Cache-Control: public, max-age=1024000 The Blacksmith in Eighteenth-Century Williamsburg

Craftsmen in 18th Century Williamsburg

The Blacksmith in Eighteenth-Century Williamsburg by Harold B. Gill Jr

The good people of Williamsburg, Virginia, have produced a series of booklets on craftsmen operating there during the 18th Century and generously made them publicly available on Project Gutenberg.

While my site is about 18th Century Britain, the technologies in the Old World and the New would have been much the same. I have extracted some of the more relevant material but I urge you to look at the complete publication. Click on the cover illustration to go to the Gutenberg page.

The publication has lot of interesting information on tools and practices and is worth visiting. Of interest here a set of accounts rendered showing both the type of work and the cost. Note that money is in Colonial currency and, as such, is worth somewhat less than sterling.


John Tait, another planter, wrote to England for a blacksmith who was “accustomed to coarse Country work,” such as hoes and axes, to be indentured for four or five years and to receive £10 sterling per year in wages, plus “meat, drink, washing & lodging.” Francis Jerdone, a planter and merchant of Louisa County, had an indentured servant who did all of the plantation’s blacksmithing and also brought in as much £7 in one month of 1767 for work done for neighboring farmers.

Accounts Rendered

The following bill of John Cock indicates the kinds of work done by rural Virginia blacksmiths and the prices they charged in 1759:

To making Niles and Shuing one whele 0 12 6
To making a hoop one Staple and two Rings and Rivating the wheles by J. L. 0 5 6
January 4
To Shuing a pr of five foot and a half wheles and Rivating them Round A. L. 3 0 0
9 To making 5 Staples 1 Ring and 3 goosnecks 0 9 0
12 To making 5 Staples for the yokes & bees 0 4 0
To making 3 hooks and 6 Rings 0 5 0
To making 1 large Ring 0 1 0
To making 8 small pins & Cuting a Chane and making a traces 0 3 6
20 To making 4 hooks and 4 Rings 0 4 0
To making an ox chane 0 7 6
To Lanthing an ox Chane and making a Staple and Ring 0 2 0
To making a ploug Large 0 6 0
To making an ax 0 2 0
F.1 To making three axes one of my iron 0 6 6
12 To Cuting a plough hoe 0 3 9
21 To Laying Eight hilling hoes 0 12 0
24 To Laying a fluck hoe of my iron 0 4 6
To making a plough of my iron 0 10 0
To making 3 hilling hoes 0 4 6
To making 5 hilling hoes 0 7 6