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.]
Thursday, July 18, 2013
Reposted from Rebel PuritAn Some women left wills; others appeared in vital records. A few who could write left their own records. Anne (Dudley) Bradstreet’s book of poetry was published in 1650; the first work penned by a North American woman to be published. Mistress Bradstreet’s work was notable, and perhaps she was protected by her position. She was the daughter of Massachusetts’ governor, and no sensible man would criticize such a woman.
The more typical attitude toward educated females is shown by Governor John Winthrop’s comment about a young woman who had “lost her reason” by “giving herself wholly to reading and writing.” If she had not meddled in “such things as are proper for men, whose minds are stronger, she [would have] kept her wits, and might have improved them usefully and honorably in the place God had set her.”
Even such towering women as Anne (Marbury) Hutchinson and Mary (Barrett) Dyer left few recorded words. The educated Mistress Hutchinson held her own meetings to discuss the sermons of Boston’s ministers. Soon her followers nearly upended the Puritan’s government, leading to the banishment of Anne and her family, and the ouster of many other Massachusetts residents.
Mary Dyer helped bring the Quaker faith to New England. For that she was also banished from Massachusetts, and was hanged in 1660 for defying that banishment. But the only written works left by Mary are two letters written to the Puritan government before her hanging. Nothing at all survives of Anne Hutchinson’s actual words, only a few brief phrases recorded during hearings preceding her banishment and excommunication.
Both Anne and Mary were remarked upon by Governor John Winthrop in his journal. Anne and her supporters’ near-rebellion filled several pages, and Winthrop remarked upon her life in Rhode Island many times. When Anne was cast out of the Boston church, Mary left the meeting house arm in arm with her friend, and Winthrop noted that event. He also wrote about Mary’s miscarriage in gruesome detail – a monster borne by a woman with monstrous notions.
Thus we see that the most visible women in 17th century New England were those who got into trouble. Even when they appear in the court records for lesser events we see their names, and sometimes we can learn quite a lot about them.
A significant portion of colonial records is filled with men and women in trouble. Theft, adultery, social disorder, even murder were fairly frequent occurrences and women were often the criminals in question. We might not learn a woman’s maiden name from these records, but sometimes they give her husband’s name along with information about her crime and punishment.
Herodias Long is a perfect example of how a woman can become visible. If it weren’t for her numerous court appearances, we would know her only from a couple of land records. In November 1664 George Gardner Jr. and his older brother Benoni were granted land in Rhode Island’s Pettaquamscutt Purchase. That land was bounded on one side by Horad Long, but the deeds do not note that Horad was the mother of the young men, using a shortened form of her first name and her maiden surname.
When John Porter, her third domestic partner, sold land between 1671-74, Horad Porter gave her consent. Earlier land records for her first husband, John Hicks, and second partner, George Gardner, do not mention her at all.
So, how do we know that Herodias was married to those men? She requested a divorce from both of them. In 1644 Harwood Hicks was separated from her abusive husband, John Hicks. We don’t learn much about her from those records apart from her name, but twenty years later, she petitioned the government for a divorce from her second “husband,” George Gardner, saying that they were not married, and that sin was weighing on her conscience.
Perhaps looking for sympathy and support for her youngest child, Herodias gave her life history. Using her maiden name, Horod Long said that she was married at the age of thirteen at the church of St. Faith’s-under-Paul’s in London, that the Hicks family then came to Weymouth, Massachusetts for 2 ½ years, then relocated to Newport, Rhode Island. She noted her separation from John Hicks, then said that she had not formally married George Gardner, and that omission was weighing on her conscience.
This sort of record is the sort that genealogists and historians dream about, and lets us trace this illiterate woman through most of her life. If not for her troubled domestic life, Herodias would have remained nearly invisible, just another name written in fading ink on ancient parchment.