Judith Wait Head

Judith Wait Head

1717 – 1802

In 1743 Judith Wait left her parents’ home in Portsmouth to join her new husband Benjamin Head in her in-laws’ house between Tunipus and Quicksand Ponds. Judith arrived with the “moveable property” she had made or had been given by her parents including linens, kitchenware, furnishings, and perhaps even livestock.

In addition to her housekeeping and childcare work, Judith contributed financially to the family by making cloth. She and her daughters were spinners. Her husband and sons were weavers. Textile production was widespread in Little Common, but 18th-century families still purchased imported European fabrics when they could.

Judith’s probate inventory reveals the valuable textiles she owned. Her damask gown, two calico gowns, and velvet cloak were made from imported goods. Her three wool gowns, six wool petticoats, three wool waistcoats, three wool aprons, four linen collars, three checked aprons, six handkerchiefs, eight caps, eight shirts, six pairs of wool stockings, two pairs of linen stockings, two pairs of mitts, and 33 sheets were more likely homemade. Her 33 skeins of linen yarn, 16 skeins of tow yarn, and three skeins of wool yarn were probably made by Judith herself.

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Outdoor exhibit panel from the 2020 special exhibition, The Little Compton Women’s History Project.

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