[Ads-l] wench

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Wed Mar 30 21:01:08 UTC 2016

>From my notes.  Note that #2 does not specify "Negro Wench"; #3 is "Indian
Wench"; & #4 is a "a Free Negro Wench".

1:        To be SOLD, TWO Likely Negro Men, one of them a Ship-Carpenter by
Trade, and the other understands a Team or Plantation-Work: Also a Negro
Wench with two small Children; the Wench understands House-work.  ***
            N-Y Gazette, Revived, March 23, 1746/47, p. 4, col. 1

2:         A Young Wench about 29 Years old, that drinks no Strong Drink,
and gets no Children; a very good Drudge: Enquire of the Printer hereof.
            N-Y Gazette, Revived, December 19, 1748, p. 3, col. 2

3:         This Morning an Indian Wench was committed to Goal, for the
Murder of her Child.
            N-Y E Post, August 21, 1749, p. 3, col. 2

4:         Last Thursday Night between ten and eleven o'Clock, as a Woman
was going out at her Fore Door, she espy'd a Bundle laying behind a Stoop
or Bench, and . . . found it to be a Bag of Pork; she with some of her
Neighbours judging it to be stolen, agreed to keep watch in order to see
who came to fetch it, which they did effectually, for in a short Time, a
Free Negro Wench (Deaun by Name) with a white Man came to fetch the Bag:
The Man perceiving that People kept Watch, would not venture to go up to
it, but shear'd off another Way: The Wench however, had the Impudence to go
and take hold of it, and being ask'd by those that kept watch, what she was
a going to do? said, "That she was getting her Bag, that was left there for
her, by a Man."  ***
            N-Y E Post, March 16, 1752, p. 3, col. 2


On Tue, Mar 29, 2016 at 12:32 PM, Joel Berson <berson at att.net> wrote:

> Advertisements using "wench" to refer to a Negro (a black or colored,
> including Native American) female can be found in early 18th century
> American newspapers, perhaps as far back as 1704, the first year of the
> earliest newspaper in British North America.  (At the moment I could only
> quote from 1739.)
> I now notice that the quotations I have always use "Negro wench" in
> combination.  That makes me wonder when "wench" alone began to denote a
> Negro.
> Joel
>       From: David Barnhart <dbarnhart at HIGHLANDS.COM>
>  Sent: Tuesday, March 29, 2016 8:00 AM
>  Subject: [ADS-L] wench
> My son, Grant, found in his work for the Dutchess County Historical
> Society, the following advertisement from 1809:
> FOR SALE--A healthy
> Negro Wench,
> About 21 years of age, will suit in or country, can spin, and do any kind
> of house work.
> *Poughkeepsie Barameter*
> [Poughkeepsie, N.Y.], March 8, 1809.
> Compare eOED:
>  *b.* *U.S.* (See quots.)
> 1765  *Boston Gaz.* 17 June  'Tis said the Fire was occasioned by a Negro
> Wench carrying a Quantity of Ashes.
> 1828  Webster *Amer. Dict. Eng. Lang.*  *Wench*,..3. In America, a black
> or colored female servant; a negress.
> 1848  J. R. Bartlett *Dict. Americanisms*
> 1891  *Cent. Dict.*  *Wench*. 3 (*c*) A colored woman of any age; a
> negress or mulattress, especially one in service. (Colloq.)
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

George A. Thompson
The Guy Who Still Looks Stuff Up in Books.
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998..

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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