Monday, February 14, 2011

Social Roles


Griffin Jones, Sr. made his appearance in history 13 August 1736. [My eighth-generation

grandfather.] He was found in the legal records of Caroline Co., Virginia, causing all kinds of trouble. What to make of all this? The society that surrounded Griffin at this time was pretty much fixed. He was expected to fit into the culture that produced the environment in which he lived. The legal system was one way to stand up for yourself and your family.


The drawing to the right is a summary table of the "male" social system that was in place around this time in history. From birth , until a male was considered an "adult", was clearly defined. England defined its social structure by rank, and you were born into a class. You were born into this class, and expected to follow what society had structured.


Infancy was considered from birth to around 5 years of age. The immediate family was responsible for your care and upbringing. If born "poor" you became wards of the parish church.


Primary education began around 5-6 years of age. You were usually sent to a school in the surrounding community, or a community close by. For the poor or lower classes, as early as age 10, one could be placed as an apprentice. This involved leaving the home and moving into another family's home. You became a workman for this family and learned the trade that was being practiced. The title "bonded" or "servant" was applied.


Secondary education began around 14-15 years of age for those in the upper classes. Oxford and Cambridge were the schools of choice for the upper crust. This often involved at least one year in the legal system, called the "Inns of Court". It was at age 14 that an individual could select their own guardian. This secondary education could take 5-7 years, and a male was considered ready for the adult community around age 21. This may be as long as age 27 in certain families.


Farm and field was the place viewed acceptable for many. A trade and profession for others was the norm. Church, the legal courts, and the military for the younger brothers were often the goals for those freeman and above.


The court of the monarchy was for the knight and peerage.


So, there you have a big picture of the social structure of male society. Griffin, Sr. would have gone through this system. This would suggest that he was at least 21 years of age in 1736. Understanding this social system can be used to begin to set dates around many "brick walls"!

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