Letter from Gavin Scott of Elizabethtown to his brother in
Alnwich, England, 1800
Courtesy, New Jersey Historical Society, Newark,
MG 1139, Scott Family Papers, Box 1, folder
Click on image to enlarge.
Click here for transcription.
Mary (1734-1801)and Gavin Scott (1738-1815) immigrated in
1795 to the Elizabethtown (Elizabeth) area from Northumberland, England.
Immigrating and starting over was hard work and usually undertaken by
younger people. The Scotts, however, were both advanced in years: Mary was
61 and Gavin was 57. Nevertheless, Gavin purchased land and set to raising
wheat, rye, peaches, and apples; soon he had a tenant farmer working his
land as well. His adult son set up a tobacco shop in Elizabethtown. Mary,
however, was not strong and became ill. By 1799 she was feeble and
confined to the first floor of their home. By 1800 she was blind, and the
help of a hired woman and her daughter was necessary.
In this letter written from Gavin to his brother in
England in April 1800, we learn about a farm women’s domestic work.
Gavin gives advice about some of the skills a wife needs to have on a New
Jersey farm in order to avoid hiring help. Dairying was particularly
important because he did not think much of the local way of making dairy
products. A wife should be a good cook or bring with her a cook from
England. He marvels at the excellent bread made by the hired woman and her
way of making yeast. While Gavin seems to be thriving in his new life, the
opposite was true for Mary. Her story is hidden in silence and we never
learn what she felt about her new home; she died the next year.