Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Governor Spotswood's Waistcoat

Accession #: 2008.19
Item: Waistcoat belonging to Alexander Spotswood 

In Wilton’s collection there are many unique artifacts concerning Virginia’s vast and wonderful history. One of the oldest pieces in our collection is a section of Alexander Spotswood’s waistcoat. Alexander Spotswood was the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia from 1711 to 1722 but, despite his short term he accomplished many things. His waistcoat was presented to the museum by his descendants Frances Roberdean Wolfe and Mary Patterson Jordan. The right front half of the waistcoat is all that remains of the original piece since the other half was cut to pieces by members of the family to be used in patchwork quilts. The waistcoat itself is made out of satin and linen, and currently has eleven ivory buttons.
The waistcoat became fashionable in England during the reign of King Charles II, 1660-1685, the same King who granted William Randolph I the right to purchase the land called Curles . On October 7, 1666, Samuel Pepys, the famous diarist stated  "the King hath yesterday in council declared his resolution of setting a fashion for clothes which he will never alter. It will be a vest, I know not well how".  The vest, or waistcoat as it was later called, was titled so because it ended at the waist, unlike other formal garments such as morning coats that were longer. Waistcoats during the 17th and 18th centuries were typically intricately detailed and colorful, only becoming more subdued in the 19th century. The waistcoat also became the official attire for the Restoration of the British monarchy, but maintained its popularity through the following centuries. 
Alexander Spotswood probably wore this particular waistcoat to formal occasions held at the Governor’s Mansion, while on official duties as Governor and even possibly to the court of England. This particular waistcoat can be surmised to have been worn during formal occasions because of what it is made out of; satin and linen with ivory buttons. Waistcoats made out of more expensive material were typically worn during formal occasions while waistcoats made out of linen or wool could have been worn around a plantation on a regular basis; wool waistcoats were best worn during the winter.
Similar to this waistcoat is another in our collection (Item#:1989.1) belonging to Dr. Charles Douglas, husband to Susanna Randolph of Curles .  It was made around 1780 and is composed of silk and linen with fabric covered buttons.  According to the family records, this waistcoat was worn by Dr. Douglas to the Court of King George III.
Alexander Spotswood was born in the colony of Tangier in Morocco, Africa around 1676. His father Robert Spottiswoode, was a surgeon, a trade Alexander would never take up. Instead he joined the military in his early teens and quickly made a name for himself becoming a Lieutenant-Colonel in 1703. He was appointed Quarter-Master General in the Duke of Marlborough’s army and was later injured at the Battle of Blenheim.   
In 1710 he was appointed to be the Lieutenant-Governor of Virginia at the nomination of the first Earl of Orkney, George Hamilton. Once in Williamsburg, Virginia, he was the first to reside in the brand new Governor’s Mansion, which the common people believed to be overly extravagant. During his tenure Spotswood founded several small towns for people of German descent, starting with First Germana. Since all the towns founded by Alexander were concentrated in the same area of Virginia, they jointly became known as Spotsylvania as the area is still known today. As Governor, Spotswood also established better relationships with the Native Americans, encouraged westward movement and regulated the growth of tobacco.  What he did not accomplish as Governor was a peaceful relationship with the members of the Royal Council, who had him recalled as Governor in 1722.
As a private citizen Spotswood owned over 80,000 acres of land in Virginia, although he moved back to England and married Anne Butler Brayne. They had four children and moved back to Virginia to live in Germana where he later became Deputy Postmaster General of the Commonwealth from 1730-39. He died in Annapolis, Maryland on June 7, 1740.
Alexander’s Spotswood’s waistcoat may have a tenuous connection to the Randolph family, but a connection nonetheless. Peter Randolph, the eldest son of William Randolph III married Mary Spotswood, the granddaughter of Alexander Spotswood and daughter of his first son Colonel John Randolph. 

The James Madison Museum. "Alexander Spotswood: An Empire in Virginia." 
James Madison Museum website. Accessed June 1, 2011. Last modified 2009. 
University of Mary Washington. "Alexander Spotswood: The Maker of Myth." 
 University of Mary  Washington Department of Historic Preservation. Accessed  
June 1, 2011. Last modified 2011. 
The Order of the Founders and Patriots of America. "Alexander Spotswood - 
Knight of the Golden Horse Shoe." The Order of the Founders and Patriots of 
America. Accessed June 1, 2011. Last modified 2006.
Waistcoats Direct Bellamonte Made. "Waistcoat History: How The Waistcoat 
Has Changed Throughout The Ages." Waistcoat Direct. Accessed June 20, 2011. 
Last modified 2011.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The "Deed" Post Two

An excerpt from the transcription of the "Deed":

To all to whom those profit shall come. I Francis Nicholson Esq. his maj. (ty) Liet. & Governor & General of Virginia Lend Greetings whereas his late [majesty] King Charles the second hath been Graciously pleased by his Loyal [Letters] [Patents] under the great seal of England. [beginning] date at Westminster on the tenth day of October in ye eighth and twentieth years of his reign [amongst] other things in ye said Letters patents [contained to continue & confirm] the power & privilege of granting to the Inhabitants of this Colony & Dominion all lands that have Escheated or that shall Escheat to his said majesty his heirs or successors. And whereas  two certain tracts of Land Lyeing & going in ye County of Henrico. One tract thereof called Curles formerly Long Field. The other called the [Slashes] and containing Twelve  hundred and thirty acres be ye same more or less with contains Marshes Swamps & low grounds thereunto belonging and adjoyning lots in the [Service] & Inheritance of Nathaniel Bacon Junior Esq. deed. Is found to Escheat to his most Sacred Majesty from the said Bacon by the Attender of ye said Nathaniel junior & of high treason as by an Inquisition recorded in the [Secretaries] office under the hand and seales of William Randolph Escheat[ed] [of] the said County and [?] [?] [?] [?] him for that purpose [dated] the twenty-firt[st] day of July 1698.
Any [appear]. For which said Land William Randolph of the said County of Henrico [Gent].. hath paid unto his majesties Auditors & receiver General of his [Revenues] in Virginia, the [Valuable]  [Confederation] of One hundred & fifty pounds Sterl. Know yee therefore that I the said Francis Nicholson [Esq.] Governor [& do] with the [Advice] and [Consent] of the [Councill] of State Accordingly give and Grant unto the said William Randolph Twelve Hundred and thirty acres of Land called Curles formerly Long Field, And the [Slashes][ as aforesaid with the Marshes, Swamps, & low grounds thereunto belonging & adjoining [& going] in [the sd] County of Henrico. And [bounded] as followeth (to west) Four hundred & eighty acres thereof called Curles formerly Long Field being party [of] [a patent] granted to Thomas Harris by sir John Harvey [Lt.] Governor esq. dated [?] 25 February 1638. With Swamp and Marsh beginning at a Little Creek over against the Land of Capt. Martin [bounded] Northward on the back side of a Swamp. [East South East] into the woods towards Bremo with marked trees. [West] North West Of the James River. And South South [west] upon ye [head] with marked trees also; And one other tract of [ye sd.] Land being wood=land and commonly called the [slashes] containing Seven hundred & fifty acres lyeing on the poplar Brook [on ye] [heads] of the Land formerly in possession of Capt. Daniel [Lewellain] and beginning at ye Corner [tree of] ye said Land running East along the [heads] thereof to [Mawbourne] hills three hundred & twenty [perches] North by [East] into the woods three hundred & twenty [perches]. [West] by North on the head three hundred and thirty Eight perches. South to the place where it began with all Rights...
William I Bequeathed Curles to his son, Henry, who left the land to his brother Richard, who later became known as Richard of Curles. Here's a passage from his Will that provides us with a glimpse of the fortune the land yielded to the family:

I Richard Randolph of Curles in the County of Henrico being of sound and [disproving] Sense and Memory do make [conf?] & appoint this my last Will and Testament in manner & Form following (third line from the top on the right said of the page blurred out). In the first place I give to my wife Jane during her Natural Life / in Lieu of all her Dower in my Estate/ the use of my land and Plantation called Curls. I also give my said wife during her Natural Life the use of thirty three Slaves hereafter mentioned [(to wit)] Betty, [Hale], Phillis, Jenny, Isbel, Matt, Joan, Cloe, Dinah, Roady, Nelly, James, Ned, Bob, Sam, [Ebo-Henry]. Ampe, Mingo, [Titus], Philip, George, York, Senica, Warwick, Ben, [Bounwhear], Sue, Hannibal, Isaac, Jacob, Jenny, the son of Bob, [Gambia] and [Jemmy or Jenny] the Son of Jemmy. I give to my said wife all my Stocks of Cattle, Sheeps, Hogs, Horses & Mares which belong to my said Plantation at Curls, with my Coach Chaise & [ Hanne?] & all my Plate & Furniture of my House at Curls, [Husting]  to her prudence and [Justice] in disproving & [dividing] the same amongst my dour Sons Richard, Brett, Ryland & John in such manner & at such times as my said Wife shall think fit. And in Case my said Wife shall not be able to raise

[Provisions] Sufficient for the support of the Family which she shall keep at Curls then I order and [Demand] that she shall be supplied with what Provisions She shall have Occasion of from any other Plantation in the same manner as my House is now supported from any said Plantation without being Accountable for the same....

Check back next week for some fashion history and Governor Alexander Spotswood's connection to the Randolph family.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The "Deed"

Accession #: 1992.8
Item: Deed of land, signed by William Randolph, I 

Possibly one of the most unique pieces in our collection came to us directly through the Randolph family line, descending from Wilton’s Peyton Randolph (the second owner of Wilton).  It is a deed allowing Curles [Plantation] to be purchased by William Randolph I, giving us a glimpse of how he amassed such large quantities of land by the time he died. The deed was donated by Jefferson (or Jeffrey) Randolph in 1992 at the request of his late father, Peyton Randolph, and had been discovered folded up behind a picture.
The deed is extremely important to Randolph family history, because it is evidence of how William Randolph I was able to acquire enough land to give estates to each of his sons upon his death in 1711. William I came to Virginia sometime between the years 1670-73 in his early twenties. As a newcomer in the colony he relied on his uncle, Henry Randolph for support and connections and through him was able to create a foundation to quickly move up the ranks in colonial society. Being a landowner was the cornerstone to wealth and future political sway in the colonies and William was quick to buy up land of his own.
 Both Turkey Island (the main Randolph family seat) and Curles Plantation became available to William for purchase upon the confiscation of Nathaniel Bacon’s lands, in addition to lands belonging to other leader’s who took part in the rebellion of 1675-76. Nathaniel Bacon came to the colonies from England in 1674, and after being in Virginia only two years, in 1676, became discontent with Governor Berkeley’s administration as Royal Governor. Bacon believed that Berkeley was not providing the colony’s frontier with enough protection against the constant threat of an Indian invasion, and when his own plantation was attacked and his overseer killed Bacon took action. He amassed followers from all over the colony, marched out, and massacred different Indian tribes, despite the fact that some of them had peaceful relations with the colonists. The Rebellion then morphed into an uprising against Governor Berkeley and other Virginia gentry, whom Bacon believed were not taking action to protect the colonists due to their personal relationships trading with different Indian tribes.
Despite the Rebellion’s popularity throughout the colony it was short-lived due to Nathaniel Bacon’s untimely death of dysentery. Once the rebellion lost its leader the movement fell apart and Berkeley was able to roundup the remaining leaders and execute them. That meant that the land previously belonging to Nathaniel Bacon and other leaders of the Rebellion went back into the ownership of King Charles II in 1677, and upon his death went to his successors. In 1698, William III is King of England and current “owner” to Curles Plantation when William Randolph I decided to purchase 1,230 acres for £150 sterling on July 21, 1698.
What is also interesting to note about the deed is that it outlines the history of the ownership of the land. Curles, located in the county of Henrico, was formerly known as Long Field and the Slashes, and contained “Marshes, Swamps, & low grounds.” It was originally a land patent granted to Thomas Harris by Sir John Harvey, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia on February 25, 1638. The deed also mentions that Curles is located near land called Bremo, which later became another Randolph family plantation. The document is written and signed by the Royal Governor of Virginia in 1698, Francis Nicholson, and the Deputy Secretary Edmund Jennings.
Curles Plantation was owned by William Randolph I until he willed it to his son Henry Randolph. When Henry died, in England, without heirs the property passed into the hands of his brother, Richard Randolph, and then to his son by the same name. After being in the family for about three generations it passed into the hands of a new owner.  Even though the original Randolph family home no longer exists on the property Curles is still a privately owned farm.  Unfortunately, it is not open to the public.

Stay tuned for the "Deed" post two, coming soon!

Cowden, Gerald S. "The Randolphs of Turkey Island: A Prosopography of the First Three Part 1." PhD diss., The College of William and Mary, 1977.
Cowden, Gerald S. "The Randolphs of Turkey Island: A Prosopography of the First Three Part 2." PhD diss., The College of William and Mary, 1977.
McCulley, Susan. "Bacon's Rebellion." Historic Jamestowne. Accessed 2011. Last modified 1987.
Randolph, Jefferson, Mr. "Source of Item." In Item File #1992.8. 1992.

Standard, Mary Newton. "The Story of Bacon's Rebellion." New River Notes -Since 1998 Historical and Genealogical Resources for the Upper New River Valley of North Carolina and Virginia . Last modified 2007.
The Henrico County Historical Society. "Varina District Historic Sites - Curles Neck." Henrico Historical Society. Accessed May 1, 2011. Last modified 2011.