In the previous post in this mini-series, I shared a collection of images that give insight into the domestic life of the family at the apex of colonial Virginian society: that of the Royal Governor, who was appointed to his eminent position by none other than the King himself. The Governor's Palace, so named as an acknowledgement of the money and time poured into the exquisite building, includes architectural and design features rarely - if ever - seen in the homes of other colonial Virginians.
Even the wealthiest of colonial families lived a noticeable (and respectful) step below their royal representative. Next to the Royal Governor, the most prosperous citizen of Virginia's colonial capitol city was Peyton Randolph, Virginia Burgess, patriot, and president of the First Continental Congress. It was said by many of his contemporaries that had Randolph lived through the war, he would probably have been our new country's first president. Alas, he died in 1775.
His home in Williamsburg, just down the street from the Governor's Palace, is one of the largest in the city. Randolph's household was correspondingly grand; though he lived alone with his wife (and the occasional niece or nephew), the inventory taken at his death reveals that 27 slaves were also housed on the property. That same inventory has been used to furnish and present the house (it is an original structure dating to 1715) as it would have looked in 1775. Here is a peek into the domestic space of one of Virginia's gentry on the eve of the Revolution. Keep in mind as you view these pictures that the majority of Virginia's population lived in a single room with a dirt floor.