7 Year Tea Party Winners: Susan Craft's winner of her trilogy novels - The Chamomile, Laurel, and Cassia is: Lucy Reynolds, The winner of a copy of The Backcountry Brides is: Tammy Cordery, the winner of a silver quill charm is: Kathy Maher, Choice of one of three books by Carrie Fancett Pagels in paperback: Joy Ellis, A Bouquet of Brides Collection by Pegg Thomas winner is: Becky Smith, Janet Grunst's Selah-Award winning novel, A Heart Set Free, is: Sherry Moe.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Manners of George Washington

Ink sketch of a young George Washington, surveying
One of the most interesting things I learned about the Colonial era in my research was the manners and rules of civility gentlefolk were to know. The Colonial Williamsburg site has a page on the Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation, as transcribed by George Washington at the age of 16 or so, when he lived at Ferry Farm. It can be found several other places around the web too.

Reading through the 100+ rules of etiquette really enriched my understanding of the culture of the time. And explained some things. You know how you get that particular feeling of decorum and elegance from paintings of the time? These rules actually make it pretty clear it wasn't a trick of the artist. I'm going to give y'all a taste of some of their rules and manners. The spelling and capitalization are all George's. =) Enjoy!

~In the Presence of Others Sing not to yourself with a humming Noise, nor Drum with your Fingers or Feet.

~Shift not yourself in the Sight of others nor Gnaw your nails.

~(One of my favorites) Shake not the head, Feet, or Legs rowl not the Eys lift not one eyebrow higher than the other wry not the mouth, and bedew no mans face with your Spittle, by approaching too near him when you Speak.

~Kill no Vermin as Fleas, lice ticks &c in the Sight of Others, if you See any filth or thick Spittle put your foot Dexteriously upon it if it be upon the Cloths of your Companions, Put it off privately, and if it be upon your own Cloths return Thanks to him who puts it off.

~let your Countenance be pleasant but in Serious Matters Somewhat grave.

~Shew not yourself glad at the Misfortune of another though he were your enemy.

~Superfluous Complements and all Affectation of Ceremonie are to be avoided, yet where due they are not to be Neglected.

~Let your Discourse with Men of Business be Short and Comprehensive.

~Undertake not to Teach your equal in the art himself Proffesses; it Savours of arrogancy.

~Do not express Joy before one sick or in pain for that contrary Passion will aggravate his Misery.

~ Mock not nor Jest at any thing of Importance break no Jest that are Sharp Biting and if you Deliver any thing witty and Pleasent abstain from Laughing there at yourself.

~ Wherein wherein you reprove Another be unblameable yourself; for example is more prevalent than Precepts.

~ Wear not your Cloths, foul, unript or Dusty but See they be Brush'd once every day at least and take heed that you approach not to any Uncleaness.

~ Run not in the Streets, neither go too slowly nor with Mouth open go not Shaking yr Arms kick not the earth with yr feet, go not upon the Toes, nor in a Dancing fashion.

~ Eat not in the Streets, nor in the House, out of Season.

~ Speak not of doleful Things in a Time of Mirth or at the Table; Speak not of Melancholy Things as Death and Wounds, and if others Mention them Change if you can the Discourse tell not your Dreams, but to your intimate Friend.

~ Go not thither, where you know not, whether you Shall be Welcome or not. Give not Advice without being Ask'd & when desired do it briefly.

~Reprehend not the imperfections of others for that belongs to Parents Masters and Superiours.

Roseanna M. White pens her novels under the Betsy Ross flag hanging above her desk, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When she isn’t writing fiction, she’s editing it for WhiteFire Publishing or reviewing it for the Christian Review of Books, both of which she co-founded with her husband. www.roseannawhite.com


  1. Excellent advice! Loved this article, RO!

  2. what a genteel time. So much of these manners and common courtesies are gone, but maybe this post will inspire each of us to keep it alive. nicely done, Roseanna!


    1. I have to admit, I'd be in serious trouble on the singing/humming to oneself thing, LOL. A coworker once observed of me, "You know, normal people talk to themselves. You SING to yourself." So, so true...

  3. Thank you, Roseanna. That was delightful. I loved your last comment about singing. I'm a hummer--usually hymns learned in childhood and sung throughout a lifetime (I'm 85). Recently, upon hearing a sermon on the importance of being in an attitude of praise throughout the day, I wondered, "Does humming count?"
    PS I found this blog through a mutual friend of ours--Joy Ross Davis.

    1. Hello, Louise! So good to meet you. And yes, I think humming counts as an attitude of praise, for sure. =)

  4. I think we've lost a lot in both manners and moral values since colonial times. Can you imagine what a person from the 18th century would think of our social discourse today? lol! I suspect they would think they'd landed among aliens. Actually, something I enjoy doing is to imagine my characters time traveling to today and trying to navigate our culture! They'd be stunned at the changes just in society, to say nothing of technology.

  5. "Wherein you reprove Another be unblameable yourself; for example is more prevalent than Precepts."
    I love this one..a great one to follow in our daily Christian walk.
    These were very interesting. Thanks for sharing.
    God bless.

    1. Yeah, that's a great way of phrasing the "remove the plank from your own eye" idea, isn't it? Thanks for coming by, Chaplain Debbie!


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