Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas at Nomini Hall, Virginia, 1773

"I was waked this morning by Guns fired all round the House.  The morning is stormy, the wind at South East rains hard. Nelson the Boy who makes my Fire, blacks my shoes, does errands & c. was early in my Room, drest only in his shirt and Breeches!  He made me a vast fire, blacked my Shoes, set my Room in order, and wish'd me a joyful Christmas, for which I gave him half a Bit.--Soon after he left the Room, and before I Drest, the Fellow who makes the Fire in our School Room, drest very neatly in green, but almost drunk, entered my chamber with three or four profound Bows, & made me the same salutation; I gave him a Bit, and dismissed him as soon as possible.--Soon after my Cloths and Linen were sent in with a message for a Christmas Box, as they call it; I sent the poor Slave a Bit, & my thanks.--I was obliged for want of small change, to put off for some days the Barber who shaves & dresses me.--I gave Tom the Coachman, who Doctors my Horse, for his care two Bits, & am to give more when the Horse is well.--I gave to Dennis the Boy who waits at Table half a Bit.--So that the sum of my Donations to the Servants, for this Christmas appears to be five Bits, a Bit is a pisterene bisected; or an English sixpence, & passes here for seven pence Halfpenny, the whole is 3s and 1 1/2 d.

At Breakfast, when Mr. Carter entered the Room, he gave us the compliments of the Season.  He told me, very civily, that as my Horse was Lame, his own riding Horse is at my Service to ride when & where I Choose.

Mrs Carter was, as always, cheerful, chatty, & agreeable; She told me after Breakfast several droll, merry Occurrences that happened while she was in the City of Williamsburg.

This morning came from the Post-Office at Hobbes-Hole, on the Rappahannock, our News-papers. Mr. Carter takes the Pennsylvania Gazette, which seems vastly agreeable to me, for it is like having something from home--But I have yet no answer to my Letter.  We dined at four o-Clock--Mr. Carter kept in his Room, because he breakfasted late, and an on Oysters--There were at Table Mrs. Carter & her five Daughters that are at School with me--Miss Priscilla, Nancy, Fanny, Betsy, and Harriot, five as beautiful delicate, well-instructed Children as I have ever known!--Ben is abroad; Bob & Harry are out; so there was no Man at Table but myself.--I must carve--Drink the Health--and talk if I can!  Our Dinner was not otherwise common, yet elegant a Christmas Dinner as I ever sat Down to..."

--Philip Vickers Fithian, Saturday, December 25, 1773 from Journal and Letter of Philip Vickers Fithian, ed. Hunter Dickinson Farish, 39.