Monday, November 2, 2015

Puritan New England - Adultery - 1639-1678 in the Plymouth Colony Court Records




Adultery

September 3, 1639 Mary, the wyfe of Robert Mendame, of Duxborrow, for using dallyance diuers tymes with Tinsin, an Indian, & after committing the act of vncleanesse with him, as by his owne confession by seuerall interpreters is made apparent, the Bench doth therefore censure the said Mary to be whipt at a carts tayle through the townes streets, & to weare a badge vpon her left sleeue during her aboad within this gouerment; & if shee shalbe found without it abroad, then to be burned in the face with a hott iron; & the said Tinsin, the Indian, to be well whipt with a halter about his neck at the post, because it arose through the allurement [&] inticement of the said Mary, that hee was drawne therevnto.

December 7, 1641 Forasmuch, as Thomas Bray, of Yarmouth, a single person, & Anne, the wyfe of Francis Linceford, haue committed the act of adultery & vncleanesse, & haue diuers tymes layne in one bed together in the absence of her husband, which hath beene confessed by both parties in the publike Court, the Court doth censure them as followeth: That they be both seuerely whipt immediately at the publik post, [&] that they shall weare (whilst they remayne in the gouernment) two letters, namely, an AD, for Adulterers, daily, vpon the outside of their vppermost garment, in a most emenent place thereof; & if they shalbe found at any tyme in any towne or place within the gouerment without them so worne vpon their vppermost garment as aforesaid, that then the constable of the towne or place shall take them, or wither of them, omitting so to weare the said two letters, & shall forthwith whip them for their negligence, & shall cause them to be immediately put on againe, & so worne by them & either of them; & also that they shalbe both whipt at Yarmouth, publikly, where the offence was committed, in such fitt season as shalbe thought meete by Mr. Edmond Freeman [&] such others as are authorized for the keepeing of the Courts in these partes.

February 3, 1656 Att this Court, the cunstable of Tauton brought a certaine Scote, a single man, & an Irish woman named Katheren Aimes, whome hee had apprehended vpon suspision of commiting adultery each with other; but the Court, haueing examined them, could not proceed to punish them for want of clearer euidence; but haueing intelligence that sundry in Tauton could giue euidence in the case, whoe were not present, the Court commited the said man & woman to the custidy of the marshals vntill the next Court, & summoned in the wittnesses to appeer att the said Court, namely, Alexander Aines, John Muckclay, Daniell Muckeney, Scotsmen, & a certaine Irish woman named Elizabeth; her other name non present doe know.

Husband punished for leaving family & exposing his wife to such temptations

March 5, 1656 Att this Court, William Paule, Scotchman, for his vnclean & filthy behauiour with the wife of Alexander Aines, is centanced by the Court to bee forthwith Publickly whipt, & to paye the officers the charges of his imprisonment & punishment, which accordingly was performed.

Att this Cour, Katheren Aines, for her vnclean & laciuiouse behauior with the abouesaid William Paule, & for the blasphemos words that shee hath spoken, is centanced by the Court to bee forthwith publickly whipt heer att Plymouth, & afterwards att Taunton, on a publicke training day, & to were a Roman B cutt out of ridd cloth & sowed to her vper garment on her right arme; & if shee shalbee euer found without it soe worne whil shee is in the gouernment, to bee forthwith publickly whipt.

Alexander Anis, for his leaueing his family, & exposing his wife to such temtations, & being as baud to her therin, is centanced by the Court for the present to sitt in the stockes the time the said Paule & Katheren Ainis are whipt, which was performed; & the said Alexander Anis is to pay the charges of his wifes imprisonment & punishment, which said charge, in regard the said Anis is very poor, is to pay it by twelue pence per weeke vntill it is all payed; & James Walker, of Taunton, is appointed to recieue it in the countreyes behalfe.

December 7, 1641 Forasmuch, as Thomas Bray, of Yarmouth, a single person, & Anne, the wyfe of Francis Linceford, haue committed the act of adultery & vncleanesse, & haue diuers tymes layne in one bed together in the absence of her husband, which hath beene confessed by both parties in the publike Court, the Court doth censure them as followeth: That they be both seuerely whipt immediately at the publik post, [&] that they shall weare (whilst they remayne in the gouernment) two letters, namely, an AD, for Adulterers, daily, vpon the outside of their vppermost garment, in a most emenent place thereof; & if they shalbe found at any tyme in any towne or place within the gouerment without them so worne vpon their vppermost garment as aforesaid, that then the constable of the towne or place shall take them, or wither of them, omitting so to weare the said two letters, & shall forthwith whip them for their negligence, & shall cause them to be immediately put on againe, & so worne by them & either of them; & also that they shalbe both whipt at Yarmouth, publikly, where the offence was committed, in such fitt season as shalbe thought meete by Mr. Edmond Freeman [&] such others as are authorized for the keepeing of the Courts in these partes.

June 10, 1662 Att this Court, Thomas Bird, for committing of seuerall adulterouse practices & attempts, soe farr as strength of nature would permitt, with Hannah Bumpas, as hee himselfe did acknowlidge, was sentanced by the Court to bee whipt two seuerall times, namely, the first time att the present Court, & the second time betwixt this & the fifteenth day of July next. [Thomas Bird was whipt the first time att this Court.]

March 1, 1669/1670 Furthermore, in answare vnto the earnest request of the said Samuell Hallowey to be diuorced from his said wife, shee haueing not onely most horribly abused him, as is manifested by the testimonies to the abouesaid presentment, & att other times, as is aboue hinted, but alsoe confessed that shee hath committed adultery with diuers persons; yett notwithstanding, the Court, being not very cleare to such a proceeding att present, refered the full answare thervnto vntill the next June Court, being willing to take mature advice & deliberation about it, as is beehoofull to soe waighty a matter.

June 7, 1670 Att this Court, Samuell Hallowey, of Taunton, importuned the Court for a divorce from his wife, Jane Hallowey, expressing himselfe much agreiued with her continued approbrious & audacious asserting & affeirming that shee had committed adultery with Jonathan Briggs; in consideration wherof the Court passed an order to William Harvey & James Walker, of Taunton aforsaid, authoriseing them to examine her as soon as she can conveniently after her being vp out of child bed, to know of her whether shee will yet stand to & maintaine her said assertion; which if incase shee doe, & that the said Hollowey doe appeer att the Court of his magestie to be holden att Plymouth aforsaid the last Tusday in October next, & produce sufficient testimony, vnder the hand of the said William Harvey & James Walker, that shee still affeirmes that shee hath committed the said acte, the Court will then see cause to graunt him a bill of diuorse.

July 4, 1673 Wheras it doth appeer to this Court by diuers testimonies that Sarah, the wife of John Williams, of Barnstable, hath violated her marriage bond by committing actuall adultery with another man, & hath a child by him, this Court therfore sees cause & doe heerby declare, that the said John Williams is legally cleare from his couenant of marriage formerly plighted & made with the said Sarah, his late wife, & doe heerby free him from those duties relateing thervnto, & that the said Sarah hath by her breach of wedlocke cutt off her selfe from any right henceforth to the person or estate of the said John Williams, her late husband, & doe heerby likewise alow him libertie further to dispose of himselfe in marriage if hee shall see cause for the future soe to doe.

March 5, 1677/1678 In reference to the complaint of Robert Badston against Charles Wills, that hee had lyen w/ his wife, the Court, haueing examined the euidences respecting the case, did not find him guilty of that fact, & therfore cleared him therof, & from keeping the child, & the rather because the said Robert Badston hath frequently companied with his said wife by beding with her, both before & after the child was borne.

See:

Bradford, William.  Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620-1647. Ed. by Samuel Eliot Morison. New York: Knopf (1952).

Dayton, Cornelia Hughes.  Women Before the Bar: Gender, Law, [and] Society in Connecticut, 1639-1789. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press (1995).

Demos, John.  A Little Commonwealth: Family Life in Plymouth Colony. London: Oxford University Press (1970).

Fischer, David Hackett.  Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America. London: Oxford University Press (1989).

PCR.  Records of the Colony of New Plymouth in New England. Ed. by Nathaniel Shurtleff and David Pulsifer. New York: AMS Press. 12 v. in 6.

Stratton, Eugene Aubrey.  Plymouth Colony: Its History [and] People, 1620-1691. Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing (1986).

Ulrich, Laurel Thatcher.  Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England, 1650-1750. New York: Vintage Books (1980).


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