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This Day (Midwife with Teaspoons Edition)

June 21st, 2011 by Brendan Wolfe · 1 Comment

On this day in 1736, the will of William Blaikley was proved in court. In case you’re curious, his estate included several slaves, japanned tea tables, looking glasses, pictures, a silver cup, teaspoons, and—obviously—tea tongs. Who cares? Well, his widow Catherine cared, because she got all of it: the tea tongs and 50 acres in Henrico County, a mill in Brunswick County, and a town lot in Williamsburg, which is where she actually lived. That was enough to set her up for life as an independent woman. She ran a  boarding house and, most famously, worked as a midwife.

Or should I say “most eminently”? At the time of her death around 1771, the Virginia Gazette praised her as “an eminent Midwife” who brought “upwards of three Thousand Children into the World.”

Considering that the population of Williamsburg at the time was only 2,000, that was, indeed, an eminent accomplishment. Without Catherine Blaikley, one wonders if anybody would have been born in Virginia at all!

PS: It’s come to my attention that yesterday’s subject-line pun was lost on some people. Perhaps I listen to too many motivational speakers.

IMAGE: Catherine (or Catharine) Kaidyee Blaikley’s death notice, published in the Virginia Gazette, October 24, 1771 (page 2)

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