A sumary of the wedding of William Worthington and Temperance Gallup on September 20, 1726 in Stonington, New London County, Connecticut. The bride was twenty-five years and old the groom thirty. It was the groom's second marriage. From "Colonial Days and Ways" by Helen Evertson Smith, published in New York by The Century Company in 1900:
The year was 1726. The bridegroom was the Rev. William Worthington, then pastor of the church at Saybrook, Connecticut. The bride was a former parishioner in the town of Stonington, Connecticut, by name Temperance, daughter of William Gallup and his wife Sarah (Chesebrough), and granddaughter of Captain John Gallup and his wife Hannah (Lake), of whose " pioneer home " we have already read. As known to all readers of colonial history, this Captain John Gallup, the second of his name, had been a man of much influence with the Mohegans, or friendly Indians, many of whom had followed his leadership in the Great Swamp Fight of 1675, in which he bravely fell at the head of his com- pany. To his son, William Gallup, the Mohe- gans had transferred the allegiance they had given his father, and, in his turn, he continued to exercise over and for them the same sort of fatherly guar- dianship which they had received from Captain Gallup. A knowledge of this fact is essential to the comprehension of an incident of the wedding of Mr. William Gallup's daughter.
This family was among the most prominent and highly connected in what is now known as New London County, Connecticut, and in the theocratical regime of New England the minister always held the first rank by right of his office, as well as by the gentle birth and breeding which were usually his. For both reasons all the neighboring " people of quality " were naturally among the invited guests. The pastor, being in spirit as well as in name the father of his flock, could not allow any member of his late parish to be overlooked, though it probably embraced every soul in the township. To be both just and generous to all, it was decided to make a wedding-feast of two days' duration, and invite the guests in relays, " according to age, list and quality," in the same way that sittings were then assigned in many, if not all, of the " meeting-houses " of New England.
The first day of the feast was that on which the marriage ceremony was performed by the bridegroom's personal friend, the Rev. Ebenezer Rossiter, and not by a civil magistrate, as was the early custom in all the Puritan colonies. It is almost certain that' there was no wedding ring. Even as late as half a century ago these were rarely used by descendants of the Puritans. There were present on this day only the relatives and the intimate friends of the contracting parties. As the bridegroom was a minister, no doubt all the neighboring clergy, and as many of their families as could come, were numbered among the friends on this day. So, also, were several of the highest colonial dignitaries, as appears by the time-stained chronicle, written nearly fifty years later, from the relations of her grandmother, the bride of that day, by Juliana Smith, a granddaughter of the Rev. and Mrs. William Worthington.
For the first day's feast long tables were spread with much profusion, and with what to modern eyes would seem like confusion as well. Soups were then rarely, if ever, served on occasions of ceremony, and all meats, fish, side-dishes, and vegetables were placed on the table at the same time, and served without change of plates. It was considered an " innovation " at this wedding-dinner that " coffee, pies, puddings and sweetmeats formed a second course."
The guests were seated with great regard to precedence. Probably there were not many chairs, for even in England " settles and forms " continued to be more commonly used than chairs in the best country houses at least as late as 1750. Such as there were — and probably every good neighbor contributed such as he possessed for this occasion — were carefully reserved for " the most infirm and the greatest dignitaries."
"Immediately after the asking of the blessing by the oldest minister present, tankards filled with spiced hard cider were passed from hand to hand down the table, each person filling his own mug or tumbler." A punch-bowl is not mentioned in this chronicle as having formed a part of the table furniture, and as it is expressly mentioned that the drinks were poured from the tankards into mugs or tumblers, it is probable that the custom, mentioned by Mrs. Earle in her " Customs of Colonial Life," of passing the punch-bowl from hand to hand for each person to drink from, had already become obsolete; indeed, it is not certain that such a custom was ever habitual among the bet- ter sort of colonists. Tankards were undoubtedly so passed, not only here but in the rural districts of England, as late as " in the days of good Queen Anne."
A very few of the tankards and mugs at this wedding may have been of silver or of glass, and still fewer of delft or of china, but where there were so many the greater part must have been of pewter, horn, or wood. Of these articles, as well of the chairs, it is likely that all the well-to-do neighbors contributed the best of such as they possessed, this generous sort of neighborliness being a characteristic of the time and of all new settlements. Arti- cles of silver were not as plentiful in New England as in the other colonies, but by this date nearly all families of distinction possessed a few, and in spite of the natural losses by fire and other calamities, there are still existing some relics which ornamented this long-ago wedding-dinner.
A curious dish, which may possibly, even probably, have been used on that day, is still in possession of a member of the family connection, a descendant of the Chesebroughs. This dish is here described in the hope that some one may be able to determine what use it was originally intended to serve. It is circular, about nine or ten inches in diameter, perhaps three inches deep, standing upon a circular base ; it would hold from three to four pints of liquid, and has a cover. So far there is nothing to distinguish this piece of very ancient red, yellow, and blue delft from many another which we would not hesitate to call a vegetable-dish. But, perched against one side of its interior, like a swallow's nest under the eaves, is a pocket-like thing that would hold three or four tablespoonfuls of liquid were it not perforated like the strainers of tea-pots. It has been stated—on what author- ity I know not — that when tea was first brought to Holland it was served as a soup. Is it possible that this queer old side-pocketed dish was made for the infusion and serving of the new herb"?
If there were not enough dishes of the better sort to accommodate all the guests' entitled to them, preference was always, at such entertainments, given to the older persons present. The juniors would be served on this first day, as all would be on the next day, with dishes of brightly polished pewter, or in trenchers of maple, tulip, or poplar wood, scoured to an almost snowy whiteness.
There would be few spoons of silver, but many made of pewter or horn; no silver forks, and perhaps not an oversupply of steel ones. Among the relics in the old house at Sharon are still preserved half a dozen specimens of an implement which preceded forks —sharply pointed bits of steel, about four inches long by an eighth of an inch in diameter,set into handles of bone. When I first found them and took them to my grand-mother with a " What are these? " she laughingly told me to " guess." I thought they looked more like ice-picks than anything else, but she assured me that they were the precursors of forks. They must have performed their office but " indifferent well," though, as an improvement upon fingers, some of them may likely enough have been used on this occasion.
Some of the pewter dishes now cherished by the descendants of those who, as relatives or friends, were present at this wedding, are marked with the owner's initials as carefully as if they were of silver. Indeed, a full set of pewter tableware was considered a fine wedding gift from a father to his daughter. A pewter porringer, belonging to the family which owns the dish of ancient delft mentioned above, is a really pretty thing, graceful in shape and having a fancifully cut flat handle projecting from its side. It is recorded that in Queen Elizabeth's time cocoanut shells were used as drinking-cups, being polished, and set sometimes in silver, and sometimes in pewter. In the colonies polished cocoanut-shells were also occasionally used as ladles, having long handles of polished wood attached to them. At least one such ladle still exists. It has a prettily fashioned handle of maple wood. Its exact age is not known, but it or its counterpart might well have been used at this wedding-feast.
On the first day of the feast, besides the preliminary draught of spiced cider, there was brandy for those who craved it, and much good Burgundy and Madeira for the more temperately inclined. Three casks of Madeira (size not mentioned) are recorded as having been broached on that day.
On the second day the " commonalty" began to assemble at about nine o'clock in the morning. (The "quality" on the previous day had waited until eleven.) The tables were served to succes-sive guests during the day. Foreseeing the demand, all the good housewives in the vicinity, with their servants, had been assisting Mrs. Gallup and her servants in the preparations, and afterward, with neighborly cooperation, they assisted in the serving of the stores of good things.
On the first day, " after the removal of the substantial part of the meal, the ladies left the table, the table cloths were removed, and various strong waters, together with pipes and tobacco, were brought on, in company with trays filled high with broken blocks of nut sweet." This last was a highly prized candy made from maple sugar made soft with water, placed in a shallow iron pan over the coals, with a liberal allowance of unsalted butter, and slightly scorched. While scorching, the blanched meats of hickory-nuts and butternuts, or sometimes almonds when this foreign dainty could be procured, were added with a liberal hand. When cooled this became firm, and was esteemed " equal to anything in England."
On the second day this regular order of things, with the customary toast-drinking, was manifestly impossible. "As each relay of guests left the tables they passed out of the front door near which stood an immense bowl, long ago hollowed out by painstaking Indians from a bowlder, for the grinding of their corn. This was filled with punch which was ladled out freely to all who presented anything from which to drink it, while great piles of powdered tobacco and a good bed of coals to furnish light, were free to all who had pipes." This punch, whatever liquor might have furnished its body, was sure to have been well seasoned with the best of West Indian sugar and lemons, for there was already a brisk trade between the Connecticut coast and the West Indies, and at this time of the year the trading vessels would have been coming into the home ports.
This unique punch-bowl held many gallons, and it speaks well both for the temperance of the guests and the good quality of the liquor provided. that "no one became boisterous, though the big Bowl was kept well and strongly replenished during the entire three days of this wedding feast." For three days there were, though only two have yet been mentioned here.
Early—very early—on the morning of the second day, almost before the active men- and women-servants had opened their eyes upon the heavy day's work before them, a motley but grave and decorous procession of apparently interminable length was seen coming over the hill on the side of which, " overlooking the little Mystic River, stood the large and, for its time, the imposing mansion of Mr. Gallup."
For al moment the master stood in blank dismay. The descendants of the friendly Mohegans and a remnant of their Pequod enemies, so nearly annihilated half a century before, were small in number when compared with their former strength, but they were still formidable as wedding-guests. They had heard that all the countryside had been invited to partake of Mr. Gallup's hospitality, and perhaps had imagined that such an invitation must include themselves. Such a conclusion would have been natural enough, " considering that he had always taken them, in a manner, under his protection, and they had always turned to him for advice and often for efficient help in time of need." Or it may have been that some practical joker had been at the pains to convey this impression, or, as
Mrs. Gallup's great-granddaughter opined, that " some slighted suitor had thought thus to cause annoyance to the bride." Whatever might have been the cause, the remnants of the tribes had come in all the security of invited and welcome guests —brave, squaw, and papoose.
With the prompt decision which characterizes most successful men, Mr. Gallup sprang upon the stone horse-block and proceeded to make an impromptu speech, " in the picturesque style in which he was an adept, and with which an Indian auditory was always pleased. He assured 'his children ' that they were welcome, very welcome ; but that they had mistaken the day for which they had been invited; that their day was the morrow, and that then he should set before them the best that could be had, a feast that should be worthy of them and of his friendship for them." In the slang of our own day, this contract was a large one, for the resources of the neighborhood had been already heavily drawn upon, and the line of the morrow's guests "as they wound their way back to their wigwams in open Indian file, as their native manner was, extended from the Gallup house well on to the head of the river, a mile or so away from it." On the following day the dignified but hungry host came back again, " beplumed and blanketed in their best, and none went hungry or thirsty away."
For various good reasons, including the natural objections of a dainty housewife, this multitude was served out of doors, where immense iron kettles of clam and of fish chowders had been started to cook, over carefully tended fires, long before daylight. In other kettles numbers of the wild ducks, which at that season had begun to be plentiful along the coast, were slowly stewing with onions. "Three young hogs, of about one hundred weight each,were roasted whole,also out of doors. Hanging from the cranes in the great fireplaces in the house were boiling big bags of Indian meal puddings, thickly studded with dried plums." To be served with the puddings were pailfuls of a sauce made from West India molasses, butter, and vinegar. Great baskets were filled with potatoes that had been roasted in the ashes, and other baskets were piled with well-baked loaves of rye and Indian bread. All of these were dainties which the copper-hued guests could duly appreciate, especially with the addition of barrelfuls of hard cider and as much West Indian rum as it was deemed wise to set before them.
These particulars are all mentioned in the little diary from which I have culled so much, but, with the exception of the few things previously quoted, it says nothing about the viands that were served on the preceding days. By this period the colonists had acquired the art of cooking to the best advantage most of the dishes which were peculiar to the country, and the wealthy among them had also a good many imported dainties.
No amusements in which women took part, save possibly as spectators, are mentioned, but we are told that the young men engaged in "rastling, quoits, running, leaping, archery and firing at a mark, but on the last day no muskets were allowed by reason of the Indians." Probably the women were all too much engaged in hospitable cares to indulge in any of the diversions considered suitable for them.
No wedding journey followed the simple ceremony. On the afternoon of the first day many of the invited guests — probably all of them on horseback, save a few who may have followed on foot for a mile or so, for apparently there were no carriages then in that region—escorted the newly wedded pair, the bride riding on a pillion behind her husband, to his house, the parsonage of the West Parish of Saybrook, Connecticut. Any further feasting might, even after a ride of twenty-five miles or more, have seemed superfluous, but a " valiant supper had been spread " by the care of Mr. Worthington's parishioners, wishing to extend a hearty welcome to his bride and the friends who had accompanied her, and all "were plentifully regaled with cold meats, roast and stewed oysters, cakes, comfits, chocolate and coffee."
" After the supper a hymn was sung by all, followed by a prayer and benediction. . . . After which," adds the young chronicler, "the friends all departed " (probably to the homes of Saybrook friends hospitably opened to receive them), " and my Grandfather and Grandmother, left alone together in their new home, knelt down and prayed together for God's blessing."