One of my University assignments was to transcribe an early 18th century property inventory taken from the Edward H. Nabb Research Center archive in Salisbury, MD. These inventories were legal documents listing decedent’s estate belongings and their estimated value. Being handwritten, these records could be very difficult to read.
Luckily, my author had an exceptionally steady hand. What’s really fascinating, aside from inventory contents, is the variations in spelling.
Aside from transcribing the inventory, I later had to dig through microfilm records and try to piece his life together. Not much is known from local records in Somerset County about his life prior to arriving in Maryland, but I estimated that he was born around 1646. According to records, he immigrated to Somerset County around May 5th, 1679 and received headrights for fifty acres of land. He arrived here with an important trade skill – a bricklayer.
Timeline and Known Facts/Documents
|1646||Samuel Collins born, exact date unknown - derived from a legal document 46 years later|
|Sep 10th, 1678||Deed of indenture for Joseph Staten|
|May 5th, 1679||Head rights awarded 50 acres|
|Sep 3rd, 1680||Married to Margarett Hodson|
|Feb 15th, 1681||Buys 200 acres for 5000 lb of tobacco|
|Jun 30th, 1681||Daughter Sarah born|
|Jan 6th, 1683||Son Samuel born|
|May 29th, 1687||Daughter Anne born|
|Mar 6th, 1688||Indenture document, identifying Samuel as a bricklayer, discharges servant Joseph Staten for 2,320 lbs of tobacco and grants him a 50-acre parcel of land|
|Sep 15th, 1689||Son John born|
|Oct 7th, 1689||Court deposition stated Samuel was 43 years of age when, while on work site, he witnessed a man mistreat his wife. Samuel tried to defuse the situation peacefully, but when that effort failed and the husband erupted, Samuel physically stopped him from harming his wife.|
|Feb 3rd, 1690||Wife files legal complaint for stolen hogs|
|Aug 8th, 1692||Daughter Mary born|
|May 22nd, 1700||Patent awarded - 223 acres|
|Jan 12th, 1707||Will drafted citing poor health|
|May 24th, 1708||Inventory taken by closest of kin, Samuel and John|
Transcript (numbers are pounds / shillings / pence)
Inventory of the goods Chattels and Liens of Samuel Collins late of Somerset County deceased taken and appraised in Money by Hugh Porter and Donnock Dennis Jun 7 being authorised and sworn doe apprise as followeth inny
|5||6 year old stears||8||16||0|
|4||4 year old Ditto at||4||8||0|
|2||2 year old Ditto at||0||18||0|
|1||large bull at||1||0||0|
|1||2 year old Ditto at||0||10||0|
|4||2 year old heffers at||1||4||0|
|1||3 year old ditto very small||0||12||0|
|3||cowes and 3 calves at||1||10||0|
|1||small heffer at||0||8||0|
|9||ewes and 9 lambs at||3||12||0|
|1||old negro man called Joanas||25||0||0|
|1||old negro woman Nado||10||0||0|
|1||younger Ditto called Doll||25||0||0|
|1||small negro gal called Jeanney||10||0||0|
|1||2 year old negrow boy called Will||6||0||0|
|1||black gilding at||2||10||0|
|1||gray Ditto at||1||15||0|
|1||old mair and colt at||2||0||0|
|1||old chest and a small box at||0||7||0|
|1||old feather bed covering and bedstid||2||10||0|
|1||set of curtins and wallins||1||5||0|
|1||old fattail bead and coveringand bedsteds at||1||0||0|
|1||old bed and feathers at||1||4||0|
|1||old feather bead and covering and bedstid at||2||8||0|
|1||large chist at||0||12||0|
|1||small ditto with lock and key||0||8||0|
|1||small box with a lock||0||3||0|
|1||small old ditto||0||1||8|
|2||small trunks at||0||4||0|
|1||feather bed and furniture and bedslip at||4||10||0|
|6||old flag chairs at||0||9||0|
|21||old books at||1||0||0|
|1||small seail airo compass at||0||2||0|
|1||pair of large stillards at||0||16||0|
|1||pair of smaller ditto at||0||10||0|
|1||silver belt raper and belt and favn at||3||0||0|
|3||old brace candle sticks at||0||4||6|
|18lb||old pewter at||0||9||0|
|15lb||of ditto at||0||7||6|
|1||large flaggin at||0||3||0|
|13||pewter spoons at||0||2||0|
|3||old iron candlesticks||0||1||6|
|4||old case knives and old case at||0||1||0|
|1||old hackell 2pn of old cards and 4 old sifters||0||2||6|
|2||small looking glacces||0||2||6|
|1||old bench and 5 old stooles 2 old 2 small old benches||0||2||6|
|6||yards of fincy woley and one very small old blanket||0||8||6|
|1||flail at 1/ 1 cooper use ads howel ciols and campas at||0||6||6|
|1||gouge 3 chesell 1 pair carpenters compals and one round shave||0||3||2|
|1||frow 1 hand saw old 2 plawis drawing knife 3 ougwed||0||3||2|
|1||jointer iron up 1 old brace koifer at 2ft 12 glare bottles of 1 2d||0||4||9|
|4||earthen pans at 2/ and 4 broken ditto at 6o||0||2||6|
|11||indian bowles 1 old spit tray at 3/6 to apparsel of old lumber||0||5||6|
|4||sydes of leather 16/5 sides of small ditto at 15/ 8 small skins at 4/16||1||15||0|
|2||old wheels at 5/ 1 old spit||0||9||6|
|10||old chatters laske 4/ 1 old saddell at 10 bushells of salt at||1||9||0|
|3||pair of schoos 1 pair of hand mill stones at||1||12||0|
|1||half bushel 1 peck at 2/6 old crofs eut saw at 8/||0||10||6|
|3||old fiells at 6o ironpot 44lb of 11/ 1 ditto 57lb at 14/ 1 small ditto 24lb||1||11||6|
|2||fring pans at 8/ 1 small iron spit at 2/ 1 old box iron 2 heaters at 2/6||0||7||6|
|1||old pot racks at 1 old torch 1 small old fable 4/||0||6||0|
|4||old small iron wedges at 3’||0||3||0|
|5||100 gallos casks at 12/6 2 70 gall ditto 4/ 6.50 gallo ditto at||1||1||6|
|2||old tubs at 2/ 2 old brakes at 2/ 6 hides at 15/ 1 whip saw 6/ at||1||5||0|
|3||hides 7/6 3 small yearling skins at 1/6 1 ditto 1/||0||10||0|
|1||hide at 2/6 7 harrow teath 1 old plowe at 9/ 1 pair cart wheels 2at||1||10||0|
|2||small old bunlets 1/6 1 old spaid at 2/6 4/4 fourpeny nails 10o||0||4||10|
|3||old broad howes o 52 of old iron at 4/4 1 grid iron 2/6||0||9||10|
|6||large barrowes at||4||4||0|
|2||smaller ditto at||1||2||0|
|8||ditto at L .81 barrow 8/ and 11 shvats at L 1 18||4||9||0|
|8||barrows at L 4.16 and 2 sowes spaid 11 barrowes L 6.12 at||12||8||0|
|7||sowes at L2.9 and 3 barrowes 3 spaid sowes at L 3.6||5||15||0|
|Jo 27rrlb||of Job at 4/k 100 is||5||9||9|
Inventory of the goods chattels and credits of Samuel Collins late of Somerset County deceased returned under our hands and seals this 24th of May Anne 1708
Hugh Porter (seal)
Dommock Dennis Jr (seal)
This are to certifie all persons whatsoever that are concerned in the above said inventory that we Samuel Collins & John Collins being two of the nearest of kin were present at the above said appraisement as witness our hands and allowes of the same. Samuel Collins John Collins 1708
The hog theft
In 1690, Samuel’s wife reported a hog theft. This is a transcript from a legal document [original].
Maryland Somerset County Ssc.
Whereas Complaint is this day (to wit the 3d. day of ffebruary ano. Domi. 1690/1 made by Margertt the wife of Samuel: Collins, that at divers times they lost Certain fatt hoggs but more espetially about Sabbath day last they lost one fatt hogg, which they have strong presumption to beleeve to be Stollen and carryed away by some person or persons lately come into these parts, as by many shrewd & palpable Circumstances seems concurring thereto , And she the said Margret having in Suspition some psons as above sd hath therefore craved this warrant that Search may be made &c.
These are therefore in their Maties Name to will and require as also strictly to charge and Command you John:Starrett Constable of Pocomoke hundred that imediatly at sight hereof you make diligent Search in all Such Suspitious places where the sd Porke may be found, as you shall be directed by the sd Samull Collins or Margerett his wife according to Law, and if found that you bring the same along with the party with whom its found, either before me or Some other of their Maties Justices of the Peace for this County, to be proceeeded agt as in Such cases provided by Act of Assembly And hereof you are not to fail as you will answer the Contrary &c. given under my hand and Seal this day and year above sd ffrancis: Jenckins ?
Reply from the Constable:
—– To mr. Jno. Starrett Constable of Pocomoke hundred these Executed and nothing found pr me John: Starrett.
But the sd Starrett Complaining to this Court of being abused by Richard Small and Honora his wife in the prosecution of his Office the Court Orders Process issue agt the sd Small & his wife to answer to their Maties. &c.
Despite the search, the “said Porke” was not recovered, and the poor constable got yelled by Mr. And Mrs. Small.
Samuel stops domestic violence at a work site
The Deposition of Samuel: Collins about 43 years of age.
This Deponent saith that being at work at the house of Teague Riggen Senior. of Morumscoe, upon the 7th day of october Anno. 1689 after night the said Teague Riggon quarrelled with his wife Mary:Riggen, calling her oftentimes, Toad (bitch) and whore, and turnd her out of doors, warning her not to come into his house that night, she going out of the door he took in his hands a peice of wood of about 4 Inches square or thereabout, and about 18 inches long ( )as I could guess, and did heave it at her with great force, but it happenned to fall short about halfe a foot of her and with the force that it hitt the ground made rebound above a foot from the ground, after that he went to bed his wife Mary came to his chamber door asking him if he would lett her putt her children to bed, and yt he would not misuse her, he told her she might come and lye there that night, for he would take day light to bang her or words (to that) purpose.
next morning I being a bed with young Teague Riggen and Edward Dickenson (in the loft) I heard a noise below (seemingly) as if there were blows given, whereupon I calld to my Bedfellows desireing them (to come down stairs) Coming down stairs, Mary Riggen shewd her arms which were (made black by ——and) he said, he then told her if she had not made such hast of his way he would he would have made her buttocks
black, and both she desireing him to allow her a maintenance if she could not
To him as another, asking her to show her Certificate after this he desired me to go to John Ellis his house to drink Cyder. I endeavoured to disswade him from the same, he urged me severall times, at last he was going by himselfe I stepped a litle way after him desireing him to come back again, and not go, but he still urged me to go with him whereupon I replyed, if you will come back with me in a short space, and lett this fowd cease, and have no more difference with your wife, I will go along with you, he replyed he would.
I went with him, and in some time he came back with me, and I thought he would have made true his words, but coming home,(his wife sitting by the fire, he seemingly going to light his pipe, takes up a great brands end of fire, and went to heave it full upon his wife, whereupon I stept to him, and took it from him, and he drove her out of doors yt night
Citing declining health, he drafted his will a year prior to passing away. His wife Margaret received the plantation and slaves to assist her until her death; younger son John would take over afterward. Most his slaves and land were given to his two sons, Samuel and John. The oldest son received most of it — 300 acres called King’s Neck, 200 acres called Hanock Hall, and remainder of “Late Discovery” — while the younger one inherited his rapier and cane — status symbols.
His daughters, Anne and Mary, received some cattle and chunks of their sizable property; older had been married, and it’s implied that her husband had provided for all her needs. Samuel, a family man, did one peculiar thing. He left an orchard called “Snows Hill” to his youngest daughter Mary, with instructions to give her mother one third of apples every year.
Now that’s thoughtful.