17th Century Premarital Sex

While some like to think that sex was invented in the 1960’s, these stories prove otherwise.

They probably didn’t have such fancy shoes in America, but you get the idea

Stephen BACHILER (c.1561 – 1656) (Wikipedia)

As an epilogue to his life story, when he was 90 , his last wife had an affair with another man.  She was sentenced, after her approaching delivery, to be whipped and branded with the letter “A,” the “Scarlet Letter”of Hawthorne’s romance.

Not only was our Stephen fined £10 for not publishing his marriage according to law. (He had performed his last wedding ceremony himself.) but the court ordered “Mr. Batchelor and his wife shall live together as man and wife, as in this court they have publicly professed to do; and if either desert one another, then hereby the court doth order that the marshall shall apprehend both the said Mr. Batchelor and Mary, his wife, and bring them forthwith to Boston.

In April, 1647, Bachiler gave to the four grandchildren he had brought to New England what remained of his Hampton property. He petitioned the General Court in 1645 for some allowance for his six years’ pastorate at Hampton, but was referred to the district court. While his case was pending he wrote from Strawberry Bank to Winthrop in May, 1647:

“I can shew a letter of your Worship’s occasioned by some letters of mine, craving some help from you in some cases of oppression under which I lay,–and still do,– wherein also you were pleased to take notice of those oppressions and wrongs; that in case the Lord should give, or open a door of opportunity, you would be ready to do me all the lawful right and Christian service that any cause of mine might require. Which time being, in my conceit, near at hand, all that I would humbly crave is this,–to read this inclosed letter to my two beloved and reverend brothers, your Elders (Cotton and Wilson), and in them to the whole Synod. Wherein you shall fully know my distressed case and condition; and so, as you shall see cause, to join with them in counsel, what best to do for my relief.

While there, he married in 1648 (as fourth wife) a young widow, Mary Beedle of Kittery, Maine. In 1651, she was indicted and sentenced for adultery with a neighbor.

Bachiler wrote:

“It is no news to certify you that God hath taken from me my dear helper and yokefellow. And whereas, by approbation of the whole plantation of Strawberry Bank, they have assigned an honest neighbor, (a widow) to have some eye and care towards my family, for washing, baking, and other such common services,–it is a world of woes to think what rumors detracting spirits raise up, that I am married to her, or certainly shall be; and cast on her such aspersions without ground or proof, that I see not how possibly I shall subsist in the place, to do them that service from which otherwise they cannot endure to hear I shall depart. The Lord direct and guide us jointly and singularly in all things, to his glory and our rejoicing in the day and at the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ! And so, with my humble service to your worship, your blessed and beloved yokefellow, (mine ancient true friend) with blessing on you both, yours and all the people of God with you, I end and rest your Worship’s in the Lord to commend.”

He married this “honest neighbor “Mary surnamed Magdalene,” the widow of an obscure seaman named Beetle, whose adultery with a local rascal, George Rogers, was soon detected. Rogers was a renegade seaman or servant of Trelawny, who had settled at Kittery, across the river from Strawberry Bank.  His affair with Mary Bachiler was punished in March, 1651/52, by the Court at York, which sentenced Rogers to be flogged, and the erring wife, after her approaching delivery, to be whipped and branded with the letter “A,” the “Scarlet Letter”of Hawthorne’s romance.

But before the York court had passed its sentence Bachiler had doubtless discovered his last wife’s true nature and probably left her and returned to Hampton, applying for a divorce. The district court at Salisbury on April 9, 1650, gave him a judgment against the town of Hampton for £40, “wage detained,” and at the same session fined him £10 for not publishing his marriage according to law. It then entered the following atrocious order:

“That Mr. Batchelor and his wife shall live together as man and wife, as in this court they have publicly professed to do; and if either desert one another, then hereby the court doth order that the marshall shall apprehend both the said Mr. Batchelor and Mary, his wife, and bring them forthwith to Boston, there to be kept till the next Quarter Court of Assistants, that farther consideration thereof may be had, both of them moving for a divorce: Provided, notwithstanding, that if they put in 50 pounds each of them, for their appearance, that then they shall be under their bail to appear at the next court; and in case Mary Batchellor shall live out of the jurisdiction, without mutual consent for a time, then the clerk shall give notice to the magistrate at Boston of her absence, that further order may be taken therein.”

By October, 1650, (the next term of court) when the Maine court presented Rogers and Mary Batchellor for adultery, the local justices had probably learned the actual offence and remitted half the fine imposed in April.  Perhaps they ignored the incomprehensible order referred to, for we hear no more of it; but life in New England had become impossible for the venerable Puritan. Old England seemed a sure haven. There Cromwell and the Parliament had overthrown his ancient foes, the bishops, and there he had grandchildren living in comfort. Sometime in 1654, accompanied by one grandson and his family, he sailed from New England, the Arcadia of his hopes, to England, the land of his earliest struggles. His last act on leaving America was to turn over what remained of his property to Christopher Hussey and his wife ” in consideration that the said Hussey had little or nothing from him with his daughter as also that the said son Hussey and his wife had been helpful unto him both formerly and in fitting him for his voyage.” This kindly act is the last that we have of authentic record concerning Bachiler, who it may be hoped returned to prosperous and friendly kindred in old England to linger out his last years.

The graceless Mary Bachiler was sentenced by the Maine courts for sexual irregularities in 1651, 1652, and 1654, and lived to cast one more slander at her aged and deceived victim.  She claimed Bachiler married a new wife while still legally married to her. She petitioned the Massachusetts General Court in 1656, stating:

“Whereas, your petitioner having formerly lived with Mr. Stephen Bachiler in this Colony as his lawful wife (and not unknown to divers of you, as I conceive), and the said Mr. Bachiler, upon some pretended ends of his own, has transported himself into old England, for many years since, and betaken himself to another wife, as your petitioner hath often been credibly informed, and there continues; whereby your petitioner is left destitute not only of a guide to herself and her children, but also made incapable of disposing herself in the way of marriage to any other without a lawful permission. . . . And were she free of her engagement to Mr. Bachiler, might probably so dispose of herself as that she might obtain a meet helper to assist her to procure such means for her livelihood, and the recovery of her children’s health, as might keep them from perishing,– which your petitioner, to her great grief, is much afraid of, if not timely prevented.”

This allegation rests on her unsupported and discredited statement, and may be taken as an utter falsehood. A Dover court record of March 26, 1673, seems to indicate that the daughter of Mary Bachiler (born in coverture and therefore legally Stephen Bachiler’s daughter, though undoubtedly disowned by him) attempted to secure some part of Bachiler’s estate. Her husband, William Richards, was given power of administration to the estate of ” Mr. Steven Batchelor dec’d,” being also prudently enjoined to bring in an inventory thereof to the next court, and to put up ” sufficient security to respond ye estate any yt may make better claim unto it.” As no further record exists of this matter, we may conclude this ” fishing expedition ” resulted in nothing. Tradition states that the ancient Hampshire parson died in England in 1660, having rounded out a century, and that the last six years of his life were spent in tranquility with prosperous descendants in England. Later research proved that the Rev. Bachiler was buried on 31 October 1656 in the Allhallows Staining Church cemetery, in London, England.

Denied a divorce by the Massachusetts Court, Bachiler finally returned to England about 1653. He died near London, and was buried at All Hallows Staining on October 31, 1656.

Stephen Bachiler – All Hallow’s Staining, London, England

George ALLEN the Elder (c. 1568 – 1648)

George’s daughter Joan Allen (1602-1639) got in trouble for being in the company of another man.   On 6 Mar, 1637/38, her husband Clement Briggs was bonded for £10 for his wife to appear in the next court for Arthur Warren being in her company. [Rec. of the Governor and Company of Mass. Bay Colony, 1:219, 233, & 244] There is no evidence that this was a moral charge against Joan Briggs. The records (Rec. Gov. Mass 1:219) are as follows:

“At a Quarter Court, held at Newetowne the 6th day of the first month (March) 1637-1638. Clement Briggs is bound in 5 pounds for his wifes appearance at the next Quarter Court. The presentment of Arthur Warren, for keeping company with Clement Briggs wife, was found to bee true.” 1.233 “At a Courte of Assistants, held at Cambridge, the 5th day of the 4th Mo. anno 1638, being a Qrter Courte. Clement Brigs his wife is enioyned not to come into the Company of Arthur Warren.”

Edmund HOBART (1575 – 1646) 

Edmund’s wife Sarah Oakley Lyford Hobart’s first husband the Reverend John Lyford (ca. 1580-1634) was a controversial figure during the early years of the Plymouth Colony. After receiving degrees from Oxford University (A.B. 1597, A.M. 1602), he became pastor at Leverlegkish, near Laughgaid, Armagh, Ireland. He was the first ordained minister to come to the Plymouth Colony. He arrived in 1624 aboard the Charity and pretended to be sympathetic to the Separatist movement there, while in reality he was allied with the Church of England.

In the months ahead, the leaders of the colony discovered that Lyford had been writing letters to England disparaging the Separatist movement at Plymouth. Governor William Bradford seized some of these letters before they were sent, opened them, and confronted Lyford about their contents. Lyford apologized, but later wrote another similar letter that was also intercepted. After the second incident, Lyford was sentenced to banishment.

Before he was banished, Lyford’s wife, Sarah, came forward with further charges. Lyford had fathered a child out of wedlock with another woman before his marriage, and after his marriage, he was constantly engaging in sexual relationships with his housemaids. In his famous history, Of Plymouth Plantation, Bradford wrote that Sarah Lyford came forward and explained

“… how he (Lyford) had wronged her, as first he had a bastard by another before they were married, and she having some inkling of some ill cariage that way, when he was a suitor to her, she tould him what she heard, and deneyd him; but she not certainly knowing the thing, other wise then by some darke and secrete muterings, he not only stifly denied it, but to satisfie her tooke a solemne oath ther was no shuch matter. Upon which she gave consente, and married with him; but afterwards it was found true, and the bastard brought home to them. She then charged him with his oath, but he prayed pardon, and said he should els not have had her. And yet afterwards she could keep no maids but he would be medling with them, and some time she hath taken him in the maner, as they lay at their beds feete, with shuch other circumstances as I am ashamed to relate.”

Later, the real reason why Lyford came to New England was revealed. While giving pre-marital counseling to a girl in his parish back in Ireland, Lyford raped her; and when she later told the matter to her husband, he and his friends hunted Lyford down, which resulted in Lyford’s departure to Plymouth Colony. Bradford’s account of the rape and what followed is rather vivid:

” … some time after marriage the woman was much troubled in mind, and afflicted in conscience, and did nothing but weepe and mourne, and long it was before her husband could get of her what was the cause. But at length she discovered the thing, and prayed him to forgive her, for Lyford had overcome her, and defiled her body before marriage, after he had commended him unto her for a husband, and she resolved to have him, when he came to her in that private way.

The circumstances I forbear, for they would offend chast ears to hear them related, (for though he satisfied his lust on her, yet he indeavored to hinder conception.) These things being thus discovered, the womans husband tooke some godly friends with him, to deale with Liford for this evill. At length he confest it, with a great deale of seeming sorrow and repentance, but was forst to leave Irland upon it, partly for shame, and partly for fear of further punishmente, for the godly withdrew them selves from him upon it; and so coming into England unhapily he was light upon and sente hither.”

Accordingly, Lyford was expelled from Plymouth Colony, went to Nantasket, then Cape Ann, and finally moved to Virginia, where he died. Because of his immoral behavior, Lyford is grouped with several other men that the Pilgrims considered detrimental to their project of settling a “godly” community in America.

Stephen HOPKINS (1580 – 1644) (wiki)

1638 – Stephen was fined for not dealing fairly with an apprentice-girl, Dorothy Temple. In the Temple case  he was “committed to ward for his contempt to the Court, and shall so remayne comitted untill hee shall either receive his servant Dorothy Temple, or els pvide for her elsewhere at his owne charge during the terme shee hath yet to serve him” (PCR 1:112).

Story of Dorothy Temple

Story of Dorothy Temple

Dorothy Temple 2

4 Feb 1638 – “Concerning Mr Steephen Hopkins and Dorothy Temple, his servant, the Court doth order, with one consent, that in regard by her couenant of indenture shee hath yet aboue two yeares to serue him, that the said Mr Hopkins shall keepe her and her child, or puide shee may be kept with food and rayment during the said terme ; and if he refuse so to doe, that then the collony pruide for her, & Mr Hopkins to pay it…

“Mr Steephen Hopkins is committed to ward for his contempt to the Court, and shall so remayne comitted vntill hee shall either receiue his servant Dorothy Temple, or else puide for her elsewhere at his owne charge during the terme shee hath yet to serue him …

8 Feb 1638 – “The viijt of Februar., 1638. Memorand : That whereas Dorothy Temple, a mayde servant dwelling with Mr Stephen Hopkins, was begotten with child in his service by Arthur Peach, who was executed for murther and roberry by the heigh way before the said child was borne, the said Steephen Hopkins hath concluded and agreed with Mr John Holmes, of Plymouth, for three pounds sterl., and other consideracons to him in hand payd, to discharge the said Steephen Hopkins and the colony of the said Dorothy Temple and her child foreuer ; and the said Dorothy is to serue all the residue to her tyme with the said John Holmes, according to her indenture.”

3 Dec 1639 – He was presented for selling a looking glass for sixteen pence which could be bought in the Bay Colony for nine pence, and he was also fined £3 for selling strong water without license” (PCR 1:137).

William WARRINER (1583? – 1676)

Family tradition says William Warriner eloped around 1600 from Lincolnshire, England with Alice, Lady Clifford, daughter of Admiral. Thomas Howard 3rd Duke of Suffolk.

Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk

Admiral Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk, KGPC (24 August 1561 – 28 May 1626) was a son of Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk by his second wife Margaret Audley, Duchess of Norfolk, the daughter and heiress of the 1st Baron Audley of Walden.  Check out Howard’s tumultuous career as a pirate and ultimate downfall as a rival of King James I protege Sir George Villiers,

I don’t see any Alice in the list of Howard’s 14 children, but let’s continue with the legend.  In the course of the elopement, William and the Lady (along with other family members who were “in on it”) escaped to Yorkshire, fleeing, of course, from the angered Admiral. While crossing a river a few of the family drowned, though Lady Alice, William and another Warriner survived. They settled in Yorkshire. That’s the tradition.

It is believed that Lady Alice died in 1619 and is buried at Canterbury Cathedral.

“The English parish records of that period mention several Warriners, one of whom in particular bears the name William. The parish records, copied in the foot-note, establish a strong probability that the William Warriner mentioned many times in the Canterbury Cathedral register, who had children christened in that church from 1601 to 1614, who buried several children in the Cantebury churchyard, whose wife, Alice was buried there in 1619, and of whom all recordsin the books of Canterbury Cathedral cease at that time, is the same William Warriner who eloped from Lincolnshire about 1600 with Lady (Alice) Clifford (?)

William BASSETT (c. 1600 – 1667)

William’s daughter Elizabeth divorced Thomas Burgess on 10 Jun 1661 after he was “brought to court for an act of uncleanliness with Lydia Gaunt” The Court allowed Elizabeth to keep small things “that are in William Basset’s hands” (PCR 3:221).The Court decree gave Elizabeth one third of Thomas’ property and 40s worth of bed and bedding “that are at William Bassetts. It was the first divorce in Plymouth Colony.

Thomas married 8 Nov 1662 in Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass to Lydia Gaunt (b. 2 Apr 1636 in Scituate, Plymouth, Mass. – d. 1684 in Newport, Newport, Rhode Island). He removed to Rhode Island and was a resident at Newport in 1671. Thomas died 26 Feb 1717 in Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass.

Elizabeth’s married her second husband William Hatch in 1661.  No record of children.

William’s daughter Sarah married Peregrine White, the famous (Wiki) first child to be born in New Engalnd.  He  was born  20 Nov  1620 aboard the Mayflower, docked at Provincetown Harbor, Provincetown, Mass.

Peregrine White’s Craddle — The cradle was likely of Dutch origin, and certainly in the Dutch style, and was not typical of the baby cradles and cribs of the early colonial period.

There are many published dates for Sarah and Peregrine’s marriage, the most popular choice being 24 Dec 1646 when Sarah was only 16 years old.  We do know they were married before 6 Mar 1648/49 when Peregrine White and his wife Sarah, both of Marshfield, were fined for fornication before marriage.  Their son Daniel was born in 1649.

The Bassetts certainly were a randy family because yet another daughter, Ruth got in trouble before marriage.  At the 6 Jun 1655 Court at Plymouth, John Sprague and Ruth Bassett, of Duxbury, were presented for fornication before they were married. They paid a fine.  Lt. John Sprague, their first child was born in 1656, so I don’t know how the authorities found out.

Thomas CLARK (1605 – 1697)

Thomas’ son James Clark (1636-1712)  brought suit in 1668 for defamation against Sarah Barlow and Mary Bartlett for reporting’that they saw him kisse his mayd on the Lord’s day.’ They were fined ten shillings each. “

Francis Jordan (1610 – 1678)

Francis’ daughter Sarah had a baby out of wedlock with an Indian named Nedacocket, sometimes written Ned Acocket.  Her reputation couldn’t have been completely destroyed because she married James George the next year, 1658.

Sarah Jordan was in court on 19 Nov  1657 “Sarah Jordon [is] to be severely whipped for misdemeanors” [EQC 2:58]. This immediately followed an entry in which “Ned Acockett [is] to be severely whipped, and returned to the house of correction until he give bond of good behavior, and to keep the child” [EQC 2:58]. On 24 Dec 1657, Bennoy, son of Sarah Jordon, was born at Ipswich; on 23 Feb 1657/58, Benoy, son of Sarah Jordon, died at Ipswich. On 6 May 1658, “Frances Jordon and Jerimiah Belchar, in behalf of Nedacockett, agreed that Francis Jordon pay twenty shillings to Jerimiah Bellchar in Nedacocket’s behalf” [EQC 2:70]. (The child’s name, “Bennoy” or “Benoy,” may be meant for Benoni, which means “son of my sorrows.”). As of before 1659, her married name was George.

19 Nov 1657 – Ned Acockett, an Indian, acknowledged  judgment to Jeremiah Belchar, Ned Acocket acknowledged judgment  to Zacheous Gould.

3 Dec 1657 – Humphrey Ned’s brother John, Old William’s son and Jeremy Netecot bound to good behavior of Ned and to pay six pounds yearly towards the keeping of the child as long as the court sees meet. To be continued.

28 Mar 1659 – Another old deed has reference to a portion of the town of Dracut. Nedacocket, an Indian, for a debt which he owed to Jeremiah Belcher amounting to 26 pounds sold “All my right of that land of mine which lyeth on the other side of Merrimac River Butting against Panteukit and so running along to Haverhillward as far as to old Williams Wigwam and so up the country to a hill called Jeremys Hill with all the meadows. ‘ ‘ Old Will is mentioned on the records of Haverhill as having a “planting ground” not far from Spicket River. As Jeremys hill is in the west part of Pelham above Gumpus’ a line drawn from a point “Haverhillward” to Jeremy’s Hill and “Butting against Panteuket” would include the greater part of Dracut. But this would be done to satisfy the Indian, who supposed he had certain rights to the land. Jeremy, who is supposed to have dwelt near the hill in Pelham, which still bears his name, was a signer to this deed with Nedacockett. In 1710 Belcher’s son, Jeremiah Belcher, Jr., petitioned the General Court for a grant of land on the right of his father, and the Court ordered the town of Dracut to lay out a tract of three hundred acres. This tract was an oblong 200 by 240 rods between Island and North ponds bounded on the northeast by the latter pond, and on the east by the line of the town. This would include Poplar hill which now lies at the northeastern corner of the town.

Nedacockett, and a mark and a seal.
Jeremy, and a mark.
Signed and delivered in the presence of us,
John Dennison,
Lidia Jordon. (Sarah’s sister)
Recorded Feb’y 27th, 1679.

This writing was Acknowledged by the Subscriber the Day
and Year above written ; before me,
Daniel Dennison, Assis’t..

William HEDGE (1612 – 1670)

He married his second wife, Blanche Hull, widow of Tristam Hull.   According to his will, his wife Blanch “had dealt falsely with him in the covenant of marriage, and departed from him.”

Other criminal behavior 6 Mar 1648/49  – “Mr. William Hedge, of the town of Yarmouth,” was presented for “letting an Indian have a gun, and powder, and shot,” and “the wife of Mr. Hedge, of Yarmouth,” was presented “for receiving of stolen goods”

5 Oct 1652 – “William Hedge, of Yarmouth,” was presented “for selling wine and strong waters without license”.

2 Oct 1658  – “Mr. William Hedge being presented for threatening to have the blood of Edward Sturgis, upon some small difference betwixt them, the Court do censure him to pay to the country’s use the sum of ten shillings”

……… to “my beloved daughter Mary Sturgis” £40; to “my beloved daughter Marcye” £50; “to my beloved sister Brookes £30 that is of mine in Virginia that is due to me from Brother Brookes, deceased, likewise it is my mind and will that my sister Brookes shall have her livelihood amongst my children so long as she continues a widow”; “my beloved son Elisha” sole executor; “my beloved friends Mr. Thomas Thornton, Mr. Edmond Hawes and Richard Tayler” overseers; “whereas Blanch, my wife, hath dealt falsely with me in the covenant of marriage in departing from me, therefore I do in this my last will … give her 12d. and also what I have received of hers my will is shall be returned to her again”

Lt. John TOMSON (1616 – 1696)

His first son Adam Tomson was born in 1646 in Plymouth, less than nine months after his parents marriage, for which they were fined.

George CORLISS (1616 – 1696)

George’s son-in-law  Samuel Ladd was killed in Indians 22 Feb 1698 in Haverhill, Essex, Mass.   According to his son, the Indians didn’t take him captive because “‘he so sour’.”  Little did they know the poetic justice of Ladd’s demise and the immoral crimes he had inflicted on Elizabeth Emerson.

Samuel  Ladd was responsible for crimes of his own.  He was the father of three children born out of wedlock to Elizabeth Emerson, the last two being twins.

i. Dorothy Emerson, b.  10 April 1686 in Haverhill
ii. Infant Emerson, b. 8 May 1691 in Haverhill, d.  10 May 1691
iii. Infant Emerson, b. 8 May 1691 in Haverhill, d. 10 May 1691

Elizabeth was subsequently hanged in the Boston Commons after having been convicted of killing her twins. There is no evidence that Samuel assumed any responsibility with respect to Elizabeth and the children. Elizabeth was the daughter of Michael Emerson and Hannah Webster. She was born 26 Jan 1665 in Haverhill,  and was hanged 8 Jun 1693 in The Boston Common. The Records of the Court of assistants of the Massachusetts Bay, Volume I, has an excellent account of the charges and related information regarding Elezabeth Emerson. The Diary of Cotton Mather also has an extended account.  [See George CORLISS’ page for the story in depth]

Peter TALLMAN (1623 – 1708)

Peter was  Solicitor General of Rhode Island in 1662 and records indicate he was volatile, stubborn, prone to dispute and lawsuits and had the first divorce in family history.

Peter divorced Anne in May 1665 in Portsmouth, RI. because  her most recent “child was none of his begetting, and that it was begotten by another man”.  All evidence all points to it being Tom Durfee’s eldest son Robert, whose birth date is given as 10 Mar 1665.    Peter married Joan Briggs in 1665 in Taunton, RI.  He married a third time to Esther [__?__] in  1686 in Rhode Island.  Peter died on 1 Apr 1708 in Portsmouth, RI.

Anne Hill was born around 1633 in Barbados.  Her parents were Philip HILL and Anne KINGE. The first settlement in Barbados was in 1627.   Anne’s parents were among the early British planters and would have likely cultivated tobacco and cotton, as the famous sugar plantations did not develop extensively until after 1642.  After were divorce, Anne married  married her lover Thomas Durfee (1643 – 1712) and had six more children.  Anne died before 1688 in Portsmouth, RI.

ca. 1660 – A young Thomas Durfee (around 17 years old) arrived in Rhode Island. It appears that he was initially an indentured servant in the Tallman household. He was first documented witnessing a land deed for Tallman in 1661, where Tallman purchased land from the famous Indian sachem Wamsutta.  They were both admitted as inhabitants of Portsmouth in 1662. Tallman launched legal proceedings against Tom starting 12 Jun 1664 for “breach of his bond”. This would likely be a breaking of the indenture, possibly by Tom’s leaving the household; Tom was found guilty by the Court. Records of 19 Oct 1664 document a “bill of indictment” by Tallman against Tom, with an apparent “discharge” of the “redemption” bond by Durfee paying £10 to Tallman.

In addition to the legal “breach”, the underlying cause of the falling out between the two were much deeper.  Tallman in the same month of Oct 1664 started legal proceedings against Tom for “disrespecting his wife” Ann.  Tom Durfee quite clearly was having an affair with his employer’s wife, who was about ten years his senior. We don’t know when the affair started, but by time of the legal suit it was public. Tallman’s petition emphasized Tom’s “insolent carriage” toward Ann. The court sent for Durfee and he was admonished for this behavior.

3 May 1665 – Tallman petitioned the court “to be released from his wife”, and the court asked the governor to issue a warrant to bring her in the next day by 8 a.m.   Peter brought a letter to court that Ann had written him that stated that their youngest child was not his and when this was read out in court Ann admitted to adultery.  She re-confirmed what she had apparently written her husband, that her most recent “child was none of his begetting, and that it was begotten by another man”. Circumstantial evidence all points to it being Tom Durfee’s eldest son Robert, whose birth date is given as 10 Mar 1665.

Ann requested mercy, and the Court asked whether she were willing to reconcile with her husband, “to which her answer was, that she would rather cast herselfe on the mercy of God if he take away her life, than to returne”. The Court declared her an adulteress and sentenced her to be whipped twice, first with 15 stripes in Portsmouth on 22 May, and 15 more lashes on 29 May in Newport. They also fined her £10, and granted the divorce to Peter Tallman. She was to remain in prison until punishment was rendered.

Tom Durfee was also brought in to the Court of Trials and found guilty by a jury on 8 May, sentenced to pay fines and receive 15 lashes.

While Tom presumably endured his punishment, Ann fled the colony before hers could be administered. While it was said she went to her brother in Virginia, other evidence indicates she went to nearby Plymouth Colony, at least initially, where a certain John Arthur was charged on 1 Aug 1665 with “entertaining the wife of one Talmon and the wife of William Tubbs.”

In any case, Ann remained away from Aquidneck for about two years. If she had remained in nearby Plymouth this whole time, certainly Durfee could have visited her. He could possibly have left the colony with her for all or part of that period, for we can find no documentation that Durfee was in Rhode Island for that period. On the other hand, the fact that no additional children were born until “around” 1667 might imply they were apart that entire time.

In 1667 Ann returned to Aquidneck and resumed the relationship with Tom at least by 1668 when they were again “apprehended” by the authorities for their relationship. (Or alternately they both returned together and the relationship was never interrupted).

Court records of 1 May 1667 stated that because Ann Tallman, late wife (i.e. “ex-wife”) of Peter Tallman, escaped her punishment in 1665 and had now returned to the colony, a warrant for her arrest was issued to Constable Anthony Emery. Because she had petitioned the Court for mercy (apparently knowing she had to face apprehension on return to Rhode Island), the punishment was halved to 15 stripes in Newport only, and the fine was remitted.  It isn’t known if the sentence was carried out.

A year later, however, Ann and Thomas were brought to court again. On 11 May 1668 he was charged with fornication and pleaded guilty, being sentenced to either be whipped with “15 stripes” in Portsmouth” or pay a fine of 40 shillings. Ann was charged with the same (not adultery since she was no longer married) and was found guilty although she did not appear in court. She was sentenced to be twice whipped or to pay a fine of £4.

It would appear that things “settled down” and somehow they were “tolerated” as a couple. As the guilty party in her divorce from Tallman, Ann would not have been allowed to re-marry, and thus their relationship was in essence a “common-law” marriage. While there is no direct evidence, Ann must have been the mother of his next four children, born between 1667 and 1679. Thomas was made a freeman of Portsmouth in 1673, implying possibly he had been “forgiven” as normally he would have been eligible at age 21.

Children of Anne and Thomas Dufree

i. Robert Durfee (10 Mar 1665-10 May 1718) (Born out of wedlock during Anne’s marriage to Peter Tallman)
ii. Richard Durfee (ca 1667-aft 10 Apr 1700)
iii. Thomas Durfee (28 Mar 1669-11 Feb 1729)
iv. William Durfee (ca 1673-ca 1727)
v. Ann Durfee (ca 1675/6-ca 1731)
vi. Benjamin Durfee (ca 1678/9-6 Jan 1754)

Phebe Page (1624 – 1694)

 Phoebe Page was born in 1624 Dedham, Essex, England;  Her parents were John Page and Phebe Payne.  Her grandparents were William PAYNE and Agnes NEVES.  She married about 1661 to James Cuttler.   Phebe died 17 May 1694 Watertown, Middlesex, Mass.

2 Apr 1650 – At the court in Watertown,  Phebe Page sued John Flemming and his wife for slanderously saying that she was with child. This case illustrated a family at odds with itself; with the depositions of over twenty neighbors, it seemed that the entire town was talking about them [Pulsifer 1:6-8].

Flemming defended himself and said that his words were based on “the common practice of Phebe Page, & the report of her own friends.” “John Spring being on the watch on Saturday night after midnight testified that he met John Poole & Phebe Page together, and he asking them why they were so late, she answered because she could dispatch her business no sooner & he said he went with her because he lived with her father.”

Anthony White also witnessed that “Phebe Page said she must either marry within a month or run the country or lose her wits,” and also that “Phebe Page said my mother I can love and respect, but my father I cannot love.”

William Parker deposed that, having “much discourse with Phebe’s mother, she wished her daughter had never seen Poole for she was afraid she was with child.”

White advised her to return to her father’s house again and “she answered no, before I will do so I will go into wilderness as far as I can & lie down and die.”

Perce witnessed that “Goodman Page coming to his house said thus that what with his wife and daughter, he was afraid they would kill him, and constantly affirmed the same.”

Goody Mixture testified that “old Page said if she knew as much as he, Phebe deserved to be hanged.”

Parker again testified “he living at Long Island & Phebe Page there also, she would not keep the house one night, but kept a young man company, and they were both whipped for it by the magistrates’ order there, also that she confessed” and both were censured.

Joseph Tainter said “he was informed by one that lived at Long Island that Phebe Page confessed herself she had carnal copulation with a young man at the Island.”

Phebe withdrew her action, and the Court granted the defendant costs £2 4s. 6d. John Page Senior confessed a judgment of the costs of Court against his daughter.


David Linnell (1627 – 1688)

David Linnell was born in 1627 in London, England; His parents were Robert Linnell and Peninnah Howse.  His grandparents were Rev. John HOWSE and Alice LLOYD.   He married  9 Mar 1653 in Barnstable to Hannah Shelley (1637 – 1709) Hannnah’s parents were Robert Shelley and Judith Garnett. David died in 1688 in Barnstable, Barnstable, Mass.

“David Linnell & Hannah Shelley beeing questioned by the church uppon apublique ffame toutching carnall & uncleane carriages betwixt them tow, beeing in ye congregation confessed by them, they were both by the sentence & joynt consent of the church, pronounced to bee cutt off from that relation wch they hadd formerlye to the church, by virtue of their parents covenaunt, acted & done by ye church, May 30, 1652.”

David and Hannah had violated the law enacted by the Pilgrim fathers,

“That if any shall make any motion of marriage to any man’s daughter, or maydeservant, not haveing first obtayned leave and consent of the parents or master so to doe, shall be punished either by fine of corporal punishment or both at the discretions of the bench.”

Under this law :

“They both were for their ffaults punished with Scourges [i.e., whips] here in Bernestable by the Sentence of Magestracye Jun. 8, 1652.”

David and Hannah were married a year later 9 Mar 1653 by Thomas Hinckley and went on to have  ten children born between 1655 and 1673.

David and Hannah were whipped because they had no friends to take an active interest in their welfare. Perhaps the punishment was retribution for Hannah’s mother Judith refusal to admit fault and subsequent excommunicatation in 1649. (See Amos Otis account below for the full story of this miscarriage of justice). Six years afterward, a similar complaint was made against our ancestors Barnabas LOTHROP Esq.and Susanna CLARKE, afterwards his wife. Mr. Lothrop had influential friends and was able to defend himself. The compliant was dismissed and no record made.

David delayed joining the church until Jul 1, 1688, just months before his death, and 36 years after his   whipping. Hannah never joined and died at 71 years and 7 months, never reconciling with the authorities or the church.

The Story of David and Hannah from Amos Otis’ Genealogical Notes of Barnstable Families 1888

David Linnel and Hannah Shelley were “children of the Barnstable Church.” In consequence of some miscarriages between them, the particulars whereof are stated in the church records, they were cut off from the privileges of that relation May 30, 1652, and for the same offence, by order of the Conrt at Plymouth, both were “punished with scourges here in Barnstable June 8, 1062.” The town had then been settled thirteen years, and this was only the fourth case that had required the interposition of the authority of the magistrates. All of them were offences against good morals, but no magistrate at the present day would feel called upon to interpose his authority in similar cases. To judge rightly we must bear in mind that our ancestors allowed nothing that had the appearance of evil to pass unnoticed and unrebuked.

Mr. Robert Linnel was aged and had taken a second wife that “knew not David,” and cared little for his well-being. Robert Shelley was an easy, good-natured man, and cared little how the world moved. He was however an honest man, a good neighbor, and a sincere christian. His wife Judith Garnet was, before her marriage, a Boston woman — a member of the church there, proud, tenacious of her own opinions, and had very little control over her tongue, which ran like a whip-saw, cutting everything it came in contact with.

In 1648 some of the sisters of the church held a private meeting. Mrs. Judith was not called — she took umbrage, and vented her spite in slandering the members of the church. She said “Mrs. Dimmock was proud, and went about telling lies ;” that Mrs. Wells had done the same, that Mr. Lothrop and Elder Cobb “did talk of her” on a day when they went to visit Mr. Huckins, who was then sick at Mrs. Well’s house. She continued to affirm these things “as confidently as if she had a spirit of Revelation.” Mr. Lothrop in his record adds, “Wee had long patience towards her, and used all courteous intreatyes and persuations ; but the longer wee waited, the worse she was.”

Nothing like it had before happened in the settlement. The story was soon known to the old and the young — it was discussed in every circle — it was the standing topic of conversation for six months. The messengers of the church waited on Mrs. Judith — they could not persuade her to acknowledge her fault — she denounced Mr. Lothrop and all who were sent to her, in the most severe terms of abuse. She could find no one to sustain her — never could prove anything, and Mr. Lothrop adds, “was wondrous perremtorye in all her carriages.” She was excommunicated June 4, 1649.

Hannah was then only twelve years of age, a time of life when the sayings of the mother make a deep impression on the mind. She had heard her mother in a loud and peremptory tone of voice slander the best men and women in the settlement. The father was a good natured, easy man, and did not reprove his wife for speaking ill of her neighbors. Brought up under such influences, is it surprising that the daughter should sometimes speak inconsiderately, loosely, lasciviously? I think not. I think the mother more blameworthy, better meriting the scourges than the daughter.

David and Hannah were summoned to appear at a meeting of the church. They attended May 30, 1652, and there in the presence of the whole congregation confessed their fault. “They were both, by the sentence and joint consent of the church, pronounced to be cutt off from that relation which they hadd formerlye to the church by virtue of their parents covenaunt.” The action of the church was not objectionable ; but mark the date. May 30, 1652.

The Court was held in Plymouth June 3, 1652, only four days afterwards. Mr. Thomas DEXTER Sr.. and John CHIPMAN were the grand jurors from Barnstable, and it was their duty’ to complain of every violation of law or of good morals that came to their knowledge. The facts were notorious for it is called “a publique fame” on the church records. They were probably present when the confession was made. There were also several others beside the jurors who knew the facts. Thus far the proceedings were in accordance with the customs of the times.

In the list of presentments made by the “Grand Enquest” dated June 2, 1652, neither David Linnel nor Hannah Shelley are indicted ; yet, on the next day, June 3, 1652, the Court condemn “both of them to be publicly whipt at Barnstable, where they live,” and the sentence was executed at Barnstable five days afterwards, that is on the 8th day of Juue, 1652.

These proceedings were in violation of the form of law ; the accused were not indicted by the grand jury — they were not heard in their defense, do not appear to have been at Court, and were condemned and punished for a crime of which they had not confessed themselves guilty.

The conduct of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins technically was not in violation of the law ; but it was a violation of its spirit and meaning. That they should be glorified and their praises sung by the poet, and that David and Hannah should be whipped at the post, seems not to be meting out equal and even handed justice to all. If the Court had ordered Mrs. Judith to have been scourged in public she would have enlisted but little sympathy in her behalf.

Henry BENNETT (1629 – 1707)

Henry’s son Henry Jr (1664 – 1739)  married his step-sister. Henry’s wife Frances Burr was born c. 1669 in Ipswich, Essex, Mass. Her parents were Robert Linnell and P John Burr and Mary SMITH. Frances died 12 Jan 1708in Ipswich, Mass

Frances was 10 years old and Henry 15 when their parents married  on 18 Feb 1679 in Ipswich, Mass.  Frances and Henry married six years 20 May 1685 when Frances was only 16 years old.

Only one child is recorded for Henry and Frances; Mary Bennett born 3 Mar 1685 Ipswich, Mass. It is interesting to note that Mary was born two months before her parents marriage date.  Given Frances young age, the questionable marriage of step-children and the conflicting birth and marriage dates, I can only conclude that Henry got Frances pregnant.  (Greg and Marcia Brady?)  Mary went on to marry 29 Apr 1703 in Ipswich, Essex, Mass to Nathaniel Knowlton and died 1716 in Ipswich, Mass.

Cornelius Brown Sr. (1632 – 1701)

Cornelius’ second wife Sarah Burnap  first married 3 Feb 1669 in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts. to John Southwick (b. 1620 in England – d.  25 Oct 1672)  She second married 12 Jun 1674 in Salem  to Thomas Cooper (b. 1645 in Salem –  d. 6 Jan 1712 in Providence, Rhode Island).   In Nov 1680 Abigail Sibley “for fornication with Thomas Cooper, was sentenced to be severely whipped or pay a fine.”  Sarah divorced Thomas Cooper for adultery and abandonment, 2 Sep 1684.  Thomas had already married again in Jun 1684 in Newport, Rhode Island to Abigail Sibley (b: 3 Jul 1659 in Salem, Essex, Mass).   Sarah married a few months later 20 Nov 1684 to Cornelius Brown. Sarah died bef 1698.

12 Jul 1683 –  Abigail Sibley, with her child, was ordered out of Providence, Rhode Island. Thomas Cooper published his intention of marriage with Abigail, which was forbidden, because he had ” manifested himself a person infamous in that he hath forsaken a sober woman, who is his wife.” Mistress Abigail, with her child, appears again, Dec. 13, ” entertained by Thomas Cooper.” Her time of removal was extended to the first Monday in March, ” not to live with Thomas Cooper” meanwhile.

See Cornelius’ page for the Providence town meeting  records about Thomas Cooper and Abigail Sibley.  They deliberated whether to allow the couple to remain in the  community many times from Nov  1680 to Jan 1684.

Elizabeth Howland LOW (1634 – 1725)

On June 3, 1673, Joseph Rose of Marshfield, “being groundedly suspected to have much familiarity with the wife of John Low in a dishonest way”  He was put to a bond of £20 to refain from her company.

Elizabeth’s husband John Low was killed 26 Mar 1676  at Nine Men’s Misery  a site in current day Cumberland, Rhode Island where nine colonists were tortured by the Narragansett Indian tribe during King Philip’s War. .

Elizabeth Low “singlewoman” was convicted of whoredom on 5 June 1678, on which date Elizabeth Low, widow, accused Philip Leonard of Marshfield of getting her with child. She was sentenced by the court to be whipped.

Note: assuming Elizabeth’s 1634 birth is correct, she would have been 44 years old when she became pregnant with an illegitimate child.  Quite a shock I’m sure!

Daniel Low (Illegitimate) was born before 5 Jun 1678 in Marshfield. He and his brother Job, also possibly illegitimate left Marshfield along with several Roses before 1699 and purchased land in York, Maine. He married Mary Ingersoll 1 Oct 1707 in Wells, Maine. Daniel was killed by Indians 11 May 1723 in Marymount, Wells, Maine.

John PECK (1634 – 1667)

When John was 21 years old, he was fined fifty shillings for making continuous sexual advances toward his family’s maid.  March 6, 1654/55 (GC Presentments by the Grand Inquest, PCR 3:75):

wee present John Pecke, of Rehobeth, for laciviouse carriages and vnchast in attempting the chastitie of his fathers maide seruant, to satisby his fleshly, beastly lust, and that many times for some yeares space, without any intent to marry her, but was alwaies resisted by the mayde, as he confesseth. [Fined fifty shillings.]

David O’KELLY (Est 1636 – 1697 )

David O’Kelly was born c. 1636 in Gallagh, County Galway, Ireland.  His  parents wereTeige O’KILLIA and Ann DALY. Details regarding David’s voyage from Ireland to the colonies are not known, however the English subjugation of Ireland had taken place between 1641-1654 and many Irishmen had been captured in the process and sent to the colonies to be indentured servants.  The earliest know record of David in the colonies appears in Plymouth Colony Records, October 4 , 1655 when he is called “David Ogillior an Irishman”. In that record David was implicated in charges of fornication with his future wife Jane POWELL, of Sandwich, a Welsh servant of one William Swift. David is shown as the servant of Edward STURGIS [another of our ancestors] He married Jane POWELL in 1670 in Yarmouth, Mass.

Jane Powell was born c. 1638 in Wales.  On 4 Oct 1655 Jane Powell, servant to William Swift, of Sandwidge, appeared at court,

“haueing been presented for fornication, whoe, being examined, saith that it was committed with one David Ogillior [O’Kelley, spelling was in its infancy in those days], an Irish man, seruant to Edward STURGIS ; shee saith shee was alured thervnto by him goeing for water one euening, hopeing to haue married him, beeing shee was in a sadd and miserable condition by hard seruice, wanting clothes and liuing discontentedly; and expressing great sorrow for her euell, shee was cleared for the present, and ordered to goe home againe. “

Jane was only about 17 and David about 19 in 1655.  She and David wouldn’t be married for fifteen more years.  Jane died in 17 October 1711 in Yarmouth.

Thomas CUSHMAN Jr. (1637 – 1766)

He first married Ruth Howland on 17 Nov 1664.  Ruth Howland was born 16 Sep 1637 in Scituate, Mass.  Her parents were Mayflower passengers John HOWLAND and Elizabeth TILLEY.  John and Elizabeth were our ancestors through their daughter Desire.  Ruth died in 1679 in Rehoboth, Mass.

Thomas Cushman, the first son of Plymouth’s Ruling Elder Thomas Cushman Sr. and Mary ALLERTON, a Mayflower passenger. Little is known of his growing years. Some time in the early 1660’s, Thomas Jr. began courting Ruth Howland. The Howlands were  very near neighbors to the Cushman Family.  On 7 Mar 1665 Thomas Jr. was fined five pounds by the Court for committing “‘carnal copulation with his now wife before marriage, but after contract.”

John Howland was Deputy to the General Court for Plymouth and not involved personally in sentencing. Twenty-five years earlier punishment could have been severe, e.g. excommunication, fines, stocks for women and whipping for men. However, in 1664 harsh physical sentencing had been relaxed, and the social meeting of the parties became a factor in sentencing.

The common practice in vogue then of “courting ” by young men and maidens, and the uniform fashion ” of keeping company till the small hours of the night,” was one that did not tend to promote a high degree of virtuous intercourse.

Thomas did not suffer much materially in his reputation by an error which he soon remedied by marriage and was, during a long life, a worthy member of the Congregational Church at Plympton, of which his brother Isaac was the Pastor. However, Thomas Cushman, Jr. squandered the opportunity to be considered to succeed his father as Ruling Elder. In 1694, Thomas’ younger brother Isaac was chosen to succeed his father as Ruling Elder.

William DANFORTH (1641 – 1721)

30 Jun 1660 – (Age 19) William accompanied another young man, Daniel Black, to the neighboring town of Rowley and carrying a message from Black to the daughter of Edmund Bridges.  The girl came to a neighbor’s house where Black tried to persuade her to become his wife, or, as the father phrased it, “made love to her.”  The General Court had passed stringent laws to cover such cases; so Mr. Bridges prosecuted the bold suitor for seeking his daughter’s hand without his permission; and the magistrates compelled Black to pay a fine of five pounds for his conduct.  William had to pay a fine of ten shillings for helping his friend.

Jabez SNOW (1642– 1690)

Jabez was fined 10 pounds by the Eastham church for having relations with his wife before the contract of marriage.  His first son Jabez was born 6 Sep 1670 Eastham, Barnstable, Mass, about the time of his marriage.

Peter LEWIS (1644 – 1716)

Peter’s son Morgan Lewis (1681-1713) was a defendant on a charge of Fornication in 1706.  He married Abigail Ingersoll about that same time. After Morgan died, wife Abigail married a second time to Joseph Judkins, she married a third time to  Ebenezer Blaisdell.

Peter’s youngest daughter Grace (1676 – ) was seduced by Philip Follett in 1698 and had an illegitimate child in Oct. 1701.  She was still unmarried in 1713.   Finally, on 28 Oct 1718 in Portsmouth, NH she married John Bly.  Grace Lewis, presumably the same who m2.  Nathaniel Boulter and m3. in Scarborough. 17 Sep 1744 to Henry Dresser.

Mary Ball Munroe (1650 – 1692)

Mary is only a granddaughter of our direct ancestor, but she was sent to live with her grandparents when her mother went insane and her melodramatic story deserves to be told her.  See John PEARCE’s page for more about her parents troubles and the demise of her father, step-mother and step-brothers in the Lancaster Massacre.

Mary Ball was born in 1650 Watertown, Mass.   She married. 1672 William Munroe (1625, Scotland – 27 Jan 1717 Lexington, Middlesex, Mass.)  Mary died Aug 1691 Cambridge, Mass.

I was curious why William Munroe was so sympathetic to the disgraced Mary.  Here’s his story.  William Munroe, son of Robert of Aldie, is the 18th in direct descent from that first Donald who, in the eleventh century, founded the Clan Munro. William and his brothers Robert, George and Benedict all fought at the Battle of Worcester.   Charles II escaped after many adventures, including one famous incident where he hid from a Parliamentarian patrol in an oak tree in the grounds of Boscobel House. Around 8,000 Scottish prisoners were deported to New England, Bermuda, and the West Indies to work for landowners as indentured labourers.

Battle of Worchester Reenactors

William was sent to the American colonies as a prisoner of war. They were listed on 13 May 1652 on a list of the banished as Munroes: Robert, Hugh, John and a name obliterated by time, supposedly William. They were shipped to London on 11 Nov 1651 by Je. Rex, Robert Rich and William Green in the “John and Sarah.”

If William was an apprentice, it was for a short time. He was on his own by 1657. He is first referred to in the Cambridge, Massachusetts records of 1657 when he and Thomas Rose were fined for not having rings in the noses of their pigs. In 1660 he settled in Cambridge Farms, now known as Lexington, near the Woburn line. This part of town became known as “Scotland.” He was a freeman in 1690 and in 1699 received communion into the church. [almost 50 years after his arrival I would note.]

Back to Mary’s  — Five-year-old Mary ended up in the Watertown home of John and Elizabeth PIERCE, parents of her crazy mother.

Evidence suggests that Mary’s mother may have inherited some of her instability from her own mother, but no record that I’ve seen gives any insight on the eleven years that Mary spent in the grandparental household. Except that John Pierce died in 1661, half-way through those years, leaving Elizabeth Pierce alone to care for young Mary and her older brother John. By the time Widow Grandma Elizabeth died in 1667, Mary had sprouted into an apparently-attractive 16-year-old, and John was just attaining his majority. Under the circumstances, the Selectmen, apparently with at least the concurrence of the absent father, John Ball, thought it best to place unattached teenager Mary as a servant in the household of the prominent Bacon family of neighboring Woburn.

Michael Bacon (1639-1707 is the principal villain in this piece. He married Sarah Richardson (another prominent Woburn name) in 1661, about age 20. Abigail, their third daughter, arrived in the household in the same year that Mary became a servant there.

In 1670, after a miserable and painful childhood, nineteen-year-old Mary Ball found herself pregnant by her beloved master, Woburn householder Michael Bacon, who abandoned her and sent her away to Rhode Island. Mary’s father complained to the court. Arrested, Bacon broke jail and was recaptured in a classic hue-and-cry operation.

Having received a heartbreaking letter from Mary, begging for clemency for herself and Bacon, the court forced Bacon to promise to raise the child. Meanwhile, Mary’s home town, Watertown, sent two Selectmen to warn her “to depart the Town forthwith.” Neighbors, kinsfolk and friends who had harbored Mary during pregnancy and delivery started submitting bills to the Court. As her precarious support network crumbled around her, Mary wrote a second letter, this time to Bacon, urging him to act like a man.

Which, on the evidence, he made no effort to do. In concert with the sanctimonious society of Puritan Massachusetts, Michael Bacon and his cronies seem to have taken every opportunity to leave Mary twisting in the proverbial wind. It remained to neighbors William and Martha Munroe to breast the current of public opinion, official and otherwise, and to offer Mary her first secure home. For which I honor their memory and invite you, dear reader, to join me.

The next year, Martha Munroe died, leaving William with four small children (kinfolk, incidentally, of the Lexington Militia who earned our reverence by facing the Redcoats on the 19th of April, 1775). Grandpa William did not languish in his widowhood: within the year, Mary Ball, half his age, had become the second Mrs William Munroe. Over the next twenty years, she presented William with a child every other year, dying at age 41, apparently in or near childbirth with the last little Munroe. William married once more and lived to 92, serving as a Selectman of Cambridge and otherwise transcending his humble beginnings and exemplifying solid citizenship. He had no children with Elizabeth: maybe 14 (with 13 reaching maturity) was a large enough family to suit him.

That’s a triumphant-enough ending, but I suppose I should mention that Michael Bacon entered the picture yet again, before the year was out, in a pathetic story of barratry and bad-neighborliness. Seems he knocked on the Munroes’ door one snowy evening to complain that they had a pig of his. Having indeed a stray in their sty, they helped him separate his from theirs and saw him on his way. Soon, however, the stray returned, followed by a furious Bacon accusing them of stealing her. Bacon then led a mixed grill of his and theirs through three miles of snow to his house, losing a pregnant sow of theirs along the way. The consequent legal contention led to two hearings and a jury trial, each ending in a verdict in the Munroes’ favor.

William and Mary Munroe Headstones — Don’t they look like they’re cuddling together?

Adrianus Franciscusz De LANGET (1653 – 1699)

Adrianus’ wife Rachel Jansen PIER married a second time on to Allert Hendrickson Ploegh on 17 Apr 1699.   In the margin of their marriage entry is the following: –

In the presence of Ariaan Roos, Geesje Pier Maria Nucella and Mary Singer was Rachel Pier with her chemise over her clothes, married to Albert Hendricksen Ploeg, by me [Domine] Nucella.

There is also a footnote indicating that the bride’s strange attire was based on an erroneous belief that a widow, when married in this manner, relieved her new husband of all debts incurred by her previous spouse. The Kingston Court records indicate that Rachel’s first husband was often sued for non-payment so the ritual attire suggests he likely had significant outstanding debt(s) when he died.   Rachel was about 13 to 14 years older than her second spouse.

But you’re looking for the premarital sex story in this family.

Adrianus and Rachel’s daughter Willemtje planned to marry Hendrick Klaaz Schoonhoven after her first husband Teunis Kool died, but she never did.  Teunis’ parents were Barent Jacobsen KOOL and Marretje Leenderts DeGRAUW.  Bans were registered and withdrawn on the same day 4 Dec 1715.  Willempje had an illegitimate daughter Neeltjen baptized 19 Feb. 1715/16, no father named.

Samuel PERKINS (1655 –  1700)

Samuel married Hannah WEST in 1677.   He died intestate in 1700 when he was only forty-five years old. His widow, Hannah, was administratrix of his estate, and was also appointed guardian of his two minor children, John and Elizabeth.

Samuel Perkins and Hannah West Source: Daughters of Eve: pregnant brides and unwed mothers in seventeenth-century … By Else L. Hambleton

Samuel Perkins and Hannah West 2

That explains the 7 year gap between Elizabeth and John’s births.  I must be missing the fifth child.

Samuel WEBBER (1658 – 1716)

Samuel’s son Benjamin Webber (1690 – ) married Mehitable Allen on 1 Oct 1714 in York, Maine.  In the York County, Province of Maine Court of General Sessions on 3 Jan 1715,

“Wee present Benjamin Webber & Mehittable Allen now his wife both of york for fornication….they owing the fact. Its Considered by the Court that they recieve Seven Stripes apiece on their naked backs at the post & pay fees of Court 7 Shillings or pay a fine of Thirty Shillings apiece to his Majesty & fees of Court as aforesd & Stand Committed” (Province and Court Records of Maine, volume 5, p. 173).

[Compiler’s note: I can not determine if they took the seven lashes or paid the thirty shillings].

“Young married persons, whose courtship had been carried on under the convenient and comfortable New England `bundling’ device, and had anticipated events unwisely, found themselves in the hands of the law, when their first child appeared in advance of the physiological period of gestation. After labor was safely over both of them were hauled into Court and ordered to the whipping post to receive a dozen stripes each at the hands of the public executioner. It is probable that many cases of premature delivery were unjustly punished” (Charles Edward Banks. History of York, Maine, Volume II, page 239).

From an article “The Truth about Bundling,” Yankee Magazine, September 1991, page 12: “Bundling, an old custom permitting unmarried men and women to court, fully clothed, in bed. What is the use of sitting up all night and burning out fire and lights, when you could just as well get under cover and keep warm. It was respectable enough in the early history of New England when religion was an all-powerful influence on behavior. But in succeeding generations, the innocent practice was corrupted producing an amazing number of sturdy brats. About 1785, unmarried women blushed to read lines like these:

She’ll sometimes say when she lies down,
She can’t be cumbered with a gown,
And that the weather is so warm,
To take it off can be no harm…

The result was such a general storm of banter and ridicule that no girl had the courage to stand against it and as the ministers continued to thunder against bundling, the practice finally was killed off.

Benjamin Webber recorded marriage intentions for his second marriage at York, ME, 3 Feb 1738, “to satisfie such person as are dissatisfied and think he is not married”

Jannetje LOZIER (1660 -after 1700)

Jannetje’s father-in-law Alexander Ennis came to America as a Scotish prisoner of war after the Battle of Dunbar  After many adventures (See Jannetje’s page for details),  he became an indentured servant at the Saugus Iron Works and married and Irish refugee from Cromwell’s wars named Katheren Aines

The Irish Catherine and Scottish Alexander clashed with the Puritans of Taunton on at least one occasion. Saxbe writes, “‘an Irish woman named Katheren Aines’ was brought before the court at Plymouth in February, 1656/57, ‘vpon suspision of comiting adultery.’ The trial was the following month, and justice was swift and harsh:

‘Att this Court, William Paule, Scotchman, for his vnclean and filthy behauiour with the wife of Alexander Aines, is centanced by the Court to bee forthwith publickly whipt…which accordingly was p(er)formed…Katheren Aines, for her vnclean and laciuiouse behauior with the abouesaid William Paule, and for the blasphemos words that shee hath spoken, is centanced by the Court to bee forthwith publickly whipt heer att Plymouth, and afterwards att Taunton, on a publicke training day, and to were a Roman B cutt out of ridd cloth and sowed to her vper garment on her right arme [for blaspheme]; and if shee shalbee euer found without it soe worne whil shee is in the gou(vern)ment, to bee forthwith publickly whipt…Alexander Anis, for his leauing his family, and exposing his wife to such temptations, and being as baud to her therin, is centanced by the Court for the p(re)sent to sitt in the stockes the time the said Paule and Katheren Ainis are whipt, which was p(er)formed…’

Understandably, the Innes family moved sometime within the next few years. In 1659, Alexander is found in the records buying land in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, fifteen miles south of Taunton. . In 1664, Block Island became part of Rhode Island and a group of Scots settled there.

Sarah THURLOW DANFORTH (1663 – )

Sarah Thurlow was born 20 Jul 1663 in Newbury MA. Her parents were Francis THURLOW and Ann MORSE. At the time, the family name was spelled Thurloe or Thurla.

9 Jun  1677 – Samuel Ladd,  son-in-law of George CORLISS  “was fined for misdemeanors.”  See George’s page for more of his nefarious misadventures.

Frances Thurla, aged about forty-five years, and Ane Thurla, his wife, testified that in the evening after Mr. Longfelow’s vessel was launched, about nine or ten o’clock, and after he and his family were in bed, having shut the door and bolted it, Sameull Lad of Haverhill and Thomas Thurla’s man, Edward Baghott, came to their house. One or both of them went into the leanto where their daughter Sarah lay, and having awakened her urged her to rise and go to her aunt’s, telling her that she was very sick. Whereupon deponent arose and seeing one at the door reproved him for being there, and mistrusting that there was one with his daughter, as he went to light a candle, Samuell Lad leaped out of the house. Sworn in court.”

For this Samuel Ladd was found guilty of a misdemeanor. What was he doing at Frances Thurla’s house after all had retired to bed? Why had he tried to get Sarah to leave the house and go to her aunt’s? And if her aunt were, in fact, sick, why did he not tell Sarah’s parents, as the aunt presumably would have been sister to one of them? Was Samuel Ladd bent upon the seduction of young [age 14 at the time] Sarah Thurla ? At the time of the incident Samuel had been married for three years.  Sarah THURLOW would later William DANFORTH.

Jonas DeLANGE (1696 – 1739)

Jonas’ grand daughter Catherine DeLong first married John McAuley (1760-1785).  Catherine and John had one child, John McAuley was born 21 May 1783 in Dutchess Co, New York. After John died, Catherine then had a child out of wedlock with Peter Vanderburgh.  Peter was sued by Catherine for getting her pregnant and not marrying her (filed 16 Jan 1788 in Dutchess County).

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6 Responses to 17th Century Premarital Sex

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  5. Glen Atwell says:

    Just one mention of the “Wife of William Tubbs” here (Mercy Sprague-Tubbs) with the wife of Peter Tallman (Tollman) you are missing a tale of the Free Love Movement for women.

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