Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Library Research Report Series - 0183
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Library
Colonial Williamsburg, Inc.
Throughout the period of recorded history, concern with the appearance of the body and with its beautification has been characteristic of Man's existence. In the quest for personal attractiveness man has lent his imagination to the task, seemingly as to no other of his earthly pursuits. The array of appearances which he presents through the years stands as evidence of his diligence of application, to say nothing of the vividness of his imagination. This concern over personal appearance has manifested itself in a variety of ways: in the application of paints to different parts of the body, in the decoration of the body with ornaments of gold, silver, precious stones, and other materials, and in the practice of covering the body with varying types and quantities and qualities of clothing.
One of man's chief problems in the matter of appearance has been his hair. Hopefully, it persists in growing and periodically something has to be done about it and with it. The necessity for perpetual care to the hair has resulted in a variety of modes and styles, among which dying, plying with oils and ointments, powdering, trimming, shaping, curling, shaving off completely, and even augmenting by the addition of hair from the horse, the goat, the cow, and the human, loom large. This, in turn, gave rise to the tonsorial occupations of barbering, wigmaking, and hairdressing. For reasons of simplicity, these interrelated occupations will be considered as one, as indeed they have been at certain periods in their development. It is with the various aspects of these occupations that this inquiry will be concerned.
Relatively little is known of the early history of the tonsorial occupations. Primarily because the medium in which these craftsmen worked was of a very impermanent nature, as were their accomplishments with the medium. Also, early peoples ordinarily did not record the minutia of this ii aspect of their dress and daily lives. For information, therefore, we are dependent upon such circumstantial evidence as pictorial and sculptural remains and upon the few written records in which the details of this aspect of dress are related. Such information permits, at best, only occasional fleeting glances at the workings of the craft, leaving the total picture incomplete.
It is difficult, therefore, to determine just when these occupations had their beginning. An examination of the evidence available to us reveals clearly that great attention was given the hair and beard from the most ancient times. Yet, prior to the seventeenth century, there seems to be little doubt that this work was performed largely either by qualified personal servants or by the individuals themselves. This is especially true with regard to the dressing of women's hair. It is true to a lesser extent in the case of men, however, for commercial establishments specializing in the care of the hair and beard had been in existence since the time of the ancient Greeks. In this early barber shop, or "tonstrina," as it was called, the patron found attendants skilled in the culture of the hair and beard as well as in massage, first aid, and small surgery. Shaving the beard did not become customary among the Greeks until the time of Alexander, who fearing that the lengthy growth might serve as a convenient handle to an enemy, commanded that his forces be shaved. Before this, it seems likely that the tonsorial work of the barber consisted primarily of only trimming and dressing the hair and beard in the popular mode. The barbering craft developed in Rome in much the same way as in Greece and was a very common feature of Roman society before 400 B.C., first being concerned only with cutting and dressing the hair and beard and later, after the beard fell into disfavor, with shaving as well. Thus, very early the craft of barbering acquired characteristics which it has retained in large measure for over two thousand years.iii
The history and development of the barbering craft becomes somewhat obscure for a time after the passing of the Roman Empire. Yet, there can be no doubt of its continuance and popularization, for by the thirteenth century the first barbers' trade associations had been formed in both England and France.
It was in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, however, that the various hair-dressing crafts began to experience their greatest prominence and to flourish widely. This period might well be called the "golden age" of the tonsorial artist. The explanation for the rather sudden rise to prominence of these crafts is to be found in the inordinate importance attached to fashion both in clothing and in hair. This over-emphasis on costume led to extremes and extravagances of dress in general and in the mode of wearing the hair in particular.
False hair in the form of wigs or attachments to the normal hair became, perhaps, the greatest characteristic of the dress of fashionable people in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. These practices embody perfectly the artificiality, the mixture of dignity and affectation, the fickleness and vanity, and the pompous conventionality that mark this two hundred year period.
The acceptance of the wig by Louis XIII of France in 1624 generally has marked the beginning of the era in which the wearing of wigs became a popular practice. The custom, however, was at least as old as the ancient Egyptians, about whose use of wigs there is a great amount of surviving evidence. Among European peoples wigs and false hair pieces were in evidence rather consistently from the time of Greek civilization, but the number of people who used them remained very small down to the seventeenth century.
At that time the adoption of the wearing of wigs by royalty led quite naturally to its extension among the upper economic and social classes. iv The wig for men and false looks for women became an outward symbol of prestige, prominence, and position. In turn, as many others as could, regardless of their position in life, affected this popular mode in hair. What had undoubtedly begun as a mere fad now became an integral part of the costume of the period.
Even at the height of the vogue, however, wigs and false hair were never worn by everyone. The wig was, in reality, as extraneous an article of apparel as a hat. Many never adopted wigs in spite of their apparent social value. Some objected to the wearing of sumptuous clothing, particularly wigs, on religious and moral grounds. The cost of a wig prevented others from adopting false hair, although the introduction of horse hair and other less expensive hairs brought wigs within the economic range of many who previously had not been able to afford them.
By the eighteenth century we might briefly sum up the use of wigs and false hair in England in the following manner: for men and women well-placed socially, economically, professionally, and otherwise, the popular mode in hair was a near-necessity; for all others, it was a matter of personal preference and financial ability. Except for those who objected on some religious or moral ground, it would seem reasonable to assume that every-one aspired to the ownership of an appropriate wig or hair piece; the more elegant the better.
|Chapter I The Barber Wigmaker in Colonial America||1|
|II The Craft of the Barber Wigmaker in Williamsburg||16|
|III Tools, Methods, and Processes Employed in the Wigmaking Craft in Colonial America||23|
|Part I Tools||23|
|II Methods and Processes Employed in the Wigmaking Craft in Colonial America||27|
|Taking the Measurements||30|
|Preparation of the Hair||31|
|Preparing the Wig||35|
|Weaving the Hair||38|
|Mounting the Wig||44|
|Sewing the Wig||48|
|The Order of Sewing||50|
|Peculiarities and Conditions of the Various Styles of Wigs||53|
|Finishing the Wig Dressing the Wig||54|
|Dressing the Wig||55|
|Plate I||Shop of the Barber-Perukemaker (Diderot)|
|I||Tools Used by the Barber and Hairdresser and for Preparing the Hair for Weaving (Garsault)|
|Plate II||Tools of the Barber and Hairdresser (Diderot)|
|II||Eight Wig Styles (Garsault)|
|Plate III||Tools, Materials, and Methods Employed by the Barber-Perukemaker in the Weaving Process (Diderot)|
|III||Shop of the Barber-Perukemaker and Tools, Materials, and Methods Employed in the Weaving Process (Garsault)|
|Plate IV||Blockheads on which the Wig is Mounted (Garsault)|
|IV||Tools and Materials Employed by the Barber-Perukemaker in the Preparation of the Hair and the Mounting of the Peruke (Diderot)|
|Plate V||Tools Employed in the Dressing of women's Hair and Equipment Employed by Barber-Perukemakers who Operate Baths and Steam Baths (Garsault)|
The custom of wearing wigs in colonial America was an urban practice which originated with people who considered the wig a symbol of rank and position. Wigs usually were worn by such men as planters, merchants, clerics, and others of social, economic, political and professional importance, wherever they lived, in town or country. It is apparent also, that small shopkeepers, craftsmen, and other skilled workers and artisans, whose jobs brought them in contact with the public, found the wig a valuable asset. The important feature was wearing a wig, not necessarily the type of wig worn; the type most often depended upon the economic level of the owner. Only a fraction of the lower classes, tenant farmers, farmhands, errant craftsmen, servants, and slaves would have worn wigs. Even though these men were not accustomed to wearing wigs, we are sure from advertisements in the newspapers that it was not unheard of for them to do so. Although some liveried slaves, servants and others did wear wigs, this seems to be the exception rather than the regular practice.
There is little reason to believe that the wig fashion underwent any great change in crossing the Atlantic to America, as the Colonists, for the most part, were merely transplanted Englishmen. The Colonists looked at London as the center of fashion and it was logical that wigs and false hair pieces were worn in imitative fashion by the colonists who could afford them. The exact nature and extent of the wig market in America is, however, a matter of some uncertainty.
Wigs appeared in the colonies shortly after their introduction into England in 1663, and by the end of the seventeenth century were in fairly widespread use throughout the country. As early as 1670, for example, 2 Governor Barefoot of New Hampshire was wearing a wig,1 and it may be assumed that other members of the colony followed his lead. We also have evidence of wigs in Virginia where in 1689 William Byrd, one of the leading planters, forwarded a wig to his merchant in London with instructions for altering it.2 So popular did wigs become that they were common even among the Quakers.3
Wigs met with both legal and ecclesiastical opposition in New England, and paradoxically, it is the expression of this hostility that gives us our most complete picture of the custom in seventeenth-century America. The Puritans, by the reign of Charles I (1625-1649), had issued a manifesto against the wearing of long hair, deeming it "…an unpious custom and a shameful practice for any man." Due to the scarcity of clothing in the colonies and the difficulty in obtaining new clothes, the Puritans were allowed to wear out those that they had brought with them, after which time the sumptuary laws were enforced.4 By 1675 these laws had fallen into general disuse or were being ignored, and we learn that in that year the Massachusetts General Court inveighed against "…long hair, like women's hair… worn by some men, either their own hair, or others' hair made into periwigs."5 3 It is a certainty that wigs were popular in New England by 1700. Opposition to wigs was greatest from ecclesiastics, particularly Samuel Sewall, who was a veritable monomaniac on the subject.6 Despite sumptuary laws and the lamentations of certain clerics, wigs continued to gain in popularity, even in the ranks of the clergy. Before the seventeenth century ended bewigged preachers occupied many New England pulpits. The extent of their prevalence may be realized from the words of the Reverend George Weeks, who observed in a sermon that "To see the greater part of men in some congregations wearing Periwiggs is a matter of deep lamentation."7
From a study of portraits and other graphic representations of the Colonial period it is evident that wigs were worn by the majority of men who had obtained social, economic or political prominence.8 This is to be expected, however, as prominent men were obliged to adhere to the popular mode of dress. Yet, it is uncertain how far down the social and economic scale the custom of wearing wigs was observed. There is sufficient documentary evidence to show that the wearing of wigs was by no means limited to men of prominence and it is not inconceivable that they may have been common even among the lower classes.
The Rev. Devereux Jarratt, a minister of Bath Parish, Dinwiddie County, Virginia, described his childhood in a series of letters to John Coleman between 1794 and 1796.
He was definitely a "common man" and for that reason his notes 4 relating to wigs are invaluable.
My father was brought up to the trade of a carpenter, at which he wrought till the very day before he died. He was a mild, inoffensive man, and much respected among his neighbors. My mother was the daughter of Joseph Bradley, of Charles City, a county bordering on New Kent. None of my ancestors, on either side, were either rich or great, but had the character of honesty and industry, by which they lived in credit among their neighbors, free from real want, and above the frowns of the world. This was also the habit, in which my parents were. They always had plenty of plain food and raiment, wholesome and good, suitable to their humble station, and the times in which they lived. Our food was altogether the produce of the farm, or plantation, except a little sugar, which was rarely used; and our shoes, the latter of which we never put on, but in the winter season. We made no use of tea or coffee for breakfast, or at any other time; nor did I know a single family that made any use of them. Meat, bread and milk was the ordinary food of all my acquaintance. I suppose the richer sort might make use of those and other luxuries, but to such people I had no access. We were accustomed to look upon, what were called gentle folks, as beings of a superior order. For my part, I was quite shy of them, and kept off at a humble distance. A periwig, in those days, was a distinguishing badge of gentle folk--and when I saw a man riding the road, near our house, with a wig on, it would so alarm my fears, and give me such a disagreeable feeling, that, I dare say, I would run off, as for my life. Such ideas of the difference between gentle and simple, were, I believe, universal among all of my rank and age….
One of the most remote means, as I consider it, which led me to the station, which I now fill, was my being called from the ax to the quill. This took place, in the 19th year of my age , when I was thinking of nothing less. I was so well skilled in the Division of Crops, the Rule of Three, and Practice, that, you may be sure, the fame of my learning sounded far. One Jacob Moon, living in Albemarle county…heard how learned I was. He…sent me word, that he should be glad to employ me as a schoolmaster…. I readily embraced the proposal, and soon packed up my all, which. consisted in such things, as made no great baggage, for I think I carried the whole on my back, except one shirt…. My whole dress and apparel consisted in a pair of coarse breeches, one or two oznaburgs shirts, a pair of shoes and stockings, an old felt hat, a bear skin coat, which, by the by, was the first coat I ever had made for me, since my childhood. And that I might appear something more than common, in a strange place, and be counted somebody, I got me an old wig, which, perhaps being cast off by the master, had become the property of his slave, and from the slave it was conveyed to me. But people were not obliged, you know, to ask how I came by it, and, I suppose, I was wise enough not to tell them….8
By 1752 it appears that others besides gentlemen were purchasing wigs from William Peake and James Currie, as they advertised:
…they shall be glad to serve all Gentlemen l8nd Others, that are pleased to favour them with their Custom….10
One of the most valuable sources of information describing the dress of the common man in the eighteenth century is the advertisements for runaway slaves and servant men, and "escapees" from the public goal, as shown by Robert Lyon's advertisement:
RAN away from the Subscriber, living in Williamsburg, and Irish Servant Man, named John D'Anvers….had on when he went away, a brown bob Wig, a Claret colored Coat, a white Waistcoat, a Pair of Buckskin Breeches, and white Thread Stockings….11As frequently as these notices appear, they are concerned entirely with servants and slaves rather than freemen. From such information it is possible to deduce a great deal about dress in other economic and social strata.
No attempt has been made to determine the number of servants and slaves wearing wigs when they absconded, but notices appear often enough to make us realize that the wearing of wigs by "escapees" and servants was common, and to a lesser degree the same is true of slaves. It is logical to assume that many of the wigs worn by the servant men and slaves were "cast-offs" given them by their masters. Also there were various grades and prices of wigs, and indentured servants, in particular, may have been the market for the wigs of the cheaper variety. Thomas Clendinning, Wig-Maker in Glasgow stated:
…he makes no Doubt of giving ENTIRE SATISFACTION both in the GOODNESS and the CHEAPNESS of his WORK… fair Bob Wigs, from 30 sh. to 3£.From an examination of Clendinnings' prices it does not appear reasonable that a man who would purchase a wig for three pounds would also buy another for himself of the eight shilling variety. Substantial sums were being spent for wigs in the mid-eighteenth century by prominent men of Williamsburg: William Hunter purchased a wig from Richard Gamble on June 21, 1751 for 2£ 3sh. (Hunter's Acct. Bk); the Reverend Robert Rose purchased 1 Black Tye Wigg from Richard Booder on August 21, 1729 for 2£ (Rev Rbt Rose Acct Bk 1727-1733); and Mr Lightfoot bought a wig from William Taylor October 13, 1755 for 1£ 6sh. (Lightfoot Journal). The cheaper wigs, such as those listed by Clendinning, would seem more suited for part of the livery of house slaves or servants than for planters and merchants. Also, they may have been a type used for convicts, probably to enhance their appearance, on arrival in the Colonies. This is exemplified in an
Grizled Brigadier Wigs and Roses, from 14sh. to 30 sh. Grizled Spencer Wigs and Roses, from 14sh. to 25sh.
6 Grizled Bobs, Long and Short, from 14sh. to 25sh.
Brown Brigadier and Spencer Wigs, from 10sh. 6d. to 16sh. 6d. Black Bobbs and Black Naturals, from 8sh. to 12sh.
Pale and Brown Bobs, of the best Kinds from 8sh. to 12sh….12
Extract of a Letter from a Gentleman in Annapolis-Royal, to his Friend in Boston, dated Aug.3.1736.
----Mr. Vane and Nolens have (since my last,) made another Trip to Tiboge, and have, brought back with them the Long-Boat and several Tokens of Dowdy's (that wretched Woman who pretended to be Capt. Buckler's Widow,) being an errant Cheat, for there were found among the Indians 66 Indentures, sign'd by the Mayor of Dublin, and 22 new Wigs, of such a Make as if they were intended for no other Usse than to set out the Convicts, when they should go a Shore….13
Many of the wealthy colonials were aping English fashions. Such men as William Byrd of "Westover" and Mann Page of "Rosewell" conceivably purchased wigs as part of their livery for their house servants who came into contact with guests in the same manner as practiced in England during 7 this period. Regardless of the origin of wigs, the fact that an ordinary laboring-type man could wear one without attracting attention strongly suggests that a wig might be worn by anyone.
Despite the apparent commonness of the wig in eighteenth-century America, there is little reason to believe that they were worn by the majority of men, even though every man was a potential customer. The basically rural American society was hardly capable of fostering a way of life in which the wig would be considered a necessity.14
Instead of wearing a wig, the common man, if he gave any attention to his hair, likely dressed it himself, emulating the popular fashion, or wore the wool, linen, cotton, or Holland cap so popular in the colonies. Both runaway and "escapee" notices repeatedly mention men wearing their own hair or caps,15 which indicates the popularity of this custom.
There are numerous contemporaneous accounts of the hair customs in Colonial America, but three are especially pertinent to this view. One of these, an anonymous traveler during the 1740's, observed, with respect to Maryland:
'Tis an odd Sight, that except some of the very elevated Sort, few Persons wear Perukes, so that you would imagine they were all sick, or going to bed: Common People wear Woollen and Yarn Caps; but the better ones wear white Holland or Cotton: Thus they travel fifty Miles from Home. It may b cooler, for ought I know; but methinks, 'tis very ridiculous.168 According to James Murray, a Scots merchant, in Brunswick County, North Carolina, the situation must have been much the same in 1735. Included in his stock of goods was a quantity of wigs, for which there seems to have been little demand, for in 1751 he wrote his London wigmaker:
We deal so much in caps in this country that we are almost as careless of the outside as of the inside of our heads, I have had but one wig since the last I had of you, and yours has outworn it. Now I am near out, and you may make me a new grisel Bob.17The most lucid of these accounts is that of Charles Woodmason, Anglican itinerant of the Carolina backcountry in the years preceding the Revolution. He describes the dress of these backcountry people in this fashion:
It would be (as I once observ'd before) a Great Novelty to a Londoner to see one of these Congregations--The Yen with only a thin Shirt and a pair of Breeches or Trousers on---barelegged and barefooted--The Women bareheaded, barelegged and barefoot with only a thin Shift and under Petticoat--Yet I cannot break [them?] of this--for the heat of the Weather admits not of any [but] thin Cloathing--I can hardly bear the Weight of my Wig and Gown, during service…. Indeed Nakedness is not censurable or indecent here, and they expose themselves often quite Naked, without Ceremony--Rubbing themselves and their Hair with Bears Oil and tying it up behind in a Bunch like the Indians….18
The wig custom, as it prevailed in America, might be described in this manner: it was primarily an urban practice, occurring usually where a concentration of people and wealth created a society in which the wig was considered a social or economic asset. Such men as planters, merchants and the clergy commonly wore wigs, whether they lived in town or country. It is also apparent that certain craftsmen, small shopkeepers, and other skilled workers and artisans, whose jobs brought them in contact with the public, found it advantageous to wear wigs.9
In the foregoing pages, an attempt has been made to describe the wig custom as it prevailed in the colonies, to ascertain the nature and possible extent of the market available to wigmakers, and to explain social and economic conditions that might have encouraged or deterred the development and growth of the craft in America. It is to the craft itself and the manner in which it was carried on in the colonies that we now turn.
There is a general scarcity of material relating to the practice of the wigmaking craft in America. Newspaper advertisements constitute the bulk of available information, and it is on this we must rely for an insight into the conduct of the craft.
The wigmaker's craft in America was not restricted to the manufacture and care of wigs, but developed into a business that attempted to meet all the tonsorial needs of both men and women. This pattern of development was not a departure from European practices, except for specialization in a particular branch. Wigmaking or the dressing of women's hair, which was a common characteristic of the craft in Europe, never seems to have developed to a noticeable extent in America. The advertisements of Thomas Healy, "Peruke-Maker, Hair-Cutter, &c.," of Providence, Alexander Lindsay and Robert Johnston, "peruke-makers," of New York, and Andrew Buchanan, "Wig-maker and Barber," of Annapolis clearly demonstrate the nature and range of the American craft. Healy announced that
…at his Shop…he makes the best of Dress, Paste, cue'd, Bag, Scratch, Tye, Brigadier, and Bob-Major Wigs, and after the neatest, most elegant and fashionable Manner…. Said HEALY, also cuts, curls, and frizzes Gentlemen and Ladies Hair, and ingrates a Tail, to the intire Satisfaction of those who have favor'd him with their Custom; and engages to give Ladies equal Satisfaction with any London Hair-Cutter at Providence….1910 The partners Lindsay and Johnston informed the public that
…Gentlemen may be supplied with all kinds of Perukes, Tets and Fox-Tails, &c. after the most genteel Fashions now used in London; Ladies may also be furnished with Tets and Wigs in perfect Imitation of their own Hair. They also cut and dress Ladies and Gentlemen's Hair, in the London Mode….20Buchanan gave notice that
…Gentlemen may be furnish'd with all sorts of Wiggs made in the best and newest Fashions: And those Gentlemen who shall be pleas'd to favour him with their Custom for Shaving, may depend on being duly attended, with good Razors,…21
The work of the wigmaking craft in Colonial America consisted primarily of three types of activities; making and selling wigs and false hair pieces for men and women, cutting and dressing ladies' and gentlemen's hair, and shaving men. All wigmakers do not appear to have engaged in the craft to the same extent, however, and from their advertisements it is often difficult, sometimes impossible, to determine the services being offered. Many of the notices fail to name all branches of the craft; for example Walter Lenox, "Perukemaker" of Williamsburg, informed
…the PUBLICK in general, and his CUSTOMERS in particular, that he has moved to the house known by the name of the Red-Lion,… where he carries on his business in all its branches, as usuall;…22
Providing for the tonsorial needs of the men in the community was the chief basis for the income of Colonial Wigmakers.23 However, most wig-makers were prepared to handle the tonsorial needs of women also in varying degrees. The wigmakers in the Middle and New England colonies, where a more 11 cosmopolitan populace and greater trade activity created a ready and receptive market, appear to have offered a complete range of service more commonly and consistently than did those of the southern colonies.24 A number of southern wigmakers did provide complete hair service for women, but the majority only prepared and sold false hair pieces.25
Southern wigmakers failed to engage more actively in cutting and dressing women's hair because of the large number of personal servants who lived at home and cared for the women's hair in the home. The South was rural and the women spent much time at home, without benefit of professional services other than those found on the plantations. Here, servants and slaves, who could be instructed in caring for women's hair, were not capable of making the false hair pieces demanded by the prevailing fashions. Further evidence is given by the frequent merchants' advertisements of ladies' false hair pieces for sale.26
The possession of slaves and servants capable of attending to the hair and shaving needs of the gentry, appears to have been common in the South. Robert Carter of "Nomini Hall," for example, had a personal barber, Sam,27 who attended to his tonsorial needs. A Negro slave belonging to Dr. John 12 Sequeira was trained to shave and dress hair by Edward Charlton, barber-wigmaker, of Williamsburg.28 Occasionally, slaves and servants trained to care for gentlemen's hair, beards and wigs were offered for sale. One such was:
A MULATTO BOY between seventeen and eighteen Years of Age, who is a very valuable Servant, having been brought up from his Infancy to House Work; he is an excellent Waiter, can dress Hair and Wigs; and has been used to travel with his Master. He is healthy, sober, and honest, and sold for no Fault….29Another, and obviously a rare find, was:
A VALUABLE young handsome NEGRO FELLOW, about 18 or 20 years of age, has every qualification of a genteel and sensible servant, and has been in many different parts of the world. He shaves, dresses hair, and plays on the French horn. He lately came from London,…30Additional information concerning slave and servant barbers comes from news-paper announcements such as the following:
Run away from the Ship Molly…Two indentured Servant Men; the one named ROBERT CUMMINS, by Trade a Barber and Peruke maker,…31
The wigmaker's work involved a variety of services, but the manufacture of wigs was the most important. In this work various materials were used, the most important of which was, naturally, hair, usually obtained from three sources. One source, especially important in the South, was England. Announcement of the arrival of "A Choice Parcel of Hairs, prepared by the best Hands in London…" was seen frequently in the newspapers. This announcement appears so often, by false hair craftsmen of Virginia and Maryland, that it indicates a considerable quantity of hair was obtained from this source.32 If wigmakers in the Middle 13 and New England colonies imported hair from England, no mention of the practice has as yet been found. With limited sources of supply in the colonies, it is most unlikely that they would fail to utilize such a ready source for hair.
Another source was the local hair-merchants who were, in some cases, wigmakers themselves,33 or merchants engaged only in the sale of hair.34 It may be assumed the wigmakers were buying the hair of local citizens from such advertisements as:
THE subscriber proposes purchasing HAIR for Wigs, and hopes he will soon be able to supply wigmakers with that article, of different kinds. He is in want of a Quantity of human hair, both long and short, of any colour, for which he will give one shilling per ounce, or more, according to the quality….35This would of course be a limited source, as few people of means would sell their hair for such a price. Indentured servants and laborers might, on the other hand, be willing to sell their hair for such a sum. Runaway and "escapee" notices frequently state "his hair is cut off, and he wears a cap…" or occasionally "…his hair lately cut off the crown of his head and the under part much curled," which may indicate the servants were selling their long hair. 14
Animal hair constituted a third source of supply, but how often this was used is not certain. Several wigmakers advertised they would purchase animal and human hair, but they were apparently men engaged in the wholesale phase of the business.36
Natural hair, as it was obtained from the human being, horse, goat or cow, was not ready to be made into false hair pieces until it had been cleaned, separated according to length, curled and further processed. The preparation of hair, a detailed description of which will follow in a later chapter, was the most unpleasant task of the wigmaker. It is interesting to note that prepared hair, ready for use, was available from both English and local hair merchants,37 but how often it was purchased is not known. In the Virginia Gazette, of September 29, 1752 James Currie and William Peake announced they
Just IMPORTED,That many colonial wigmakers used prepared hair exclusively is doubtful, although such a practice would have saved much time. It is more likely that they used the cheaper unprepared hair from loca138 or English merchants; how-ever, this supposition is based on circumstantial and inconclusive information. 15
A FRESH Cargoe of live human Hairs, all ready curled and well prepared by the best Hands in London, most of them far below the London Prices, of the same Goodness and Quality.
N.B. As the Importer proposes to leave the Country soon, Encouragement will be given to such as are inclined to purchase in the Wholesale Way. Enquire at Mr Peake's in York, or Mr. Currie's in Williamsburg, for the Hairs.
Materials other than hair, necessary for wigmakers, could be purchased either from local retail merchants39 or imported from England, William Peake, a Williamsburg wigmaker, offered for sale
…Materials proper for Wig-making,…cauls, sewing and weaving Silk, mounting Thread, Frame Sticks and Screws, fine polished Steel and Iron Cards, and Brushes, and drawing Cards, punching Tongs, and Topee 'Irons, Wig Springs, hollow Blocks,…Block-ins, Curling-pipes, Vices, Scissars, Razors, Hones and Straps….40
Earlier, it was noted that shaving and dressing men's hair were two of the several activities normally carried on by the wigmaker. These services appear to have been so common that customers were charged by the month, the quarter, or by the year. One indication of this practice is found in the advertisement of Lewis Foy, a Parisian "Periwig Maker and Hair dresser" located in Philadelphia, in which stated that he "…dresses Ladies at thirty shillings per month and Gentlemen at twenty, in a decent manner."41 The barber and wigmaker of Williamsburg, Edward Charlton, whose account book for the years 1769-1773 gives the only extended record of an American wigmaker's work, carried on a similar practice except that his charge was based on the number of shavings and dressings performed.42
As capital of the colony of Virginia and residence of the royal Governor, Williamsburg before 1776 was politically an important city in the southern colonies and one of the largest. When the Governor's Council, House of Burgesses and Courts met, the population greatly increased and social activity reached its height. This was a time when many planters, tradesmen and others moved to town to participate in the festivities, and conduct their businesses.
Williamsburg was the nucleus of an aristocratic society, composed mainly of wealthy planters, government officials, prosperous businessmen and professional people. This society supported a way of life exemplified by such refinements as comfortable homes and furnishings, stylish clothes, the theater and education. The demand created by this aristocratic society, and those who sought to imitate it, undoubtedly produced a sizeable market for the goods and services of local merchants, innkeepers and other business people.
Among the craftsmen working in Williamsburg before the Revolution there were at least twenty-six men engaged, to varying degrees and at varying times, as barbers and wigmakers. This number may suggest a large and profitable market for the products and services of wigmakers.
The Virginia Gazette was not published until 1736, so, unfortunately, little is known of a number of craftsmen working here prior to that time. Others, who worked here after 1736 left only brief advertisements, if any at all. The remaining records tell of their existence, but give little insight into their practice of the craft. Although information concerning the craft of wigmaking in Williamsburg is greater in quantity than for any other area, it is still insufficient for a satisfactorily clear picture of the craft here. 17 With the limited information at our disposal we are able, nevertheless, to make certain observations and draw tentative conclusions about the craft as it was carried on in Williamsburg.
There is some confusion and uncertainty regarding the range of services provided by Williamsburg wigmakers. As elsewhere in the colonies, the wigmakers of Williamsburg uniformly provided for the tonsorial needs of men, including shaving, cutting and dressing hair, making wigs and probably the dressing of wigs. At least half the craftsmen appear to have been concerned primarily with these branches cf the craft and seldom, if ever, attended the needs of women's hair. There is considerable evidence that such men as Andrew Anderson and Alexander Finnie were typical of the group concerned primarily with rendering service to men.1 Notice was given by Andrew Anderson that he had just imported from London:
…Finnie, likewise, advised the public of the arrival from London of:
A Choice Parcel of best Hairs, and other Materials, for making all Sorts of Wigs, &c. prepared by the best Hands in London. Any Gentlemen or others, may depend on being faithfully served, after the newest Fashion….2
Choice Parcel of Hairs, prepared by the best Hands in London, and other Materials for making of Wigs. He has likewise got in three Wigs of different Fashions, (made by a curious Hand) which are to be seen at his shop; and all Gentlemen or others may depend on being faithfully and speedily served, after the best Manner…. N.L. The above Subscriber is in want of Two or Three Journeymen, that understands the Business of Shaving and Wigmaking….3
Evidence indicated that some Williamsburg wigmakers provided complete service for both men and women. However, there are no records remaining which 18 describe the work for women, other than advertisements and these are somewhat ambiguous. The frequently used terms "dressing," "hairdressing," and "hair-dresser" are not clear and, unless qualified, may refer to men, women, wigs or all three. Notwithstanding, it may be assumed that in most cases these terms refer to dressing either men's or women's hair and not to wigs. The dressing of wigs would seem to be an operation known by practically all who followed the craft and, while a tedious and, perhaps, exacting job, it did not require the services of a specialist.
The actual significance of the services rendered to ladies in the wigmaker's total operation is questionable. Craftsmen who offered these services, consistently mentioned the fact in their advertisements, but this was probably with the thought of attracting additional female customers. Just how many female patrons they were serving is, of course, not known. Although half the Williamsburg wigmakers advertised tonsorial services for women there is no indication the patronage was ever extensive. Rather, it is felt they were concerned primarily with wigmaking, shaving, cutting and dressing men's hair and only rarely with dressing women's hair or preparing false hair pieces for them. This belief is substantiated by the only extended account of the business operations of a Williamsburg wigmaker known to be extant.4 This is the account book of Edward Charlton who came from London in 17525 and worked in Williamsburg for twenty years. The account book, unfortunately, covers only a four year period, from 1769 to 1773.
The following excerpts demonstrate the nature of the barbering and wigmaking craft as it was carried on by Edward Charlton who was, probably, the most prominent member of the craft in Williamsburg.19
[£ S D] 1769 Doctr Jno Galt Janury 20th To a Brn Dress Qeue wig & ribbon 2..5 Febry 22d To altering a Qeue wig ..15 Augatt 9th To Brn Dress Qeue wig and ribbon 2..5 1770 Janry 1st To one Years Shavg & Dressg 2..3 0ctor 7th To Brn Dres Qeue Wig & Ribbon 2..4 1771 Janry 1 To one Years Shavg & dressg 2..3 April 10th To Brown dress Qeue Wig & ribbon 2..4 Octor 20th To Brown dress Qeue Wig & ribbon 2..4 1772 Janry 1th To one Years Shavg & dressg 2..3 June 16th To Brown dress bob wig 2..3 1773 Janry 1th To one Years dressg 2..3 May 15th To Brown dress Qeue wig & ribbon 2..3 June 13th To Alterg a wig ..15 1774 Janry 1th To one Years Dressg & Shavg 2..3 £27.19 1769 Mr Jefferson Dr April 13th To Brn Dress Qeue 2..3 0ctor 10th To Brn Tye Wig 4.. 1770 May 4th To three lb of powder …3..9 To pair Curls 10/ ..10 Sept 10th To Brown Dress Bob Wig 2..3 To dressg …5 1771 0ctor 18 To Brown Dress Bob Wig 1773 April 23rd To pair Curls 10/ ..10 £11..17..9 1769 Mr James Gedie Dr Decemr To one Years & Dressg 1.10 1770 Decemr 20 To one Years Shavg & Dressg 1.10 To pair Curls for Mis Nancy ..15 1771 To one Years Shavg & Dressg 1.10 1772 Janry 29 To Brown Dres bob wig 2..3 Decemr 20 To one Years Shavg 1.10 1773 July 5th To Brown dress bob Wig 2..3 Decemr 20 To one Years Shavg 1.10 1769 Mr Speaker Randolph Esqre Dr May 27th To Brn dress bob Wig 2..3 June 16th To Brn Dress bob Wig 2..3 Decemr 21 To one Years Shavg & Dressg 4.. 1770 20 [£ S D] July 13th To Dressg Master Randolph Harrison 1.. To Brown dress bob Wig 2..3 Decemr 21th To one Years Shavg and dressing 4..1 1771 March 23th To Brown dress bob Wig 2..3 May 3th To Brown bob Wig for Jack 1.10 Decemr 22th To Brown Dress bob Wig 2.12 To one Years Shavg & Dressg 4.. 1772 May 16 To Brown dress Bob Wig 2.12 Decemr 22 To one Years Shavg & dressg 4.. To Mr Harrison Randolph 2.10 £9..2 1770 George Wythe Esqre Dr March 14th To Brn Dress bob Wig 2..3 To Alterg grissell Tye Wig ..10 April 9th To pair Curls for Mrs Wythe ..10 Sepr 1th To one Year Shavg and dressg 2..3 1771 5..6 Octor 14th To Brn Dress bob Wig 2..3 Sepr 1th To one Years Shavg & dressg 2..3 1772 Sepr 1th To one Years Shavg & Dressg 2..3 1773 Febrb 15th To pair Curls for Erg Wythe ..10 Septr 1th To one Years Dressg 2..3 £19.14 1769 Mr Blovet Pasteur March 21 To one Years Shavg & dressg 1.15 1770 To £1.15-1771 Do £1-15 3.10 1772 Janry 29 To Brown Dress bob Wig 2..3 To Cash 2.. March 21 To one Years Shavg & Dressg 1.15 1773 March 21 To one Shavg 35/ 1774 Do 35/ 1775 Do 35/ 5..5 1773 Mr Elkanna Dane Dr Decemr 15 To Brown dress bob Wig 2..3
The Charlton Account Book shows with unmistakable clarity the recurrent task of the wigmaker was making wigs, shaving, cutting and dressing men's hair and, presumably, dressing wigs. In only a few instances did 21 Charlton record dressing women's hair or making false hair pieces for them. A point of interest is that Charlton had many of the leading men of Virginia as regular patrons.7 These men, and others, in addition to availing themselves of a needed service which could not be imported from England, on the average purchased two locally produced wigs each year. The fact that many Virginians were purchasing wigs from Charlton is in contrast to their attitude towards many other crafts. Often colonials spurned local craftsmen in favor of importing similar goods from abroad.
In most instances the wigmakers of Williamsburg appear to have imported from England the majority of hair and other materials used in the trade.8 Much of this hair was already prepared and curled, ready for use in wigmaking. Inventories of certain wigmakers list unprepared hair which makes us certain that some hair, either imported or local, was not ready for use when received by the wigmaker. This is shown by the inventories of William Duncan,9 Robert Lyon10 and Robert Tennock,11 all of which list both prepared and unprepared hair. How frequently wigmakers purchased hair locally and prepared it themselves cannot be determined. So far as it is known there were no hair merchants in Williamsburg, with the possible exception 22 of James Currie. William Peake of Yorktown advertised in 1751 that "all Peruke-makers may be completely served with every Article now made use of in Wig-making, such as all Sorts of Live human Hair, ready curled by the best approved Hands in London…."12 We do not know if this was a customary practice for Peake or not because this advertisement did not appear after 1751. In 1768, Alexander Maitland, also of Yorktown, but formerly of Williamsburg, announced that he had just imported "…a QUANTITY of brown human hair, and brown and black horse hair,"13and that wigmakers might be supplied with any color in any amount.
Williamsburg, as capital of one of the most important colonies, was the scene of much social and political activity. This seems to have fostered a way of life in which both men and women paid a great deal of attention to their hair, and clothes.
The large number of wigmakers in Williamsburg prior to the Revolution indicates a substantial market. However, the extent of services these craftsmen offered is not known, but a fair picture may be obtained from their advertisements.
The majority of wigmakers were primarily concerned with attending the tonsorial needs of men. Many advertised they were prepared to care for women's hair, but there is no evidence this was ever an extensive phase of their business.
The Edward Charlton Account Book presents an excellent picture of the activities most demanded of wigmakers. Charlton, was perhaps one of the leading wigmakers of his time, and his is the only extended account of wig-making known to be extant.
Although none of the Williamsburg wigmakers, or any other American wigmaker, appears to have left any descriptive account of his operations, it is possible, by means of various contemporary European technical publications, to gain a rather clear conception of the tools, methods, and processes employed by the barber-wigmakers in the execution of their work.
It will be recalled that the wigmaking craft in America encompassed at least two distinct branches of work, those of barbering and of wigmaking and, although there was a close relationship between the work of these branches, each branch employed its own particular tools and methods.
A number of the eighteenth century European technical publications contain invaluable illustrations showing not only the physical appearance of barber-wigmakers' shops but the craftsmen at work as well. From those, we are able to gain an insight into the manner in which the craftsman proceeded to accomplish his tasks. Before delving into a description of the several phases of his work, however, it is appropriate that we give attention to the tools with which he worked. The inventories of colonial wigmakers are valuable in this respect. Perhaps the best such inventory, since it is the most extensive, is that of Robert Lyon, Williamsburg barber and wigmaker. It is given here in full both as an example of the types and quantities of tools and materials used in carrying on the craft and as an indication of the extent of one wig-maker's operations.24
THIS INDENTURE…Between Robert Lyon of the City of Williamsburgh Barber of the one part and John Hood of the County of Prince George Merchant of the other part…
The Schedule annexed. 1..12..5 best Grey Hair 22/. p. oz £ 30..16..- 4.. 9..- best Grizzle Hair @ £6 - p lb 27.. 7..6 -.. 4..- best Horse and Goat 7/p oz 1.. 8..- 2.. 8..- 2d Goat Hair 60/ 7..10..- -..11..- 2d Horse Hair 2/6 p oz 1.. 7..6 12.. 8..- Black Brown & Pale Hair 50/. p lb 31.. 5..- 3.. 4..- Black Brown & Pale Crown 28/. p lb 4..11..- -.. 8..- Wove Crown 5/ . p oz 2..--..- 1.. 6..- Brown Horse Hair 2/6. p oz 2..15..- -..13..- Black Horse Hair 2/6 1..12..6 6.. 3..9 Dark Brown Hair 50/ p lb 15.. 9..9 21.. -..- Brown & Black Hair not prepared 41/ p lb 43.. 1..- 5.. -..- Brown Crowns not prepared…28/ 7..--..- 19.. -..- Persian Goat not prepared…37/6 p lb 35..12..6 7.. -..- Moyhair Crown not prepared..21/ 7.. 7..- -.. 9..- Coarse Moyhair Crown Curled 2/6 1.. 2..6 -.. 6..- Fine Moyhair Crown Curled 3/9 1.. 4..6
60 Yards Narrow Wigg Ribon 1.. 7..6 72 Yards Broad Do 1..12..- 25 Wigg Cauls 1..13..4 2 1/2 oz Ballandine Silk 0..10..2 26 Wigg Roses 1..19..- 8 oz Purple Thread 1..--.-- 22 Brown Wiggs 26/ 28..12..- 7 White Wiggs @ 78/ 27.. 6..- 10 Grizzle Wiggs b 52/ 26..--..- 7 Brown Albemarle Wiggs 32/3 18..14..3 8 oz Raw Silk 39 p oz: 1..13..- 2 Ledger Books A : B with the several Accounts in them to the amount of 336..10..- 12 large Wooden Box's @ 2/6 1..10..- 6 Bend Box's @ 1/ 6..- 7 leather Bottom Chairs 1.. 2..6 1 Copper Kettle 3..--.-- 1 Tin Screen 6/6…1 Wooden Stove 23/ 1.. 9..9 2 Working Tables 1.. 8..- 1 Glass Show Case with Drawers 8..12..- 1 Large Leaden Cistern & Sink 4..--..- 1 small Leaden Cistern 0.. 5..9 11 Mounting Blocks 5.. 5..9 1 Large Mounting Block 1..10..- 4 Block Stands with 2 Dressing Blocks 0.. 7..6 1 pair Drawing Brushes 7/6. 2 Hones 17/6 1.. 5..- 2 Mixing Cards 20/. 1 Powdering Trough 10/ 1..10..- 6 Set of frame Pins 0..15..- 1 pair Money Scales 10/. 5 Shaving Basons 12/6 1.. 2..6 25 1 Copper Water Pot 4/. 2 Pewter Do 1.2/ 0..16..- 12 Razors 30/. 4 Fair Scissars 2/ 1..12..- 2 pr. Brass Candlesticks 10/. 5 Iron Do 5/ 0..15..0 5 feather Beds and furniture 20..--..- 16 Shaving Cloths 25/. 6 Pounds hard soap 1..11..6 125 lb fine flour 18/ 1. 2..6 2 Iron Vices 10/. 1 pair Topee Irons 3/9 0..13..9 2 Cards & Brush 0..16..6 3 Nests of small Box's with Drawers 1.. 7..9 20 Groce of Curling Pipes 1/9 1..15.. 2 pair Drawing Brushes 10/3 1.. 0..6 2 pair Drawing Cards 1.. 7..6 10 Barrels of Corn W 10/ 5.. 0..0 1 Desk 5..---..- 2 Chests 10/. 2 Tables 10/ 1..--..- 6 Rush Bottomed Chairs 9/. 4 doz Bottles 10/ 0..19..0 1 Bottle Case with 8 Bottles 0..14..0 1 Servant Man named William Duncan 17.. 4..- 1 Do Do named George Rivley 14..10..- 1 Do Do named John Ashwell 14..10..- 1 Do Do named Thomas Hewet 17.. 4..- 1 Gun 21/6 1 Cutlash 30/ 2..11..6 £ 813.. 7..3
With regard to the barbering branch of the craft, the following descriptive list of instruments is of particular interest for it not only identifies the tools the barber used but gives some indication of the manner in which he used them. These instruments consisted of2
|The Instrument Case, in which are placed these following things in their several divisions.|
|The Glass or Seeing Glass.|
|A Set of horn Combs, with Teeth on one side, and wide. A Set of Box Combs.|
|A Set of Ivory Combs, with fine Teeth, and toothed on both sides.|
|An Ivory Beard Comb.|
|A four Square Bottle with a Screw'd head for sweet Water, or, Benjamin Water, &c.|
|The like Bottle with weet Powder in but this is now not in use.|
|A Row of Razers.|
|A pair of Tweesers; or Twitchers: with an Ear pick at the other end of it.|
|A Rasp or file, to file a point of a tooth that stands out.|
|A Set of Cisers; for the cutting of the Hair and Beard.|
|A Curling Iron, or Beard Iron, called the Forceps.|
|A bone, to set or sharpen the Razers.|
|A Bottle of Oyle, or Sweet Oyle, or Oyle Olive for the Hone.|
|A Powder Box, with sweet Powder.|
|A Puff or Tuff, to powder the Hair.|
|A Barber's Candlestick, to stick at his Gridle.|
|A Barbers Apron.|
|A Bason or Barbers Bason, having a circle in the brim to compass the Mans Throat, and a place like a little Dish to put the Ball in after Lathering.|
|Wash Balls, and Sweet Balls.|
|Water made sweet with having Bay Leaves, or other Leaves heated therein.|
|A Chaffer to heat Water in.|
|A Small Chaffer to carry Water in, with a hanging or falling handle to hold it by.|
|Linnens of Several Sorts; as|
|Caps for the head, to keep the Hair up.|
|Trimming Cloaths, to put before a Man.|
|Napkins to put about the Neck, to dry the Face and Hands with.|
In a similar but shorter and less descriptive enumeration of barber's instruments by an eighteenth century French technical publication were included3
The most complete listing of tools employed by the barber-wigmakers of the eighteenth century, however, are contained in Diderot's Encyclopaedia.4
This branch of the wigmaking craft included both shaving and hairdressing. The operation of shaving, which is essentially the same today as in ancient times, is well known and common enough to require no detailed account here. Some of the instruments and other accoutrements used have, of course, become obsolete or altered through technological improvements and changes in the mode of wearing the hair. A look at the eighteenth century barber's equipment, however, makes it abundantly clear that the act of shaving as well as the equipment used in the operation have changed amazingly little in the century and a half since.
Hairdressing, on the other hand, though still very much a part of life in twentieth-century America, was, and is, a less familiar and somewhat more complicated undertaking, requiring a more detailed explanation than shaving. In the eighteenth century, hairdressing consisted of cutting and thinning the hair, of arranging the hair in a fashionable manner which, in the case of men, was accomplished through curling, and with women, through curling, the application of false hair pieces and other material, and of applying pomades, powder, and other such preparations to the hair. Although 28 the hair styles for men and women were different, the techniques and equipment used in the dressing of the hair of both sexes was basically the same. In the explanation which follows, therefore, stress will be laid upon technique and method of accomplishment rather than variations in style and their achievement.
Hair is cut for the purpose of decreasing its length and, at the same time giving it shape so that it harmonizes with the contour of the face. In this operation, the hair is first thoroughly combed and disentangled. Beginning at the top of the head, the hair is combed out almost to the end and as much of the lock as is desired cut off with the scissors.5 This procedure is repeated over the entire head until as much of the hair as is thought necessary has been cut off. Hair which is too thick for curling may be thinned by simply cutting away, at the roots, the amount of hair which is required to reduce it to a suitable thickness.
After the hair is cut, it is immediately put up in curlers in preparation for curling with the curling iron. These curlers are triangular pieces of paper about two inches long. The paper is preferably a very light weight, semi-transparent grey or white paper called "Paper Joseph" or blotting paper because both are sold and do not tear easily. To put the hair up in curlers, a small amount of it is taken with the comb and, holding it in the middle with two fingers of one hand, rolled from the tip up with the other hand and rolled in a paper curler. Women's hair is generally long and thick and is curled on a great number of curling papers. For this reason, the comb used in curling women's hair is different from that used with men's hair and usually has a long narrow smooth end on which the hair is rolled.629
When the hair has been completely rolled and in curling papers, the curling iron must be applied if the curls are to be made permanent. Two types of curling irons are used, one being a pincer with two jaws, flat on the inside,7 the other like a scissors, one side of which is round and fits into the hollowed-out opposite side.8 The first of these irons is for ordinary curling work while the latter is only for fore locks.
The curling iron is heated on embers and never on coals. When the iron is the right temperature, that is, when it does not scorch a piece of paper or feel too hot when put near the face, the curl is grasped in its jaws and held for a moment. Since the iron must be hot if the curl is to be formed, it is necessary to have more than one iron in the fire when a whole head of curls is to be done. When all the curls have cooled off, they must be undone, combed out, arranged in the desired fashion, and powdered.
Powdering is the final step in the dressing operation. Before any powder is applied, however, the hair is plied with pomade so that the powder will stick. The powder, which is kept in a large tin box9 or sheepskin sack,10 is then applied with a puff which may be made of silk or other such material. A cardboard cone is used to prevent the powder from going all over the face and in the eyes of the patron. In the cone, glass covered eye spaces are installed so that the individual may see out while his face is covered with the cone. A hole in the small end of the cone enables him to breathe during the powdering operation.
Because heads vary rather widely in size and shape, it is necessary that a wig, if it is to fit properly, be made according to the proportions of the head it is to grace. Thus, the first step in the production of a wig, and an important one for the intended wearer, is the measurement of the head. For this, a strip of paper an inch wide and of sufficient length is needed. Regardless of the type of wig to be made, the measurements are always taken in the same way, that is
As pointed out earlier, hair in its natural state cannot be used in the manufacture of wigs. Before being put to such use, it must be cleaned, arranged according to length, quality, and color, and curled.
To so prepare hair, one begins by separating it into small parcels which are tied in the center but toward the root of the hair.12 The grease is then removed from each parcel. For this operation, mill dust from wheat or corn, which is the flour that rises into the air in the mill and settles back into place, is used. Fine sand may also be used. Each parcel of hair is powdered with the mill dust, or sand, and shaken well so that the dust will penetrate. The hair is then shaken a second time to remove the dust and, with it, the grease.
The hair, now clean, must be separated and arranged according to length. This is, in effect, a carding and combing process in which as much of each parcel of hair as possible can be put into the hackle,13 or card, with the tip of the hair14 toward the operator so that it can be pulled through the hackle. This is accomplished by grasping the longer hairs between the open blade of the large scissors and the thumb and pulling them through the hackle. The hairs are then passed to the left hand.
When enough hairs of the same length have been gathered, they are tied together toward the root with thread known as fil de pane, which is the long thread from the ends of pieces of linen used in setting the weavers 32 loom. As the carding process continues and more parcels of hair are gathered, the parcels are stacked in piles at right angles to each other so that the different lengths do not become mixed. In this way, the hair sorts itself, so to speak, the longest coming first and then, by degrees, the shortest. All the parcels prepared in this way are then threaded on a common thread, in series, according to size. They are then ready to be curled.
If white or other light-colored hair is being used, however, additional treatment is needed before they are curled. If an excessive amount of grease remains after being cleaned with mill dust or fine sand, it must be removed by washing it with black soap. After this further cleaning, the hair is soaked in water in which a quantity of indigo has been dissolved and put out to dry. This process gives the hair a blue tinge which prevents it from becoming yellow.
In the curling of hairs, the vise is an important and necessary piece of equipment.15 The wigmaker's vise is peculiar to the wigmaking craft, being distinguished from other types as much by its shape as by the horizontal position in which it is placed on the work table. The small arm at the top of the vise16 is used to tighten the vise. The spring between the two jaws opens the vise. The string17 which goes around the upper jaw goes to the floor and is knotted together.
As the operator sits facing the vise, he takes a parcel of hair from one of the series, wraps the top of it in a piece of leather, and puts it in 33 the vice with the tips facing him. A quantity of the hairs are then grasped by the operator and separated from the remainder of the parcel, the surplus being placed in back of the string18 which is held taut with the foot. Some attach a piece of string to the upper jaw of the vise and weight it with a piece of lead, in which case the surplus is, again, placed behind the string.
The operator pulls the separated parcel of hair toward him and, holding it firmly by the points, places a small piece of paper underneath it and above it a curling pin. The hair will be in the middle and when rolled on the curling pin the paper will also roll up.19 No more than four turns of hair should ever be put on the curling pin regardless of the length of the hair used. This makes a sufficient curl. When the hair is rolled up, it should be tied to the curling pin with several loops of string. This same process is repeated with each part of the hair that remains in the vise until the entire parcel has been rolled, which usually takes no more than three or four curling pins. When the hair is very short, it is entirely rolled on the curling pin. Upon the completion of the rolling of each parcel of hair, the curling pins, which are separated from each other, are tied together with a light string.2034
When the hair is to be crimped, one takes two curling pins which are near each other in a long panel of hair and winds and ties them together.21
The completed parcels of rolled hair are then threaded on a string by the root end. When the desired number of series of parcels of graded lengths of hair have been threaded on the string, they are put in a large kettle of rain water or river water (well water is not satisfactory) and allowed to boil hard for three hours, after which they are taken from the kettle and dried in a drying oven. If horse hair is being worked with, it is taken from the kettle at the end of an hour and a half. The drying oven, which is made by a cooper, is about two feet two inches high.22 It is divided inside, about eight inches from the top, by a wire grill and is closed with a lid. In using it to dry hair taken from the kettle, a stove filled with burning coals is put on the ground and the oven placed over it. The curling pins are placed gently on the grill and the lid put firmly into place. The hair is allowed to dry slowly and is turned over periodically so that it will dry evenly. The hair is dried enough when the curling pin can be turned in the hair. When it has been determined that the hair is dry enough, it is taken from the oven and placed on gray paper or on a rag, making several layers one on top of the other, the whole being arranged in the shape of a loaf.
This loaf-like bundle is then tied with string and delivered to the baker where it is covered with a rye dough and baked in a moderate oven. The loaf is returned to the wigmaker's shop where it is broken open and the lengths of hair again placed in the drying oven just long enough to dry out the humidity produced by the dough.2335
When the hair has cooled sufficiently, the parcels are untied and the curling pins removed. When the series of hairs have been untied, two or three large parcels of the same length are put in the large hackle24 with the tip of the hair toward the operator. A second large hackle is then taken and placed on top of the first and the hair squeezed between them. The hair is then pulled by the roots between the thumb and scissors in the manner previously explained. The hairs are again separated into several small parcels, tied with ordinary thread, stacked at right angles and staggered in lengths so as to keep the different lengths separate. These parcels are then tied on new threads to make new series of graded lengths and stored in boxes, where it is neither too damp nor too dry, until they are ready to be used.
In preparing the wig, several small parcels of hair of the same length, beginning with the longer ones, are tied together to make a larger parcel. As many of the different lengths are made as will be needed for the wig being constructed, using a ruler to measure them. The wigmaker's ruler25 is a flat piece of wood divided as follows: from one of the ends to the first division is two inches. This first division is numbered "2". The intervals between the second, third, fourth, and fifth divisions are eight-twelfths of an inch apart. The division between the sixth and seventh is nine-twelfths of an inch while the eighth division is ten-twelfths of an inch. All other divisions are an inch apart. It is rare that the ruler is longer than nine-teen inches. However, if very long hair is to be measured, longer rulers may be constructed.36
With the ruler in front of him, the operator takes a small parcel of hair, measures it to the desired length, then cuts the root ends squarely. When this has been done to two or three small parcels of the same length, or to as many as are required to make the larger parcel desired, they are united and mixed together. The mixed hairs are placed in a hackle, which is, itself, covered with another hackle. The hairs are then pulled through the hackles, root first to even them up, and tied together. This forms a packet.26 The length of the hairs is then marked on the packet. For this purpose, a small band of papers is wound around it, tied with a string, and marked with the proper length.
Two other operations remain after all the packets have been formed and ticketed. One is the mixing of horse hair, where desired, in the packets of human hair. The other is the mixing of the hairs to the proper shading, which is necessary when the hair being used is too light or too dark. These mixtures are made in different ways. To mix horse hair and human hairs of the same length, the desired quantity, of the same length, of each is taken and rolled between the thumb and finger tips, thus distributing the hairs fairly evenly. The hairs, thus mixed, are tied into a parcel. The same method can be followed in mixing white hair. A more successful method, how-ever, consists of putting separately into a hackle two parcels of the same lengths, one white and one colored, and mixing them by pulling the white and then the colored through the hackle to form one parcel. A third method, and the best to use with horse hair, is done at the same time as the weaving of the hair is accomplished. The parcel of human hair is put into a hackle near the tress frame and woven in with the horse hair as desired. When the 37 quality of the hair is perfect, the horse hair is unnecessary. Only a twelfth part of the total mixture need be horse hair when the hair has some body; more is needed when the hair is less strong.
In the meantime, the pattern of the wig to be constructed is marked off on a squared piece of white paper.27 The paper should be lined with lines far enough apart to allow figures to be written between them. The long lines will show the number and length of rows a wig will have. The small dashes and the letters will show the different lengths which will follow in each row. The long lines are cut across either in curves or notches according to the lengths of the rows of hair. This is a measured pattern. As has been pointed out, the parcels of hair to be used in the construction of a wig have been, prior to their use, measured on the ruler and marked with their proper length. On the pattern are drawn as many long lines as there will be rows of hair on the wig. If one or more complete rows are made up of packets marked "2", for example, the number "2" is marked under the line at some place. When the length of the hair in a row is to be changed, how-ever, the row is divided with a dash where the change is to be made and the proper numbered hair to follow written in. For example, the fifth row from the top begins with two and continues so for a certain distance. At the point at which the length of the hair is to be increased, a dash is made. The hair will then be woven and arranged in this manner up to the dash. From the point of the dash, the hair to be used is longer, namely "3". When the hair is to be changed back to "2", a dash preceded by the number "3" is made. Following the dash, the number "2" is written in, thus indicating the length of the hair to be used in that particular section. In this manner, the length of the hair used in the construction of the entire wig is regulated and woven 38 according to the pattern.
If the wigmaker foresees that extra rows will be needed, that is, rows that do not extend from one end to the other, a cross is marked on the pattern at the place where the row is to be ended. These rows are to be used to fill in where any empty place in the wig may develop. The length of the hair in the short rows will be of similar length to that marked on the pattern for the row above it.
The pattern just described is that of the body of the wig. For each wig there is also a pattern for the curve of the hair which frames the face, two at either side. This, however, is nothing except a strip of paper28 as wide as a ruler on which is marked only the divisions and numbers of the packets of hair which are to be used.
The operations and steps described to this point have had as their objective the preparation of the hair for weaving. No hair is ready to be used in the construction of a wig until it has been woven. Briefly, the weaving process consists of taking several strands of hair at a time and arranging them side by side one after the other, interlacing them on several strands of silk stretched on a frame. This process is done almost entirely by certain women who specialize in this art. Wigmakers are capable of weaving hair but do so only with the heavier pieces. Women, because of the lightness and dexterity of their fingers, do all the fine short tresses.2939
The frame on which the weaving is done, called a tress frame,30 is made of a large board about two inches thick, three or four inches wide, and two feet long. At either end of the board, two round holes are bored in which fit two round sticks,31 each about a foot and a half high and an inch in diameter. The stick at the left is often half as long as the one on the right. These sticks are an essential part of the frame and are removable. If necessary, the sticks can be adapted to two square pieces of wood and fitted, by means of screws, directly to a table.
In preparing the frame for weaving, six small oblong pieces of paper are cut.32 The right hand stick is then taken from its hole and wrapped, at its upper end, with one of the bands of paper around which a silk thread is wound several times. This operation is repeated until there are six such silk bound papered positions on the stick and the stick returned to its place on the board. The ends of the six silk threads33 are then tied to a flat hook located in the middle of the left hand stick. The two sticks are then turned gently by hand until the silk threads are stretched tightly. Thus prepared, the weaving frame is ready for use.
It is on these silk threads that the hair is woven, side by side, in such a manner as to never come off. It is woven several strands at a time, never on more than three silk threads though sometime on two. Weaving may be accomplished in a number of ways. One of these methods is known as the "double M" or "double turned."34 In this method, several strands of hair 40 are taken, by the root end, and, progressing from left to right, are woven in and out among the three silk threads in the following manner.
This weave forms an "M" with six legs and is used for all the long rows of the wig.
In the "simple M," the weave is the same as in the "double M" except that it stops with step four which, in this instance, is ended in the same way as step six except that the strands are wound twice around the upper thread.
A third weaving method, known simply as "N," is quite similar to the methods already described. In this method, instead of bringing the hair down in back of the upper thread, as described above in step three, it is left with the root in the air. This weave is used only in the first row of the large curls of squared or knotted wigs and in the two large curls of the Brigadier wigs. It is done to prevent the hair from pricking the neck as it would if the loose end were pointed downward.
Still another weaving method is a variation of the "simple M," utilizing only two silk threads. It is used only for the rows around a tonsure.
To prevent subsequent strands of hair from sliding on the threads, 41 the first strands are always woven with a lock stitch. In the weaving method, this first lock differs somewhat from that of other methods and is made by passing the hair behind the middle silk thread instead of in front of it as described in step two above. The lock stitch is also used at the end of each row. In the M weaving method, this last lock stitch is made at the completion of step six by bringing the strands of hair for-ward and around and behind the thread.
There is another type of lock stitch which is used only when weaving the large curl and knots of the knotted wig.36 This stitch locks each group of strands of hair and prevents them from rising out of place. To form this stitch, a long thread37 is threaded through the first woven strands of hair. When the second group of strands of hair has been woven into place, the thread is passed from back to front of the top silk thread then in back of the middle thread and then forward again between the middle and lower threads. The thread is pulled tight against the woven strands of hair and the operation repeated with every subsequent group of strands.
Sometimes a silk thread breaks while the hair is being woven. This happens most often near the lock that has just been woven. It is important to know how to re-tie the silk thread for, otherwise, it would be impossible to continue weaving. A very small. knot which holds tightly with-out being too thick has been designed for this purpose. Assume, for example, that the top thread of the weaving frame has broken. A loose simple knot r is made at the long end of broken thread o. The end o2 is brought through the loop made by the knot to form a second loop p through which the short end of the broken thread q. The end of the thread o2 is pulled to 42 the right, causing the two loops to tighten. When the short end of the thread is caught in the loop, the end o2 is pulled back in the other direction until a small click is heard, indicating that the knot has been made.38
The actual weaving process is begun by placing in the hackle, tip first, the parcels of hair whose number corresponds to the number designated on the row of the pattern which is to be woven. The comb is placed on top of the parcel in the hackle and, with the right hand, a few strands of the hair are pulled out root first. The number of strands of hair varies in proportion to the length and thickness of the lock desired. They cannot be counted but with experience the weaver can, by feel, take the right amount. The first strands of hair are woven into the lock stitch. As subsequent strands are woven they are pushed one against the other toward the smaller stitch which is always at the left. This procedure is continued until the row is completed or until a dash is encountered in the row indicating a change in the length of the hair to be used at which time parcels of hair whose number is the same as that designated on the pattern are procured and the weaving process continued. To make sure that the rows will be as long as desired, they may be checked from time to time by holding the pattern up to the tress frame. When the row of hair on the frame is the same length as that marked on the pattern, the row is complete.
All the hair is woven according to the pattern on the same three silk threads, leaving, of course, a space between each change of number. When the weaving approaches the large post on the right and the threads are too wide apart for use, each post is turned in place at the same time from right to left. In this way, the woven hair is wound around the left post 43 and enough thread to allow weaving to continue is unwound from the right post.
It should be remembered that paper patterns show only one side of the wig, usually the right side. In weaving this side of the wig, the curl of the hair is always toward the weaver. When weaving the left side of the wig, however, the curl of the hair is turned in the opposite direction, that is, toward the frame. This is done on the three silk threads not already used in weaving the right side. When the operation is completed and the woven hairs turned toward the weaver, they will be found to curl in the right direction for the left side of the wig.
The weaving thus far described has been done with hair of several different lengths, according to the numbers specified on the pattern. Some-times, however, rows of an unspecified length are woven on the frame, all in the same size. This is called weaving by the yard as the wigmaker can cut off any amount of the woven hair that he needs. Hair woven by the yard is usually short and fine, in the low numbers, and is used for the front of wigs. Hair is also woven by the yard to be used in the long flat pieces in clerical wigs, bonnet wigs, the front piece of knotted wigs, knots, large horse hair curls, and the straight part of bagged wigs. These hair pieces do not need to be made of the best hair, and can be made of any kind of hair so long as it is of the right length and color. This hair is prepared like the best hair but without as much care. It can be rolled on large curling pins by the root or the tip so as to make a loose curl. The right color is obtained by mixing it with grassed hair.
It might be noted that the flat part of natural wigs is not made in the manner just described. This must be made with good hair ending in curls tinted with real white hair, that is, with hair of the same quality as that of the rest of the wig.
Thus far in the construction of the wig, the hair has been cleaned, curled, and separated into parcels of different lengths which have been woven in place according to the pattern of the wig being constructed. The next step is that of mounting the woven hair on a thin light-weight caul in such a manner as to produce the style wig desired.
Following the measurement of the head to which the wig is to be fitted, a block or blockhead made to the measurements of the head is obtained.39 The blockhead is usually of ash or elm wood. In addition to the blockhead, certain other materials and equipment are needed for the mounting process. Ribbon is one of the more important of these items. There are two kinds of mounting ribbon, one of pure silk and the other of silk and cotton, each an inch wide.40 Covering ribbon, which is three and a half inches wide and always of silk and cotton mixed, is also needed.41 A quantity of heavy pins, a small hammer, scissors, and three-ply thread are likewise required for mounting. This thread, which is the only thread that a wigmaker uses for sewing, is of grey linen and comes from Flanders. Lastly, buckram, gum Arabic water, and all the lengths of woven hair must be readied for use in mounting.
The middle of the blockhead is always marked with a line which goes from the middle of the forehead to the nape of the neck.42 Holding the blockhead on his knees, the wigmaker places the mounting ribbon on the line43 45 at the forehead where it is anchored with a pin at the desired height which depends on the depth of the peak of hair on the forehead. From the center, the ribbon is carried back to the temples on both sides. A compass should be used to make sure that the sides are even before they are fastened with heavy pins. The ribbon ends are folded on themselves so as to bring them down along the cheeks. The angle "C,"44 made by the fold of the ribbon, is known as the indentation. All the folds and turns of the mounting ribbon are fastened with heavy pins which are only slightly hammered since they will be removed later.
There are three types of Gauls which can be used with any type of wig, the type depending upon the wishes of the person ordering the wig. There is a full caul, a caul with ears, and a caul with half ears. The full caul comes down just below the ear, covering it entirely. The caul with ears leaves the ears quite free and the caul with half ears only covers the upper part of the ear.
If the wig is to be with a full caul, the ribbon is brought down the whole length of the cheek below the ear45 where it is turned, making small pleats, and brought around to the back of the head.46 If it is to be a caul with ears, the ribbon is turned back above the ears47 and then, after being brought slightly upwards, it is turned down again where it is cut off at about the level of the bottom of the ear.48 With a half-eared caul, the same thing is done after turning the ribbon back at the half ear. Sometimes, 46 it is possible to bring the mounting ribbon all the way back to the nape of the neck as with the full caul.
The mounting ribbon is the basis of all the folds and contours of the caul about the face. Since the blockhead is rough, it is sometimes difficult to manipulate the ribbon. To compensate for this partial obstruction, the wigmaker uses a triangular cord which is inserted between the ribbon and the blockhead, enabling him to push the ribbon into place.
The ribbon must not be solidly fixed in place and stretched from one end to the other. To do this, one takes a needle and threads it with three-ply thread, sews it from the edge of the ribbon around a wig point and back to the ribbon. At regular intervals along the edge of the caul, both in front of and in back of the ribbon, the wig points are placed. This is done around the cheeks and forehead.49 Two points are placed at the back of the caul.50 All of these threads5l stretch the caul and keep it taut.52 As these are put into place, the first wig points are taken out.53
The net, which is a very fine round mesh of cotton or silk, is then placed on the head and sewn to the ribbon. Any of the netting which overlaps is out off. Following this, the covering ribbon54 is taken over the top of the head and sewn, in its width, to the mounting ribbon in the front.55 It is then brought down along the middle of the head and to the lower mounting 47 ribbon at the nape of the neck if a full wig is being constructed. It is basted to the net all the way and then sewn to the mounting ribbon.56 If an earred wig is to be made, the covering ribbon is cut at the back of the head instead of being carried to the nape of the neck.57 Another piece of the same ribbon5g is put at right angles to the first stretching down over the ear to the mounting ribbon58. These two ribbons hide most of the net, especially in the front. Sometimes when the wig has been worn for a while, the mounting ribbon shrinks and draws the wig away from the face unless it has been made with sufficient fullness. When the mount is made too full, it covers too much of the face when it is new. This shrinking may be pre-vented, however, by putting the blockhead and caul in water to soak. When it has dried, the caul will become loose and, although it will have to be re-stretched, it will shrink very little thereafter.
With the full-earred or half-Barred wigs which do not fit as well as the full wigs, a strap and buckle is sewn to the mounting ribbon at the nape of the neck,59 making the wig adjustable. Sometimes, a piece of buckram is added in the space above the ear and on top of the head60 which makes the wig firmer at these places and helps hold it firmly against the face. This is not a general practice but may be done at the wigmaker's discretion.
Upon the completion of the caul, the hair is sewn on it according to the pattern being followed. The front edge of the caul at the forehead61 is made up of two rows of finely woven weft62 which are sewn to the division between "a" and "b" as seen in Figure D, Plate IV. The curve63 is made of two rows of longer weft, sewn one behind the other along the cheeks to the division of "b" and "c; shown in Figure D, Plate IV. This is called the small curve.
The larger curve64 starts from "b," Figure D, Plate IV, and goes around the back of the head to those on the other side.65 This is more thickly trimmed because the weft used there is long and, therefore, thicker.
All wigs are made of these three parts. All other parts which will be described in detail are either omitted or added according to the type of the wig being constructed. The "Coque" is added to knotted and all earred wigs but rarely to clerical wigs. The "Starr" is added sometimes to squared and always to clerical wigs. The short and long crossed rows of weft are added to all wigs except clerical wigs. These only have the weft sewn along the circumference of the wig and around the tonsure. The straight tapered hairs at the back are only put on bonnet, clerical, and natural wigs, while the smooth hair at the rear is used only on bag wigs. Only the knotted and squared wigs have the short haired crown, the short hair curl and the large 49 curl at the rear. The knotted wigs have two knotted ends and the squared wigs have two squared ends.
The "Coque"66 is made up of several rows of short weft rising abruptly from the point of the forehead and curled to the rear. The "Starr"67 is made up of short wefts which are turned as they are sewn so that the curls at either side of the forehead face each other, making a heart shaped design somewhat like a short part. The top of the head68 is made up of several short thin wefts which are placed in the middle of the top of the head immediately behind the "Coque" or "Starr." The strips of weft which decrease in length on the lower back of the wig are distinguished from the strips at the side of the wig in that they are composed of longer rows and, at the central back, the strips criss-cross each other. The crossed strips of weft69 take up the whole lower part of the wig and cross slightly at the nape of the neck. The short rows70 begin above the longer ones and decrease in length to the level of the upper curve71 at the forehead. The straight hair at the back of the bonnet, natural and clerical wigs is made up of a number of rows of straight tapered hair. The short haired crown, the top of the curl, the large curl at the rear of the wigs, and the knotted and squared ends are peculiar to knotted and squared wigs.
The short haired crown is made up of wefts woven by the yard and 50 composed of flat tapered fine short hair with no admixture of horse hair.72 The top of the curls or the curls on the body of the wig are composed of several rows of curled hair and extend from the bottom of the short haired crown to the long back curl.73 These two parts take up the space which, on the other wigs, is filled with flat or straight tapered hair. The large curls74 are placed at the middle back of the wig and fall on the neck. It is made entirely of horsehair. There are two knots75 made up of large parcels of long tapered hair and tied with a simple knot. These are placed at either side of the large curl. The squared ends76 are in the same position on squared wigs as knots are on knotted wigs. The ends are made of rows of staggered, creped, tightly curled hair ending in a row of curls. The tonsure77 is composed of a fine weft made on two silk threads instead of three which surrounds the tonsured area on clerical wigs. The smooth hair of the bag and pigtail wigs78 is made up of long flat hair.
By order of sewing is meant the order in which the rows of weft are sewn on the wig, from beginning to end. All the rows of weft are sewn to the caul with a simple straight stitch. With the exception of the rows framing the face, which are sewn from the top to the bottom, sewing progresses 51 from the lowest row upward to the top-most row and from the back to the front. The short fine wefts are sewn very close together but all others are sewn parallel and spaced three-twelfths inches apart.
The order of sewing for the most common wigs is as follows:
Knotted and Squared Wigs
It might be pointed out with regard to the clerical wig that there are three types of rows framing the tonsure; the open tonsure, which leaves that part of the head bare; and two types of covered tonsures. For the open tonsure, the caul is mounted so that the center, which is always made up of large round mesh, will correspond to the tonsure of the wig. All the mesh is turned back on itself at the edge of the tonsure and sewn in a circular fashion to leave the tonsure bare. Care must be taken to 52 leave the tonsure in the shape of an oval since, when it is worn, it will be stretched into a circle. One of the covered tonsures is made on the ribbonmaker's frame and has rows of very short hair resembling hair that has been recently cut. This piece of ribbon is fitted into the tonsured space as a unit. The other covered tonsure is made by the wigmaker. It is made of a very-fine weft sewn in circles on the covering ribbon until the whole space is filled in.
The Bonnet Wig
The Bag Wig
Bag wigs are generally made with ears and rarely with a full caul. The smooth straight hair starts below the rows of the body of the wig, the body being composed of puff curls.The Natural Wig
This is made in the same manner as the bonnet wig except for the addition of two large corkscrew curls at the back which are tied together with a bow of black ribbon.The Double Pig Tail Wig
This is made in the same manner as the bag wig except that the long hair at the rear is separated into two equal parts and made into two knotted tresses.Peculiarities and Conditions of the Various Styles of Wigs
All full wigs are made with a string that comes from beneath the ear and is threaded under the mounting ribbon. This string can be pulled tight at the nape of the neck to keep the wig secure. With half or full-earred wigs where the mounting ribbon of the crown does not reach the nape of the neck, two straps and buckles are sewn on to enable the wig to be tightened.89 Since these types of cauls are light weight and do not fit very snuggly, they are reinforced with a piece of buckram at the top of the head and at either side of the cheek, from the upper curve to the lower 54 curve and on top of the mounting ribbon to which it is sewn. The only place it is not sewn right away is the rear of the wig because the buckram is glued to the ribbon before it is sewn. The ribbon and rows of weft must be sewn before the glue is dry. This procedure is used at the top of the head and at the sides.
When a wig is to be made for a hollow templed person, it is hard to fit the wig without a small steel spring such as are used in watches. A small piece, about an inch and a half long, is placed across the mounting ribbon a little below the upper curve and held in place by a binding ribbon. This spring holds the caul into the hollow of the temple.
Some wigmakers place, at the edge of the wig between the mounting ribbon and the buckram, a lead blade about two inches wide which extends from the upper curve to the lower curve. This blade is used only with full-earred cauls. It keeps the edge of the wig close to the head and close to the temple. This practice is not entirely satisfactory, however, for lead is a soft metal with little spring and is easily broken. For this reason, the practice finds increasingly less use.
Sometimes, where the wigmaker feels that a spring is not necessary, he threads a piece of silk along the edge of the wig near the temples. When this is tightened, it is enough to make a snug fit.
When the wig has been completely sewn, it is examined and, if found to be too full, is tapered with the small scissors in the manner described earlier for cutting hair. The curling iron91 is then put on a brazier to 55 heat. Prior to applying the iron to the hair, the roots of the rows of hair are rubbed gently with a candle and dampened with the finger. This procedure is followed and the iron applied on every row which seems to require it for the operation strengthens the roots of the hairs.
After tidying-up and evening up the wig with the curling iron, each row is combed and each curl shaped on the finger and protruding ends cut. When this is done, all the threads holding the caul in place are cut and the wig placed on a wig stand and dressed.
The dressing of the wig is the final step in its manufacture. It is the step in which the wig is combed thoroughly, arranged gracefully, pomaded, powdered, perfumed, and otherwise prepared for wear. The wig is placed on a wig stand, composed of a blockhead on a base, for dressing. There are two types of wig stands, the adjustable92 and the non-adjustable. The wig is kept in place on the wig stand by two wire hooks which are attached to the wig at one end of the mounting ribbon at the ear and at the other by a ribbon underneath the chin of the head.
After the wig has been dressed, it is placed in a special wig box93 which protects it and prevents its becoming disarranged while in transit. The box is one and a half feet high and square, opening outwardly on one side and at the top. Inside the box, a post,94 Which is rounded at the top and called a mushroom because of its resemblance to one, rises from the middle of the bottom. The wig is placed on the post and in this way is held free without touching the sides of the box.
Other Terms used by Barbers
Andrew Anderson was bound August 16, 1731, for seven years, as an apprentice to John Peter Wagnon, to learn barbering and peruke making.1 This was ordered by a Yorktown Court after Patrick Cheap, probably Anderson's guardian, had given his consent and Anderson also agreed.
John Peter Wagnon purchased the southeast corner of lot fifty-five in Williamsburg from John White and his wife, Jane, for fifteen pounds on November 16, 1734.2 This lot was located just east of the Raleigh Tavern, and the portion purchased by Wagnon was twenty feet by twenty-four feet.
When Wagnon ended Anderson's bond, two years before the expiration date, he sold Anderson his portion of lot fifty-five. This was legalized in court May 17, 1736 and they agreed that "…all former contracts whatsoever between them should be discharged and void."3
Samuel Wilkinson, of the city of Williamsburg, who made his will May 17, 1739 stated: "…it is my will and desire that Mr. Andrew Anderson who now lives in my house be allowed to live in the same two years from the day of my death free from any rent…."4 He also requested, in his will presented to a Yorktown Court by his executors May 21, 1739, that Elizabeth, wife of Andrew Anderson, receive his desk and morning gown.
Anderson purchased two additional lots from John Dupree and Thomas Metcalf, executors of Samuel Wilkinson's estate, on July 16, 1739 for £80. These were lots 272 and 273,5 located on Nicholson Street directly behind his shop, and next door to John Pasteur.
Elizabeth Anderson died late in 1742 or early 1743, and her husband had difficulty in settling her estate.
Upon the prayer of Andrew Anderson and his making oath that Elizabeth Anderson decd (his former wife) departed this Life without making any will so far as he knows or believes and giving bond for his faithfull administration of her Estate It's ordered that a Certificate be granted him for obtaining a Letter of Admon in due form.661
Andrew Anderson did not remain single long, but remarried almost immediately. Roberta son of Andrew and Mary Anderson, was baptized in Bruton Parish Church June 24, 17437.
He was frequently involved in disputes over property and debt and often appeared in court. He also witnessed many wills and appraised estates.
Beginning about 1750 he had real difficulty with his own affairs, which may have resulted from the acquisition of additional property. He had purchased lots 279 and 280 from John Mundell's estate August 11, 1748. On July 3, 1750 Anderson found it necessary to mortgage property to John Blair and John Blair, Jr. This was the twenty acres he had purchased from Benjamin Waller August 14, 1747 for thirty-five pounds.
Anderson failed to list a tithable, Lancelot Nelson, and the court ordered that he pay the levy on the tithable and the cost of prosecution, September 20, 1750.
Earlier, during June 1745, when he borrowed two hundred fifty pounds from Thomas Creas, gardener of William and Mary College, it was necessary for him to mortgage, for security, his shop, two lots on Nicholson Street and four slaves, to Henry Wetherburn, Mark Cosby and John Baskerville.
Evidently, he was unable to repay this mortgage by the specified date, June 1746. On November 15, 1751 he sold a portion of lots 272 and 273 to Nathaniel Walthoe, clerk of the Council, to satisfy part of this debt. He received one hundred seven pounds ten shillings, which he turned over to Wetherburn, Cosby and Baskerville.8
However, this debt was not cleared until December 14, 1751 when Anderson sold Walthoe another portion of land for ten pounds five shillings.9 This was also part of lots 272 and 273, adjacent to the property Walthoe purchased earlier.
John Blair recorded in his diary December 7, 1751, "Anderson Pasture for sale Dec. ye 10th." Anderson was selling this property to satisfy John Blair and John Blair, Jr. to whom he had mortgaged it in July 1750. On December 16 he received sixty-three pounds for the pasture and fifty-seven pounds for a male slave, Prince, from Alexander Finnie.10
Only on a few occasions did Anderson post advertisements in the newspapers relating to his shop. The first existing record of one was on September 26, 1745 when he complained of Alexander Finnie:
N.B. Whereas my honest Neighbour, that has advertis'd for Two or Three Journeymen, has lately seduced one from my Service, in a clandestine and undermining: Manner; which I am well persuaded that 62 no Man but one of his Principles would have done; Therefore it's to be honed. that one of the Number he has advertised for. will come into my Service, in Lieu of him who has been so villainously cajol'd as above, who may depend on having good Encouragement, from
His next advertisement appears one year later, September 25, 1746, when announcing the arrival of "a Choice Parcel of Hairs" and other articles for wigmaking.
Probably as a result of the trouble he was having over debts, Anderson decided to leave the colony. He announced on June 10, 1752 he was planning to sell:
A HOUSE, situate on the main Street in Williamsburg, where the Subscriber now keeps Shop also two lots of Land near the Capitol, adjoining to Mr. John Coke's. Six Months Credit will be allowed, the Buyer giving Security….12At the same time he requested speedy payment of outstanding debts, as he was planning to leave shortly for Great Britain.
He was serious about leaving and sold his shop to William Peake, barber of Yorktown, for one hundred pounds July 8, 1752. He also announced his intention of suing all who did not pay their debts to him by the twentieth of October.
Anderson's will was dated March 26, 1751 and his entire estate, real and personal, was to be divided equally between his wife, Mary, and their two sons, Robert and Andrew.
Anderson named Mark Cosby, John Coke and John Pearson Webb as his executors. However, John Pearson Webb was the only executor, because Cosby had died previously and Coke refused to act as executor following Anderson's death in November 1752.13
The inventory of his estate was returned to the county court December 18, 1752: value forty-one pounds one shilling and three pence. At this time Mary renounced her husband's will, probably because of his many outstanding debts.
Immediately, the people to whom Anderson owed money attempted to collect their debts. Webb, as executor of the estate, began to sell Anderson's property in order to settle these debts.
Dr. Jameson bought lots 272 and 273 from Anderson's estate December 14, 1752, for one hundred thirty-two pounds. Where Anderson's wife, Mary and 63 their two children lived after these lots were sold is not known. However, Mary did not leave Williamsburg; on January 26, 1753, she and Martha Pasteur were Godmothers to the baptism of Mary Craig at Bruton Parish Church.14
During December 1754 Christopher Ford, Jr. purchased lots 279 and 280 for thirty-eight pounds. He did not keep them long, but sold them on February 5, 1755 to John Coke, who had refused to be an executor of Anderson's estate.
Mary Anderson married Joshua Morris and, on April 25, 1757, collected twenty-five pounds for her dower on lots 272 and 273.
The only reference found to Stephen Besouth, besides an inventory of his estate, is his last will and testament dated March 30, 1726.1 In this he appointed Edward Ripping as his executor and sole beneficiary, indicating that Besouth might have been in Williamsburg for several years and considered Edward Ripping a good friend.
Since neither a wife nor children were mentioned in his will, he may have been either a bachelor or a widower.
A York County court on May 16, 1726 appointed John Pasteur, Thomas Dixon and Samuel Cobbs to appraise the estate of Stephen Besouth, who died April 3, 1726.2 This appraisal,3 which consisted almost entirely of goods necessary for a barber-wigmaker, is here quoted as evidence that Besouth was engaged in wigmaking:
|No. 1||To one tye Wig £2.10|
|No. 2||To one bob Wigg £1.15|
|No.3&4.||To 2 Do £2||£ 6.. 5..-|
|5||To one bob Wig £..15|
|No. 6||To one South Sea Wigg £1|
|7||To 1 horse Wigg £1||2..15..-|
|To 8 brown Wigs at 12/6||5..--..-|
|8||To one pigtaile Wig £1|
|No. 9||To one Wigg £1.15||2..15..-|
|To one Clothes press||1.. 5..-|
|To a Small bed bolster pillow & 2 Sheets blankett||2..--..-|
|To one card and brush To one doz Gauls 3 remnants of Ribbon 12/6 To 2 barbers basons 5/6||-..18..-|
|To one pr small money Scales 4/|
|To 6 Razors 4/|
|To 1 Iron pot a tine kettle a frying pan a Dish and earthen Bowl||-..16..-|
|To 2 barbers blocks & 1 Stand 15/|
|To some remnt horse hair & bleech 5/||1..--..-|
|To one old desk 25/ To 1 Cistern & bason one looking glass 7/6||1..12..6|
|To a work table and [illegible] hammock|
|2 Window Curtains 27/6||1.. 8..9|
|To one [illegible] stockings 10/||..16..-|
|[Items illegible on manuscript]||1..17..-|
A French Huguenot refugee, Daniel Blouett, who came to Virginia in 1700 with his wife and seven children, was listed among "…THE REFUGEES WHO ARE TO RECEIVE OF YE MILLER OF FALLING CREEK MILL ONE BUSHEL A HEAD OF INDIAN MEALE MONTHLY AS SETTLED AT OR ABOUT KING WILLIAMS TOWN TO BEGIN IN FFEB. 1700."1
Sometime later (probably during the same year) Blouett's name appears on a petition to "His Excellency, Ffrancis Nicholson,"2 for assistance in constructing a new church.
The first reference to Daniel Blouett as a peruke maker was on May 27, 1713 when he purchased a lot in Williamsburg from John Sarjanton, Chirugeon.3 He paid a consideration of £25 for this lot, very likely lot 55, situated on Duke of Gloucester Street.
During August of 1714 Daniel Blouett sought redress against Bartholomew Duprie for unlawfully surveying and seizing one hundred and thirty-three acres of land in Manakin Town. Blouett maintained that the land had been allotted to him by the Government upon his arrival in Virginia. They arrived at a satisfactory settlement and the patent was granted to Duprie.4
There are no advertisements pertinent to wigmaking by Daniel Blouett in the Virginia Gazette, or references to his having an apprentice, slave or servant. his death on February 6, 1720Va. Gazette founded in 1736. Could not have advertised is recorded in the Bruton Parish Records. But, since no will or inventory of his estate has been found, it has been impossible to gain an idea of either his financial or social position.
A list of letters in the Post Office at Williamsburg, published in the Virginia Gazette, included one for "John Borton, perukemaker, Williamsburg."1
By the summer of 1752 John Bryan was in business with Alexander Maitland, who later moved to Yorktown. When this partnership began is uncertain, but on August 7, 1752, they advertised: "All Persons indebted to the Subscribers are desired to come and pay the same, by the Middle of September next."1 This is the only reference to a partnership between Bryan and Maitland. The requested payment of debts may have been due to a projected discontinuance of their partnership.
On May 1, 1753 James Taylor leased a lot to John Bryan for a term of twelve years, for fifty-seven pounds thirteen shillings and one penny half penny current money of Virginia consideration. There was to be a yearly rent of one grain of Indian Corn for this property:
…Scituate lying and being in-Gloucester Street in the said City of Williamsburgh and is between the end of the House belonging to the said James Taylor… and the House belonging to the Widow Geddy… and is the Land whereon the said John Bryan bath built a House-and now keeps his Shop….2
Two years later, in July 1755, Bryan, evidently in need of money, mortgaged this property and house to John Weatley, carpenter of Yorktown, for eighteen pounds three penny current money.
John Bryan was one of the men who returned an appraisal of Richard Gamble's estate February 16, 1756.3 After this date, however, no record of his activities has been located. Possibly he moved away from Williamsburg at this time; the name later appears frequently elsewhere in the state.
Edward Charlton evidently had been a wigmaker in London, as Richard Gamble accepted him as a partner in April 1752,1 shortly after he arrived in Williamsburg. Charlton was fortunate in this, because Gamble was a well established wigmaker, with a shop next door to the Raleigh Tavern.
The partnership must have been a success as they had at least seven tithables.2 A Yorktown court on November 20, 1752 ordered that the seven tithables of Edward Charlton and Richard Gamble be added to the list taken by George Gilmer in Bruton Parish. Charlton bought property at this time, also an indication of prosperity. On May 19, 1753 he and George Stretch purchased lots 21 and 22,3 which included the playhouse, from Lewis Hallam.
Charlton's partnership ended with the death of Richard Gamble; sometime between October 26, 1754 and February 13, 1755.4 After this Charlton remained in Williamsburg, and became one of the most important eighteenth century Virginia wigmakers. Many of the most prominent men in Virginia, such as Thomas Jefferson and George Wythe, frequented his shop.
Jane Hunter Charlton, Edward's wife, also ran a successful business. Margaret Hunter announced October 1, 1767 that she
…having a sister just arrived from LONDON, who understands the millinery business, she hopes to carry it on to the satisfaction of those who shall favour them with their commands….5
Williamsburg, however, did not agree with Jane at this time and caused her much sickness. She announced April 13, 1769 that
MY ill state of health makes it necessary for me to go to England. I hope to return in the fall… The business will be carried on in my absence by my sister.6
She did return, and was married to Edward Charlton by 1774,7 or 70 perhaps earlier. Advertisements over her signature appeared several times during 1774, but there was no mention of Margaret Hunter in them. However, it is relatively certain that they were still operating a shop together.
Edward and Jane Charlton planned to return to England; announcing the fact late in 1774.8 From their announcement in the Virginia Gazette, April 29, 1775 it sounds as if they were planning to remain in England and not return to Virginia.
THE Subscribers intending to leave the Colony as soon as they can settle their Affairs, once more most earnestly entreat the Favour of those that are indebted to them to discharge their Accounts at the ensuing Meeting of the Merchants. The GOODS they have on Hand will be sold cheap for Cash; and as their Continuance here is uncertain, it makes such a Notice necessary. The HOUSE they live in, which is situated in the most public Part of the City, and well calculated for any public Business, to be sold on long Credit, with Interest from the Date of the Deed, or on an Annuity, with approved Security: Either of those, as may best suit the Purchaser, will be agreeable to EDWARD & J. CHARLTON.9
Information located indicates they did not go to England as planned. Edward Charlton was among the men who took the oath of allegiance administered by John Prentis under Patrick Henry on July 31, 1777.10
Nevertheless, they still intended to leave Williamsburg. Edward announced on May 12, 1778 that his house was for sale or rent: "The Terms of payment will be made agreeable to any who chuses to purchase…."11 A buyer for the house was probably found by August 28, 1779, when Edward Charlton announced: " I INTEND to remove from this state shortly."12 They also disposed of "A VARIETY of household and kitchen furniture…" by a "…publick sale for ready money. on Thursday the 7th of October ."13
Seemingly he did not leave Williamsburg; or had returned by 1783 when his name once more appears on the Williamsburg tax list:
Free males above 21 Tithable slaves Cattle Charlton, Edward, Ben, Jenny 1 2 1
Edward Charlton's death occurred sometime between 1783 and 1792. In the latter year a list of tithables belonging to York County in Williams-burg contained three belonging to Edward Charlton's estate.15
Richard Charlton, who first appeared in Williamsburg in December 1766, was engaged in various occupations during his thirteen years of known residence.
The first reference found to Richard Charlton', presence in Williamsburg was the birth record of his daughter, Jane.1 This same reference listed his wife as Sarah.
He was a witness to James Martin's (Williamsburg Barber) will on December 21, 1766. Later on February 16, 1767, he and Alexander Craig were security for Mary Martin,2 widow and executor of James Martin's estate.
Charlton opened a tavern during June 1767, and announced:
THE Coffee-House in this city being now opened by the subscriber as a TAVERN, he hereby acquaints all Gentlemen travellers, and others, who may please to favour him with their company, that they will meet with the best entertainment and other accommodations, such as he hopes will merit a continuance of their custom….3George Washington frequently lodged with Charlton on his visits to Williams-burg; probably at this same tavern. On a visit in May 1772, Washington had his wife, Martha, and Patsy Custis with him at Charlton's.4
Richard Charlton was in partnership with James Nichols prior to April 1776, but the location of their shop is unknown. During June 1776 they advertised for "…a journeyman BARBER, who is a steady light shaver;"5 maybe because Charlton failed to take an active interest in the business. Whatever the reason, James Nichols decided to end the partnership, inserting this notice in the newspaper:
I BEG leave to inform the publick, that ever since the 22d of April 1776 mr. Richard Charlton has not been concerned in the shop carried on by the subscriber in this city, notwithstanding the advertisement since the above date which did signify we were in partnership; but he, not coming up with any part of his agreement, causes the partner-ship to be void. Therefore desire all who are indebted to the shop since the above date to pay only to me, or my order…673
An advertisement in the Virginia Gazette on October 10, 1777, over the signature of Robert Gilbert, is most ambiguous.
To Be RENTEDCould this mean that Charlton was renting only a part of a house and the remainder was to be leased to someone else by Gilbert?
SEVEN neat rooms, in the house, occupied by Mr. Richard Charlton, in the back street, opposite to Mrs. Starke's, those gentlemen who choose to live private and furnish their own rooms. A good stable belonging to the premises, and immediate possession given at the meeting of the Assembly.
Richard Charlton must have operated a popular tavern in Williamsburg; with frequent visits from such members of the House of Burgesses as George Washington. Notices often appear in the newspaper concerning horses that had either run away or been stolen from his pasture.
Richard Charlton's will, quoted below, was dated May 7, 1779 and probated November 15, 1779.
In the name of God Amen I Richard Charlton of the City of Williamsburg being sick and weak in body, but of sound and perfect sense and memory Do make this my last Will and Testament in manner and form following Imprimis I - constitute and appoint my beloved Wife Sarah and my good Friends Robert Prentis - and Doctor John Galt to be Executrix and Executors of this my last Will - And I do - further appoint my said two friends Robert Prentis and John Galt to be Guardians to my two sons Edward and Thomas and of my daughter Jane until they shall - respectively attain the Age of twenty one years. Item my just Debts and funeral expenses being first paid and discharged I desire that my whole Estate both real and personal may be sold except such parts thereof as in the discretion of my Executrix and Executors they may think most for the benefit of my children to keep together. And the money arising from the Sales thereof I desire may be placed to Interest, and the said Interest applied to the maintenances of my Wife and Children--Item if my Wife married again, or at her Death, or whensoever either of my children shall attain the age of twenty one years, whichsoever of the said contingencies - shall first happen I give and bequeath to each of my sons Edward and Thomas one thousand pounds; and to my daughter Jane the like sum; and in case of the Death of either of my said Children without Issue I give their part of my Estate to be equally divided between the Survivors of them; and in case of the death of any two, the whole to the Survivor. Item I give and bequeath all the residue of my said Estate to be - equally divided between my two sons Edward and Thomas, and my Daughter Jane as the contingencies aforementioned or any of them, shall or may happen, subject to the - same right of survivorship. Item if my wife married again, I give her only what the law shall allow, but until that happens, or she shall die I desire that she 74 may receive an equal support from the profits of the whole Estate with my Children. Item if my-Daughter Jane, shall marry before she attains the age of twenty one years, I desire her legacies may be immediately paid….8
The Virginia Gazette on October 2, 1779 announced his death at Richmond, "…after a lingering illness…on his way from the Springs."9
The executors of his estate, Sarah Charlton and James Galt, requested those people indebted to the estate to make immediate payment, "…as no indulgence can be given."10 At the same time Serafino Formicola announced "… that he has opened tavern in the house lately occupied by Mr. Richard Charlton, deceased."1l
The only mention found of slaves or servants belonging to Richard Charlton was on December 11, 1779:
An appraisement was "Returned into York County Court the 17th day of January 1780 And Ordered to be Recorded--":
To be SOLD before the Raleigh door, on Friday the 17th instant (December) for ready money,
TWO valuable negroes, belonging to the estate of Richard Charlton, deceased: One a woman, who is a very good cook; the other a likely young mulatto fellow, acquainted with shaving and hair dressing, and is a good waiter.--
? Those who borrowed the 1st, 4th, 30th, and 36th volumes of Voltair's Works, and the 2d volume of Goldsmith's Roman History, are desired to return them immediately.12
In Obedience to an Order of the Worshipfull Court of York County… Appraised the Slaves & Personal Estate of Richard Charlton dec'd, & find it amount to Fourteen thousand, four hundred & nineteen pounds fourteen shillings---13
However, this was not all of his estate: three thousand acres of land on the Ohio, which was included in Charlton's estate were sold at auction, for ready money, June 1, 1780, before Mr. Galt's door in Richmond.14
David Cunningham, a prominent citizen of Williamsburg, appeared in court as a witness for William Smith during June 1712.1 On January 19, 1713 Walter Butler and Jean Pasteur acted as securities for Cunningham when he was granted a license to operate an ordinary in Williamsburg.2 This probably was situated on lots 279 and 280, "on ye back side of ye Capitol near ye Public Goal…," where he lived and ran an ordinary from 1713 to 1719. He purchased these lots for 245 from the executors of Joseph Chermeson, May 18, 1713, and was called Williamsburg Barber in the deed.3
Cunningham was not only a successful businessman, but also entered into city activities. On June 15, 1713 he was appointed constable for the city of Williamsburg,4 a position of importance, obtained only by official appointment and having a small salary.
It would appear that Cunningham was having difficulty with his servants, because on November 21, 1715:
In the petition of David Cunningham agst John Watson his Servant man for lifting up his hand in opposition too & Assaulting the pet' upon hearing the Evidence & Law relateing thereto the Court do order & adjudge that the sd Watson Serve his sd Master one year after his time by indenture Custom or former order is Expired for the said offence according to law.5
In July 1718 one of his servant men, William Mockridge, confessed to being absent from his service for seven days, for which the Court required Mockridge to serve his master an additional [torn; three?] months and four-teen days. Another servant, Alexander Stinson, who was absent for seven days, received the same punishment.
The apprehension of runaway servants may have been a side line for David Cunningham, because in April 1718 he submitted a claim for "taking up" in Williamsburg Mary Mollineux, a servant woman of Capt. William Cox of Surry County. During the same month he "…preferred a Claim…for takeing up a runaway servt named Giles Woodroff belonging to Henry Erwin Esqr at Hampton…."6 and apprehended at Williamsburg.76
Susanna Allen petitioned the court April 30, 1718 for reimbursement of a slate killed by David Cunningham, which he declared was done in self defense.7 This petition was referred to the Committee for Public Claims and after examination they were to return their opinion to the House of Burgesses.
The two lots, in the city of Williamsburg, purchased by Cunningham in July 1717,8 may have been for investment as he re-sold them the following year. John Blair purchased lot 337 and the other, lot 338, was sold to Timothy Sullivant.
David Cunningham married Elizabeth, widow of Anthony Gregory, and by her had two children, David and Jane. He was also guardian of Elizabeth's children by a previous marriage. Evidently Elizabeth died before August 1718 at which time "On the mocon of Mr. Jno. Randolph, Abraham Iveson of the County of Glou[cester] is admitted Guardian to Joseph Gregory &c. in the Suit in Chancery brought by them agst David Cunningham."9 Arthur Buhardike, Richard Cary, Christopher Smith and Edward Booker were appointed July 20, 1719 to audit, state and settle an account of the estate of Anthony Gregory. These men submitted their evaluation of Gregory's estate £1280..11..8, in court on September 21, 1719. The court then required David Cunningham to give Gregory's children "…their Severall Shares & proportions of the Sum of One hundred & Ninty four pounds Nine Shillings & Eleven pence halfpenny & Nineteen thousand & four hundred pounds of Tobacco out of the Estate of the ad Anthony Gregory decd…. "10
From an examination of David Cunningham's will,11 dated January 13, 1720, it appears some relationship existed between him and Susanna Allen. Not only was she appointed as executor with William Robertson and Samuel Cobbs, but was designated to receive money from his estate for the education and maintenance of his two children, Jane and David. He stipulated that all his houses and lots in Williamsburg, along with a negro woman, Mary Aggy, two white servants, James Minnie and James Spense, and all his barber and peruke making tools, were to be sold to pay his debts and funeral expenses. Any money remaining was to be divided between his children: David to receive his share when he reached the age of twenty-one and Jane at eighteen or when she married, whichever came first. David also received a one hundred acre plantation in York county, three male negroes, a watch, snuff box and a ring with a cypher on it. Jane received the rest of his rings, one pair of gold bobbs and a negro woman and her two children.
The remainder of his personal estate, not mentioned, David Cunningham left "…unto my loving friend Susanna Allen."77
Just one month and one day after his will was dated, February 14, 1720, his death was recorded in the Bruton Parish records.
An inventory and appraisal of his estate made by Joseph Davenport, Jean Pasteur, Lewis Delaney and presented February 20, 1721 by Samuel Cobbs, surviving executor, contained numerous articles used by barber-wigmakers.12 Excerpts are given here of some materials and tools possessed by David Cunning-ham, who may have been a typical wigmaker of Williamsburg, and. whose estate was appraised for £311..19..8.
15 Wiggs 4 ½ doz. wash balls … A parcel of thread and Ribbons 2 Cases of Razors 25 old Do. 6 Lancets in a Case … 2pr. Cards & 2 brushes 3 Tables & 6 Stools a parcel of hair a parcel of Curling pipes a looking Glass & Cop:, pott 3 Hones 3 basons & 2 brushes … 80 lbs. hair powder
Susanna Allen's will13 dated March 2, 1720 and recorded May 16, 1720 left her entire estate, real and personal, to Jane and David, orphans of David Cunningham.
Jane Cunningham married John White sometime prior to March 16, 1730; on that date John White requested the estate of Jane Cunningham, whom he lately married.
On may 18, 1730 David Cunningham chose John White as his guardian. However, it was a brief guardianship. David died before November 1734, and at a sale of property November 16, 1734 Jane realized all the profit, because "David Cunningham…departed this life an Infant Interstate and without issue…"14
James Currie is one of the wigmakers who makes only a brief appearance on the Williamsburg scene, and then disappears. When he arrived we are not sure, but in August 1752 he opened a shop with William Peake of Yorktown "…in the Shop lately belonging to Mr. Anderson, in Williamsburg …glad to serve all Gentlemen and Others…where they may depend on being supplied with good brown Wigs, Ties, Grizles, Grays, Bobs, or Cues…. "1
Although James Currie and William Peake announced they were in partnership, there is not evidence they ever worked in the same shop. In September 1752, only one month after announcing their partnership in Williams-burg, they informed the public of the arrival of "A FRESH Cargoe of live human Hairs…," for purchase at Mr. Peake's in Yorktown or in Williamsburg at Mr. Currie's.2 They may have been engaged in different phases of the craft and in collaboration turned out a finished product.
James Currie purchased the shop of Dr. Kenneth McKensie, located on land belonging to Dudley Digges of Yorktown. On July 21, 1755 Currie arranged to rent the property on which the shop stood, with an additional ten feet, from Digges for five shillings consideration and a yearly rent of two pounds, twelve shillings current money.3 This lease was to run for fourteen years, with an option for Currie to renew the lease at the end of that time, or for Digges to purchase the shop.
He may have wanted to leave Williamsburg after a decision of the Church Wardens had been announced. On June 18, 1759 it was recorded that:
On the Motion of the Church Wardens of Bruton Parish It is Order'd that James Currie the Father of Mary Seveneyt a Bastard Child give Security to the Church Wardens to keep the Aid Child from being chargeable to the said Parish.4
No record of Currie's will or estate has been found, which makes it almost impossible to draw conclusions regarding his status in the community.
He may have left the city after his shop and the property on which it was located were sold March 16, 1761.5
An appraisement of William Davenport's estate,1 returned to the York county court May 21, 1770, contained many items used by barbers and wigmakers.
This is the only reference to indicate Davenport was a wigmaker.
The records of Bruton Parish for October 1, 1749 state: "Died Mr. Davidson - the Barber."
No other reference to him has been located.
When Robert Lyon mortgaged his estate June 7, 1753 he listed "1 Servant Man named William Duncan,"1 who also witnessed this mortgage.
Duncan probably died late in 1754. An inventory of his estate2 taken by Edward Charlton, Richard Gamble and James Currie, all wigmakers, was returned January 20, 1755. This inventory contained articles used by wigmakers and a few articles of personal clothing.
Alexander Finnie left few records of his activities in Williamsburg, as a wigmaker. The majority of information comes from his five advertisements in the Virginia Gazette; usually notifying the public of the arrival of hair from London.
The available evidence indicates that Finnie was a well established wigmaker, with a substantial business. He was able to purchase, in February 1746, a "Field bed and furniture" from the estate of William Keith for six pounds sixteen shilling,1 which was a considerable amount.
The first reference to Alexander Finnie was on November 19, 1744 when he was fined for failing to list three tithables.2
Twice during September 1745 he advertised for "Two or Three Journeymen, that understand the Business of a Barber and Peruke-Maker," which might indicate a volume of business he was unable to handle. Finnie offered many inducements to journeymen. Andrew Anderson lost one to him and advertised:
…Whereas my honest Neighbour, that has advertis'd for Two or Three Journeymen, has lately seduced One from my Service, in a clandestine and undermining Manner; which I am well persuaded, that no Man but one of his Principles would have done: There-fore it's to be hoped, that one of the Number he has advertised for, will come into my Service, in Lieu of him who has been so villanously cajol'd as above, who may depend on having good Encouragement….3
One of Finnie's advertisements differs from all others which have been examined. Other advertisements announce wigs for sale and often specify the type of wig, but Finnie announced that he "…got in three Wigs of different Fashions, (made by a curious Hand)…."4
There is no way of determining if he secured the necessary journey-men from his advertisements during September 1745, however, he did have additional help a year later. On September 25, 1746 he advertised that he had
Just Imported in the Ship Hamilton, Capt. Charles Seaton, from London,
A Large Quantity of Hairs and other Materials for making Wigs, 83 prepared by the best Hands in England; likewise some exceeding good Workmen, from London. As I have a great many good Workmen, all Gentlemen and others may depend on being speedily and faithfully served, in the best Manner….5
Philip Lightfoot brought Alexander Finnie and John Taylor into court for debt,6 which was unusual for Finnie at this period; the majority of times he appeared in the Court records he was the plantiff, attempting to collect a debt. In this case there was no difficulty as Finnie and Taylor agreed to the debt and were ordered to pay Lightfoot fifty-eight pounds, eighteen shillings and three pence, the debt and cost.
During June 1747 there was a Grand Jury Presentment against Alexander Finnie for breaking the Sabbath, which was dismissed "for reasons appearing to the Court," and he was ordered to pay the costs.7
Finnie's temper got him into trouble at times, and he was arrested for swearing on January 18, 1748, but failed to appear in court and was fined five shillings or fifty pounds of tobacco to be paid for the poor of Bruton Parish Church.8
The Raleigh Tavern, which Finnie had purchased June 15, 1749, was the scene of much activity. During February 1752 he decided to have regular balls there for the people in Williamsburg.
NOTICE is hereby given To the Ladies and Gentlemen, THAT the Sub-scriber purposes to have a BALL, at the Appollo, in Williamsburg, once every Week, during the Sitting of the General Assembly and Court.
During the summer of 1752 Finnie sold several of his properties in Williamsburg, probably because he was planning to retire from active business. On July 24, 1752 he announced that:
84 "The Play house together with all those two pieces, parcels or lots of land situate, lying and being on the East side of the Eastern Street of the city of Williamsburg in the Parish of Bruton in the County of York…,"11 was sold by Alexander Finnie to Lewis Hallam August 8, 1752. He also found a buyer for the Raleigh Tavern shortly after he announced it was for sale. John Chiswell and George Gilmer purchased it and twenty acres of land on August 17, 1752.12
AS I intend shortly for Great-Britain, I desire all Persons indebted to me to discharge their respective Ballances, between this and the twenty-fifth Day of October next, in so doing they will prevent Trouble….
N.B. I intend to sell the Raleigh Tavern, to be enter'd on in December next. Any Person that has a Mind to purchase it privately, may apply to me between the Date hereof and the 25th of October next.
If Finnie did go to Great Britain in the Fall of 1752 he had returned to Williamsburg by April 25, 1755, when he announced:
WHEREAS I am bound very soon to the Ohio, and my Creditors on that Account desire a Settlement before I go: I therefore hope, that all Persons who are indebted to me will settle their Accounts, immediately, in Order to enable me to discharge my Debts; and those Accounts that cannot be settled before the Sixth Day of MAy next, I shall leave in the Hands of Mr. John Palmer, Attorney at Law.
N.B. My House will be kept in my Absence, as usual, by my Wife13
A letter from Francis Jerdone, December 14, 1754, to Messrs Samuel Richards may help explain why Finnie was troubled by his creditors.
I beg of you likeways not to ommit sending me a state of Alexr Finnies acct with you I having his bond for the hair you sent him by Grayson, the greatest part of which is unpaid. I believe I shall be obliged to take a mortgage of his stock & household furniture; were I to sue him I am afraid it would entirely break him up; he says he has 4 hhgds Tobacco in your hands not accounted for….14
Finnie apparently did not dispose of all his property during 1752, when the Raleigh Tavern and Play House were sold, for he announced on December 24, 1767:
To be LET, and entered upon immediately, A HOUSE three stories high, pleasantly situated on a rising hill, in the middle of a fine peach orchard, facing the south, and Queen's creek before the door, where there is plenty of the best fish and oysters. It is but a small distance from my house at Porto Bello, and has a gar-den, smokehouse, dairy, and all other necessary out-houses, belonging to it. Any person who rents the above may, if he chooses, 85 have a good pasture and piece of enclosed land with it…15
The Virginia Gazette on May 4, 1769 notified the public that:
Last Tuesday Mr. ALEXANDER FINNIE, formerly of this city, and long Adjutant of the middle district 94f this colony, departed this life, at his house at Porto Bello….16
Neither Alexander Finnie's will nor an inventory of his estate has been found. However, the following property was sold by decree of a York court December 15, 1769.
THE LAND, late the property of Major ALEXANDER FINNIE, called PORTO BELLO, situated on Queen's creek, in York county, with two dwelling-houses, and convenient buildings to each, separated by a little marsh; and, as formerly advertised, its situation beautiful, the land good, fine meadows, plenty of fish, no end to oysters, close at the door; and the orchard accounted one of the finest on the continent. Six months credit will be allowed, the purchaser giving bond and security.
N.B. Mrs. FINNIE has her dower in the above land.
A TRACT of LAND in SURRY county, where Doctor M'KENZIE formerly lived, and a beautiful SPOT of GROUND, well paled in, adjoining the capitol square.17
The majority of available information relating to Richard Gamble comes from the court records, which indicated he was often involved in disputes over debts.
He first appears in Williamsburg as a witness to a deed between George Newton and John Mundell in February 1743.1 Likely, he had been in Williamsburg prior to this time in order to act as a witness to a will.
Gamble's shop, "…next, Door to the Raleigh Tavern, in Williamsburg,"2 was in the center of activity and certainly must have been a desirable location, attracting good business.
Possibly because of his prominent shop location, Gamble did not feel it necessary to advertise, contrary to the custom of frequent advertisement by most craftsmen. In any case, only one advertisement by him for "A Choice Parcel of Hairs and other Materials…" appears in the newspaper.3
Richard Gamble was not too attentive to his religious duties. Action was taken against him twice "for absenting himself from his Parish Church." On both of these occasions, in June 17504 and July 1751,5 he was ordered to pay the Church Wardens of Bruton Parish five shillings or fifty pounds of tobacco.
During April 1752 he entered partnership with Edward Charlton, due to unusual circumstances. He announced in the Virginia Gazette that:
BEING prevented carrying on my Business as usual, by an Arrest for a Debt not justly my own. I hereby give Notice, That I have taken into Partnership with me Edward Charlton, late from London, who will carry on the Business, at my Shop, next Door to the Raleigh Tavern, in Williamsburg….6
It is likely that Richard Gamble had slaves and or servants, but only one reference, by name, has been found. William Battersoy, of Cumberland County, advertised for a runaway "…Irish Convict Servant Man, named William Byrn…by Trade a Wig-maker, and livid some Time with Mr. Robert Lyon, and 87 Mr. Richard Gamble, Wig-makers in Williamsburg…."7 From this we are relatively certain William Byrn had been a servant of Gamble's prior to November 10, 1752, when this advertisement was given. A Court held at Yorktown on November 20, 1752 "Ordered that…Richard Gambles and Edward Charltons seven Tithables…be added to the List taken by George Gillmer…"8 Several of these tithables may have been sons, but the majority, or at least several, were probably servants of Gamble and Charlton.
Richard Gamble was popular in Williamsburg where he was named to witness wills and inventory estates of other wigmakers. When Alexander Finnie sold the Raleigh Tavern to John Chiswell and George Gilmer he acted as witness.9 August 17, 1752 he was appointed, with James Currie and Edward Charlton, to inventory the estate of William Duncan a servant barber of Robert Lyon.10
The extant information concerning Richard Gamble gives an insight into his public activities, but little is known of his private life. If Gamble left a will, no record of it has been found, which is unfortunate because if he had had a wife and children, they probably would have been named therein.
This appraisal of his estate was made by wigmakers, Edward Charlton, James Currie, Robert Lyon and John Bryan, and returned to the court February 16, 1756.
22 Razors 22/1 1 Hone 12/. 2 pr Scissars 1/ £ 1..15.. 0 8 Cards & Brushes 20/ Curled hair of 3 grissel Wiggs Wove 43/ 3.. 3.. - 2 black Wiggs Wove 5/. 3 Irons 3 0.. 8.. - 3 frame Pins & 1 Sizeing Rule 3/. 1 Table 10/l0d 0..13..10 2 Stands & 1 block 3/9. 2 Boxes & Powder trough 3/ 0.. 6.. 9 5 Blocks 12/6. 3 Basons 2 Pots 10/. 1 Sink & Cistern 52/ 3..14.. 6 1 pr Boots 10/10d. 1 Saddle & Bridle &c. 12/. 1 Rugg 5/ 1.. 7..10 4 Shaving Cloths 4 Short Towells 1 Do long 1.. -..- A Remnant of Hair &c. at 1/ p. oz. 1 Desk 15/. Shelves & Pins 5/ 1.. -..- 1 pr Buckles Shoes & 1 Breeches Do 0.. 6.. 4 Coat Waistcoat & Breeches 0.. 5.. - £ 14.. 2.. 3
From this it does not appear that he had either a family or house, there being mention of little besides his craft tools.
On March 24, 1768. Anthony Geoghegan, Barber and Perukemaker, announced "that he has taken a shop next door to Mrs. Vobe's tavern, where he intends to carry on his business in all its branches."1 This was a desirable location on Duke of Gloucester Street, opposite the Raleigh Tavern.
Anthony Geoghegan and Simon Brazier formed a partnership during April 1768, which lasted about six months. When Geoghegan announced the following November that the partnership had been dissolved2 he failed to give a reason. However, he continued to keep shop at the same location, and requested that those indebted to the partnership not pay Brazier.
Thomas Cobbs brought suit against Anthony Geoghegan and Alexander Purdie on August 15, 1768 to collect a debt. Walter Lenox, a Williamsburg wigmaker, came into court and agreed to act as security for the defendants. The case was not settled until November 21, 1768, when Geoghegan was ordered to pay the debt of "…Six pounds sixteen shillings and Cash But to be discharged by the Payment of Three pounds eight - shillings with Interest from the 20th day of June 1768…."3
Geoghegan made plans to leave Williamsburg and announced his intentions September 29, 1770, but gave no reason for leaving.
AS I intend to remove from this city, immediately after the October court, to Richmond town, this is to request the favour of all persons indebted to me to make speedy payment, that I may be enabled to discharge what I own before my departure.4
Whether or not he left after the October court, as planned, is not certain, but if he did leave at that time, he returned in 1772 to marry Martha Lavia, a Widow.
Richard Charlton was security for Geoghegan's marriage contract, signed November 18, 1772, with James Galt and James Nichols as witnesses.
Anthony Geoghegan was living and working in Richmond by March 2, 1775 when he advertised for a runaway indentured servant man, John Saunders. Geoghegan may have had Saunders, a barber by trade, with him in Williamsburg, but no record of it has been located.
Geoghegan, his wife, Martha, and Molly, their eight year old 89 daughter lived in Richmond ward three in 1782, likely on lot twenty-nine with the shop on lot eight,5 the property of Thomas N. Randolph.
William Godfrey, peruke maker, announced April 25, 1766 that he had "…opened shop between the RALEIGH and the CAPITOL…."1 When a craftsman arrived from abroad it usually was stated in his advertisements for a long time afterwards. Since Godfrey did not do this he may have been a native Virginian, or long resident in the colony.
The first reference to his family was on February 23, 1768 when his daughter Elizabeth was born. When the child was baptized March 27,2 his wife was listed as Mary.
No marriage date has been located for Mary and William; they may have moved to Williamsburg as a married couple when William opened shop in 1766.
William Godfrey was involved in several disputes for debt; the first was brought by William Page, who won the case and recovered forty-six shillings one penny and cost with a lawyer's fee from Godfrey on September 19, 1768.3
Joseph Cooper and Lydia, his wife, brought suit against Godfrey for assault and battery on November 18, 1769,4 but the court found Godfrey not guilty on August 20, 1770, and instructed him to recover his cost from Cooper. Later, Godfrey was successful in recovering "24 pounds of tobacco and 15/. or 150 pounds of tobacco"5 from Joseph Cooper and his wife Lydia.
William Godfrey's name only appears once in the list of taxable properties. That was in York County for the year 1804, and the entry was: "William Godfrey 1 White Tythes."6 The only other reference to Godfrey's estate was during November 1770, when he announced that he
…hired a mare to one John Brannen, a balancemaster, for a certain time, and he has exceeded it I am apprehensive he intends carrying her entirely off….7 91
Godfrey may have retired from the business of wigmaking about this time, but there is no conclusive evidence that he did so, nor is there any-thing more concerning his life.
Cuthbert Hubbard announced March 7, 1771 that he had moved into the house lately occupied by Robert Anderson, where he had accommodations for gentlemen. The note to this advertisement announced that:
N.B. He still carries on his Business of Peruke making, Shaving, and Hair dressing, in a Shop nearly opposite Mr. James Cocke's Store.1
His will,2 made September 1, 1779, had only one reference to articles used by wigmakers: a "gund and Hone" left to his son. However, he did name his wife and children in his will; the only reference to his children found. His wife, Mildred, was to receive his whole estate during her widowhood to bring up his children: Zachariah, Mildred, Elizabeth, Cuthbert and Absalom. William Hubbard was named as executor of the estate with Cuthbert's widow, Mildred, but the relationship between William and Cuthbert has not been determined.
However, an inventory of his estate, recorded July 19, 1790,3 did not contain wigmaking tools.
George Lafong, seemingly a Frenchman, appeared in Williamsburg during 1762, but if he were here earlier there is no known mention of it.
He and his wife, Mary, had two children born in Williamsburg: Angelyca born August 24, 17621 and George, September 23, 1766.2 The birth record of Angelyca is the first reference to Lafong's presence in Williamsburg.
What his occupation was prior to 1770 is uncertain, but he did have at least one slave as there were Grand Jury presentments against him in 1766 and 1767 "for not listing a Negro tithable."3 The presentment against him on February 16, 1767 was dismissed "for reasons appearing to the Court."
The first reference to George Lafong as a wigmaker was in November 1771,4 when he advertised for a good hair dresser. However, he had dealings with at least one citizen of Williamsburg before this time. On February 19, 1770 he was in court against Walter Lenox, a Williamsburg wigmaker, for a four pound debt, due by note of hand,5 which he recovered with his costs and lawyer's fee.
In December 1775 Lafong announced that he had taken Alexander Wiley into partnership, and assured the public of general satisfaction, Mr. Wiley having "…great Abilities in Hair-Dressing…."6 On several occasions, previous to hiring Wiley, Lafong advertised for a man well acquainted with hair dressing.
He had difficulty collecting his accounts, and in May 1776 requested that all outstanding accounts be settled, but
… If this Application proves ineffectual, and the Law should not be open to force Compliance, those 1910 are deficient will have their Names exposed in the Gazette….7 94
The last reference to George Lafong, before he left Williamsburg for Norfolk, was in a 1783 tax list where he was listed as having "1 Free Males Above 21 Years" and "1 cattle."8
Benjamin Latrobe wrote his brother from Norfolk March 23, 1796 and mentioned meeting Lafong.
…An old man, the first beggar I have seen in America put into my hand a paper, stating him to be an honest decayed Barber, and signed by the Refd John Bracken. I showed it to a Gentleman, a stranger, who stood near me, & who had entered into conversation with me, & asked him whether that sort of license to beg were usual & legat. - He answered by telling the Man that unless he went about his business he would take care that the maintenance allowed him by the Corporation should be discontinued. The Barber, who appeared by his dialect to be a Frenchman pleaded a bedridden mother, a crazy wife, and half a Dozen children dying of the smallpox, - & then bodly said, that the corporation was so poor, as to have been unable to pay him & other pensioners, whom he named, their stipend for "the last nine Months." This argument dragged a pisterine from each of our pockets. - The strange Gentleman told the Beggar "he was an impudent fellow to abuse the Corporation,"- & then whispered me that they had lately pulled down the iron railing round the Capitol &sold it to raise a little money. The Barber's name was Lafong & formerly contributed much to the entertainment & scandal of the place by his buffoonery & news carrying.9
Walter Lenox, who first appeared in Williamsburg in 1759, prospered during his twenty-four years of known residence. Like many other craftsmen he was frequently in court because of debts, but he seems to have had time for other activities besides wigmaking.
On the average of once a year Lenox appeared in court, beginning June 18, 1759, when Robert Lyon tried to collect damages from Lenox for a breach of promise. On September 17, 1759 Lyon was granted damages of six pounds twelve shillings and one penny besides his costs when "…the parties agree that the Plt path sustained Damages by occasion of the Defts breach of Promise…."1
Walter Lenox and Thomas Hewitt (former servant of Robert Lyon?) appeared in court on December 21, 1761 as plaintiffs against James Martin. The court decided, March 15, 1762, that the plaintiffs were to recover eleven pounds twelve shillings, besides their cost, for "…Damages by occasion of the Defts breach of Promise…."2
There is record of Lenox coming into court as security on three occasions. Twice he served as security for John Ormeston (Williamsburg Cabinet maker): once on July 20, 1761 when Ormeston was defendant against James Burwell, and again on September 16, 1765 when Ormeston was defendant against John Wigstaff, assignee of Alexander Finnie. The third time Lenox was security for Anthony Geoghegan and Alexander Purdie, defendants in a suit brought by Cobbs on August 15, 1768.
On nine occasions there is a reference to Walter Lenox being in court, either trying to collect money owed to him or for failure to pay his debts. Judgment for two debts, due by account, were settled in his favor November 21, 1763: against John Moss for thirty-two shillings six pence and costs, and from John Goodwin forty-seven shillings six pence and costs. James Coats successfully sued Lenox in court on June 16, 1766 for a debt of forty-four pounds eight shillings six pence and costs.
But this judgment…[was] to be discharged by the Payment of twenty two pounds four shillings and three pence with Interest thereon at five per Centum per Annum from the second day of July 1764 til Payment and the Costs.3
William Haynes failed to appear in court November 17, 1766 as defendant against Lenox and it was "…ordered that the Damages be enquired 96 of by a jury at the next court."4 As no further mention of this case was located it may have been discontinued. The suit for debt between John Lewis, plaintiff, and Walter Lenox and Thomas Jefferson, defendants, was dropped when both parties reached agreement May 18, 1767. Evidently Lenox again failed to meet his obligations because he was in court December 17, 1768 in "Henry Duke vs. Walter Lenox ca. sa. non performance of a certain Promise…."5 He failed to appear in court, as summoned, on February 19, 1770 for a debt for four pounds due by note of hand to George Lafong. This case was settled in favor of Lafong who collected "…the Debt aforesaid and his costs by him in this behalf expended with Lawyer's fee."6 A debt due Henry Guy was settled in court July 23, 1772 with action against Lenox. The last known reference to Lenox in court for debt was September 24, 1773 as defendant versus the executors of Philip Whitehead Claiborne. Lenox was to settle this debt "…by the payment of £5..18..3 with Interest from the 14 Day of Nov 1770 until paid and the costs…."7
The tithables of Lenox seem to have caused some confusion. It was recorded at a Court held in Yorktown September 20, 1762 that "Walter Lenox's three tithables be added to the list for Bruton Parish."8 Again on November 21, 1763 there was a Grand Jury presentment against Lenox for not listing his chair.9 He gained an additional tithable by August 21, 1775 when it was "Ordered that…Walter Lenox's four Tithables be added to the list taken by Mr. Dixon."10
As frequently as Lenox appeared in Court there is only one reference to his being on a jury, May 18, 1767.11 He served on a jury in the trial of Armistead Lightfoot, David Jameson, William Stevenson and Nicholas Dickson, plaintiffs against William Moss and Robert Smith, defendants.
Apparently Walter Lenox was not always popular with slaves. The following conspiracy was brought before the Court of Oyer and Terminer in Yorktown on May 28, 1763:
Benjamin Waller Attorney for our Lord the King…gives the said Justices to Understand and be Informed that Cuffy a Negro Slave belonging to the Revd. John Fox of the County of Gloucester Clk being a Person of Wicked mind and disposition on the 17th day of this Instant May with Force and Arms at the Parish of Bruton in 97 this County Feloniously did Plot and Conspire with one Isaac a free Negro and other Persons to the said Attorney unknown the Murder of Walter Lenox of the Parish and County last mentioned Barber and Elizabeth his wife and a Negro Woman Slave Named Sally belonging to the Estate of Carter Burwell Gent decd…the said Cuffy wickedly and maliciously intending to Poison Murder and destroy the said Walter Lenox and his Family…Feloniously did prepare arsenick and other Poisonous medicines …unknown…did exhibit and administer to the said Walter Lenox and his family to wit Elizabeth Lenox, John Lenox - James Long William Ambrey Judith Dunford William White -John Jones Adam White and the said Negro Woman Sally which Medicines were prepared exhibited and administred by the said Cuffy without the Knowledge of the said John Fox or Walter Lenox or either of them…said Cuffy pleaded not Guilty…sundry Witnesses were Sworn and examined against him… It is the Opinion of the Court that the said Cuffy is Guilty of the Felony aforesaid in Manner and form…It is Considered by the Court that he be hanged by the Neck until he be dead…Execution thereof to be done on Fryday the seventeenth day of June next… said Cuffy was…valued at Sixty Pounds Currt Money…12
Walter Lenox and his wife, Elizabeth, were the parents of four children,13 all boys. The first mention of Elizabeth occurs when their eldest son, John, was baptized February 21, 1763. Their son, William Allen, was born September 18, 1764, Thomas on October 3, 1766. Peter Randolph, the fourth and last child was born on October 28, 1768.
Prior to 1768 the location of Walter Lenox's shop and residence is unknown, but the location of his shop was given in a Virginia Gazette advertisement on March 24, 1768, At this time he
BEGS leave to inform the PUBLICK in general, and his CUSTOMERS in particular, that he has moved to the house known by the name of the Red Lion, next door above Mr. Rind's Printing Office, where… he has good accommodations for private lodgers…14After opening shop at the Red Lion Lenox probably lived there; his advertisement indicated there was sufficient space.
He evidently had difficulties in running his shop, and on several occasions advertised for "A JOURNEYMAN Peruke Maker who understands his business well," and "A JOURNEYMAN BARBER who understands his busine's." The only reference to an apprentice of Lenox's is a notice in the Virginia Gazette in August 1769 (which shows the reason for some of his trouble).
WHEREAS ADAM WHITE, my apprentice, has once eloped from me, and still neglects my business, I hereby forewarn all persons from 98 harbouring or entertaining him. And as I have some suspicion that he may attempt to leave me again, I will give a reward of 10s. to any person who takes him up, is four miles or more from town, and without having a note from
In August 1773 he advertised for a Journeyman Barber, but stated:
…I would gladly purchase the remainder of a SERVANT'S time, if he is well acquainted with the above business.16This may have led to the acquisition of another servant, who later proved troublesome. In July 1775 Lenox announced:
RUN away on the 12th of this Instant (July) a servant man, named JOHN MASON…by trade a barber….17He probably had (since running an inn) other servants or slaves, but no reference to them has been located.
By November 1773 Lenox appears to have been hard pressed to meet his obligations and found it necessary to mortgage his personal property to Joseph Hornsby "…in the consideration of the Sum of one hundred and one pounds eight shillings Current money…to be paid on or before the first day of March next with lawful interest…."18 This mortgage was for personal property only, which might indicate Lenox did not own real estate.
On numerous occasions during 1775 and 1776 he was compensated for boarding sick soldiers, and at least twice he furnished provisions for the Army during December 1775 and 1776. On December 21, 1776 it was "Ordered that a Warrant issue for Walter Lenox for two pounds fifteen shillings for Barracks furnished the second Division of the King William Militia."19
In February 1780 Walter Lenox sold part of his estate, either from necessity or for some other reason. Proof of this sale was located in a Virginia Gazette advertisement by Edward Cumi[illegible].
TAKEN through mistake, or stolen from the house [of? - torn] Walter Lenox of this city, on Monday the 10th of January at the sale of some household and kitchen furniture, a…crimson fine cloth cloak…2099
Walter Lenox was a Presbyterian we are sure, because his signature appears on a document presented
At a court held for York County in the town of York at the Court House on Monday the 17th day of June, 1765, and in the fifth year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord George the Third.
These are to certify the worshipful court of York that we intend to make use of a House in the City of Williamsburg situate on part of a lott belonging to Mr. George Davenport as a place for the Public Worship of God according to the practice of Protestant Dissenters of the Presbyterian denomination which we desire may be Registered in the Records of the Court and this certificate we make according to the direction of an act of Parliament called the Act of Toleration. P.S. As we are not able to obtain a settled minister we intend this place at present only for occasional worship when we have opportunity to hear any.21
This petition also proves that Walter Lenox could sign his name, even if he were not literate. However, Hunter's Account Book entry for March 14, 1764, "Walter Lenox per Self Interleaved Almanack is. 3d.," indicated literacy. In the month following Lenox purchased two additional books from Hunter: Dycke's Dictionary and Bartlet's Farriery.
Walter Lenox does not appear in the Williamsburg records after the 1783 tax list.22 He may have died shortly after this or else moved from Williamsburg. Since no will or inventory was located, his estate probably was entirely personal property.
The record of Robert Lyon's activities in Williamsburg are concerned almost entirely with the collection of outstanding debts. The first reference, when he "stands by for" Richard Gamble,1 defendant, was a suit for debt July 17, 1749. He is most unusual in one respect; no record has been found where he was in court for failure to pay a debt.
In his Virginia Gazette notices informing the public of his wig-making facilities, he consistently requests the payment of debts owed him. In 1751 he asked speedy payment to "prevent Trouble," but this did not produce the desired results. In April 1752 he tried stronger measures:
ALL Persons indebted to the Subscriber, are desired to discharge their respective Ballances, between the Date hereof and the 15th Day of May next; after which Time my Books will be put into the Hands of Mr. John Palmer, in Order to bring Suits for the Recovery of the same; which is contrary to the Inclination of Their humble Servant, Robert Lyon.2
Seemingly he was unsuccessful in collecting his outstanding debts and found it necessary to mortgage his estate to John Hood, merchant of Prince George County on June 7, 1753.3 His mortgaged possessions were valued at £813..7..3, and included four servant men: William Duncan, George Rivley, John Ashwell and Thomas Hewet. Robert Lyon must have had numerous customers to require four servant men, although there is no evidence they were all wigmakers or assistants. At least one, William Duncan, possessed many articles used by wigmakers when an inventory of his estate was returned to the Court on October 26, 1754.4 In April 1755 "…an Irish Servant Man, named John D'Anvers, pretends to be by Trade a Barber Surgeon…" belonging to Robert Lyon was advertised as a run a way.5
Robert Lyon moved prior to July 17, 1755 on which date he announced "I now keep Tavern at the Sign of the Edinburgh Castle, near the Capitol."6 He may have planned to give up wigmaking, because he announced on the same day, that "As I entend to settle my affairs in October next, I desire all Persons indebted to me to make immediate Payment." He announced in this same advertisement that he had received a new assortment of hairs from London, which is the last reference to Lyon linking him with wigmaking.101
Robert Lyon appears as a merchant "…at his STORE, in the MARKETPLACE…"7 in Williamsburg in November 1759; why this change was made is not known nor if he still maintained the tavern at the sign of Edinburgh Castle. He was listed as a merchant on May 3, 1760 when he leased a "parcel of ground situate in the Market Place of the said City (Williamsburg) on the South side of the Main street"8 from James Johnson, a merchant of Prince George. This property had been leased to John Dixon, for twenty-one years with a yearly rent of five pounds, on February 5, 1749 by the city trustees. Dixon had leased it to John Hood who in turn leased it to James Johnson, from whom Robert Lyon acquired it, for the remaining years at one hundred fifty pounds and five pounds yearly rent. Lyon did not keep the property himself, but leased it to Thomas Craig,9 a tailor, on November 10, 1761 for three hundred fifty pounds and five pounds yearly rent.
The last record of Lyon's request for people indebted to him to settle their accounts was on July 17, 1755.10 Prior to this time he was apparently plagued with pecuniary troubles which caused his many hardships, but after this date he began taking court action to recover money owed him. He had Walter Lenox, wigmaker, in court for breach of promise on September 17, 179 and was awarded six pounds twelve shillings and one penny besides costs.11 On June 16, 1767 he recovered a debt of twenty-two pounds six shillings and costs from George Wilson.12 As assignee of Thomas Holt against John and Matthew Holt, he received judgment for thirty pounds and costs on June 15, 1767.13 Also on the same day, he received judgments against two others for debt: John Warrington for fifty shillings and six pence and costs with a lawyer's fee;14 Thomas Jones for nine pounds ten shillings and two pence and cost.15 Evidently Warrington did not pay all his debts before he died and the court, on September 16, 1771,
Ordered that the Sherif out of the Estate of John Warrington decd if sufficient in his hands pay unto Robert Lyon fifty seven-shillings and six pence and one hundred and twenty five pounds of Tobacco the amount of a Judgement recovered by the said Robert agst the said John in his Lifetime and the Cost of this motion.16102
Although there is no record of Robert Lyon advertising he would purchase animal or human hair, evidence indicated he purchased some. On October 7, 1751 Hunter entered under "Robert Lion; Riders for Horsehire " in his Account Book.17 Also, Lyon's mortgage of June 7, 1753 to John Hood lists several varities of horsehair, but whether this was of local origin or imported can not be determined.
As a wigmaker Lyon must have depended on someone else to transport his goods when away from Williamsburg. Alexander Craig had riders who, on at least one occasion, were employed by Robert Lyon in 1751. However, as a merchant, he had acquired not only means to transport his own goods, but those of others also. An entry, "To carting from Ferry," in Alexander Craig's Account Book18 on March 19, 1762 appears under Robert Lyon, but no price is given.
After the court action during 1771 Robert Lyon does not appear again in the records. He may have died or moved away from Williamsburg, but neither is certain.
James Martin, peruke-maker, was living in Williamsburg by December 1760 as a tenant of Henry Wetherburn when he witnessed Wetherburn's will,1 which was proved December 15, 1760. He continued in the same location after Anne, widow of Henry Wetherburn, received, among other things, lots 31 and 33 "…excepting the Tenement in Possession of James Martin Barber…."2
During June 1762 Matthew Moody sold James Martin, for twenty pounds current money consideration,
…all that Piece of Ground containing one Acre or two lots lying and being in the parish of Bruton in the County of York in and near the City of Williamsburgh and bounded as followeth on the East by a large Street intended to be called and known by the name of Moodies Street on the South by another Street leading into Greenhows Street on the West by said Moodies Pasteur and on the South by a Row of Lotts on the said Noodles Street….3However, no information has been found to indicate Martin made any improvements on these lots; and he was not living there at the time of his death.
Only one reference was found where James Martin appeared in court as the defendant. Walter Lenox and Thomas Hewitt brought charges against Martin during December 1761. The jury decided on March 15, 1762 "…That the Pits have sustained Damages by occasion of the Defts breach of Promise …."4 Lenox and Hewitt recovered eleven pounds twelve shillings besides their costs from James Martin and his security, Robert Lyon.
Twice James Martin witnessed real estate transactions: once on November 10, 1761 when Thomas Craig purchased Robert Lyon's lease on a lot of ground on the south side of the Market Place:5 again when Alexander Finnie purchased four lots from Mathew Watts Hatton on June 12, 17626 and Martin was a witness.
Martin may have had servants or slaves although no specific reference to any has been located. However, a reference appears In the York County Court on September 20, 1762 ordering that for "James Martin three Tithables [were] 104 to be added to the list for Bruton Parish."7 One of these may have been a slave or servant. Another tithable was probably his chair as there was a Grand Jury presentment against him on November 21, 1763 for failing to list a "chair."
He dated his will December 21, 1766 and probably died shortly afterwards, because an inventory and appraisal of his estate by James Southall, John Wooding and Blovet Pasteur was recorded March 16, 1767. The appraisement of his estate was for £292..12..9.
Mary Martin, his wife and sole executor, received his entire estate, real and personal, after payment of his just debts and funeral expenses.
Mary remained a widow only briefly after the death of James; by the following October she had married Benjamin Bucktrout,8 a Williamsburg cabinet maker.
The estate was still unsettled in April 1768, but evidently Benjamin Bucktrout was handling it for his wife, Mary Martin Bucktrout. He requested that all claims against the estate be presented and those people indebted to the estate make immediate payment.9
The "…HOUSEHOLD & KITCHEN FURNITURE, and two LOTS in Moody, street" that had belonged to James Martin were advertised for sale May 12, 1769 by Benjamin Bucktrout.10 At the same time the house where James Martin lived was to be rented for about four years, the remainder of his lease.
James Nichols, a peruke-maker from London, worked in Petersburg during December 1772.1 However, he must have been in the vicinity of Williamsburg sometime prior to this, because he had formed an acquaintance-ship with James Galt.
A marriage consent between James Nichols and Elizabeth Wyatt2 was signed February 9, 1773 in York County. Nichols posted fifty pounds current money as security, and James Galt was the witness. Since the consent was recorded in the York Court and the witness was a citizen of Williamsburg, Elizabeth Wyatt was likely from York County.
Nichols had moved to Williamsburg and opened a shop by October 1775. In the Virginia Gazette for October 27, 1775 he called himself peruke-maker and hair dresser, in announcing that he had "opened shop in the corner room of the brick house where Mrs. Singleton lives [corner of Duke of Gloucester and Botetourt streets]."3
James Nichols must have met with success as a wigmaker soon after he arrived in Williamsburg. During June and August 1776 he advertised for two journeymen barbers, evidently to care for his expanding business. If the men who applied were capable, he promised they would "receive extraordinary wages."4
Sometime early in 1776 he took Richard Charlton into partnership, but this did not prove a successful venture. He declared the partnership void on November 13, 1776, when he complained
that ever since the 22d of April 1776 mr. Richard Charlton has not been concerned in the shop…not coming up with any part of his agreement….5
Again in May 1777 Nichols advertised for "two sober discreet journeymen BARBERS."6 There is no record to tell if he was successful in obtaining the journeymen be needed.
James Nichols purchased four and five eights acres of land, at auction, from Alexander Craig's estate April 29, 1779, for which he paid 106 fifty-two pounds ten shillings. Whether or not he lived on this property is not known, but no record has been located to indicate that he sold it.
Nichols probably made plans during the summer of 1779 to move away from Williamsburg. On several occasions during August he requested payment of outstanding debts and threatened court action against those who failed to respond.
On December 4, 1779 he announced:
To be rented on the 20th instant (December)to the highest bidder, for one or more years.
THE houses where I now live, which are well situated for a tavern, having a good garden and every neceasary out house fit for that business in good repair. I have also an exceeding good billiard table with balls and sticks which will be rented with the house, if not disposed of before; likewise a valuable cook wench, a kitchen jack, several bushels of coal, &c. &c. &c.
N.B. All persons indebted to me are requested to discharge their accounts immediately.7
Nichols was in Norfolk by March 9, 1784,8 where he may have gone directly from Williamsburg. On that date he appointed John Ferguson as his attorney to dispose of his property in Williamsburg.
John Pasteur, one of the earliest known Williamsburg wigmakers, came to Virginia with a group of Huguenot refugees from Geneva in 1700, and settled first at Manakin Town.1
He was twice married, first to Mary ___________,2 who died the twenty-fifth of March 1727, and second to Martha Harris, daughter of Thomas Harris of Henrico County, who died 1746.3 Children of Nary and John: John James, Mary, Magdalene, John, Lucretia, Sarah, James, and Blovet. Martha and John had three children: William, Martha, and Ann.
His business seems to have been substantial necessitating possession of two servants, Peter Tosse4 and John Wilson,5 and one apprentice, Philip Roberts,6 a negro woman, Rachel,7 and a mulatto, Joe.8 In addition, his wife, Martha received a negro girl, Ege9 by her brother's will probated August 1, 1741.
The first reference to John Pasteur, as a wigmaker, was in a deed from John Sergenton for one hundred fifty acres of land in the upper part of York County, dated August 18, 1712.10
His residence prior to 1714 is unknown, but on October 19, 1714 he purchased from John Clayton and Chickley C. Thacker, trustees of Williamsburg, lot 27111 which he mortgaged to William Prentis during 1735 for ninety-three 108 pounds sixteen shillings and one pence.12 In 1737 Pasteur purchased lot 55 from John White and immediately sold it to Mark Cosby, husband of Nary Pasteur, and Gabriel Maupin.13
The location of his shop is unknown, but as he was a tenant of William Byrd14 he may have maintained a shop at the same location.
John Pasteur frequently appeared in court, to collect debts due him, as a witness and as security for various people. During January 1712 Walter Butler and Pasteur served as security for David Cunningham, when he received his ordinary license.15 Again in January 1717 Pasteur was security for an ordinary license for Thomas Mays.16 He was also a bondsman for Richard Stewart as guardian of John and James Morris on December 21, 1719.17
John Pasteur witnessed Susanna Allen's will March 2, 1721 and later was named, with Joseph Davenport and Lewis Delaney by the court, to appraise her estate.
In his will,18 dated August 15, 1741, Pasteur called himself Peruke-maker of the city of Williamsburg. He left a tract of land in Charles City County to his friend, Thomas Johnson. The remainder of his estate was divided equally among his wife and children. He requested the house and lot where he lived in Williamsburg to be sold by his executors. Martha, his wife, and his friends, William Prentis and Mark Cosby, were appointed executors.
The will of John Pasteur was proved November 16, 1741 with Andrew Anderson, Thomas Dixon, Peter Scott and Richard Booker appointed to appraise the estate.19 The appraisal was returned to a York court February 15, 1741/ 42 for £126..16..2 ¼, and was ordered recorded.20
Edward Perry's name appears in the Guardian Accounts in which he was paid for shaving and a wig in 1748.1
On January 16, 1748 he was allotted lots from the estate of his father-in-law, Thomas Frayser.2
These were the only two references found to Edward Perry.
An advertisement in the Virginia Gazette on April 14, 1774 mentions a "Mr. George Simmons, Peruke Maker."
Robert Tennoch is another wigmaker who left little information concerning either his life or activities in Williamsburg.
He was involved in court action in March and June 1722, but both cases were dismissed. These were the first references to his presence in Williamsburg.
The last will and testament of Robert Tennoch was presented in the York Court by his executor, Thomas Dickson, September 20, 1725. Two of the witnesses, Jean Pasteur and John Pasteur, Jr., were themselves wigmakers in the city of Williamsburg.
The sole reference to Robert Tennoch and the wigmakers craft appears in his will, where he says: "…I Robert Tennoch of the City of Williamsburg Peruke maker…."1 From his will we have additional information: he left his estate to his wife, Anne, residing in Bermuda. In case of her "decease" the residue of the estate was to go to his good friend, and executor, Thomas Dickson.
An appraisal of his estate by Samuel Cobbs, William Prentis and Stephen Besouth contains various articles used in wigmaking, and six wigs.
John Peter Wagnon appeared only briefly in the records of Williamsburg, but was referred to as a peruke-maker.
Andrew Anderson was his apprentice for a period of five years, beginning in 1731.1 This was supposed to have been a seven year apprentice-ship, but Wagnon canceled it two years early. At that time he sold Anderson the southeast corner of lot fifty-five; May 16, 1736. In this deed Wagnon's wife was named Sarah,2 which is the only mention of his family that has been found.
George Lafong, a Frenchman, lived in Williamsburg from about 1762 until his death about 1800.
Records of Bruton Parish Church state that "Angelyca the Daughter of George and Margret Lafong His Wife was Born August 24th 1762, He is a frenchman." A son George was born September 23, 1766.1 The marriage of Angelica Lafong to Dr. Justice Levington, surgeon of the privateer brig Northampton, was announced in August 1777.2 The names of other children are unknown.
On May 22, 1765, George Lafong purchased "4 Sticks best dutch sealing wax" for Hon. William Byrd at the Printing Office.3 A Grand Jury presentment was filed against him on November 17,1766, "for not listing a Negro tithable". Another on February 16, 1767, was dismissed "for reasons, appearing to the Court".4 In 1768 a silver watch was lost or stolen from the house of George Lafong.5 On February 19, 1770, Lafong won a Suit against Walter Lenox, a Williamsburg wigmaker, for a four pound debt.6
The first reference to Lafong as a hairdresser appeared in September 1770:
WILLIAMSBURG, September 6, 1770.
TAKES this opportunity of acquainting all Ladies and Gentlemen that he intends carrying on the said business in the cheapest manner, & TOUT A LA MODE. Likewise purposes shaving all Gentlemen who may please to honour him with their commands.7
He advertised for a good hairdresser in 1771 and for a journeyman barber in 1772.8 In 1774 Lafong gave notice that a man "well acquainted with Hair Dressing and Wig Making, may meet with good Encouragement" by applying to him.9 The January 6, 1776, issue of the Virginia Gazette announced that:
Monsieur LAFONG,p. 2
AND BARBER GENERAL!
IN Order to carry on the Business more extensively, has taken a Partner, and returns his Customers his most sincere Thanks for past Favours, requesting those in Arrears will pay him as soon as possible. From Mr. Alexander Wiley's great Abilities in Hair-Dressing, and the general Satisfaction which Monsieur Lafong flatters himself to have given hitherto, they have the greatest hopes of Encouragement from the Ladies and Gentlemen of this City, for whose Approbation the greatest Pains will be taken, and the utmost punctuality observed, by
The Public's most obedient
And most devoted humble Servants,
LAFOND & WILEY.
They will engage Customers only quarterly.10
In May 1776 George Lafong again requested payments of debts:
WILLIAMSBURG, May 11, 1776.
ALL Persons in my Debt, for Shaving, Dressing, &c. contracted before I entered into Partnership with Mr. Wylie, are once more requested to discharge their Accounts (some of which have been standing for Years) that I may be enabled to pay those Debts which I have been under a Necessity of contracting for the Support of my Family through their Neglect. If this Application proves ineffectual, and the Law should not be open to force Compliance, those who are deficient will have their Names exposed in the Gazette. Gentlemen who pay me punctually may rely on my constant Attendance, and utmost endeavor to give Satisfaction; others can expect no more of my Services.
Lafong and Wiley were still in partnership in February 1777 when they advertised for a journeyman hairdresser.12
Accounts for Patsy Custis for 1771 show that on May 11 curls were purchased from George Lafong.13 George Washington paid "George Lafong Barber £1..15..O" on March 30, 1772.14 Thomas Jefferson "pd. George Lefont for a set of curles for A. S. Jefferson £15".15 Nathaniel Burwell paid Lafong twelve shillings "for Cuting my hair" on November 12, 1783. Other accounts show that Lafong purchased wood from Nathaniel Burwell of Carter's Grove in 1783 and 1784.16
Accounts of the Commonwealth dated February 3, 1777, name George Lafong as an interpreter at court martials of Colonels Smith and Mason.
On January 28, 1777, Lafong was paid £1..10..0 for rent of a store room by Deputy Quarter Master General William Finnie.18 The location of his shop is unknown but the house on which he paid taxes was located on Lot 25 on the north side of York Street. Humphrey Harwood furnished supplies and made repairs for "Monsieur George Lafong (Barber)" on September 26, 1783; July 28, November 23, and November 30, 1785. Whether these repairs for lime, hair, repairing plastering, whitewashing rooms, and labor were made at his shop or house is not specified in the accounts.19
George Lafong's name appears in tax records for Williamsburg which begin in 1782. Through 1786 he was taxed for 2 slaves and 1 cow. The land tax records list him as owning - lot in Williamsburg trough 1799. Beginning in 1800 taxes on the --lot were charged to his estate.20
On route from Norfolk to Richmond in early April of 1796 Benjamin Latrobe visited Williamsburg and mentioned Lafong in his journal:
Of the poverty of the corporation, I had a curious proof. An old man, the first beggar I have seen in America put into my hand a paper, stating him to be an honest decayed Barber and signed by the Revd. John Bracken. I showed it to a gentleman, a stranger, who stood near me, & who had entered into conversation with me, & asked him whether that sort of licence to beg were usual & legal. He answered P. 3 by telling the Man that unless he went about his business he would take care that the maintenance allowed him by the Corporation should be discontinued. The Barber, who appeared by his dialect to be a Frenchman, pleaded a bedridden mother, a crazy wife, and half a dozen children dying of the smallpox, & then boldly said, that "the corporation was so poor, as to have been unable to pay him and other pensioners, whom he named, their stipend for the last nine Months." This argument dragged a pisterine from each of our pockets, the Strange Gentleman told the Beggar "he was an impudent fellow to abuse the Corporation, & then whispered me that they had lately pulled down the iron railing round the Capitol & sold it to raise a little money. The Barber's name was Lafond & formerly contributed much to the entertainment & scandal of the place, by his buffoonery & news carrying. …21