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Abraham Alling (b. Abt. 1663, d. Bef. March 27, 1736)Abraham Alling1 was born Abt. 1663 in Oyster Bay, LI1, and died Bef. March 27, 1736 in Oyster Bay, LI1.He married (2) Meribah Harcourt on Aft. May 19, 16981, daughter of Richard Harcourt and Elizabeth Potter.
Notes for Abraham Alling:
Were People Really Shorter Back Then?
Posted on May 26, 2006 at 09:21:42 PM by Linda J. Barnes
It is commonly believed people during the 18th century were considerably shorter than those living today. A look at the stature of 3rd New York recruits in 1775 provides some data on the subject, although the 286 men on the four muster rolls for whom height has been recorded represent much too small and specialized a sample to make broad statements about height in the general population.
The “Instructions for the Inlistement of Men,” which accompanied the warrants the captains were given by the New York Provincial Congress, targeted the “able bodied, healthy” and good marchers. Men of upright physical stature were probably being sought when possible. It is safe to say that such men are almost always preferred by recruiters, but not always available.
Compared to other recruitment efforts for which such information has survived, those of the four captains of the 3rd New York appear to have yielded a taller crop of soldiers. Mean height for the New York recruits was 68.53 inches or 5 feet 8½ inches, which compares very favorably with recruits from Pennsylvania. Among the 275 Pennsylvanians for whom height was recorded, the mean height was found to e 65.75 inches or 5 feet 5¾ inches. A study of 2,214 men in four British regiments during the Revolution indicates a mean height for those particular redcoats of 67.75 inches or 5 feet 7¾ inches.
One phenomenon was noticed. A positive relationship exists between the recruit’s place of birth and his height. Of the 216 recruits whose place of birth is known, 45 were foreign born. The mean height of these immigrant recruits was 66.85 inches, a little more than 5 feet 6¾ inches, with a standard deviation of 2.617 inches. The mean among the remaining 171 soldiers who were born in America was 68.78 inches, 5 feet 8¾ inches, with a standard deviation of 2.62. A difference in mean height of nearly 2 inches between foreign and native-born recruits with a nearly identical, relatively narrow standard deviation suggests something was happening. In light of the apparently shorter foreign- born soldiers in New York, it is interesting to note that 66% of the Pennsylvanians, who were on average 2 inches shorter than the Yorkers, were foreign-born.
For picturing the appearance of the armies relative to one another, the data becomes much more useful. It lends more weight to the recorded observations of European participants in the fighting. An unnamed Brunswick officer described the Americans at the Surrender of Saratoga in a letter to his brother that he was surprised at the sight of such finely built people, men on the average of 6-7 inches according to the Prussian measurement (i.e. 5 feet, 6 inches). He said, "One saw far more fellows measuring 8-10 inches than 5 inches (i.e. above 5 feet 8 inches than below 5 feet 5 inches). There were men of still greater stature in every company.” Though the four companies in our study were not among those observed by the Brunswick officer, the range of heights is very similar. Of 286 recruits, 37 or 13% were over 6 feet tall, two fellows towering at 6 feet 4 inches. The shortest was a laborer from Prussia, 5 feet 2 inches tall.
By contrast, the scathing comments of Royal Artillery Commandant, General James Pattison, about his British replacements arriving in America in 1779 are amusing. When possible, the Royal Artillery drew the biggest and brightest of the recruit pool due to their elite status and special needs. Disappointed with his new recruits, he generously wished they were “back in the bogs from which they sprang.” After shortening the barrels of their muskets from 42 inches to 36 inches, he suggested, “I will try how far the strength of these diminutive warriors is equal to carry muskets cut down.” Pattison’s exasperation was clearly evident when he opined, “great must be the scarcity of men when the Royal Artillery is obliged to take such reptiles." "Such warriors of 5’5½” I never saw raised for the service of the Artillery.”
It is possible, though never proven, that the environment in America had an effect on the second or third generations born here. The overwhelming majority of the Yorkers were either Northern European or of North European descent. Two were French, on Prussian, the rest were Dutch, German, English, Irish and Scotch, ethnic groups today considered to produce relatively tall men. Much more elaborate studies of environment, nutrition and ethnicity need to be incorporated into any research intended to explain if indeed Americans, by the second of third generation, were taller or healthier than their European counterparts.
--Richard Patterson, who is 5' 8"
From the Spring 2006 Issue of the Old Barracks Museum, Trenton, NJ Newsletter
More About Abraham Alling:
Date born 2: Abt. 1663
More About Abraham Alling and Meribah Harcourt:
Marriage: Aft. May 19, 16981
Children of Abraham Alling are:
- +Martha Alling, d. date unknown.
Children of Abraham Alling and Meribah Harcourt are:
- +John Alling, b. Abt. 1700, Oyster Bay, LI1, d. October 12, 1762, Oyster Bay, LI1.
- +Martha Alling, d. date unknown.