Humphrey Sommers

Humphrey Sommers (1711-1788) Jeremiah Theus (c. 1719 - 1774) 1750 - 1755 Charleston, South Carolina Oil on canvas HOA: 30", WOA: 25" MESDA Purchase Fund (acc. 3974)

Humphrey Sommers (1711-1788)
Jeremiah Theus (c. 1719-1774)
Charleston, South Carolina
Oil on canvas
HOA: 30″, WOA: 25″
MESDA Purchase Fund (acc. 3974)

Humphrey Sommers was one of many Charleston craftsman who owned enslaved craftsmen.  Sommers was born in the west of England in 1711.  He was in Charleston by 1748 when he was identified as a bricklayer.  In the later 1750s Sommers was one of the contractors at work on the new St. Michael’s Church.  By 1753 he was referring to himself as a “gentleman.”  By 1771 he was being styled “esquire” in legal documents.   In comparison, we know very little about Sam, one of Sommers’s many enslaved craftsmen.  Sam only surfaces in the written record once, after he runs away from a subsequent owner.  In an advertisement published in 1809, the only description we have of his life, he is described as a “jobbing carpenter… formerly belonged to the estate of Humphrey Sommers.”

Learn more about this object in MESDA’s online collection catalog.