Accession number(s): 76.2
Object: Chinoiserie china, set of 40
Material: Glazed porcelain, paint, gilding
Country: Great Britain (probably England)
Provenance: Flora MacDonald (1722-1790) to Davis family to Parke Carter Davis (1842-1900) to Thomas Frederick Davis (1877-?) to Leah Davis Merritt (1905-1994) to Patrick Henry Memorial Foundation
Description: British ceramics in the late eighteenth century often displayed scenes adapted from Chinese designs. Early ceramic designs were produced using an underglaze printing technique. Blue was the only color which remained stable throughout the high temperatures used in this glazing method. The dark ink and slightly blurred lines apparent in this china set are also characteristic of late eighteenth century glazing techniques.
This china set belonged to Flora MacDonald (1722-1790), a Scotchwoman who helped Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) escape to France after his unsuccessful attempt for the British title. Legend has it she disguised the prince as her maid and traveled across the Highlands to the Isle of Skye where he took a boat to France. In 1774 Flora MacDonald emigrated to North Carolina and settled in Anson County. The MacDonald family remained loyal to the King during the American Revolution, helping to raise more than 500 Highlanders to fight against the colonists. She was forced to sell her possessions, silver, china, and jewels, to raise money for her return trip back to Scotland soon after the start of the Revolution. At this time the china came into the possession of the Davis family who were living in the area. The Davis family was related to the Henry family by marriage. During the Civil War the china was buried to protect it from the Union army, presumably prior to Wilson’s Raid over the Staunton River Bridge in June 1864.