Thursday, August 28, 2014

Anne Houlton Walker first "Pub Crawler" & A look into Colonial Misconduct and "Bawdy" behavior among Woman


On April 30 1638 John Winthrop reported that "Anne, wife of Richard Walker, being cast out of the church of Boston for intemperate drinking from one inn to another and for light and wanton behavior," was sentenced to be whipped, "but because she was with child her punishment was respited" She was excommunicated for a variety of infractions, including "cruelty toward her children." and She was tied, with shoulders naked, to the Whipping-post; but being with child she was not whipped." Many call her the first "pub crawler." From the Great Migration Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Volume VII, T-Y

According to "Christianity and Sexuality in the Early Modern World: Regulating Desire, Reforming Practice," excommunication was decided only by the patriarchs of the church and was the harshest penalty set on an individual and could be administered for secular acts, or for any crimes committed outside the church.  

Well looking over a two month span Anne Hutchinson and Judith Smith were also bared from service. These three women, according to Darren Staloff in "The Making of an American Thinking Class: Intellectuals and Intelligentsia in Puritan Massachusetts," were the first in seven years to get the boot with the exception of one fellow, who was readmitted with seven months of his excommunication. 

However, in "New World, New Roles: A Documentary History of Women in Pre-industrial America," authors Sylvia R and Frey, Marian J. Morton assert that Winthrop clearly put the energy into his nightly recapping of the day to day events  on woman's misconduct and "bawdy" behavior. Two examples of event in 1634 are both excommunicated for murdering their children and "should be sufficient to impress the pathos or the downright tragedy of the situation;"

"A cooper's wife of Hingham, having been long in a sad melancholic distemper near to phrensy, and having formerly attempted to drown her child, but prevented by God's gracious providence, did now again take an opportunity. . . . And threw it into the water and mud . . . She carried the child again, and threw it in so far as it could not get out; but then it pleased God, that a young man, coming that way, saved it. She would give no other reason for it, but that she did it to save it from misery, and with that she was assured, she had sinned against the Holy Ghost, and that she could not repent of any sin. Thus doth Satan work by the advantage of our infirmities, which would stir us up to cleave the more fast to Christ Jesus, and to walk the more humbly and watchfully in all our conversation."

"Dorothy Talbye was hanged at Boston for murdering her own daughter a child of three years old. She had been a member of the church of Salem, and of good esteem for godliness, but, falling at difference with her husband, through melancholy or spiritual delusions, she sometimes attempted to kill him, and her children, and herself, by refusing meat. . . . After much patience, and divers admonitions not prevailing, the church cast her out. Whereupon she grew worse; so as the magistrate caused her to be whipped. Whereupon she was reformed for a time, and carried herself more dutifully to her husband, but soon after she was so possessed with Satan, that he persuaded her (by his delusions, which she listened to asrevelations from God) to break the neck of her own child, that she might free it from future misery. 

This she confessed upon her apprehension; yet, at her arraignment, she stood mute a good space, till the governor told her she should be pressed to death, and then she confessed the indictment. When she was to receive judgment, she would not uncover her face, nor stand up, but as she was forced, nor give any testimony of her repentance, either then or at her execution. The cloth which should have covered her face, she plucked off, and put between the rope and her neck. She desired to have been beheaded, giving this reason, that it was less painful and less shameful, Mr. Peter, her late pastor, and Mr. Wilson, went with her to the place of execution, but could do no good with her."   Winthrop: History of New England, Vol. II, pp. 79, 335. And from Church records is looks as though Anne Walker was not the only one partaking in spirits that were not of the good pastors words:

CHURCH DISCIPLINE IN THE EARLY HISTORY OF THE FIRST CHURCH IN BOSTON Case #4, Page 22 Anne Walker April 29, 1638 [Church Records show the children James in 1634 & Jabez in 1637 being baptized.] 

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