Monday, November 2, 2015

Puritan New England - Miscellaneous Sexual Offences - 1653-1683 in the Plymouth Colony Court Records

Miscellaneous Sexual Offences

June 9, 1653 An order was likewise passed from the Court requiring that Teag Jones & Richard Berry, & others with them, bee caused to part theire vnciuell liueing together, as they will answare it.

May 1, 1660 Att this Court Henery Howland, being summoned, appeered to answare for his entertaining another mans wife in his house after complaint made to him by her husband, & for permitting a Quakers meeting in his house, & for entertaining a forraigne Quaker contrary to order of Court. The first particulare hee stifely deneyed, & the euidence did not appeer to make it out...

October 5, 1663 Ralph Earle, for drawing his wife in an vnciuell manor on the snow, is fined twenty shillings.

March 1, 1663/1664 Timothy Hallowey, of Taunton, for misdemenor in frequent kising the wife of John Hathewey, & for being att the house of the said Hathewey att vnseasonable time, & for neglecting to appeer att Court according to summons, fined twenty shillings.

June 7, 1665 In reference vnto diuers complaints made conserning John Williams, Junior, his disorderly liueing with his wife, & his abusiue & harsh carriages towards her both in words & actions, in speciall his sequestration of himselfe from the marriage bed, & his accusation of her to bee a whore, & that especially in reference vnto a child lately borne of his said wife by him denied to bee legittimate, the Court saw cause to require bonds for the appeerance of the said Williams att this present court, & likewise sent for his wife to this Court; & after the hearing of seuerall thinges to & frow betwixt them, the said Williams being not able to make out his charge against her, they were both admonished to apply themselues to such waies as might make for the recouering of peace & loue betwixt them; & for that end the Court requested Isacke Bucke to bee officious therin, & soe dismised them from the Court for that time.

August 1, 1665 Att this Court, John Arther appeered, according to summons, to answare for abusiue speeches & for entertaining of the wife of one Talmon & the wife of William Tubbs; but the said Afther pretending hee could procure euidence to cleare him in some of the particulares charged, hee engageing to appeer att October Court, is for the present released.

October 3, 1665 Wheras Elizabeth, the wife of John Williams, hath bine openly traduced & scandulised in her name, & by false reports & reproaches rendered as if shee were a dishonest woman, & that the child shee brought forth into the world was not legitimate, these are to declare openly before the countrey, that the Court, haueing had sundry occations to heare & examine particulars sundry times relateing to the premises, can find noe cause of blame in her in such respects, but that shee hath behaued herselfe as one that hath faithfully obserued the bond of wedlocke, & that shee & her friends hath bine much wronged by such reports.

May 1, 1666 Att this Court, John Williams appeered to make answare for his continued abusing of his wife, by vnaturall carriages towards her both in words & actions, by rendering her to bee a whore, & for persisting on his refusing to performe marriage duty towards her according to the law of God & man; & forasmuch as the said Williams desired to bee tried in reference to the premises by a jury, the Court gaue him libertie soe to doe, either att this Court or att the Court to bee holden att Plymouth in June next; the said Williams desired it might bee att the last named, & heerby engageth to supply his wife in the mean time with money & other nessesaries withich shee shall stand in need of, & hath expressed himselfe to bee willing that shee shall stand in need of, and hath expressed himselfe to bee willing that shee shall or may repaire to her frinds vntill then, and then and att that time to attend the issue of the case on the fift day of the said Court weeke.

June 3, 1668 Att this Court, vpon the oftens and earnest suite of William Tubbs to be diuorsed from his wife, shee haueing for a longe time sequestered herselfe from him, and will not be perswaded to returne to him, the Court haue directed letter the Road Iland to the gouernment there, in whose jurisdiction shee now is, to request them to take course that shee may be informed of the Courts pleasure & determination, that incase shee, the said Marcye Tubbs, the wife of William Tubbs, doe not returne vnto her said husband between this date & the Court of his magesteries to be holden att Plymouth the first Tusday in July next, that then hee, the said William Tubbs, shalbe diuorced from her. [Divorce granted on July 7, 1668]

March 2, 1668/1669 Att this Court, Mary, the wife of Jonathan Morey, & her son, Benjamine Foster, appeered, being summoned to answare a complaint against the said Mary, for that shee, by her crewell, vnnaturall, & extreame passionate carriages soe exasperated her said son as that hee oftentimes carryed himselfe very much vnbeseeming him & vnworthyly towards his said mother, both by words & otherwise; yea, soe was her turbulent carriages towards him, as that seuerall of the naighbors feared murder would be in the issue of it; shee, the said Mary, being examined respecting the premises, & owned her fault, & seemed to bee very sorry for it, & promised reformation; the youth, her son, likewise owned with teares his euill behauior towards his mother, which gaue the Court such satisfaction as they passed his fault by with admonition; & in reference to the said Mary Morey, the Court, vpon her engagement of better walkeing, are willing to take further tryall of her, & therfore condecended to lett her son remaine with her vntill the next June Court, & then further to doe in the case as occation shall require.

July, 1683 Wheras Awashunkes, & her daughter Bettey, & her son Peter, were brought to this Court on sispition of theire haueing a hand in the murthering of a young child the said Bettey had, this Court, on examination of the case, the said Awashunkes [&] her said daughter sollemly affeirming the said child to be dead before it was born, & nothing as yett appeering to the contrary vnto the Court, they therfore were dismised; yett in regard to theire ill carriage in the management of that affaire concerning a woman to be whippt for reporting said Bettey was with child, when soe it afterward appeered to be really soe, the Court therfore order, that the two Indian squaes, that were appointed to serch the said Bettey, affeirming that shee was not with child, wherby Sames wife was whipt for the report aforsaid, shall pay, each of them, ten shillings in good currant pay to the said Sames squaw; & the said Bettey to pay to her the summe of twenty shillings in good pay; & each of the three, namely, Awashunkes, Bettey, & Peter, twenty shillings a peece towards the charge of theire bringing & imprisonment; & the said Bettey to be whipt by the Indians att Sconett, for her fornicatino; & the Indians there to doe what they can to find out any further grounds of suspition of said suspected murder, & if there appeer further just grounds of such a fact committed by any of them, them to cecure & send to the English authoritie, to be dealt with according to law.


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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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