Showing posts with label Dover NH. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dover NH. Show all posts

Friday, November 8, 2019

The Women of Dover John Greenleaf Whittier

Photo From "History of Salisbury" Complied by Carolyn Sargent the 1976 re-enactment

Robert Pike (1616-1706)
The following is a copy of the warrant issued by Major Waldron of Dover in 1662 The Quakers as was their wont prophesied against him and saw as they supposed the fulfillment of their prophesy when many years after he was killed by the Indians To the constables of Denier Hampton Salisbury Newbury Rowley Ipswich Wenham Lynn Roxbury Dedham and until these vagabond Quakers are carried out of this jurisdiction

You and every one of you are required in the King's Majesty's name to take these vagabond Quakers Anne Colman Mary Tomkins and Alice Ambrose and make them fast to the cart's tail and driving the cart through your several towns to whip them upon their naked backs not exceeding ten stripes apiece on each of them in each town and so to convey them from constable to constable till they are out of this jurisdiction as you will answer it at your peril and this shall be your warrant Richard Waldron          Dated at Dover December 22d 1662.

This warrant was executed only in Dover and Hampton At Salisbury the constable refused to obey it He was sustained by the town's people who were under the influence of Major Robert Pike (picture above) the leading man in the lower valley of the Merrimac who stood far in advance of his time as an advocate of religious freedom and an opponent of ecclesiastical authority He had the moral courage to address an able and manly letter to the court at Salem remonstrating against the witchcraft trial.
See  Genealogy Magazine Lydia Perkins Wardwell 

Poem by John Greenleaf Whittier 

The tossing spray of Cocheco's fall
Hardened to ice on its rocky wall,
As through Dover town in the chill, gray dawn,
Three women passed, at the cart-tail drawn!
Bared to the waist, for the north wind's grip
And keener sting of the constable's whip,
The blood that followed each hissing blow
Froze as it sprinkled the winter snow.
Priest and ruler, boy and maid
Followed the dismal cavalcade;
And from door and window, open thrown,
Looked and wondered gaffer and crone.
"God is our witness," the victims cried,
"We suffer for Him who for all men died;
The wrong ye do has been done before,
We bear the stripes that the Master bore !
"And thou, O Richard Waldron, for whom
We hear the feet of a coming doom,
On thy cruel heart and thy hand of wrong
Vengeance is sure, though it tarry long.
"In the light of the Lord, a flame we see
Climb and kindle a proud roof-tree;
And beneath it an old man lying dead,
With stains of blood on his hoary head."
"Smite, Goodman Hate - Evil!-harder still!"
The magistrate cried, "lay on with a will !
Drive out of their bodies the Father of Lies,
Who through them preaches and prophesies!"
So into the forest they held their way,
By winding river and frost-rimmed bay,
Over wind-swept hills that felt the beat
Of the winter sea at their icy feet.
The Indian hunter, searching his traps,
Peered stealthily through the forest gaps;
And the outlying settler shook his head,
"They're witches going to jail," he said.
At last a meeting-house came in view;
A blast on his horn the constable blew;
And the boys of Hampton cried up and down
"The Quakers have come !" to the wondering town.
From barn and woodpile the goodman came;
The goodwife quitted her quilting frame,
With her child at her breast ; and, hobbling slow,
The grandam followed to see the show.
Once more the torturing whip was swung,
Once more keen lashes the bare flesh stung.
"Oh, spare ! they are bleeding !" a little maid cried,
And covered her face the sight to hide.
A murmur ran round the crowd : "Good folks,"
Quoth the constable, busy counting the strokes,
"No pity to wretches like these is due,
They have beaten the gospel black and blue!"
Then a pallid woman, in wild-eyed fear,
With her wooden noggin of milk drew near.
"Drink, poor hearts !" a rude hand smote
Her draught away from a parching throat.
"Take heed," one whispered, "they'll take your cow
For fines, as they took your horse and plough,
And the bed from under you." "Even so,"
She said ;"they are cruel as death, I know."
Then on they passed, in the waning day,
Through Seabrook woods, a weariful way;
By great salt meadows and sand-hills bare,
And glimpses of blue sea here and there.
By the meeting-house in Salisbury town,
The sufferers stood, in the red sundown
Bare for the lash ! O pitying Night,
Drop swift thy curtain and hide the sight !
With shame in his eye and wrath on his lip
The Salisbury constable dropped his whip.
"This warrant means murder foul and red;
Cursed is he who serves it," he said.
"Show me the order, and meanwhile strike
A blow to your peril !" said Justice Pike.
Of all the rulers the land possessed,
Wisest and boldest was he and best.
He scoffed at witchcraft ; the priest he met
As man meets man ; his feet he set
Beyond his dark age, standing upright,
Soul-free, with his face to the morning light.
He read the warrant : "These convey
From our precincts ; at every town on the way
Give each ten lashes." "God judge the brute!
I tread his order under my foot!
"Cut loose these poor ones and let them go;
Come what will of it, all men shall know
No warrant is good, though backed by the Crown,
For whipping women in Salisbury town!"
The hearts of the villagers, half released
From creed of terror and rule of priest,
By a primal instinct owned the right
Of human pity in law's despite.
For ruth and chivalry only slept,
His Saxon manhood the yeoman kept;
Quicker or slower, the same blood ran
In the Cavalier and the Puritan.
The Quakers sank on their knees in praise
And thanks. A last, low sunset blaze
Flashed out from under a cloud, and shed
A golden glory on each bowed head.
The tale is one of an evil time,
When souls were fettered and thought was crime,
And heresy's whisper above its breath
Meant shameful scouring and bonds and death!
What marvel, that hunted and sorely tried,
Even woman rebuked and prophesied,
And soft words rarely answered back
The grim persuasion of whip and rack!
If her cry from the whipping-post and jail
Pierced sharp as the Kenite's driven nail,
O woman, at ease in these happier days,
Forbear to judge of thy sister's ways!
How much thy beautiful life may owe
To her faith and courage thou canst not know,
Nor how from the paths of thy calm retreat
She smoothed the thorns with her bleeding feet.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Lydia Wardwell Perkins Quaker Newbury, Ma

My Article From the Newburyport News:

While the horrors of the Salem witch hysteria are widely known, some years before a less infamous trepidation, the Quaker persecutions, swept the colony during “one of the darkest blots in time.” Several Quakers seeking religious liberty in the Massachusetts Bay Colony suffered torture, and even the scaffold, at the hands of the Puritans. Absence from local parish services typically resulted in a summons, the consequences of which included heavy fines, whippings, or banishment. One Quakeress, Lydia (née Perkins) Wardwell made a stark declaration of protest in response to her summons, appearing skyclad in Newbury as a "sign" of the spiritual nakedness of her persecutors.

Yes, it’s true; Newbury can boast of its very own Lady Godiva. Unfortunately, she could not pull off her impromptu burlesque show in a house of worship without getting the strap. Though most historians question her sanity, Lydia’s motives for disrobing resembled the signs acted out by Hebrew prophets, a doctrine taken very seriously by both the Puritans and the Quakers. Her bold act was no doubt driven by the abuse and torture inflicted upon her family and friends by the Puritans.

Lydia's husband, Eliakim Wardwell of Hampton, N.H., was repeatedly harassed, bullied, and stripped of his assets because of his Quaker faith. He endured the stocks on more than one occasion, and records show that on April 8, 1662 , he was fined for his absence from church.  In addition to these offences, the Wardwell home was also the scene of a conflict while the couple harbored Wenlock Christison, a notable Quaker who was jailed in Boston with Mary Dyer and William Leddra in 1661. Though he escaped the scaffold, Christison was banished from the Mass. Bay Colony.

No doubt he was on the colony’s ten-most-wanted list, and Hampton’s Rev. Seaborn Cotton felt it his duty to “keep the wolves from his sheep.” Cotton, with “truncheon in hand, led a party of order-loving citizens” to the house of Wardwell, seized Christison, and shuffled him off to jail. Christison moved to safer territory in 1665, eventually settling in Talbot County, Maryland. He was elected to the lower house of the Maryland General Assembly and later inspired Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s hero in “John Endicott,” one of three dramatic poems in a collection called “New England Tragedies.”
As Cotton confiscated lands from the Wardwell estate and bankrupted them with heavy fines for non-attendance of Sabbath services, Lydia managed to muster strength, a true testimony to her faith. She witnessed the heinous punishments inflicted by the courts, who viewed Quakers as “dangerous social outlaws.” Several of her friends were hanged or tortured:  their ears severed, and their tongues and body parts bored and branded with hot irons. Those sentenced to jail were often denied food and water.
Lydia was present in Dover, N.H. when three women who had refused to attend church were stripped naked to the waist, tied to a cart, and, though the weather was "bitter cold" that day, paraded around several local towns.   Eliakim Wardwell did not shy away from verbalizing his two cents on the matter. After calling the reverend a brute, back in stocks he went.

While the public flogging was administered, the Rev. Mr. Rayner "stood and looked and laughed at it.”
Lydia was also pursued by the church to answer for her absence from communion. By the time she was summoned for “separating from the church and teaching false doctrine” (Newbury Records), she well understood her fate with church elders. But surely her exhibitionist act was barely imaginable to the pious Puritan elite. She, being “a chaste and tender woman of exemplary modesty,” must have jolted quite a reaction from the locals. One account notes that the church meeting was so disrupted they could not reconvene nor assemble order. On the records of the court at Salem (Quarterly Sessions Court for Essex County), her sentence for the outburst was recorded as follows:

May 5th, 1663. Lydia Wardwell on her presentment for coming naked into Newbury meeting house. The sentence of the court is, that she shall be severely whipt and pay the costs and fees to the marshall of Hampton for bringing her. Costs, ten shillings, fees two shillings and sixpence.
After the session, Lydia was lugged off by Ipswich lawmen and taken to a tavern, the Joseph Baker House. “Amid a large circle of men and boys,” she was tied to a rough post and "lashed to the satisfaction of the crowd of onlookers" (Ipswich Chronicle Report).  One can only imagine the scene of pathetic prigs sipping ale and leering pitilessly while the constables who whipped her “tore her bosom as she writhed.”

To dodge the fussbudget herds and avoid further abuse, the Wardwells moved to Shrewsbury, N.J. after Lydia’s shocking protest. Eliakim became one of the first Quaker ministers in the town. Perhaps the family rested some satisfaction on the fact that the judgment of Heaven would fall upon their persecutors (a belief shared by the Puritans). It is bemusing to think that the Puritans, who left Mother England to escape similar persecution, would exact such brutal tactics of torment on the pacifistic Quakers.

Even more of a mystery is the whereabouts of Lydia’s petticoat. According to the story, she was wrapped in cloth and shuffled off to Hampton very abruptly. Her garments were left for safekeeping with fellow friend of the light Gov. John Easton, who perhaps stood outside to cheer his prophetess on. Though her petticoat may never be found, Lydia Wardell certainly taught us that the naked truth is always better than a well-dressed lie.