Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Ordinaries in Colonial America

Ordinaries were important businesses in Colonial America. At times, they were also referred to as taverns, public houses, or inns, but they were not all alike. A tavern may only be a social meeting house that served drinks and provided a place for people to gather to discuss the issues of the day, or it might also serve food and provide rooms to rent. Most taverns that served food at a fixed price were referred to as an ordinary. Ordinaries or inns provided lodging and food for the public, particularly travelers. They were often found in towns, or along thoroughfares, or near river crossings. Inns or ordinaries that catered primarily to travelers also often had the means of caring for horses and carriages.

It was not unusual for widows or single women to run ordinaries or taverns in the eighteenth century. Some ordinaries were independent structures, or they might be incorporated or attached to residential homes. Most would have a large room that served as a common area for guests to gather for refreshment, meals, exchange news, talk politics, and even transact business. Common rooms were furnished with chairs, tables, and a fireplace. Bedrooms provided a place for people to rest.

This sequel to A Heart Set Free picks up five years later. By this time Matthew and Heather Stewart had built and were running an ordinary, Stewarts’ Green, on their farm in the Virginia countryside. They had a tenant family to aid with the running of the ordinary and the farm.

Many years ago, when I began writing A Heart For Freedom, I was introduced to and visited a couple only a few miles away from my home who lived in what had once been an eighteenth-century ordinary.

A Heart for Freedom is primarily set at an ordinary located not far from the main route leading west from Alexandria, Virginia and near a ferry that transported travelers across the Potomack (Colonial spelling) to Maryland.

Here is the back cover blurb for A Heart for Freedom:
He longs for freedom, but he won’t risk those he loves.
Matthew Stewart wants only to farm, manage his inn, and protect his family. But tension between the Loyalists and Patriots is mounting. When he’s asked to help the Patriots and assured his family will be safe, he agrees.
She’s seen the cost of fighting England, and she wants no part of it.
In Scotland, Heather Stewart witnessed the devastation and political consequences of opposing England. She wants only to avoid war and protect the family and peace she finally found in Virginia. But the war drums can be heard even from home in the countryside, and she has no power to stop the approaching danger.
The consequences are deadly.
When Matthew leaves for a short journey and doesn’t return, Heather faces the biggest trial of her life. Will she give up hope of seeing him again? Will he survive the trials and make his way home? What will be the consequences of his heart for freedom?

Janet Grunst
Is a wife, mother of two sons, and grandmother of eight who lives in the historic triangle of Virginia (Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown) with her husband. Her debut novel, A Heart Set Free was the 2016 Selah Award winner for Historical Romance. A lifelong student of history, her love of writing fiction grew out of a desire to share stories that communicate the truths of the Christian faith, as well as entertain, bring inspiration, healing, and hope to the reader. 

Represented By Linda S. Glaz
Hartline Literary Agency


  1. Thank you, Pegg, for hosting me on Stitches Thru Time. What a lovely and colorful fall background.

    1. Happy to have you! I think our readers will be interested in the ordinaries of Colonial living.

  2. I enjoyed learning about ordinaries. Thanks for sharing.