“Daphne . . . makes the bread”

Whereas there is no information regarding the number of “servants,” i.e. slaves, Elizabeth Foote Washington had to manage (see previous post), Eliza Pinckney, a wealthy plantation owner, made a list of her domestic help. This is after the marriage of her children when she was living in a modest house in Charleston, South Carolina.

I shall keep young Ebba to do the drudgery part, fetch wood, and water, and scour, and learn as much as she is capable of Cooking and Washing. Mary-Ann Cooks, makes my bed, and makes my punch. Daphne works and makes the bread, old Ebba boils the cow’s victuals, raises and fattens the poultry, Moses is imployed from breakfast until 12 o’clock without doors, after that in the house. Pegg washes and milks.

One wonders what Eliza did with her time with all of these servants relieving her of various household tasks. Wives of farmers in the back country had little or no help and worked very hard. One visitor noted that they “. . . take care of Cows, Hogs, and other small Cattle, make Butter and Cheese, spin Cotton and Flax, help sow and reap Corn, wind Silk from the Worms, gather Fruit, and look after the House.”

For Pinckney’s list and the labor of Carolina women see Life in the Southern Colonies Part 1 by David Lee Russell. His source is Julia Cherry Spruill, Women’s Life and Work in the Southern Colonies, (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1972), p. 77-83.

posted December 12th, 2013 by Janet, CATEGORIES: Daily life, Slaves/slavery


one comment so far »
  1. Well, if eliza is anything like a modern manager, she spent her time supervising the work of her underlings, setting priorities, allocating resources, resolving conflicts, and ensuring that things got done.

    I have read a great deal in 18th and 19th (and early 20th) century domestic history and have come to the conclusion that being an efficient mistress to a large household was a more than full-time job.

    Comment by Shay Simmons — December 13, 2013 @ 6:38 pm

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