It’s documentary, my dear Watson: Maude Vester’s Story

caveat: This life history contained longer documentation in an effort to examination the life of one woman. But trouble with fonts made me shorten most of it. I will post separately the original documents (not in fancy font!). Misspellings are due to 17th century writing, not me ;-) I’ve also taken liberty with the history, vocabulary, and dialects.

I, X (Maude vester) do here by enter into service with Mr.HoriceBrigsstone  for a period of no less, nor more than seven years. Mr.Horice Brigsstone will gain passage to the Carolinas of America and there I X ( Maude vester) will do such work as my master, Mr.Horice Brigsstone , should deem worthy in repayment of the costs of transporting me, Maude vester to the Carolinas and my upkeep there. Upon the conclusion of the period of seven of indentured servitude, I, X (Maude vester) shall receive the following: one dress, linens, and those as needed for stitchery.

Signed here this day November 26, 1680 by X (Maude Vester) and Mr.Horice Brigsstone

date May 16, 1681 (ship’s log — Captain Dennis)

65 days at sea. Violent storms have been replaced by fair skies but calm seas.

Punishments: Midshipman Forest – 5 lashes and low rations for sleeping on duty Passenger Deaths: 5 below decks. I am assured by Ship’s surgeon all the dead have been disposed of overboard

Two fights and cries of thievery from below decks. Four bloodied combatants and two shrews arguing over a blanket. Warned Punishment if behaviour continues.

Date, 8 June 1681 (Ship’s surgeon’s diary)I swear this is the last voyage I shall take as Ship’s Surgeon! I will marry well, start my own practice in a comfortable house. Many masters will be ill received at the dock — sick and dead servants are no profit. So much agony below decks. The stench and cries of the ill haunt me at night. A woman, Maude, moves among them with water is as she thinks the fever will not strike her down

South Carolina, 6 Sept. 1681 (letter from ship’s officer to his fiancée.) Dearest, As the Endeavour sails with the next turn of the tide, I quickly write to say I am well. Captain Dennis and my fellow Officers are fine men and good company. But not as good of company as you my dearest. In four months, I shall be at your side again, holding your tiny, white hand, and staring into the bluest of blue eyes. I think of you always and am trying to be patient for our wedding date to be set by your family. Must finish to have this packet arrive with the Endeavour. With all my passionate love, Henry

As I can not write and you cannot read, Rev. Webster is putting down my words as I speaks them. A friend of his will seek you out and read me words to you. I am now my own mistress with a new dress, fancy linens, and a sewing basket. Seven years was hard. Lots of folks are buried on Mr. Briggstone’s plantation. Rev. always fears for women in the Master’s service. I worked in the house, and me baby was stillborn. I t’were to call her after thee. Annie must be married with own family, and Jonathan apprenticed. I think of you every day. Tell thems that want to come, is Hell but if you last ’tis Heaven lovingly your daughter Maude.

Marriage Certificate 

I, Reverend Elijah Thomas Webster in my role as minister and man of the cloth, do this day wed Mary Vester and Jonas Strong. As neither is bound to any other, both free to enter into matrimony. 5 May 1690 

Maude’s Education

Jons is learnd me leters & numbers. Maude

Church Records: Baptized: Mauve MaudeVester Strong, daughter of Maude and Jonas Strong, 6 November 1695

Here lies Mauve Maude Vester Strong Pringle

Born 1695

Married Thadius Sebastion Pringle 1711

Died 1785

Mourned by her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren.

She is at peace with the Lord

Of course, a lot is left unsaid. What of Jonas and Maude? How was Maeve’s experience in the Carolinas, especially compared to her parents? The answers lay in documents not yet retrieved. The search continues.

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