My supposition about Maggie’s first female ancestor in America is that she is not upper-class. I got a good look at what the wealthiest people lived like in the city of Williamsburg today when we toured the Governor’s Palace.
I’ve toured the Palace before, but this time I did it with an eye to what Maggie’s ancestor would do within the Palace if she were there?
As an aside, I’m getting tired of calling her “Maggie’s ancestor.” She needs a name. Let’s call her… (quick query of “Female Scottish First Names”) Hester… and… (quick query of Scottish Surnames) Morris.
Okay. Like it or not, now she’s stuck with Hester Morris as a name.
So, let’s talk about the Governor’s Palace. (Pictured at the top of the post.)
Before the Revolution, the Governor’s Palace was the luxurious dwelling of the English governor appointed to oversee the colony of Virginia. When you first walk into the building you come face-to-face with the symbols of his power.
Just look at all those weapons on the wall! When I was here last, about five years ago, the walls were a dark wood paneling. The interesting thing about Williamsburg is that research is ongoing, and the ongoing research revealed that the walls would have been painted a light color. So, it was painted. The front hall is now considered to be “highly accurate.”
The Palace is decorated as if Governor Dunmore, his wife, and six of their seven children still lived there. Upstairs, we saw Lady Dunmore’s bedroom and dressing room, and a family room with walls papered in red silk. I don’t think I got into Governor Dunmore’s bedroom. (Wow, that sounds wrong.) But the rooms in which the family lived were well-appointed for the time.
As for clothing, check out this replica of a gown. Nope. Hester Morris would not be wearing that. Plus, it would clash with her red hair. Frankie had to get that somewhere, right?
Going back downstairs, we went through the music room that had a harpsichord, as well as an organ disguised as a cabinet. I have no idea why it was disguised as a cabinet, except that it was clever.
We ended in the green ballroom that was heated by a stove to one side and the green of which sadly did not quite match my top (so terribly disappointing).
Somehow I just can’t see Hester working inside the Palace. I did, however, see a contender in one of the buildings in the Palace complex.
And that building is the cookhouse. Every day Colonial Williamsburg’s staff makes food that would have been on the Governor’s table. Today, it was (among other things) pork, poultry, a lemon cake, and potato pie! The potato pie was a savory one, as opposed to a sweet potato pie. But I need to research whether it bears any similarity to the potato pie I found in Miss Beecher’s Domestic Receipt Book and mentioned in Seeing the Elephant. I’ll have until I get home to work that out.
Our first contender, then, for Hester’s form of employment is “cook” in an upper-class household.
I think I will find 2-3 more potential jobs for Maggie’s ancestor. And, then, I might put it up for a vote to see which draws the most “yays.”
Until tomorrow, good people, I your humble servant take leave.
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Janet Stafford, Squeaking Pips Founder