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Daily Life on a Colonial Plantation

A London Hanging, 1726

George Washington's Rules of Good Behavior

Passage To America, 1750

Captured by Indians, 1758

Courtship in New England, 1760

Daniel Boone Opens Up the West, 1769-71

The Boston Massacre 1770

The Boston Tea Party 1773

Getting Sick, 1774

Battle at Lexington, 1775

Battle at Lexington, 1775: The British Perspective

Ethan Allen Captures Fort Ticonderoga, 1775

The Execution of Nathan Hale,

Writing the Declaration of Independence, 1776

Washington Crosses the Delaware, 1776

The Continental Army at Valley Forge, 1777

"I Have Not Yet Begun to Fight!", 1779

The British Surrender at Yorktown, 1781

Thomas Jefferson's Advice to his Daughter, 1783

Slave Trade: the African Connection, 1788

The Inauguration of George Washington, 1789

Building America, 1789

The Beginning of the French Revolution, 1789

The Execution of Louis XVI, 1793

Joining the British Navy, 1793

Yellow Fever Attacks Philadelphia, 1793

The Death of George Washington

Courtship in New England, 1760

In 1759 Reverend Andrew Burnaby left his post as Vicar of Greenwich, England and embarked on a four-month voyage to America. He spent the following year traveling about the colonies, keeping a journal of what he experienced. One custom prevalent in Massachusetts Bay Colony caught his eye - the practice of "Bundling" or "Tarrying" in which young couples thinking of marriage would share a night in the same bed fully clothed or "bundled." Sometimes a board would be placed between the couple. Although more common in New England, bundling was practiced in many of the other colonies.

The Reverend Burnaby notes that the courting couple's activity wasn't always restricted to conversation while they bundled:

"A very extraordinary method of courtship, which is sometimes practised amongst the lower people of this province, and is called Tarrying, has given occasion to this reflection. When a man is enamoured of a young woman, and wishes to marry her, he proposes the affair to her parents, (without whose consent no marriage in this colony can take place); if they have no objection, they allow him to tarry with her one night, in order to make his court to her.

At their usual time the old couple retire to bed, leaving the young ones to settle matters as they can; who, after having sate up as long as they think proper, get into bed together also, but without pulling off their undergarments, in order to prevent scandal. If the parties agree, it is all very well; the banns are published, and they are married without delay. If not, they part, and possibly never see each other again; unless, which is an accident that seldom happens, the forsaken fair-one prove pregnant, and then the man is obliged to marry her, under pain of excommunication."

   This account appears in Burnaby, Andrew, Travels through the Middle Settlements in North America in the Years 1759 and 1760 (originally published 1775, republished 1960).

How To Cite This Article:
"Courtship in New England, 1760," EyeWitness to History, (2006).

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