Everyday Life in the Colonies
Everyday Life in Colonial Days
Before the Revolutionary War, people were not allowed to be outside after dark. It was the night watchman’s job to make sure that no one broke this rule. The colonists were required to attend church service or be punished. If a man stayed away from church for a month without a good excuse, he might be put in the stocks or into a wooden cage. No word could be spoken with impunity against the church or the rulers. He who used his tongue too freely was placed in the pillory or stocks, or was fined, and in some extreme cases he lost his ears. Additionally, tithing was mandatory, and Virginians furnished his local glebe with pounds of tobacco (used as currency). The local parish houses were primitive, first constructed with logs and oiled paper used for windows. Since there was no stove inside, women often carried foot-stoves, which, by definition were small sheet-iron boxes containing a few hot coals. The sermons lasted two hours or more and upon the pulpit stood an hour-glass, which a deacon would reverse when the sands of the hour had fallen through. Pews were hard, and sleeping was considered a serious offense. The minister, or a watchful tithingman, held a long stick prod which reached into the pews to awake people.