Who was Lydia Tuttle and why is she the only person receiving poor relief in 1767?
Three documents were recently discovered at the Ulster County Hall of Records referring to the plight of Lydia Tuttle. These documents offer great insight into the attitude society held towards the poor and the manner in which the system of binding out operated. Although there is some information concerning the men who were paid to support her, there is little known about Lydia herself. Between 1767and 1770, Lydia was bound out to three different homes, staying at each for the estimated duration of one year.
In 1767, Lydia Tuttle was auctioned off and bound out to the lowest bidder.
This early document states, “Whoever will keep said Lidia Tutell for the less money shall have her for said year.” During the practice of binding out poor persons, the dependent would be given to the person or family offering the least amount of money. In Lydia’s case, she was given to an individual offering the smallest sum for the contracted duration of a year. It is interesting to note that Abraham Lefever, one of the Overseers of the Poor, signed the contract as her caretaker.
Lydia's story continues the following year in 1768, when she is once again offered for the lowest bid. Those who accept the conditions are required to provide her with general necessities including food, drink, and clothing in both sickness and health. The document states, “And it is hereby Ordered that whoever will take her for the Lowest or least price Shall have her.” Robert Sojunt wins the bid.