THE BURPEE PAPERS
A picture of the social conditions of the time and in the Maugerville settlement is given in the Burpee Papers. Jonathan Burpee, the carpenter from Rowley who came to Maugerville in 1764 was an influential member of the church and community. Not only was he a deacon of the church but was probably the leader in most church affairs. He was also probably the wealthiest farmer in the settlement. He was the grandfather of David Burpee, who in 1770, as a young man of eighteen kept a diary of his observations and principal occurrences in his life. This diary and his Book of Accounts provides a wealth of knowledge about the social conditions of the day.
Deacon Jonathan Burpee died in 1761; his will was proved June 26, and his estate was apprised on the 4th of July of that year by Jacob Barker and Daniel Jewett. The estate was valued at £525, of which £80 was in cash or money due on notes or other obligations. His land was apprised at £252 and his stock at:
It was the custom of neighbours to join together in the purchase of large or expensive implements. Deacon Burpee owned the irons and half the woodwork of a cart-the value of his share was £2.10s. he owned a saddle. valued at £3, and a pillion for his wife worth 6s.
The total value of Deacon Burpee's furniture was only five pounds, seven shillings and eight pence, as follows:
There were also two chests worth 29 shillings, one pair andrions 26 shillings and a fire shovel and tongs valued at 5 shillings. The deacon's bedding comprised' of three feather beds with pillows, coverlets and blankets a total value of sixteen pounds, eleven shillings and three pence.
The deacon's cooking utensils were few and simple.
The dishes used by the early settlers were mostly all made from pewter and were limited in number.
No mention is made of knives or forks, but these were not commonly used by the early settlers. Most of their meat dishes were stewed so that the meat was tender enough to be cut with a spoon.
The clothing of Deacon Burpee was valued at 117 13s. 3d.
David Burpee the executor, shows that this brothers purchased the mixt coat for 20 shillings, the mixt waistcoat for ten shillings and one shirt for five shillings. The beaver hat was sold to Jeremiah Burpee and the felt hat to Thomas Burpee.
Reading was not a pass time of these early settlers. The inventory lists A number of books £2 2s. 6d. No mention is made of the number or content of these books but it is safe to assume that they were probably Bibles and other religious works.
David Burpee's Book of Accounts was compiled over a period of twelve years. Every article purchased or sold by him is recorded as well as many of his dealings with his brothers and sisters as well as neighbours and strangers. He records that each of his sisters received £13 7s. 6d. from his father's estate the payments being; lade part in household goods at their appraised value. barter and the practice of paying for goods in kind was commonplace. Corn and furs were staple articles of trade. Corn was often used as a basis of board. David Burpee records:
"Corn that I have found for my board at Uncle Pickard's since the 11th of September 1775."
A half bushel of corn was equal to a weeks board. In another account David Burpee agreed, in 1782, to board Eliud Nickerson and Pyam Old at his house in consideration of two days work a week. The usual wages were 2 shillings at day, expect for mowing, framing, hoeing corn and raking hay for which pay was 2 shillings 6 pence. Board could then be estimated at 4-5 shillings a week.
Women servants were paid 10 shillings a month. David's sister Hephziah Burpee was paid this during the fourteen months she worked for him. With this income of 16 a year she indulged herself to the full extent of her means. She spent 10s. for a pair of stays, 25s for one gown, 7s.6d. for another, 15s. for a quilted coat, 5s.6d. for a pair of silk mits, 7s. for a lawn hand-kerchief, 6s.6d. for an Indian cotton handkerchief, and 24s. for eight yards of striped camlet.
Clothing was for the early settlers an expensive necessity. The usual material for clothing was woolen homespun, entirely produced on the farm. Linen was also produced on the farms in Maugerville. The men would shear the sheep and heckle the flax and the women spun and wove it into wool and linen. Leather breeches were common apparel for the men. In 1773 David Burpee paid John Watson 12s. for the leather for a pair of breeches. A tailor made suit was a dream of every man. Such a suit was expensive but could be amortized over its expected life of twenty years. One such suit listed in the estate inventory of Jonathan Burpee was valued at 4 pounds 5 shillings 6 pence.
In the winter of 1778-9 David Burpee taught school in Mange vine. The rate of tuition was 3s. 11½d. per month for each scholar. Fees were paid in a variety of goods; work, grain, leather, muskrat skins, and rum. For his winter's work he received only 10s. in cash.
The early diary of David Burpee Made in 1770 is of some importance, however it deals mainly with observations of a more personal nature.
Friday 19th (January 1770) This morning is clear and a sharp air but a pleasant sun the wind N. W. but gets South in tho afternoon and is moderate Uncle Coburn and aunt is to our house today.
Thursday 8th (February) This morning is cloudy the wind is S. E. and begins to snow about 11 o'clock and snowns saft I went to Coburn's today.
Thursday 22nd (February) This morning the wind is west and cold Mother is gone to uncle Coburns.