Advertisement

Movement and Liminality at the Margins: The Wandering Poor in Eighteenth-Century Massachusetts

Chapter
Part of the Contributions To Global Historical Archaeology book series (CGHA, volume 35)

Abstract

This chapter explores the social and historical processes that allowed the small piece of land at a place called “the Parting Ways” in Plymouth, Massachusetts, to become a haven for several transient families and later several free African-American families. Using the theoretical concept of liminality to guide my analysis, I examine both the practice of “warning out” poor individuals and families and the communal landholding practices of colonial Massachusetts. “Warning out” created a class of economically disadvantaged people who never fit into the rigid cultural, social, and legal boundaries of eighteenth-century Massachusetts society. And the landholding practices allowed for shifting ways to use, own, and live on land within the law. I argue here that the ability of the Parting Ways site to function as a refuge for members of society’s unfortunate was directly related to the liminal status of the property and its eventual inhabitants. The “betwixt and between” status of people and place afforded social, political, and legal flexibility and mobility that enabled the transient families to settle at Parting Ways while they remained unwanted elsewhere.

Keywords

Eighteenth Century Common Land Fuller Family Dwelling House Fuller House 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Bender, B. (1998). Stonehenge: Making space. Oxford: Berg.Google Scholar
  2. Benton, J. H. (1911). Warning out in New England. Boston, MA: W.B. Clarke.Google Scholar
  3. Bethel, E. R. (1997). The roots of African-American identity: Memory and history in free antebellum communities. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  4. Davis, W. T. (1884). History of the town of Plymouth. In D. H. Hurd (Ed.), History of Plymouth County, Mass (Vol. 1, pp. 64–190). Philadelphia, PA: J.W. Lewis and Co.Google Scholar
  5. De Cunzo, L. A. (1995). Reform, respite, ritual: An archaeology of institutions. The Magdalen Society of Philadelphia, 1800–1850. Historical Archaeology, 29(3).Google Scholar
  6. Deetz, J. (1996). In small things forgotten: An archaeology of early American life. New York, NY: Anchor Books.Google Scholar
  7. Federal Direct Tax (1798). Direct tax list of 1798 for Massachusetts and Maine, 1798. R. Stanton Avery Special Collections. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society.Google Scholar
  8. Field, B. C. (1984). The evolution of individual property rights in Massachusetts agriculture, 17th–19th centuries. Northeastern Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 14(2), 97–109.Google Scholar
  9. Grob, G. N. (2008). Mental institutions in America: Social policy to 1875. Somerset, NJ: Transaction.Google Scholar
  10. Holtorf, C., & Williams, H. (2006). Landscape and memories. In D. Hicks & M. C. Beaudry (Eds.), The Cambridge companion to historical archaeology (pp. 235–254). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Ingold, T. (1993). The temporality of the landscape. World Archaeology, 25(2), 152–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Jones, D. L. (1975). The strolling poor: Transiency in eighteenth-century Massachusetts. Journal of Social History, 8(3), 28–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Leone, M. P. (2005). The archaeology of liberty in an American capital: Excavations in Annapolis. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Plymouth County Court of Common Pleas. (1756). Japhet Rickard vs. Benjamin Barden, March 1756 (Vol. 11, pp. 96–100).Google Scholar
  15. Plymouth County Court of Common Pleas. (1757). Japhet Rickard vs. Benjamin Barden, March 1757 (Vol. 11, pp. 215–219).Google Scholar
  16. Plymouth County Court of Common Pleas. (1764). Elijah Leach vs. Wait Wadsworth, April 1764 (Vol. 12, pp. 481–484).Google Scholar
  17. Plymouth County Court of General Sessions of the Peace. (1755). Warning out of Japhet Rickard, June 1755 (Vol. 2, p. 173).Google Scholar
  18. Plymouth County Court of General Sessions of the Peace. (1756a). Warning out of Japhet Rickard, Feb 1756 (Vol. 2, p. 165).Google Scholar
  19. Plymouth County Court of General Sessions of the Peace. (1756b). Warning out of Seth Fuller, May 1756 (Vol. 2, pp. 168–169).Google Scholar
  20. Plymouth County Court of General Sessions of the Peace. (1763). A list of persons licensed to sell spirituous liquors at the term, July 1763 (Vol. 3, pp. 50–53).Google Scholar
  21. Plymouth County Court of General Sessions of the Peace. (1764). A list of persons licensed to sell spirituous liquors at the term, July 1764 (Vol. 3, pp. 98–99).Google Scholar
  22. Plymouth County Court of General Sessions of the Peace. (1765a). A list of persons licensed to sell spirituous liquors at the term, July 1765 (Vol. 3, pp. 142–143).Google Scholar
  23. Plymouth County Court of General Sessions of the Peace. (1765b). Presentment of Elijah Leach, October 1765 (Vol. 3, pp. 155–156).Google Scholar
  24. Plymouth County Court of General Sessions of the Peace. (1766a). A list of persons licensed to sell spirituous liquors at July term, April 1766 (Vol. 3, pp. 171–172).Google Scholar
  25. Plymouth County Court of General Sessions of the Peace. (1766b). Warning out of Elijah Leach, December 1766 (Vol. 3, pp. 195–196).Google Scholar
  26. Plymouth County Court of General Sessions of the Peace. (1769). A list of persons licensed to sell spirituous Liquors at this court, July 1769 (Vol. 3, pp. 284–287).Google Scholar
  27. Plymouth County Court of General Sessions of the Peace. (1770). A list of persons licensed to sell spirituous Liquors at this court, July 1770 (Vol. 3, pp. 308–313).Google Scholar
  28. Plymouth County Court of General Sessions of the Peace. (1771a). A list of persons licensed to sell spirituous liquors at this term, July 1771 (Vol. 3, pp. 357–359).Google Scholar
  29. Plymouth County Court of General Sessions of the Peace. (1771b). Warning out of Seth Fuller, July 1771 (Vol. 3, pp. 361–364).Google Scholar
  30. Plymouth County Court of General Sessions of the Peace. (1779). Indictment and presentment of Job Cushman (Vol. 3, pp. 510–511).Google Scholar
  31. Plymouth County Registry of Deeds. (1765). Elijah Leach to Thomas Hooper, September 24, 1765 (Vol. 50, p. 176).Google Scholar
  32. Plymouth County Registry of Deeds. (1767). Seth Fuller to Samuel Bartlett, November 18, 1767 (Vol. 53, p. 260).Google Scholar
  33. Plymouth County Registry of Deeds. (1773a). Samuel Bartlett to Archippus Fuller, October 5, 1773 (Vol. 57, p. 186).Google Scholar
  34. Plymouth County Registry of Deeds. (1773b). Archippus Fuller to Elijah Leach, October 5, 1773 (Vol. 57, p. 186).Google Scholar
  35. Plymouth County Registry of Deeds. (1774). Japheth Rickard to Eleazer Rickard, September 9, 1774 (Vol. 58, p. 113).Google Scholar
  36. Plymouth County Registry of Deeds. (1779). Job Cushman to Plato Turner, July 6, 1779 (Vol. 60, p. 165).Google Scholar
  37. Plymouth County Registry of Deeds. (1796). Cato Howe to Thomas Savery, October 1, 1796 (Vol. 80, p. 270).Google Scholar
  38. Pruitt, B. H. (Ed.). (1978). The Massachusetts Tax Valuation List of 1771. Camden, ME: Picton Press.Google Scholar
  39. Quigley, W. P. (1996). Work or starve: Regulation of the poor in colonial America. University of San Francisco Law Review, 31, 35–83.Google Scholar
  40. Steinitz, M. (1989). Rethinking geographical approaches to the common house: The evidence from eighteenth century Massachusetts. Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture, 3, 16–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Thomas, J. (1996). Time, culture, and identity: An interpretive archaeology. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  42. Town of Bridgewater (Mass.). (1916a). Vital records of Bridgewater, Massachusetts, to the year 1850 (Vol. 1). Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society.Google Scholar
  43. Town of Bridgewater (Mass.). (1916b). Vital records of Bridgewater, Massachusetts, to the year 1850 (Vol. 2). Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society.Google Scholar
  44. Town of Kingston (Mass.). (1911). Vital records of Kingston, Massachusetts to the year 1850. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society.Google Scholar
  45. Town of Plymouth (Mass.). (1790). Perambulation of the town bounds by the selectman of Kingston and Plymouth. Town records 1716–1795 (Vol. 3, p. 620).Google Scholar
  46. Town of Plymouth (Mass.). (1801). Perambulation of the town bounds by the selectman of Kingston and Plymouth. Town records 1795–1828 (Vol. 4, p. 66).Google Scholar
  47. Town of Plymouth (Mass.). (1811). Perambulation of the town bounds by the selectman of Kingston and Plymouth. Town Records 1795–1828 (Vol. 4, p. 250).Google Scholar
  48. Town of Plymouth (Mass.). (1889). In W. T. Davis (Ed.), Records of the town of Plymouth, 1638–1705 (Vol. 1). Plymouth, MA: Avery & Doten.Google Scholar
  49. Town of Plymouth (Mass.). (1903). In W. T. Davis (Ed.), Records of the town of Plymouth, 1743–1783 (Vol. 3). Plymouth, MA: Avery & Doten.Google Scholar
  50. Turner, V. W. (1967). The forest of symbols: Aspects of Ndembu ritual. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Turner, V. W. (1969). The ritual process: Structure and anti-structure. Chicago, IL: Aldine.Google Scholar
  52. Turner, V. W. (1974). Dramas, fields, and metaphors: Symbolic action in human society. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  53. Yamin, R., & Metheny, K. B. (Eds.). (1996). Landscape archaeology: Reading and interpreting the American historical landscape. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ArchaeologyBoston UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

Personalised recommendations