J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Monday, February 06, 2017

Dinner with the Old Colony Club in 1769

The Old Colony Club started as a group of seven young gentlemen from Plymouth. They formed their club in January 1769, and on 22 December of that year had a dinner to commemorate the landing of the first British settlers in what was then the Plymouth Colony but was subsumed into Massachusetts.

The dinner took place at the inn of Thomas Southworth Howland, another descendant of the first settlers, starting at 2:30 P.M. According to club records, the food consisted of:

1. A large baked Indian whortleberry pudding.

2. A dish of sauquetash.

3. A dish of clams.

4. A dish of oysters and a dish of codfish.

5. A haunch of venison roasted by the first jack brought to the Colony.

6. A dish of sea-fowl.

7. A ditto of frost-fish and eels.

8. An apple pie.

9. A course of cranberry tarts, and cheese made in the Old Colony; dressed in the plainest manner (all appearances of luxury and extravagance being avoided, in imitation of our worthy ancestors whose memory we shall ever respect).
At 4:00 the club walked solemnly back to “Old Colony Hall,” the procession “headed by the steward carrying a folio volume of the laws of the Old Colony” of Plymouth. Other descendants gathered as a military company and “discharged a volley of small arms, succeeded by three cheers.”

Peleg Wadsworth brought out the boys from his “Private Grammar School opposite the Hall,” who sang “a song very applicable to the day.” Young Elkanah Watson might have been among those boys; his namesake father, his teacher Wadsworth, and the school’s other teacher, Alexander Scammell, were among the men who joined the club members for toasts that afternoon.

The public part of the ceremony ended at sunset with a cannon being fired and the club taking down their “elegant silk flag” inscribed “Old Colony 1620.”


Jim Padian said...

"Subsumed?" Flaunting our vocabulary are we?

J. L. Bell said...

I thought that word was ordinary. Had more trouble with “sauquetash.”

Unknown said...

Old Colony Club now fires the cannon at dawn on Dec. 22. Joy.

J. L. Bell said...

This original Old Colony Club dissolved during the Revolution. Some members were Patriots, some Loyalists. Generations later, some Plymouth gentlemen founded a new version, inspired by the original, and I guess they adopted some of the same rituals as well!

Unknown said...

I just finished reading Tories: Fighting for the King in America's First Civil War by Thomas B. Allen. The author has quite a bit of detail about the Old Colony Club and which members chose which sides.

poyklr said...

Any idea who the original 7 members were?

J. L. Bell said...

Yes, the records are clear and well preserved. Those seven young gentlemen were Isaac Lothrop, Pelham Winslow, Thomas Lothrop, Elkanah Cushman, John Thomas, Edward Winslow, Jr., and John Watson.