New England Silver & Silversmithing, 1620-1815

Textiles for Colonial Clothing

Customs and Fashions in Old New England


We know definitely the dress of the settlers of Massachusetts Bay, for the inventory of the "Apparell for 100 men" furnished by the Massachusetts Bay Company in 1628 is still in existence. From it we learn that enough clothing was provided to supply to each emigrant four "peare of sheaves," four "peare of stockings," a "peare Norwich garters," four shirts, two "sutes dublet and hose of leather lynd with oil'd skyn leather, ye hose & dublett with hooker & eyes," a "sute of Norden dussens or hampshire kersies lynd, the hose with skins, dublets with lynen of gilford or gedlyman kerseys," four bands, two hand-kerchiefs, a "wastcoate of greene cotton bound about with red tape," a leather girdle, a Monmouth cap, a "black hatt lyned in the browes with lether," five "Red knit capps mill'd about 5d a piece," two pair of gloves, a mandillion "lyned with cotton," one pair of breeches and waistcoat, and a "lether sute of Dublett & breeches of oyled lether," and one pair of leather breeches and "drawers to serve to wean with both their other sutes."

This surely was a liberal outfit, save perhaps in thematter of shirts and handkerchiefs, and doubtless intended to last many years. Though simple it was far from being a somber one. Scarlet caps and green waistcoats bound with red made cheerful bits of color alongside the leather breeches and buff doublets on Salem shore.

The apparel of the Piscataquay planters, furnished in 1635, varied somewhat from that just enumerated. Their waistcoats were scarlet, and they had cassocks of cloth and canvas, instead of doublets. Though scarce more than a lustrum had passed since the settlement on the shores of the Bay, long hose like the Florentine hose had become entirely old-fashioned and breeches were the wear. Coats—"lynd coats, papous coats, and moose coats"—had also been invented, or at any rate dubbed with that name and assumed. Cassocks, doublets, and jerkins varied little in shape, and the names seem to have been inter-changeable. Mandillions, said by some authorities to be cloaks, were in fact much like the doublets, and were worn apparently as an over-garment or great-coat. The name appears not in inventories after the earliest years.

Though simplicity of dress was one of the corner-stones of the Puritan Church, the individual members did not yield their personal vanity without many struggles. As soon as the colonies rallied from the first years of poverty and, above all, of comparative isolation, and a sequent tide of prosperity and wealth came rolling in, the settlers began to pick up in dress, to bedeck themselves, to send eagerly to the mother

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This page was last updated on 12 Oct 2005