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Estate Inventory
of Captain Anthony Beck

Introduction

Soon after his death in 1749, an inventory was made of the many possessions owed by Captain Anthony Beck of London Town. The resulting list is preserved in the collection of the Maryland State Archives and provides today's historians with a wonderfully detailed glimpse into an eighteenth-century household. Despite its length, the inventory omits a lot of information about Captain Beck and his home that a historian might like to know. It says nothing, for example, about the house or property where the listed objects were kept. It is impossible to tell where in the town of London, Maryland Captain Beck lived, what style house he lived in and whether the house was located on a spacious lot or crowded by surrounding buildings. Indoors, it is impossible to tell from the inventory how many rooms the house had, whether the various rooms were large or small, how they were decorated, whether or not the house had windows, or whether the household lived in one building or more than one adjacent building. In sum, the inventory serves as a tantalizing invitation luring the historian to seek additional documents which promise to shed more light upon the life of one of London Town's people.

Reading the Inventory

Trusted neighbors of deceased men made inventories of estates and women who toured the property and recorded the value of items that could be sold and the value of debts owed to the deceased. The purpose of an inventory was to account for the value of an estate to protect the rights of heirs and creditors. Excluded from the inventory were, usually, the house itself and property belonging to a man's wife or set aside for her maintenance. Women's clothing, for example, and cooking equipment were often omitted from a male head-of-household's inventory. While inventories recorded the possessions of individuals ranging from the wealthy to the very poor, not every person who died was the subject of one. Many people died leaving no estate. Women and minor children, for instance, often owned little property in their own right, and slaves were the property of others. Though they were not universally inclusive, estate inventories have proven invaluable to scholars seeking to understand the society of the colonial Chesapeake region. The bibliography which accompanies this site contains several study which help place the inventory of Captain Anthony Beck in the context of its place and time. 

Captain Anthony Beck's Estate Inventory: Transcript

Maryland State Archives.
Anne Arundel County Testamentary Papers. Box 50, Fo. 27, 1750

Click on any underlined word to go to the inventory glossary for a definition.
Then click on the back button to return to this page.

Quantity Item Value
(converted to pence;
240 = 1 L.)
40 ells lace
182
29.5 ells Oznabrigs
1622
16 doz yarn stockings
1682
11 pair damaged yarn stockings
168
3 worsted caps @ 2/6
90
3 dozen gilt looking glasses
1280
1 dozen pocket looking glasses
72
11 painted drinking cups
88
10 flowered drinking cups
40
1/2 dozen strokes for lye & vinegar
132
1 dozen wine glasses
168
1/2 dozen painted pocket bottles
48
8 table cloths & 4 doz. napkins
1759
3 pieces dimothy
1920
1 piece cambrick
888
1 piece bed ticking
540
2 large china bowls
432
22 small china bowls
1032
4 sets china cups and saucers
1110
4 dozen cups and saucers
620
1 dozen burnt iron plates
312
unreadable entry
180
unreadable entry
1010
129 lbs bohea tea part damaged @ 5/ per
7740
20 lb green tea  @ 7/ per
1800
3 pieces chintz @ 35 per piece
1290
5 pieces chintz @ 3.17 per
4620
3 counterpane @ 47
1632
2 pieces stamped linen @ 42
492
23 ells linen @ 2.12 1/4 ell
288
2 pieces silk handkerchief or bandana @35
840
15 pieces striped handkerchief or bandana 648
8 large silk handkerchief or bandana 480
2 pieces holland check @ 30 720
12 pieces stuff different sorts 30 yds ea 60/2 pcs 8664
4 pieces callimanco 20 yds @ 39/5 984
6 3/4 yds green lasting @ 2/11 228
1 piece blue tamys 438
2 dozen 1 doz hair hats; 1 doz straw  1320
5 pair men’s thread stockings  251
2 pair men’s black worsted stockings  185
7 pair second hand men’s thread stockings  294
6 gold rings  420
1 gold ring  360
1 gold ring  231
1 pair men’s boots 384
1/2 dozen framed pictures  173
4 cases bottles 736
1 hogshead gineva 55 gal @ 2/ 1320
1 tierce brandy @ 3/10  1518
6 firkins pipes @ 2/  480
wearing apparel  2400
bedstead with 2 pillows  1440
13 chairs @ 3/  468
1 men’s saddle  120
1 warming pan  120
6 leather chairs @ 10  720
3 old walnut tables @ 15/  540
4 2 old desks; 2 old chests of drawers  540
1 cupboard  150
1 tea table & set of china a few broke 180
3 old stone bottles  180
2 loaves loaves of sugar 20 lb @ 1 per lb  360
3 2 pistols; 1 cutlass of low quality  120
1 case of razors and a strop  42
6 needle cases 24
1 parcel old books 120
1 set silver buckles and 2 tea spoons  300
1 old watch and case  72
1 bed with curtains and sheets  1560
3 old table cloths 60
1 old looking glass  12
2 boxes of knives and forks  72
1 girl Moll  2400
2 woman & child Dinah and child, Jenny  10800
1 old woman Levy free  480
1 man London  10800
1 woman Priscilla, about 15 years  10800
1 pair andirons, fender, tongs  240
2 bottles English mustard  24
4 iron pots 13/ some broke 2/  156
1 parcel old ?  250
various items listed together  250
1 old horse  960
2 1 cow and 1 calf  420
1 parcel empty barrels and lumber
240
1 broke looking glass and 5 maps 
150
1 case of razors and a little old table

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