gives birth to the child of a free man, neither mother nor child can be sold. Further, after a certain time, mother and child will be freed.

Scots-Irish immigrants begin coming to North Carolina in large numbers, settling mainly in the Piedmont. Most are second-generation colonists moving south down the Great Wagon Road from Pennsylvania, Maryland, & Virginia, but a few come directly from Northern Ireland.

Ann Smith Franklin publishes "A BRIEF ESSAY ON THE NUMBER SEVEN." She is one of the first women printers in the American colonies, and the essay deals with the possible biblical significance of the number seven.

1736

Charles Theodore Pachelbel (1690-1750) gives organ concerts in New York City, bringing the Bach tradition to the New World.

Elisabeth Mixer, daughter of Deacon John Mixer and Abigail Fiske who had married in Connecticut on 15 August 1695 and gave birth to Elisabeth on 30 December 1702, revealed AN ACCOUNT OF SOME SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES AND RAPTUROUS AND PIOUS EXPRESSIONS OF ELISABETH MIXER…OF WHAT GOD HAD DONE FOR HER SOUL, IN ORDER TO HER ADMISSION INTO THE CHURCH OF CHRIST IN ASHFORD.

1737

The first colonial copper coins are minted, also in Connecticut.

Thomas Penn, son of William, attempts to claim more lands from the Minisink tribe of the Delaware. The original agreement, made by William Penn , was that as much land would be claimed as a man could walk in a day & a half, understood by all to mean 30 miles. Thomas Penn, wanting to expand further west, hires two trained athletes to "walk" along newly cut paths & assists them with boats across streams. The "walkers" cover sixty miles & this incident becomes known as The Walking Purchase, the beginning of the end for the Quaker peace policy in the colony

1738

Population in the colonies is estimated at 800,000.

A smallpox epdemic begins in South Carolina.

The first successful glass factory is founded in Salem County, New Jersey.

Mail is first carried regularly through North Carolina on the post road that runs from Boston to Charlestown, S.C.

Elizabeth Timothy (?-1757) begins publishing the weekly newspaper, the "SOUTH CAROLINA GAZETTE."

John Wesley (1702-1791) and George Whitefield (1713-1779) immigrate to Savannah, Georgia as leaders of the “Great Awakening.” Whitefield's sermons promote the "Great Awakening" throughout the 1740s. One of the thousands impressed by his eloquence is Benjamin Franklin, who writes in his Autobiography, "I happened soon after to attend one of his Sermons, in the Course of which I perceived he intended to finish with a Collection, & I silently resolved he should get nothing from me. I had in my Pocket a Handful of Copper Money, three or four silver Dollars, and five Pistoles in Gold. As he proceeded I began to soften, and concluded to give the Coppers. Another Stroke of his Oratory made me asham'd of that, and determin'd me to give the Silver; & he finish'd so admirably, that I empty'd my Pocket wholly into the Collector's Dish, Gold and all." Other preachers in this movement included Theodore Frelinghuysen of the Dutch Reformed Church, Gilbert Tennent (Presbyterian), and Jonathan Edwards.

Georgia's trustees permit the importation of black slaves.

Mary Katherine Goddard born in Connecticut. Becomes publisher of the Maryland Journal and 1st female postmistress. (See posting on Mary Katherine Goddard in this blog.)
Spanish Florida promises freedom and land to runaway slaves.

Imprint about Patience Boston (1711-1735) was published in Boston by S. Kneeland and T. Green, A FAITHFUL NARRATIVE OF THE WICKED LIFE AND REMARKABLE CONVERSION OF PATIENCE BOSTON ALIAS SAMSON; WHO WAS EXECUTED AT YORK, IN THE COUNTY OF YORK, JULY 24TH. 1735. FOR THE MURDER OF BENJAMIN TROT OF FALMOUTH IN CASCO BAY, A CHILD OF ABOUT EIGHT YEARS OF AGE, WHOM SHE DROWNED IN A WELL.

1739

War of Jenkins' Ear: England declares war on Spain; border skirmishes erupt between colonists in South Carolina and Georgia and the Spanish in Florida.

A measles epidemic breakes out in Boston.

Moravian Church founded in America by Bishop A. G. Spengenberg(1704-1792). Moravians introduce Saint Nicholas as a central feature of Christmas celebrations.

Violent uprisings by black slaves occur on three separate occasions in South Carolina. The Stono Rebellion refers to slaves in Stono, South Carolina, sacking & burning an armory & killing whites. The colonial militia puts an end to the rebellion before slaves are able to reach freedom in Florida.

Eliza Lucas Pinckney (c. 1722-1793) begins writing her journal. Her compiled letters and journal become the life chronicle of one of the leading women of the colonial era, a prominent South Carolina planter and mother of political figure Charles Pinckney (1757-1824). Not published until 1850, it reveals an intellectually curious successful 18th century businesswoman.

See Burt, Daniel S., editor. THE CHRONOLOGY OF AMERICAN LITERATURE: AMERICA'S LITERARY ACHIEVEMENTS FROM THE COLONIAL ERA TO MODERN TIMES. Houghton Mifflin Internet.
HISTORY MATTERS. American Social History Project / Center for Media and Learning (Graduate Center, CUNY) and the Center for History and New Media (George Mason University). Internet. http://historymatters.gmu.edu/
Yale Law School, The Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History, and Diplomacy. New Haven, CT.

Monday, January 16, 2017

South Carolina's Martha Laurens Ramsay (1759-1811) - the exemplar for Republican Motherhood

Martha Laurens (daughter of Henry and Eleanor Laurens). John Wollaston c 1767


Martha Laurens Ramsay (1759-1811), South Carolina gentry wife & mother & exemplar of dutiful womanhood, was born in Charleston.  Her posthumous memoir, edited & expanded by her husband, was published in 1812, as a model for American women, especially mothers, in the 19C.  A perfect guide for Republican Motherhood.


Her father, Henry Laurens, was of French Huguenot descent, the grandson of Andre’ Laurens, a saddler, who had arrived in Carolina during the 1690’s.  Her mother was Eleanor Ball, daughter of Elias Ball, a planter, who had come from Devonshire, England.  Active in the rice & slave trades after 1747, Henry Laurens had accumulated one of the largest Carolina fortunes by 1762, when he turned planter, buying plantations totaling some 20,000 acres & preparing to live off his wealth invested in land & slaves. Martha was the 5th daughter & the 8th of his 13 children.  
As a child Martha Laurens demonstrated great eagerness for learning. She could read easily at age 3 & soon learned French, English grammar, geography, arithmetic, & some geometry.  Her father approved of her studious habits but cautioned her that a knowledge of housewifery was the 1st requisite in female education.  In her 12th year she “began to be the subject of serious religious impressions.”  

By the time of their mother’s death in 1770, however, only 5 children survived.  Martha herself, it is said, was thought to have succumbed to smallpox as a baby & had been laid out for burial when an ocean breeze revived her. After her mother’s death, her upbringing fell largely to her aunt & uncle, Mary & James Laurens.  Left in their care in 1771, along with a younger sister, when her father took her brothers abroad for schooling, she lived with them for 11 years, at first in Charleston, & then abroad, where James Laurens had gone for his health.  They spent several years in England, from 1775 to 1778, & then went to live at Vigan in the south of France.  Much of this time Martha served as nurse for her ailing uncle.  

She continued an earnest course of reading.  First came the Bible & then the old divines of the 17C & 18C, especially Philip Doddridge; in divinity, her husband later wrote approvingly, she read “much of what was practical, but rarely looked into any thing that was controversial.”  Of historians she knew Plutarch, Charles Rollin, & William Robertson; of philosophy, not more that Locke’s Essay on Human Understanding.  She read the modern English & French works of genius, taste, & imagination. She studied botany; dipped into the Archbishop of Cambray’s Dissertation on Pure Love; committed most of Edward Young’s Night Thoughts to memory; & learned to sing Dr. Isaac Watts’ “divine songs” by heart.  Education & religion remained her twin concerns, for when her uncle willed her 500 guineas, she provided for the distribution of Bibles to the people of Vigan & then set up a school for the young there, which she endowed with a teacher.  


In the fall of 1782, to her great joy, her father joined them in France, after his service as president of the Continental Congress, diplomat, & prisoner of war.  Though reluctant to leave her dying uncle, she considered at this point marrying a French suitor (a M. de Vernes), but her father thought him an aged fortune hunter, & in obedience she gave up the match.  She spent most of 1783 & 1784 with her father, who hoped to cure his gout at Bath.  Laurens sailed home in the summer of 1784; Martha & her sister followed early in 1785.  


Her father’s ill health brought Martha in touch with the Charleston physician David Rumsay (1749-1815), a former member of the Continental Congress; & on Jan. 23, 1787, she became his 3rd wife.  Her father would have approved. With her husband in the state legislature, her sister married to another public figure, Charles Pinckney, & her brother Henry to a daughter of John Rutledge, Martha Ramsay lived in the center of public affairs.  It was, however, in the private sphere that she excelled.  She believed that a woman’s proper role was to provide strength for the man in her life to perform on that public stage.

In 16 years, she bore her husband 11 children, Eleanor Henry Laurens (1787), Martha H.L. (1789), Frances H.L. (1790), Katharine H.L. (1792), Sabine Elliot (1794, who became the 2nd wife of her 1st cousin Henry Laurens Pinckney), David (1795), Jane Montgomery (1796), James (1797), a 2nd Jane Montgomery (1802).  A letter of 1797 to his wife gives David Ramsay’s view of childbearing assuring her that one couple in his neighborhood had 23 children all alive.  “This I fear is beyond our mark.  May God bless these he has given us & as many more as he in his kind providence pleases & also give you strength & health to bring them up which if done by you I am sure will be well done.” Eight of her 11 children survived childhood.


Martha Ramsay had read Rousseau of the care of the young, but she preferred the teachings of Locke & the Presbyterian divine Dr. John Witherspoon, combined with “the prudent use of the rod.”  She taught herself Latin & Greek, so that she could educate her sons, whom she prepared for college.  She home-schooled her female children & “carried her daughters at home through the several studies taught in boarding schools.”  Her children learned to read their Bibles in conjunction with Mrs. Sarah Trimmer’s prints of scripture history; Watts’ short view of the whole scripture history; & later Newton on the prophecies.

Mrs. Ramsay had grown up in the Church of England, of which her father was an active communicant.  Her private “covenant with God,” 1st made at the age of 14, she renewed many times.  All of her children, with one exception, received baptism publicly.  Her deep commitment to religion was important, but it was not a commitment to any one denomination.  A quotation appended to her memoirs by David Ramsay reflects the views of husband & wife:  “The experimental part of religion has generally a greater influence than its theory.”  Through persons such as the countess of Huntingdon, whom she knew, & other figures in England’s evangelical revival, she adopted evangelical views; & through the influence of the Charleston ministers William Hollinshead & Isaac Stockton Keith, she became & remained a member of the Congregation Church.  But her religion was always “the warm, vital, active, unaffected religion of the Bible.”  She died in Charleston in 1811, at the age of 51, & was buried in the Congregational churchyard there.

Her historical importance rests primarily upon her husband’s publishing her brief memoirs as the Memories of the Life of Martha Laurens Ramsay.  They were published the year after her death, sold widely, & portrayed her as a model of proper womanhood in a new & growing nation.  She had read Mary Wollstonecraft’s fiery Vindication of the Rights of Woman, but “in conformity to the positive declarations of holy writ” she “yielded all pretensions” to equality with men.  Her highest ambition was to embody Christianity's ideals through all crises, including death, a conviction that characterized her entire approach to life, domestic & political. 


This posting based in part on information from Notable American Women edited by Edward T James, Janet Wilson James, Paul S Boyer, The Belknap Press of Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1971

Also see

Gillespie, Joanna Bowen. The Life and Times of Martha Laurens Ramsay, 1759-1811. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2001.

Gillespie, Joanna Bowen. "1795: Martha Laurens Ramsay's "Dark Night of the Soul" The William and Mary Quarterly Third Series, Vol. 48, No. 1 (Jan., 1991), pp. 68-92 Published by: Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture

Gillespie, Joanna Bowen. "Many Gracious Providences: The Religious Cosmos of Martha Laurens Ramsay".(1759-1811). COLBY LIBRARY QUARTERLY XXV (Sp. Issue: WOMEN AND RELIGION) #3, September 1989, 199-212.

Middleton, Margaret Simons . "David and Martha Laurens Ramsay" Carlton Press, 1971.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

18C Women & Children Fascinated by Pet Birds

1718 Nehemiah Partridge (American artist, 1683-1737) Portrait of Catherine Ten Broeck with Bird

We know that native North American birds fascinated men & women alike in 18C British American colonies. Colonials kept cages for their birds. Some even built larger bird-keeping areas called aviaries.


1721 Attributed to Nehemiah Partridge (American artist, 1683-1737) Sara Gansevoort (1718-1731) with a bird

An aviary is an enclosed area, often in a garden & larger than a traditional birdcage, meant for keeping, feeding, and hopefully breeding birds.  Aviaries in South Carolina sometimes contained two-story bird houses.


1725 Charles Bridges (American artist, 1670-1747). Detail of William Byrd II & Lucy Parke daughter Evelyn Byrd and a bird in the tree.

Mark Catesby (1682-1749) sailed to Virginia in 1712, and stayed in the British Atlantic colonies for 7 years, sketching & compiling The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands for publication upon his return to England. In his monumental work, he described birds he had seen in the colonies in cages. Thomas Jefferson had a copy of Catesby's History in his library.

Between 1739 and 1762, South Carolinian Eliza Lucas Pinckney (c 1722-1793) kept a letterbook in which she wrote, "Airry Chorristers pour forth their melody...the mocking bird...inchanted me with his harmony." By this time, enterprising Southerners caged red birds and even exported cages of mockingbirds to England.

The New York Journal published a poem of a woman imagining her ideal garden entitled A Wish of a Lady in 1769.

"...Just under my window I'd fancy a lawn,
Where delicate shrubs shou'd be planted with taste,
And none of my ground be seen running to waste.

Instead of Italians, the Linnet and Thrush
Wou'd with harmony greet me from every bush;
Those gay feather'd songsters do rapture inspire!
What music so soft as the heav'nly choir..."

1733 Gerardus Duyckinck (American artist, 1695-1746). Detail David and Phila Franks with bird.

And 18C portrait painters in America depicted men, women, & children with birds from the beginning of the century to the end. The question is whether the birds are being used as symbols or are actually birds that they might have owned.


1750 John Hesselius (American colonial artist, 1728-1778) Ann & Sarah Gordon

Birds were kept as pets around Charleston, South Carolina, when an ad in the South-Carolina Gazette in January of 1753 noted, "ANY Persons willing to try the cultivation of Flax and Hemp in this province, may have gratis a pint of Hemp Seed, and half a pint of Flax Seed, at Mr. Commissary Dart's store in Tradd-Street.—But it's hoped ladies will not send for any Hemp Seed for birds."

1755 John Wollaston (American artist, 1710-1775). Detail Elizabeth Page & Mann Page, children of Mann & Ann Corbin (Tayloe) Page of Rosewell, Gloucester County, with bird.

In February of 1768, James Drummond announced in Charleston's The South Carolina and American General Gazette that he had "just imported...from L(ondon), a large and compleat (Assortment) of GOODS, Among which are the following... men and womens white Italian gloves... corks, an sortment of watchmaker's tools...a bird cage."


1755 Joseph Badger (American artist, 1708-1765). Detail of Elizabeth Gould with bird.

James McCall advertised in the 1771 South Carolina Gazette and Country Journal the he had "just received...a great Variety of Garden Seeds, Pease and Beans; Hemp, Canary, Rape, and Moss Seed for Birds."

1758 John Singleton Copley (American artist, 1738-1815). Detail Anne Fairchild (Mrs. Metcal Bowler) with bird in birdcage.

In 1772, the South-Carolina Gazette carried an ad for a plantation to be rented "on the Ashley River near Charleston" with "two well-contrived aviaries." A year later, the same paper noted a lot in Charlestown which contained, "a very good Two-Story Birds House."

1758 John Singleton Copley (American artist, 1738-1815). Detail Thomas Aston Coffin with two birds.

Baroness Von Riedesel traveling through the British American southern colonies with her officer husband during the American Revolution wrote, "I had brought two gorgeous birds with me from Virginia. The main bird was scarlet with a darker red tuft of feathers on his head, about the size of a bull-finch, and it sang magnificently. The female bird was gray with a red breast and also had a tuft of feathers on its head."


The Baroness continued, "They are very tame soon after they are caught and eat out of one's hand. These birds live a long time, but if two male birds are hung in the same room they are so jealous of each other that one of them dies soon afterwards."


1760 Joseph Badger (American artist, 1708 - 1765). Detail of Jemima Flucker with bird.

She related that she, "saw black birds in Virginia of the same size, which always cry 'willow.' This amused us very much because one of my husband's aides was named Willoe."

1763-65 Henry Benbridge (American artist, 1743-1812). Detail of Gordon Family with bird.

The Baroness stated, "One of my servants discovered a whole nest of these red birds and fed and raised them. Knowing how much I loved them, he left Colle with two cages full on his back, but they all died before he reached me, much to our sorrow."

1766-67 John Singleton Copley (American artist, 1738-1815). Detail of Mary Boylston (Mrs Benjamin Hallowell) with bird.

William Faris (1728-1804) was a silversmith & clockmaker living in Annapolis, Maryland, for over 50 years. He kept journals & a diary of his life there, on & off, during the last quarter of the 18th century. On October 25, 1793, Faris noted, "Last night the 2 yallow Birds died." Earlier, he had written that his "poor Mocking Bird" had died. Although these are the only references to birds in the diary he kept during the 1790s, his 1804 inventory listed eleven bird cages

Although it is difficult to find descriptions of 18th century aviaries in the British American colonies, we find the the books flowing into the colonies from England were replete with references to aviaries & descriptions of them.

1766 John Singleton Copley (American artist, 1738-1815). Detail of Elizabeth Ross (Mrs. William Tyng) with bird. 

We know that Francis Bacon (1561-1626), English philosopher, statesman, scientist, lawyer, jurist, &  author, did not like aviaries, or so he wrote in his 1625 Essayes or Counsels, Civill and Morall in the essay entitled Of Gardens. "For Aviaries, I like them not, except they be of that largeness as they may be turfed, and have living plants and bushes set in them; that the birds may have more scope and natural nestling, and that no foulness appear in the floor of the aviary."

1767 John Singleton Copley (American artist, 1738-1815). Young Lady with a Bird and Dog

One of England's earliest agricultural writers, John Worlidge's (1640-1700) Systema Horticulturae published in 1677, noted that, "One of the pleasures belonging to a Garden, is an Aviary, which must be near your house, that you may take some delight in it there, as well as in your Garden, and that you may in all seasons take care of its Inhabitants."  Actually, Worlidge dreamed of "an Aviary at large, that the whole Garden with its Groves and Avenues may be full of these pretty Singers, that they may with their charming Notes, rouze up our dull Spirits, that are too intent upon the Cares of this World, and mind us of the Providence, the great God of the Universe hath over us, as well as these Creatures."

1770-1775 James Peale (American artist, 1749-1831). Girl with bird.

In 1701, when Charles Smith (1715-1762) published his Ancient and Present State of the County and City of Cork, he noted that "also nearer Cork Mr. John Dennis Merchant has a good house and neat gardens with an aviary."

1770 Daniel Hendrickson (American artist, 1723-1788). Detail of Catharine Hendrickson surrounded by birds.

The most widely read 18C gardening writer &  the chief gardener at the Chelsea Physic Garden, Philip Miller's (1691-1771) The Gardeners and Florists Dictionary of 1724, noted that "Mr. J. B. The Author of the Hereford/hire Orchards enumerates the Benefits of Orchards, that besides their Profit, they sweeten and purify the ambient Air, and by that Means, he thinks, conduce to the Health...and afford Shade and Shelter in the Heat of Summer, but harbour a constant Aviary of sweet Singers without Wires."  Philip Miller was widely read throughout the British American colonies. His Dictionary was owned by Benjamin Franklin, Lady Jean Skipwith of Virginia, & Thomas Jefferson.


1770s Charles Willson Peale (American artist, 1741-1827). Detail Mary Tilghman &  sons with bluejay.

By 1733, garden designer & writer and an early exponent of the English style landscape garden, Stephen Switzer (1682-1745) was instructing his readers on aviaries in his Practical Husbandman and Planter. In the month of June he wrote that the aviary requires the "Assistance of the Person who looks after it, by the bruising and Emulsion of the cool Seeds of Melon and Cucumbers, in their watering Pans; as also, by the giving of them the leaves of Succory, Beets...and fresh Gravel and Earth, to cure them of their Sicknefs in Moulting-Time, being now sick of their old Feathers. And now young Partridges, Indian Hens, Pheasants, Partridges, &c. begin to require a little looking after to preserve them from the griping Hawk, constantly digging up of Ant-hills for the Pecking and Support of the little chirping Brood."


One of the classic books in Thomas Jefferson's library, The Builder's Dictionary: or, Gentleman and Architect's Companion explained in 1734, that an avairy was a "House or Apartment for the keeping, feeding, and breeding of Birds." The book covers all aspects of building design, construction, and finishes. In its time, the Dictionary was considered the most complete summary available for use by English architects & members of the construction trades.


1788 Charles Willson Peale (American artist, 1741-1827). Detail of Mrs. Richard Gittings with bird in cage.

In 1721, Richard Bradley, a Fellow of the Royal Society since 1712, and about to become Professor of Botany at Cambridge University, wrote a treatise, New Improvements in Planting and Gardening both Philosophical and Practical. Bradley's work New Improvements... also noted that orchards "harbour a constant Aviary of sweet Singers, which are here retained without the Charge or Violence of the Italian Wires." In the British American colonies, Thomas Jefferson also owned a copy of Bradley's New Improvements.


1790 Denison Limner Probably Joseph Steward (American artist, 1753-1822). Detail of Miss Denison of Stonington, CN possibly Matilda with bird and squirrel.

William Derham (1657-1735), was an Anglican clergyman, Canon of Windsor Castle, &  natural philosopher. He was the first man known to measure the speed of sound. As a member of the Royal Society, he edited the correspondence between Eleasar Albin (1708-1742) &  John Ray helping publish a Natural History of Birds which was illustrated by Albin between 1731-38, and which noted the Gamboa Grossbeake. "This Bird was brought from Gamboa on the Coast of Guinea and was in the Possession of his Grace the Duke of Chandos in an Aviary at his Grace's Country Seat at Edgeworth," where Albin went to draw it.

The juvenile edition of Spectacle de la Nature, Or Nature Display'd recommended  the joys of communing with the birds in an aviary. Although the book influenced many to become naturalists, it was a work of popularization, not of science.  In the book, the Duchess character explains that in the "Bower which the Count has inclosed with a Lattice of Brass Wire. I think I have seen, in this charming Aviary, all imaginable Sorts of little Birds, as well as those of a middling Size... this Aviary boafts a little of my Invention, and I commonly undertake the Management of it; but my Pains are requited by Pleasures that vary every Day. The Contentions of these little Creatures, their Endearments, their Melody, and Labours, and the obliging Civilities I receive from the Generality, when I pay them a Visit, are extremely entertaining to me. I carry my Work to them, and am never alone. One may pass whole Hours and Afternoons there."


1790 Rufus Hathaway (American artist, 1770 - 1822). Detail of Molly Wales Fobes with Birds.

In the 1760 Short Account, of the Principal Seats and Gardens, in and about Twickenham, female writer Joel Henrietta Pye (Jael Henrietta Mendez Pye) (1737-1782) tells of The Earl of Lincoln's Seat. "About a Mile beyond Weybridge, situated in the midst of a noble Park. The Gardens contain 150 Acres, and are divided by a fine Canal. The whole is laid out in the modern Taste, of Flowering Shrubs, Lawns, Clumps ...an Aviary of every kind of Singing-Birds, who are, so concealed by the Trees, that tho' they fillthfe Garden with their Harmony, it is impossible to discover whence it proceeds."

Christopher Smart, Oliver Goldsmith, &  Samuel Johnson reported in a compilation of their writings called, World Displayed: or, A Curious Collection of Voyages and Travels published in 1750, that in Mexico, "Montezuma had, besides the palace in which he kept his court, several magnificent pleasure houses, one of which was a noble building, supported by pillars of jasper. In this edifice he had an aviary of those birds that are most remarkable on account of their singing or feathers, and these were so numerous, that 300 men were said to be employed in attending them." Both George Washington &  John Adams owned a copy of this book.
1790s Ellen Sharples (American artist, 1769-1849). Detail of Theodosia Burr of New Jersey with bird.

Arthur Young's (1741-1820) accounts of his travels throughout Great Britain were imported into the colonies as soon as they were published. In his 1778-1770, A Six Months Tour Through the North of England, he wrote, "From hence a walk winds to the aviary, which is a light Chinese building of a very pleasing design; it is stocked with Canary and other foreign birds, which are kept alive in winter by means of hot walls at the back of the building."

1793 Rufus Hathaway (American artist, 1770-1822). Detail of Church Sampson of Duxbury, MA. with bird and birdcage.

English Architect William Chambers (1723-1796) also wrote of what he hoped would be a strong Asian influence on English gardening. In his 1772, A Dissertation on Oriental Gardening, he noted that in China, "The saloons generally open to little enclosed courts, set round with beautiful flower-pots, of different forms, made of porcelain, marble or copper, filled with the rarest flowers of the season: at the end of the court there is generally an aviary."  Chambers' book was found in libraries across the new American republic.


1796 Charles Willson Peale (American artist, 1741-1827). Thomas Elliott &  Granddaughter Deborah Hibernia with white bird.

In England, the 1773 Encyclopaedia Britannica, offered its readers practical advice. "AVIARY, a place set apart for feeding and propagating birds. It Should be so large, as to give the birds some freedom of flight; and turfed, to avoid the appearance of foulness on the floor." These folks had obviously read Francis Bacon's essay Of Gardens!  John Charnock (1756-1807) wrote in his 1794 Biographia Navalis that the retired "Admiral (George) Churchill (1654-1710) ...had constructed the most beautiful aviary in Britain, which he had, at an incredible expence, filled with a most rare and valuable collection of birds."

In America, the New-York Magazine; or, Literary Repository of 1792, was advising its readers that, "A Goldfinch must never be let loose in an aviary, for he destroys the nests and breaks the eggs of the other birds."


The next year, William Marshall's (1745-1818) Planting and Rural Ornament critically explained that "An Aviary Of Foreign Birds appears to be equally ill placed, in such a situation: exotic birds are apt accompaniments to exotic plants; and a shrubery, rather than a sequestered dell, seems to be the most natural situation for an aviary." George Washington &  many other early Americans owned a copy of this book.

1790s Unknown American artist, Mary Ann Elizabeth Thum of Philadelphia with bird.

Isaac Weld (1774-1856) noted in his 1800 Travels through the States of North America that at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello in Virginia, "A large apartment is laid out for a library and museum, meant to extend the entire breadth of the house, the windows of which are to open into an extensive greenhouse and aviary."

By the early 19th century, John Claudius Loudon (1783-1843) was eager to share his knowledge of aviaries with readers of his Encyclopedia of Gardening. He explained that originally apiaries were common at the country houses of the Romans, where they were used primarily as safe-keeping for birds destined to be eaten. Loudon notes that singing-birds, however, also were kept by the Persians, Greeks, & Romans in wicker-cages. Larger cages of songbirds more permanently set in gardens followed. The Chinese built actual house-like structures for their birds.  In 1808, the last of the great 18C English landscape designer Humphrey Repton (1752-1818) re-popularized aviaries with his Design for an Aviary and Pergola in the Chinese Style


1790 Ralph Earl (American artist, 1791-1801) Jerusha Benedict (Ives)

However, Loudon explains that Varro built an elegant & spacious aviary, at his country house, near Casinum. Varro wrote that there were two sorts of aviaries, one for containing birds intended for the table, and the other for birds kept for their song or plumage. The former sort were built entirely for use, but the latter were often beautiful pavilions, with an apartment or saloon in the center, for guests to sit in and enjoy the melodies of the feathered songsters.


According to Loudon, his fellow countryman, John Evelyn (1620-1706) mentioned in his Kalendarium Hortense: or, the Gardner's Almanac the parrots in the aviary of the Marquis of Argyll at Sayes Court. Loudon explained that a parrot aviary was built with a glass roof front and ends covered with shades & curtains to protect it from the sun &  frost, and a flue for winter heating. In these aviaries artificial or dead trees with glazed foliage were fixed in the floor. Sometimes cages hung on them, and at other times the birds allowed to fly free within the aviary. Early Americans (Increase (1639-1723) & Cotton Mather (1663-1728) and New Yorker Lewis Morris (1726-1798) owned Evelyn's Kalendarium.)

1805 John Brewster Jr (American artist, 1766-1854)  Francis O Watts with Bird

Loudon revealed that a special canary aviary was set in an opaque-roofed greenhouse or conservatory, by enclosing it with a partition of wire; and furnishing the greenhouse with...branches suspended from the roof for the birds to perch on.  In another type of aviary...a net or wire curtain was thrown over the tops of trees. Here songbirds could sing on the trees; aquatic birds could glide on the water; & pheasants could stroll over the lawn. For severe seasons, discreet houses & cages would offer them refuge.


 1805 Michele Felice Corne (American artist, 1752-1845) Two Children at Play with White Bird

Loudon noted that in England, portable netted enclosures, from 10 to 20 feet square, were distributed over areas of the lawn to display a curious collection of domestic fowls. In each enclosure was a small wooden box for sheltering the animals during night or in severe weather, and for breeding. Loudon even suggested that "Curious varieties of aquatic fowls might be placed on floating aviaries on a lake or pond."  He explained that birds from the hot climates were sometimes kept in hot-houses among their native plants with doors & openings for giving air covered with wire cloth. Loudon proposed that grouping birds together geographically would give rise to an educational aviary containing specimens of the native birds of a particular country...promoting the knowledge of their names, classification, climates, & habits. Loudon noted that the emperor Napoleon kept a large aviary with species of birds from all over the globe.


1810 Cephus Thompson (American artist, 1775-1856) Girl with a Dove

In America, we finally do get an eyewitness account of an aviary in New York City. Grant Thorburn's (1773-1863) early 19th-century Horticultural Repository on John Street in New York City had an avaiary, when Thomas Green Fessenden (1771-1837) visited. He wrote of it in the Horticultural Register and Gardener's Magazine, "The aviary...is filled with many beautiful birds which fill the air with their sweet songs--the native mockingbird, canary & all exerting their sweet voices in mingled harmony, and fluttering as merrily as in their native woods."

As the 19th century saw American towns & industry grow and homeowners' property size decrease, caged birds became more popular. Pennsylvania attorney Henry Beck Hirst (1813-1874) wrote, "And what man lives, who, as he passes by the cottage of the humble labourer, and observes the wicker habitation of the well tended Canary suspended at the door, does not form a favorable idea of the taste of those who dwell within its walls...And oh! in the crowded cities, with the hum of business &  the rattle of wheels sounding ever around, is it not pleasant to the ear...to hear the voice of some lone bird...and the melancholy warbler is converted into the many voiced choir of the forest."