The Punishment of Crimes in Colonial New York

“The End of His Days”,
page 3 of 10

Sometimes it had a separate front door by which it was entered, thus giving two front doors to the house. Diedrich Knickerbocker says the front door of New York houses was never opened save for funerals, New Years, and such holidays. The kitchen door certainly offered a more cheerful welcome. In North Holland the custom still exists of reserving a room with separate outside entrance, for use for weddings and funerals. Hence the common saying in Holland that doors are not made for going in and out of the house.

Men and women both served as watchers, and sometimes both were at the funeral services within the doed-kamer; but when the body was borne to the grave on the wooden bier resting on the shoulders of the chosen bearers, it was followed by men only. The women remained for a time in the house where the funeral had taken place, and ate doed-koecks and sipped Madeira wine.

The coffin, made of well-seasoned boards, was often covered with black cloth. Over it was spread the doed-kleed, a pall of fringed black cloth. This doed-kleed was the property of the church, as was the pall in New England churches, and was usually stored with the bier in the church-vestibule, or doop-huys. In case of a death in childbirth, a heavy white sheet took the place of the black pall. This practice also obtained in Yorkshire, England.

Among the Dutch a funeral was a most costly function. The expenditure upon funeral gloves, scarfs, and rings, which was universal in New England, was augmented in New York by the gift of a bottle of wine and a linen scarf.

When Philip Livingstone died, in 1749, his funeral was held both in New York and at the Manor. He had lived in Broad Street, and the lower rooms of his house and those of his neighbors were thrown open to receive the assemblage. A pipe of wine was spiced for the guests, and the eight bearers were each given a pair of gloves, a mourning-ring, a scarf, handkerchief, and a monkey-spoon. At the Manor a similar ceremony took place, and a pair of gloves and handkerchief were given to each tenant. The whole expense was five hundred pounds.


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