400 Pennsbury Memorial Road | Morrisville, PA 19067

William’s World: Men of Metal and Mettle

June 28th, 2012 William's World


Back in May, we posted an article on the Joyner’s Trade.  Now our intern Ray is exploring the blacksmithing tradition at Pennsbury and wants to share what he’s found!

"Blacksmith at His Forge," Le Nain Brothers,1640

A blacksmith in the time of William Penn was considered a highly skilled craftsman, someone who could provide a town or estate community with valuable tools and metal accoutrements. We know of a “smith” on the estate of Pennsbury Manor from a 1687 inventory and various letters that have survived. One list called for blacksmithing tools to be brought over by ship from England. Along with these tools, the shop was stocked with a bed, blankets, rugs, and two chests. This indicates that not only did a blacksmith work at Pennsbury, but also most likely lived above his shop. A worker with such skills would be essential on a working estate like Pennsbury, for he would be required to create, maintain or repair any object made of metal on the property. Along with his normal duties, we have reason to believe Penn’s “smith” also helped deliver mail. In a letter from local Quaker resident Phineas Pemberton to his wife Alice, he wrote that “this comes by the Govenor’s smith.”

During the excavation of the site in the 1930’s, many artifacts such as nails, latches, and hinges were found (on view in our exhibit!). Items such as these would have been manufactured by Penn’s “smith,” along with various tools and even shoes for horses. Today at Pennsbury, we have a reconstructed blacksmith shop with tools that would have been used in this pre-industrial setting. Every first Sunday from April-October, volunteer interpreters recreate the atmosphere of fire and clanging metal in their blacksmithing demonstrations for visitors. 

 

~ Written by Ray Tarasiewicz, Intern