Briton Hammon, Slavery, and the Sea

If you haven’t seen the notice on the Winslow House event calendar to the right, tonight at 6:00 PM, the Marshfield Ventress Library is hosting Winslow House Executive Director Aaron M. Dougherty for a lecture on the adventurous Briton Hammon, 18th century “servant” and Atlantic traveler.

Briton Hammon is considered one of the first black Americans to have a published autobiography, and the 1760 publication of his story is one of the first American slave narratives. Going to sea on a 1747 trading voyage, Briton would encounter Florida natives, Spanish governors and sailors, and French foes in a thirteen-year ordeal that saw him face death, torture, imprisonment and battle time and time again. Briton’s story was noticed because of an 18th century fascination with so-called “captivity narratives;” accounts of people of European and African descent imprisoned by American natives. In later decades, the life stories of slaves like Briton began to feature more prominently in the American consciousness, and help to fuel the growing American abolitionist movement.

If you miss tonight’s lecture, or are interested in reading about Briton’s story for yourself, please visit the links or find the books below for a look at this man’s fascinating thirteen-year adventure.


Bolster, W. Jeffrey. 1998. Black Jacks: African American Seamen in the Age of Sail. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

 Bradley, Johnathan. “Hammon, Briton.” Black

 Goldstein, Karin. 1998. “Parlors and Garrets: The Winslow Family and Their Servants.” MayflowerQuarterly 64 (4).

Green, Keith Michael. 2014. “Uncommon Sufferings: Rethinking Bondage in A Narrative of the Uncommon Sufferings and Surprising Deliverance of Briton Hammon, a Negro.” InJourneys of the Slave Narrative in the Early Americas. University of Virginia Press.

Hammon, Briton. 1760. “A Narrative of the Uncommon Sufferings and Surprising Deliverance of Briton Hammon, a Negro Man”. Green & Russell.

The Paul White Papers

Happy New Year, Winslow history buffs!

Some of you may have read in the Spring, 2014 issue of the “Careswell Chronicles” that the 1699 Winslow House was in the process of cataloguing and digitizing the papers of 18th century merchant Paul White, a distant relation of the Winslows. As a belated New Year’s gift, we’re pleased to announce that the Paul White Papers are now available for historical research. Please visit our new Resources page to view the collection’s finding guide; potential researchers are encouraged to contact us at to arrange to view the documents and transcriptions.

Paul White (1711-1775) was a descendant of Susanna White, Mayflower passenger and second wife of Edward Winslow, and therefore distantly related to the Winslow family. An active merchant between the 1740s and 1770s, he was targeted for his Loyalist political views in the years before the Revolutionary War.

The Paul White Papers primarily consist of correspondence and receipts, chronicling interactions between colonists in locations ranging from Marshfield and Boston to North Carolina. Using these documents, the Winslow Society hopes to learn about colonial society and communication networks in Marshfield, the colony of Massachusetts, and the wider British world.

Expect to hear more about this collection as we uncover its secrets, and look for related programming in 2015.

This program is funded in part by Mass Humanities, which receives support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and is an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Annual Meeting of the Winslow House Association

Notice is hereby given that the Annual Meeting of the Historic Winslow House Association will be held on Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014, at 5 PM, at the Marcia Thomas House, 65 Webster Street.

This will be a very important meeting of the Historic Winslow House Association, so members are strongly encouraged to attend. If you plan on attending, please RSVP by emailing or by leaving a message on our voice-mailbox, at (781) 837-5753.

 Business to be conducted will include:

* The election of persons to fill seats on the Board of Governors,

* Recognition of Winslow House volunteers and retiring Governors,

* Review and vote on changes to the Association’s bylaws,

* Appointment of 2015 officers by the Board of Governors.

 Special guest David Welch, from the Marshfield Historical Society, will also give a brief talk on the newly formed Marshfield Historical Triangle, consisting of the 1699 Winslow House, the Marshfield Historical Society, and the Daniel Webster Estate.

For more information or to RSVP, please email Aaron Dougherty at or leave a message on our voice-mailbox at (781) 837-5753.

Guarding the lintels

Witch marks 4 Witch marks 3 Witch marks 2 Witch marks 1See these round carvings scratched into the wood of the Winslow House lintel? They’re faint, but they’re there!

 They’re called witch marks. Or daisy wheels. Or hexafoils, or apotropaic marks, or charms. A carpenter’s compass could be used to create a perfect circle with six flower-like petals meeting in the center (hence the term daisy wheel!), or cruder designs could be created with a knife or nail. These colonial pieces of graffiti probably represented the sun, or God, or other positive things. The Winslow House has several of them, scratched into the wooden beam over the master fireplace in the winter kitchen.

 Their purpose? To protect the home from witches and evil spirits. Witch marks, or whatever you choose to call them, were a form of protective folk magic used by colonists to guard doors, windows, and hearths; all places where evil beings were feared to enter. Such markings have been discovered scratched into old beams, carved onto boxes containing valuables, and even embroidered into household linens. They began appearing in English buildings shortly after the Protestant Reformation and were still in use in the 19th century British colony of Australia!

 Good to know, as we get closer and closer to Halloween. If you’re a New Englander of the old school, and you happen to have a compass lying around, there’s no harm in taking precautions, right?

 From the 1699 Winslow House, Happy Halloween!

“Here Lies Buried” Cemetery Bus Tour

Time is running out to claim your reservation for this Saturday’s “Here Lies Buried” Bus Tour of some of the South Shore’s most iconic cemeteries and burying grounds, sponsored by the Back Roads of the South Shore (BRSS).

On Saturday, September 27, journey through Hull, Hingham, Marshfield, and Duxbury and learn about their storied past residents. Cemetery tours will be presented by the directors, archivists, and curators of BRSS member organizations, creating an intimate glimpse into life and death on the South Shore of the past.

For more information, and to register, please visit or contact the Alden House at 781-934-9092 or by email at

Introducing new October Events!

We’ve been busy here at the Historic 1699 Winslow House and Cultural Center. September brings cool weather and school tours, and October brings our final on-site programs of the year. Haven’t had the chance to check out our upcoming events? Now’s your chance!

Saturday, October 11: Haunted Tavern Night

6 PM: Twilight Tour of the Historic 1699 Winslow House

7 PM: Food, drink, and entertainment

Featuring songs and stories by musical group An Unkindness of Ravens. Everyone likes a night at the pub, and everyone knows that a night at the pub is better with a few ghosts! Whether they’re real or not is a conversation for a different night.

Visit for more information.

Sunday, October 12: Historical Triangle Scavenger Hunt

1 – 4 PM

Hey Marshfield residents, have you ever noticed that the 1699 Winslow House, the Marcia Thomas House, and the Daniel Webster Estate are all within half a mile of each other on Webster Street? We did! And we’re proud to announce that this Historical Triangle will be hosting a special, family-friendly Scavenger Hunt on October 12.

Visit for more information.

Saturday, October 18: Twilight Tours

Join the 1699 Winslow House for our final event of the season, and for your final chance this year to explore the dimly lit rooms of a colonial mansion. There’s a rumor that Harry Houdini might be attending!

Visit for more information.

Coming Soon…

Visitors to our site may look at the “Upcoming Events” to the right and think that the Winslow House is nearing the end of its 2014 programming. I’m happy to report that this is not the case.

Starting in September our tour hours will change, but only so that we can prepare for a new roster of events coming this autumn. Like the 40th annual congress of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants in Plymouth, during which we are happy to be able to host the Winslow Heritage Society for their inaugural meeting!

Or our new Colonial tour, specifically designed to enthrall young visitors with the thrill, challenges, and hardships of 18th century living.

Or our ever-popular Tavern Night… in October… with a haunted twist…

And more! Stay tuned for further information on Winslow House events in the months to come. Better yet, subscribe to our mailing list to make sure that you don’t miss out on all that we have to offer this autumn.

Remembering William M. Riegel

The WinslWilliam Riegelow Association was saddened to hear recently of the death of William M. Riegel, who passed away on July 20, 2014 at the age of 86. Bill served in turn as a naval officer in the United States Sixth Fleet, the President and later Chairman of the Board of Riegel Products Corporation, and the founder of the consulting firm of Riegel Associates, based in Duxbury, Massachusetts.

In his retirement, Mr. Riegel was an active supporter of the Historic Winslow House, serving multiple terms as a director on our Board of Governors.

Our deepest condolences go out to his family and friends.

Join the Marshfield Mariner on a Tour of the House

The Marshfield Marnier came for a visit to the Winslow House earlier this season and met up with Aaron Dougherty.

We were privileged to have Mariner Intern Nick Arena film a tour of the House. Thank you to the Mariner, Mr. Arena and Editor Kristi Funderburk.

In case you haven’t had a chance to visit the property and learn the history of the Winslows, here’s a brief taste of the experience from

Wicked Local Link: Join us for a tour of the Winslow House

The Negro Spiritual: History and Influence

1699 Historic Winslow House and Cultural Center is pleased to present a musical history program on Saturday, August 2, at 2:00 p.m. entitled “The Negro Spiritual: History and Influence.” Vocalist Melodee Savage will perform eight spirituals with commentary in-between. Jazz pianist George W. Russell, Jr. will accompany on
keyboard. Negro spirituals are known for poignant words and rich melodies. Through verse and song, the audience will learn how these “Black and Unknown Bards” used their folk songs and how these songs made their way into American culture.

Tickets for the program are $10 for members and $15 for non-members and are available in advance by calling 781-837-5753 , by visiting or emailing or may be purchased at the door.  Light refreshments will be served.

Ms. Savage, a Marshfield resident, has performed professionally on Broadway,  off-Broadway, in national tours and in regional theater as a singer, actor and dancer.   She received critical acclaim for her solo vocal performances with the American Jazz Orchestra,  Tulsa Philharmonic Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and an All-Star Jazz Band at Carnegie Hall which recreated Duke Ellington’s premier concert of 1943.  For more information, visit her website at

George W. Russell, Jr. is an inspirational jazz pianist, composer and educator and a Professor of Harmony at Berklee College of Music. For more information, visit

The Ancestral Home of the Founding Family of Marshfield