Writing up the information about 17th-century linen cloth got me thinking about Mary Ring’s probate inventory. Probate inventories of a deceased’s goods were taken for tax and inheritance purposes. In the early 17th century it was rare for a woman’s goods to be inventoried. It was rarer still for clothes to be itemized, man’s or woman’s; usually they were lumped together under ‘wearing apparel’, sometimes along with whatever cash was on hand. What we have here, in the inventory dated 1633, is a precious gem – a list of a woman’s possessions, including individual entries for items of clothes.
Here are a few notes from the inventory, which runs several pages. Particularly tonight I’m interested in the garments for which a color is listed. A few days ago I wrote about why we’re calling The Jacket a jacket but the interpreters describe the same item as a waistcoat. This inventory is one of the primary source documents I mentioned that leads us to say “waistcoat” in the 1627 English Village.
1 black Say kertle 12s
1 Red petticote 16s
1 violet coloured petticoate 5s
1 Wastcoat mingled coloured 3s
1 violet coloured wastcoate 1s 6p
1 pr blew stockins (no value listed)
1 mingled coloured petticoate 5s
Historical documents often raise more questions than they answer. This one makes me wonder if the violet colored petticoat and waistcoat were worn together as a suit. How about the mingled colored ones? Were they a suit? And why was the red petticoat assigned a higher value than the other petticoats?
One thing is certain, Mary Ring wasn’t wearing just black, white and grey like the stereotypical pilgrims of our school days.