Wednesday 30 December 2020

Documentation on Leather Leggings.

Leather Leggings Documentation Pre 1770. NOTE: Wash-leather was an 18th century term for brain tanned leather. https://www.academia.edu/11291281/Fur_and_Leather_Garments_in_18th_and_19th_century_New_England


The entwined gift-giving customs of British royalty and Native chiefs were also demonstrated at Johnson Hall by giving leather gloves to mourners at funerals. On April 28 of 1759, Johnson picked up “106 pair Mens Gloves,” “36 ditto Womens”

 And “13 Pair White Mans Gloves” from supplier Daniel Campbell. On the following day, he paid the debts of his deceased Mohawk ally Peter, and billed his Indian expense account 30 pounds for the making of “600 pr. Of Indn. Stockings [leather leggings] wt. Ribbn. To them” so the mourners could be arrayed in their finest Mohawk dress. (33)

In colonial New England, Indian brain-tanned or oil-dressed deerskin or

“buckskin” was often given the name “wash-leather”

 due to its softness and ease of cleaning. Deerskin, after brain-tanning, kept its natural color, a pleasing shade of ivory, and could be dyed into darker colors. Local deerskin was plentiful and reasonably priced – in Hadley, Massachusetts in 1770, for example, skins measuring 12 square feet sold for an average of 14 shillings each, at a time when imported cottons sold for 25shillings a yard. Venison – deer meat – was only about 2 pence a pound. One deerskin would provide enough leather for half a pair of breeches, or four to five pair of gloves or mittens. Throughout the 18th century, in the Connecticut River valley, “

 Breeches were the most common garment made of deer’s leather, jackets or waistcoats were numerous; there were leather doublets and coats, and some had a leather suit. A few had wash-leather stockings, and many had deer skin gloves. Moccasons were made of deer’s leather and moose leather.”(23)



1767 "...the boy had nothing on him that was ever spun. He had buckskin leggings, moccasins, and breechclout, and a bear skin dressed with the hair on, which he belted about him, and a racoon skin cap." (Remarkable Occurences in the Life of James Smith..., p. 117)

My thanks to Sicilianhunter for this last documented quote.