Judith Suares

King Street

Caribbean immigrant and her sons

Judith Alberga (1770–1853) married Jacob Suares (1755–1818[?]) in Kingston, Jamaica. Jacob moved to Charleston first and Judith joined him in 1799. He gave her permission to become a sole trader, allowing her to carry on a business for herself, keeping her own inventory and entering into contracts on her own behalf. The fact that Jacob Suares had recently lost a civil suit may have been their motive: as a feme sole,A married woman who had the legal right to manage her own commercial affairs. Otherwise, women in this era were the virtual property of their husbands. Judith Alberga Suares would not be liable for her husband’s debts.

As a widow, Judith continued her small-business career. At least by 1825 she had a store here on King Street, at the center of Charleston’s commercial district, and soon left her residence on Henrietta to live above her shop. Her sons shared her home and likely were involved in her business as well: by 1835, Benjamin Suares (b. 1816) was a merchant tailor, and Abraham Suares was a clerk. Judith Suares’ daughters, Mary Ann and Caroline, probably lived here as well until their 1841 marriages.