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Use of Welsh Plains

Welsh Plains / Negro Cloth was purchased to give to enslaved plantation workers in the Caribbean and the Southern States to meet requirements of decency in the later 1600's and 1700's and was seen as a useful everyday fabric in the 1800's, certainly in North America.

However many woollen fabrics were part of the international trade which included cottons from India and silk from China.

"Wool to Clothe the Gentleman to the Servant in Late Colonial Maryland

From 1771 to 1775, the Annapolis merchant firm of Wallace, Davidson & Johnson imported wool cloth not only for their own store on the city dock in Annapolis, but also for individual customers special orders as well as other merchants doing business in other parts of the Province.

A partial transcription of their order books, shows that wool cloth of various sorts was ordered. Included are descriptions of type, color, amount, size and even price in many cases.

An order from one day from Buchannan & Cowan Order Books - 20 March 1774


1 ps Welch cotton* 96 yds 13d (13 pence)

2 ps do 14 (14 pence) 

6 ps do 15d & 16 (15 and 16 pence) 

2 ps kendall cotton* 20/ (20 shillings) 

2 ps do 22/6 (20 shillings and six pence) 

from Maryland State Archives, Chancery Court (Chancery Papers, Exhibits) Wallace, Davidson Johnson, Order Books, 1771/4/25-1775/11/16. MSA S 528-27/28)  

Key: do = same as above

*the term cotton was used for woollen fabric that had been "cottoned" 

The following link sets these items into context in a vast trade in supplying the colonies. 


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