Thursday, March 28, 2013
Material Possessions Of Pilgrims
So, continuing with the Pilgrims and their housing from John Demos' book A Little Commonwealth, we come to their material possessions. Demos makes a great argument in saying that not only did the houses differ, but so did their households and possessions. I thought that the Pilgrims were all equal in social status before I read this book. I also thought that they wore the same things, and had the same things within their houses, etc. Demos brought this idea to a swift end! There were "distinctions of wealth and status" within their group.
Apparently, just like me, as time went by, the Pilgrims seemed to accumulate more. They did this not just in stuff, but also in wealth and the quality of their stuff. The trend over seven years was “toward more ample and more diversified physical possessions. This was roughly true for all classes of people; in short, the whole community moved slowly toward greater material prosperity.” And, just like today, the rich got richer, and the poor got poorer. Well, at least the divide became larger. Apparently, at the beginning, there wasn't a large display of wealth. There were no, or little distinctions of the classes, just “relative degrees of austerity.”
Total worth of possessions ranged as follows:
Web Adey: £3. 7s
William Pontus: £13 (including £8 for house and lands)
John Ewer: £17
Gentleman, William Thomas: £375
What a difference being a gentleman made! This did change over time as we shall see in future posts.
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