Thursday, April 12, 2012

Shoe Files: Mrs. Elisebath Johnson's Shoe, Lynn Museum

Mr. Ambros Talbut had the Banns for his upcoming marriage to Mrs. Elisebath Johnson (1745-1825) posted on October 2nd, 1768. 1 They were married on Thursday November 24th, 1768, which was a particularly "cald" day according to a contemporary account of a birth found in the Newhall genealogy. 2 The summer and fall of that year were filled with uncharacteristic lightening storms which lasted into early November in some parts of the region.3

While a Thursday wedding may seem odd to modern readers, during the 17th and
18th century in New England, the actual announcement of intent to marry was generally more important than the celebration. Hence the day of the nuptials was frequently
based on the abilities of family members to be present and a reasonable hiatus taken
from the family businesses.

The clothing of the bride and groom would of course have been their finest. And the
survival of Mrs. Johnson's shoe is a testament to that. Originally the silk brocade would
have displayed a shine and luster, which, in combination with sparkly paste buckles,
epitomized Georgian taste in shoes.  Once vivid polychrome, with a floral motif which may have matched the color ways of her gown, no doubt Elisebath's ensemble was eye catching.
Despite the fact that cordwainers had set up business in the region by mid -century, shoes of London fabrication were in high demand by the well off and stylish women of the
American colonies along the New England sea coast.  Married at the age of 23, she would have four children - Sarah, Ambros, Enoch and Bethiah. 4 She died in 1825 at the age of 80. 

The survival of only one shoe of a pair is not uncommon for it is easier to give one shoe each to heirs than to divide a dress or gown.


1. "Publishments, Octr. 2, Mr. Ambros Talbot & Mrs. Elizabeth Johnson," in
Commonplace Book of Richard Pratt of Lynn, MA. Introduction by Nathan M.
Hawkes. (Lynn, MA: The Nichols Press, 1900.) 60.
2. Newhall Registry details intermarriages & connections with the Johnson Family.
3. Historic Storms of New England, Sidney Perley, 1891
4. Vital records of Lynn

All photos courtesy of the Lynn Museum
Thank you to Kate Luchini, Director and Abby Battis, Curator, for sharing the richness of their collection.

Accession #3129 
Elizabeth (Elisebath) Johnson’s (1745-1825) Wedding Shoe, #3129
Worn for her 1768 marriage to Ambrose Talbut
London-made shoe, maker unknown
No separate right or left, evidence of a shoe buckle
Silk brocade with polychrome floral pattern, leather sole and fabric covered Louis style heel
8 1/2” long x 3” wide x 4 1/2” high

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