Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fearnought Cloth (Pennsylvania Gazette, 11-9-1769)

Michael Byrne emphasized the convict status of his servant Robert Haines several times in his 1769 advertisement. Byrne's notice provides a rare glimpse into the supplies taken by runaway servants when they absconded. In this case, Haines carried an osnaburg (unbleached linen) wallet (a sort of general-purpose bag) and a quart glass bottle. Haines might have looked rather dowdy in his "half worn" coat, shoes, and hat, but his wardrobe was not without its flare. Flower buttons adorned his dark coat, and he also had two "jackets." The first, made of a "halfthick" (coarse wool) featured a worn purple nap and a red flannel lining. Haines had another jacket, which we would probably label a waistcoat, "the fore parts made of striped flannel, and the hind parts of blue fearnought." Fearnought referred to a type of thick fabric with a long pile. Several coarse shirts and two pairs of trousers completed Haines's wardrobe. The mention of trousers is particularly notable at this relatively early date.

Convict though he may have been, it is hard to deny that Haines prepared well for his escape.

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