Friday, April 23, 2010

Gravestone of the Day: Moll

Moll, 1723, Newport, RI
Here lieth Moll
ye wife of Peter
Servant to Robert
Barker, died Octo
ye 14th 1723

A note on names: I do not like to refer to slaves by their owners' last names unless the gravestones specifically call them by both first and last name. I do not know whether Moll went by "Moll Barker" in life or whether she claimed another surname. I feel that it would be inappropriate to reproduce the patriarchal fiction that incorporated slaves into their masters' families while robbing them of their own names and the names they chose for themselves through marriage. This can lead to some awkward naming patterns (see Pegge Scott-Robinson), but I think its safer to leave the surname off when the primary source is not specific.

This stone appears to have been lettered by William Stevens, but the hourglass was obviously carved by a less experienced hand. For more discussion of the Stevens shop and its carvers, see Vincent Luti's exhaustive study, Mallet and Chisel.

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