Showing posts with label Winthrop. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Winthrop. Show all posts

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Voyage To Massachusetts

From  "Every Day Life in the Massachusetts Bay Colony"

"Before you come," wrote Rev. Francis Higginson, the first minister at Salem, "be careful to be strongly instructed what things are fittest to bring with you for your more comfortable passage at sea, as also for your husbandry occasions when you come to the land. For when you are once parted with England you shall meete neither markets nor fayres to buy what you want. Therefore be sure to furnish yourselves with things fitting to be had before you come: as meale for bread, malt for drinke, woolen and linnen cloath, and leather for shoes, and all manner of carpenters tools, and a great deale of iron and steele to make nails, and locks for houses, and furniture for ploughs and carts, and glasse for windows, and many other things which were better for you to think of there than to want them here."[1]  Elsewhere the good pastor set down "A catalogue of such needfull things as every Planter doth or ought to provide to go to New England" in which he enumerated the necessary victuals per person for the first year, viz.:

"8 Bushels of meale, 2 Bushels of pease, 2 Bushels of Otemeale, 1 Gallon of Aquavitae, 1 Gallon of Oyle, 2 Gallons of Vinegar, 1 Firkin of Butter; also Cheese, Bacon, Sugar, Pepper, Cloves, Mace, Cinnamon, Nutmegs and Fruit."

The household implements listed were: "1 Iron pot, 1 Kettel, 1 Frying pan, 1 Gridiron, 2 Skellets, 1 Spit, Wooden Platters, Dishes, Spoons and Trenchers."

Mr. Higginson listed in detail the food supplies required per person for a year, including a good variety of spices; and also the clothing for a man, which included a Monmouth cap, a suit of canvas, a suit of freize, a suit of cloth, four pairs of shoes, three shirts and three falling bands, a pair of blankets, a coarse rug and seven ells of canvas with which to make a bed and bolster. The settler must also bring with him a complete armor, with a long piece, sword, bandoleer and ammunition, tools for cultivating the soil and for working wood, and also household implements—a limited equipment, comparable with the kit packed by the scout or mining prospector of more recent times.

On looking backward over the span of three centuries, Time lends an enchantment to these Puritan forefathers of present-day Massachusetts. Worshiping descendants have placed halos about their heads and the hardships of life during the early years have been magnified to the extent that these independent-minded Englishmen have become types of suffering fortitude—martyrs to the noble cause of free religion and self-government. That is a long tale, however, carrying with it many qualifications, and cannot be enlarged upon here. In what follows, it should always be borne in mind that aside from the Dutch at New Amsterdam and the small colony of Swedes on the Delaware, it was English stock that settled the American colonies and that these men and women brought with them a background of generations of English life. Their standards of living, manner of working their trades and natural aptitude for barter and commerce were all modeled upon English life and customs. It was only natural that this should be so. The ships crossed the Atlantic at comparatively frequent intervals and their holds came filled with all kinds of necessities and luxuries required by English standards of living—foodstuffs, fabrics and implements which the shops of London, Plymouth or Bristol could supply and which could not be produced by the American settlements. To obtain these refinements of life the colonists required only money or merchandise. Lumber,raw or manufactured, salted fish, beaver and peltry, plantation-built vessels and other products of the colonies, could be easily converted into the comforts of English life for sale in the shops across the Atlantic.
Picture from Little Acorns

The Rev. Francis Higginson (pic below) came over in the Talbot, a ship of three hundred tons burden, which was armed with nineteen guns and carried a crew of thirty men. She brought over one hundred passengers. Sailing with her was the ship George of three hundred tons, in which came fifty-two passengers and a stock of cattle, twelve mares, thirty cows and some goats. From the original records of the Massachusetts Bay Company in New England we learn what food supplies were shipped on board the Talbot for the American voyage. The amount was supposed to be sufficient for one hundred and thirty-five men for three months. As a matter of fact, the voyage from Gravesend to the anchorage in Salem harbor occupied sixty-eight days.

The ship carried 22 hogsheads of salted beef, 12,000 of bread (biscuits), 40 bushels of peas, 20 barrels of oatmeal, 450 pounds of salt fish, 10 firkins of butter and 1,200 pounds of cheese. To wash down this food they took on board 6 tons of water, 45 tons of beer, 20 gallons of brandy, 20 gallons of Spanish wine (Malaga and Canary), 2 tierces of beer vinegar and 20 gallons of olive oil.[2] During the voyage two died of smallpox, including a blasphemous seaman. A child died of consumption and a dog fell overboard and could not be recovered. The rest came through and reached Salem harbor in a good state of health.

The Massachusetts Bay Company seems to have maintained a "company store," in the modern phrase, at which the colonists might obtain clothing, fabrics, foodstuffs and supplies of all sorts. When Governor Endecott came over in 1628, the Company sent extra clothing sufficient for one hundred men including three hundred suits of clothes, four hundred shirts and four hundred pairs of shoes. Two hundred of the suits of clothes consisted of doublet and hose made up of leather, lined with oiled skin leather, and fastened with hooks and eyes. The other suits were made up of Hampshire kerseys, the doublets lined with linen and the hose with skins. There were a hundred waistcoats of green cotton bound about with red tape, a hundred Monmouth caps, at two shillings each, five hundred red knit caps, milled, at five pence each, and one hundred black hats, lined in the brows with leather. This store supplied the natural wear and tear of headgear among the hundred men. The stock contained four hundred pairs of knit stockings, ten dozen pairs of Norwich garters, three hundred plain falling bands, two hundred handkerchiefs and a stock of sheer linen with which to made up other handkerchiefs. Scotch ticking was supplied for beds and bolsters, with wool to put therein. The blankets were of Welsh cotton and fifty rugs were sent over to place over the blankets, while mats were supplied "to lye vnder 50 bedds aboard shippe."[3]

During the ten years that followed the settlement of the Massachusetts Bay, a continuous flow of emigration from England crossed the Atlantic in all kinds of available sailing craft.[4] The passage usually cost £5 per person and this included provisions provided by the ship such as "salt Beefe, Porke, salt Fish, Butter, Cheese, Pease, Pottage, Water-grewell, and such kinde of Victualls, with good Biskets, and sixe-shilling Beere; yet it will be necessary to carry some comfortable refreshing of fresh victuall. As first, for such as have ability, some Conserves, and good Clarret Wine to burne at Sea; Or you may have it by some of your Vintners or Wine-Coopers burned here, & put into Vessels, which will keepe much better than other burnt Wine, it is a very comfortable thing for the stomacke; or such as are Sea-sicke: Sallat-oyle likewise, Prunes are good to be stewed: Sugar for many things: White Biskets, and Egs, and Bacon, Rice, Poultry, and some weather-sheepe to Kill aboard the Ship: and fine flowre-baked meates, will keepe about a weeke or nine days at Sea. Iuyce of Lemons well put up, is good either to prevent or curre the Scurvy.[5] Here it must not be forgotten to carry small Skillets or Pipkins, and small frying-panns, to dresse their victualls in at Sea. For bedding, so it be easie, and cleanly, and warme, it is no matter how old or coarse it be for the use of the Sea: and so likewise for Apparrell, the oldest cloathes be the fittest, with a long coarse coate to keepe better things from the pitched ropes and plankes. Whosoever shall put to Sea in a stoute and well-conditioned ship, having an honest Master, and loving Seamen, shall not neede to feare, but he shall finde as good content at Sea, as at Land.[6]

The Mayflower shipped 15,000 brown biscuit and 5,000 white, that is, hard bread, i.e. crackers; also smoked or half-cooked bacon, as it came from the smokehouse, which was much liked with the biscuit and when fried was considered a delicacy. Haberdyne (dried salted codfish) was also a staple article of diet; also smoked herring. Potatoes were practically unknown at that time and the store of cabbages, turnips, onions, parsnips, etc., soon ran short and gave way to boiled mush, oatmeal, pease puddings, etc. Their beer was carried in iron-bound casks.

When passengers came aboard vessels bound for New England in those early days, how did they stow themselves and their possessions? The Mayflower had a length of about 110 feet and measured about 244 tons. It was originally intended that she should carry ninety passengers, men, women and children, but when the Speedwell put back, twelve of her passengers were taken aboard, and two boys were born during the voyage. The ship also carried a crew of twenty to twenty-five men, and officers and petty officers, about sixteen in number, would bring the total of those aboard to one hundred and forty or more. Goats, pigs, and poultry occupied pens on the upper or spar deck and in the boats carried there. Small sleeping cabins were provided for the ship's officers and the more important passengers; most of the company slept in narrow bunks, in hammocks, and on pallet beds of canvas filled with straw, placed on the deck beneath the hammocks. The crew bunked in the forecastle. The chests and personal possessions of the passengers were stowed below on the lower deck where the food, water and ship's stores were kept. On the Arbella, Governor Winthrop's ship, the male passengers lodged on the gundeck and four men were "ordered to keep that room clean."

The ship Whale, in 1632, brought thirty passengers, including Mr. Wilson and Mr. Dummer, all in good health, and seventy cows of which they lost but two. The ship Regard of Barnstaple, 200 tons, arrived in 1634, brought twenty passengers and about fifty cattle. The ship Society of Boston, N. E., 220 tons, with a crew of thirty-three men, arrived in 1663, with seventy-seven passengers. A notable example of fortitude is found in the voyage of the sloop Sparrow Hawk, that sailed from London in 1626 for Virginia and having been blown off her course was wrecked on Cape Cod.

She was only forty feet in length, had a breadth of beam of twelve feet and ten inches, and a depth of nine feet, seven and one-half inches. Bradford in his History records that she carried "many passengers in her and sundrie goods ... the cheefe amongst these people was one Mr. Fells and Mr. Sibsie, which had many servants belonging unto them, many of them being Irish. Some others ther were yt had a servante or 2 a piece; but ye most were servants, and such as were ingaged to the former persons, who also had ye most goods ... they had been 6 weeks at sea, and had no water, nor beere, nor any woode left, but had burnt up all their emptie caske."[7] And this happened in the month of December!

In those days cooking on shore was done in an open fireplace. On shipboard, the larger vessels were provided with an open "hearth" made of cast iron sometimes weighing five hundred pounds and over. More commonly a hearth of bricks was laid on deck, over which stood an iron tripod from which the kettles hung. More crudely still a bed of sand filled a wooden frame and on this the fire was built, commonly of charcoal. On the ship Arbella, in which came Governor John Winthrop and his company, in 1630, the "cookroom" was near a hatchway opening into the hold. The captain, his officers and the principal men among the passengers dined in the "round house," a cabin in the stern over the high quarter-deck. Lady Arbella Johnson and the gentlewomen aboard dined in the great cabin on the quarter-deck. The passengers ate their food wherever convenient on the main deck or in good weather, on the spar deck above. Years later, a new ship lying at anchor in Boston harbor was struck by lightning which "melted the top of the iron spindle of the vane of the mainmast" and passing through the long boat, which lay on the deck, killed two men and injured two others as "they were eating together off the Hen-Coop, near the Main Mast."

The ship supplied each passenger with a simple ration of food distributed by the quartermasters, which each family or self arranged group of passengers cooked at a common hearth as opportunity and the weather permitted. Of necessity much food was served cold and beer was the principal drink. John Josselyn, Gent., who visited New England in 1638, records "the common proportion of Victualls for the Sea to a Mess, being 4 men, is as followeth:

"Two pieces of Beef, of 3 pound and ¼ per piece.

"Four pound of Bread.

"One pint ¼ of Pease.

"Four Gallons of Bear, with Mustard and Vinegar for three flesh dayes in the week.

"For four fish dayes, to each Mess per day, two pieces of Codd or Habberdine, making three pieces of fish.

"One quarter of a pound of Butter.

"Four pound of Bread.

"Three quarters of a pound of Cheese.

"Bear is before.

"Oatmeal per day, for 50 men, Gallon 1. and so proportionable for more or fewer.

"Thus you see the ship's provision, is Beef or Porke, Fish, Butter, Cheese, Pease, Pottage, Water gruel, Bisket, and six-shilling Bear.

"For private fresh provision, you may carry with you (in case you, or any of yours should be sick at Sea) Conserves of Roses, Clove-Gilliflowers, Wormwood, Green-Ginger, Burnt-Wine, English Spirits, Prunes to stew, Raisons of the Sun, Currence, Sugar, Nutmeg, Mace, Cinnamon, Pepper and Ginger, White Bisket, or Spanish Rusk, Eggs, Rice, Juice of Lemmons, well put up to cure, or prevent the Scurvy. Small Skillets, Pipkins, Porrengers, and small Frying pans.

"To prevent or take away Sea sickness, Conserve of Wormwood is very proper."[8]

The settler also must take with him a supply of food to answer his needs on reaching Massachusetts, and it was advised that enough for the space of a year might be required in which case each person should be certain to have in store 8 bushels of meal, 2 bushels pease, 2 bushels oatmeal, 1 gallon brandy, 1 gallon oil and 2 gallons vinegar. Sugar could be had in New England as the Colonial vessels were bringing it from the West Indies in the way of trade, but spices, necessary to the English diet, must be brought from England.

John Josselyn, writing in 1638, listed the following articles as necessary equipment for every family coming to New England, viz.:

Bellows £0 2 0
Scoop 0 9
Great pail 0 10
Casting shovel 0 10
A sack 2 4
Lanthorn 1 3
Tobacco pipes
5 broad howes 10 0
5 narrow howes 6 8
5 felling axes 7 6
2 hand saws 10 0
1 whip saw 10 0
1 file and wrest 10
2 hammers 2 0
2 augers 1 0
Wheels for a cart 14 0
Wheel barrow 6 0
Canoe 3 0 0
Short oak ladder 0 10
Plough 3 9
Axle tree 0 8
Cart 10 0  [11]3 shovels 4 6
2 spades 3 0
2 broad axes 7 4
6 chisels 3 0
3 gimblets 0 6
2 hatchets 3 6
2 frows 3 0
2 hand bills 3 4

Nails of all sorts 2 0 0
3 locks and 3 pr. fetters 5 10
2 curry combs 0 11
Brand for beasts 0 6
Hand vise 2 6
100 wt. spikes nails and pins (120) 2 5 0
2 pick axes 0 3 0
Chain and lock for a boat 2 2
Coulter (10 pound) 3 4
Pitch fork 1 4
Plough share 2 11

Household implements for a family of six persons, viz.:

1 iron pot 0 7 0
1 great copper kettle 2 0 0
1 small kettle 10 0
1 lesser kettle 6 0
1 large frying pan 2 6
1 small frying pan 1 8
1 brass mortar 0 3 0
1 spit 2 0
1 grid iron 1 0
2 skillets 5 0
Platters, dishes and spoons of wood 4 0

The above prices are estimated costs in England and the freight on the same would be reckoned at the rate of half a ton per person.

The vessels which carried the great emigration to New England between 1630 and 1640 were of small tonnage and the passenger accommodations on board were limited in space and barren of creature comforts. Small wonder that the health of many of the first settlers, shaken by the passage at sea, paid toll to the severity of the New England climate—the biting cold of the winter and the heat of the summer days to which they were unaccustomed.

"It was not because the Country was unhealthful, but because their bodies were corrupted with sea-diet, which was naught, their Beefe and Porke being tainted, their Butter and Cheese corrupted, their Fish rotten, and voyage long, by reason of crosse Windes, so that winter approaching before they could get warme houses, and the searching sharpnes of that purer Climate, creeping in at the crannies of their crazed bodies, caused death and sickness."[9]

The ship Talbot, on which Mr. Higginson sailed, brought over one hundred passengers and thirty seamen. She measured nearly[12] eighty-six feet in length and had a depth of hold of eleven feet. By present-day measurement she was about two hundred tons burden. The space between decks, where the passengers slept and spent much time during the dreary voyage, was so low that a tall man could not stand erect, and whenever a severe storm arose, so that the ports and hatches must be kept closed, the air below deck in time must have become intolerable. Such a storm arose when the Talbot was thirty-three days out and "ye wind blew mightily, ye sea roared and ye waves tossed us horribly; besides it was fearfull darke and ye mariners made us afraid with their running here and there and lowd crying one to another to pull at this and yt rope."

These small emigrant ships of the seventeenth century, besides men, women and children, brought over much livestock housed in temporary pens and shelters built amidships. The long boat or pinnace was also carried on board, all of which left little room for movement about the deck. But these three hundred tons ships were traveling palaces when compared with some of the smaller craft that boldly ventured across the Atlantic. Barks, ketches, pinks and other small vessels of less than fifty tons burden were common. In 1635, a "small Norsey bark" of twenty-five tons reached Boston. She was bound for Connecticut, but a stormy voyage had forced her to seek safety in Boston harbor. This vessel, little over thirty feet in length, brought over fourteen passengers, including two women, with their household goods.


[1] Rev. Francis Higginson, New-Englands Plantation, London, 1630.
[2] Transactions of the American Antiquarian Society, Vol. III, p. 12.
[3] Transactions of the American Antiquarian Society, Vol. III, p. 6.
[4] Between 1630 and 1643,198 ships brought over 21,200 passengers.—Edward Johnson, Wonder Working Providence, London, 1654.
John Josselyn, coming to New England in 1638, mentions in his journal of the voyage sighting or speaking thirteen vessels between the Scilly Isles and the New England coast.
[5] Anti-scorbutics were very necessary for the long voyage. John Josselyn during his first voyage (1638) writes that a young man, a servant to one of the passengers, "was whipt naked at the Cap-stern, with a Cat with Nine tails, for filching 9 great Lemmons out of the Chirurgeons Cabbin, which he eat rinds and all in less than an hours time."
[6] William Wood, New-Englands Prospect, London, 1634.
[7] William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation, Boston, 1856.
[8] John Josselyn, Two Voyages to New England, London, 1675.
[9] Wood, New-Englands Prospect, London, 1634.
[10] Memoirs of the Long Island Historical Society, Vol. I.
[11] Memoirs of the Long Island Historical Society, Vol. I.
[12] Mourt's Relation, Boston, 1841.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A fashion war in the Colonies

From my Newburyport Daily News article A fashion war in the Colonies

Our Puritan ancestors’ actions reveal that human nature is no different today. In the Bay Colony, leaders and church officials forged a campaign of rigid scrutiny, censoring the lifestyle and habits of everyday citizens. Simplicity in dress was the law, but like any other infringement on personal liberties carried out in the name of God, these sanctions would not go down without a struggle. A fashion war raged, and it seems that the Legislature could no more ban fashion plates than it could heretics or tipplers.

The men of the cloth pleaded to Governor Winthrop to repress “men of leisure and power” who emulated London fashions, saturating the pure terrain. These “horrids of vanity” caused “alarm and disgust among the pious families.” To remedy this, “The Simple Cobler of Aggawam” (Rev. Ward) targeted the colony’s ladies, stating they had “no true grace or valuable virtue” if they “disfigure themselves with such exotic garbs” and are no better than “French flirts.”

The holy rollers used sermons to blame these so-called “haughty women” for wars and bad harvest. The magistrates began enforcing sumptuary laws that prevented extravagance by limiting clothing expenditures. “Immodest fashions” with lace, silver and gold thread and other “items of adornment” that had “little use or benefit, but to the nourishment of pride,” were strictly forbidden, as were “slashed apparel, great sleeves, great boots, ribbon, and double ruffs.” Despite a fashion boycott, garments of splendor and other wearable loot poured in — historical records show that our ancestors in and around the Port were quite stylish.

The most notorious of the Vanity Fair, Madame Rebecka Symonds, widow of Deputy Governor Samuel Symonds, was always starving for the newest trends, and she had the means and the connections to stock her trunks. Family letters indicate her appetite for finery. Her son, John Hall, a wealthy London merchant, dutifully supplied her with the latest and most glamorous garb. Apparently, Madame was more worried about catching the plague than tweaking the noses of local lawmen. Her luxury booty arrived with correspondence from Hall assuring her that he purchased the “finery himself, in safe shops, from reliable dealers, and kept all for a month in his own home where none had been infected.” Though her garments carried no contagious germs, Madame was surely dressed to kill that season.

Judge Samuel Sewall, on the prowl for a wife, set his sights on Martha Ruggles and wrote to her brother Thomas Woodbridge, noting fond memories of her great style: I remember when I was going from school at Newbury, I sometimes met Mary, at the end of Mrs. Noyes’s Lane, coming from their School at Chandler’s Lane, in Hanging Sleeves ... “ Martha was not impressed — this fellow was never going to get under her sleeves. After she rejected his two proposals, he moved on to woo Widow Gibbs.

While the genteel usually got a minor shunning for their extravagance, for Colonists with a yearly income of less than 200 pounds, wearing the style of polite society was criminal. To give falsehood of your station in the Puritan Republic was against God’s law. The General Court announced their “utter detestation and dislike” that “over-proud commoners” of “mean condition, education and callings should take upon them the garb of gentlemen.”

Infractions resulted in punishment and fines. Tailors were forbidden from making garments “contrary to the mind and order of the Governors,” and if the grand jurors failed to bring indictments against guilty persons, the courts would impose fines on them. In 1652, Jonas Fairbanks and Robert Edwards were charged for wearing “great boots,” a cavalier fashion of excessive leather. John Chubb was admonished for “excess in apparel, beyond that of a man of his degree.” Additional records from the Quarterly Courts of 1653 regarding Newbury residents include:

Wife(s) of John Hutchings, Thomas Harris, Thomas Wayte and Edward Browne, presented for wearing a silk hood, all discharged testimony being brought up above the ordinary rank and upon proof of education.

Wife(s) of Nicholas Noyes and Hugh March, John Whipple presented for silk hood and scarves, but discharged for being worth 200 pounds.

Wife(s) of William Chandlour and Joseph Swett’s fined ten shillings for wearing a silk hood. Agnes, wife of Deacon Knight, presented for wearing a silk hood, discharged, her husband being worth above 200. (This troubled the good deacon exceedingly, and induced him to solicit Mr. Rawson to send a letter to one of the magistrates at Salem.)

Bridget Bishop, who was the first of the accused to be executed as a witch in Salem, may be the last infamous mention of illicit fashion in Puritan New England. Her famous “scarlet paragon bodice” did not directly cause her death, but it certainly helped lure the judgmental Puritan hordes to her doorstep. Many like Bishop just would not conform, nor be controlled — it is simply not New England’s style!

A big thank-you to historian Richard Trask for outfitting the material on the way we wore!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Puritan Hair - Massachusetts

Ipswich Chronicle May 2, 2013

Back in the day, head fashion became a hairy scene in the Mass Bay colony. The magistrates launched an aggressive campaign on the matter, and several ministers “wigged” out in sermons, using Biblical references to shame their flock. This focus on fancy fashion and kinky hairdos was not taken lightly by the Puritans. Social order and convention were necessary for survival, and individual expression or adornment was considered a sin and a crime.

A “Roundhead” man with closely cropped hair was safe and godly. The General Court in 1634 issued “a burning theme of pulpit address” stating long hair “should by no means lie over band or doublet collar.” No proper Christian man would want to look like a “ruffian, varlet, and a vagabond.”

Governor Endicott imposed legal pressure to submit to a balding lifestyle: long hair was “uncivil and unmannerly” and “corrupts good manners.” Punishment would certainly be issued if hair was not cut to a civil frame.

Harvard College became an evil fortress in regards to shagging. The youth were cited for provoking evil with their long hair, even in the “pulpits to the great grief and fear of many Godly hearts in the Country.” Clearly, the stakes were high, and long hair became a penal offense. Rev. Rogers’s nephew Ezekiel, who attended the college, was cut out as sole heir of his estate for not trimming his mane.

Newcomers to the colony were warned about all things abominable. On board the Fame, Henry Vane and Lord Leigh cut off their lovely locks in preparation. Rev. John Cotton commended them for honoring God by shortening their hair, which demonstrated a “complete reformation by bringing it to the primitive length and form.”

Apparently the community of Ipswich did not take the hair policy very seriously. In 1651, a citation records “intolerable excess and bravery for bold apparel and head dress.” Puritan women were targeted for their puffed-up hairdos. 

However, they were willing to pay a high price for fashion. Several trunks landed in town, supplying all sorts of illegal garb and headdress, including combs, ribbons, scarfs, and other contraband. In 1679, records again note the “manifest pride openly appearing among us by some women wearing boarders.” These women were no doubt sporting “heartbreakers,” which set out like butterfly wings over their ears.

The proper hair attire for women was a neat bun and cap, called a “cornet,” or “Dutch coif.” 

Any mischievous locks or flirty curls were a sure sign of evil, a “wile of the devil.” In April of 1682, warrants were issued against young local girls for "folding their hair, frizzing and knots, and for wearing silk scarves." A total of eight girls, two of them servants, were arrested and made to crop their sultry, sinful styles.

A sermon by Increase Mather served up a stern message to these femme fatales, calling them “Apes of Fancy.” His disapproving words rang out from the pulpit: “Will not the haughty daughters of Zion refrain their pride in apparel? Will they lay out their hair, and wear their false locks, their borders, and towers like comets about their heads?” This reference was to a hair accessory known as a “commode,” a wire lace frill that kept the hair erect when attached to a smaller cap.

The wearing of wigs was a sin as well, and Samuel Sewall was in knots over the issue. His diary notes a visit to cousin Josiah Willard, inquiring about his wicked wig. He informed him that artificial hair was against the laws of God; God ordained our hair, and we are not to put that in question. Regardless, Willard liked his new look and made it clear he would not give it up.

In Sewall’s instance, God chose to leave him hairless. His courtship with Madame Winthrop parted ways when she could not entice him to cover his cold head with more than a velvet cap. She suggested enhancing his wooing charms by paying more attention to his own appearance, which included wearing a wig like his competition. However, Sewall was content with God’s design and rested that his Maker would send him another dame.

In their attempts to control every aspect of daily life, the Puritans were concerned with all modes of personal appearance and clothing choice. The Puritan fashion police would certainly have a field day with the outrageous hair styles seen these days. Surely Lady Gaga would easily earn herself 50 lashings and a day in the stocks for each of her crazy hair contraptions.