Thursday, September 3, 2015

A Horrible Crime

This was a difficult blog post to write. Many times the colonial court records are filled with offenses that amuse us today. However, an attack on a thirteen-year-old girl is not amusing in any time period.

The basis for this story comes from The Great Migration Begins sketch of Humphrey Wyeth based on the research of Robert Charles Anderson.

My connection to this story comes from Thomas & Abigail (Wyeth) (Jones) Chadwell. Thomas Chadwell, Jr. was the second husband of my 10th great-aunt, Abigail (Wyeth) Jones. In 1667, an accusation of rape was leveled by the couple on behalf of Abigail's niece, Sarah Bursley, age 13. Sarah was the daughter of John & Susanna (Wyeth) Bursley. John was "of Exeter" and is not the same as the John Bursley in The Great Migration Begins, Vol. 1.  The accused rapist was a man named John Simple of Charlestown. I have not been able to find more information on major characters in this case. I don't know the age of John Simple, his marital status, or what happened to him after he was convicted. Likewise, I don't know what happened to Sarah, why it seems she was living with her aunt and uncle, or if she wasn't living with them, how they happened to be the first to see her after the attack. Did she have a family of her own one day?

First Sarah told her story and her uncle put up a bond for her appearance in the General Court.

On 14 march 1666/7, upon the "complaint of [worn] Chadwell his wife,""the examination of John Simple aged [blank]" was conducted. On the same day, "Sarah Bursly aged about 13 years sayeth that on Wednesday night last about eight a clock, John Simple without speaking to her she having a candle in her hand he took her by the arms & threw her upon the ground upon her back & put up all her clothes & lay upon her unbuttoning his britches, and by violence thrust his member into her body... & she was & now remains sore & that he made blood to come from her which is apparent & evident to her aunt, she likewise sayeth he had several times told her he would lie with her but never did until last night & then he begged of her that she would not tell her aunt." "Tho[mas] Chadwell binds himself in the bond of twenty pounds for Sarah Bursly's appearance at the General Court or else at the next Court of Assistants." [SJC Case #814]

The indictment of John Simple came around September 1667. The charges were set and the jury found him guilty of rape.

In an undated document (probably on or just before 3 September 1667), "Jno Simple you are indicted by the name of John Simple of Charlestowne for not having the fear of God before your eyes & being instigated by the devil did on or about the 13th of March last past attempt & commit a rape upon the body of Sarah Bursly a girl of thirteen years of age as by the evidence may appear."  "James Everell in the name of the rest [of the grand jury]" stated that "we find this bill that John Simpull commited a rape on the body of Sarah Bursly." "Tho[mas] Deane in the name of the rest [of the petit jury] ... find him guilty of an attempt upon the body of Sarah Bursly and a rape committed." [SJC Case #814]

Abigail Chadwell recounts how she found Sarah crying, listened to her account of the rape, and examined her niece.

On 3 September 1667, "Abigaell Chadwell aged five and forty years," deposed that "having been from her house on 13th March last a little time [worn] quarters of an hour or thereabouts and when she came home [worn] [kins?] woman Sarah Bursley, crying and this deponent [worn] reason wherefore she wept she made answer [that] John Simple had almost killed her and almost split her whereupon I took her up into the chamber and searched her [worn] and according to my apprehension found that he had abused her body finding some blood upon her shift and she deposeth [and] testifies upon oath that there was no man besides himself in the [house?] with her nor any after as she [illegible] till such time as that my husband [and] the constable came in."

Later that day, poor Sarah was examined by five other women of the town. I can't imagine how traumatic this must have been for Sarah.

On the same day, "Mary Sprague aged about 70 years Alice Rand aged about 72 years Suretrust Rouse aged about 67 years Anne March aged about 70 years" and "Hester Kettel aged about 60 years" deposed that upon "searching Sarah Bursly they found that some man had entered her body."

Humphrey Wyeth - grandfather of Sarah Bursley
Mary (Wyeth) Perkins - sister of Abigail (Wyeth) (Jones) Chadwell & aunt of Sarah Bursley
Luke Perkins, Sr.
Luke Perkins, Jr.
Mark Perkins
Ann (Perkins) Packard
Cynthia (Packard) Dunham
James Dunham, Jr.
Florilla (Dunham) Ellingwood
Nina K. (Ellingwood) Gibbs
Annie F. (Gibbs) Cotton
Fern Lyndell Cotton - my grandmother

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Historian Nathaniel Morton - 52 Ancestors #35

Nathaniel Morton is my 11th great-grandfather. He came to Plymouth 
Colony in 1623, on the Anne, with his parents, George & Juliana (Carpenter) Morton. His parents were married in Leiden, Holland in 1612 and it is most likely that he was born there. 

Nathaniel's father died when Nathaniel was only eleven. He was taken in by his uncle, Governor William Bradford. As a result, Nathaniel received an excellent education and became the Secretary of Plymouth Colony for forty years (1645-1685). He was also the secretary of the United Colonies of New England. 

The Guest Commentary portion of the Early Families of New England sketch on Nathaniel Morton includes this information that was very interesting for me. Nathaniel Morton wrote an account of the Plymouth Colony history that expands on and extends William Bradford's manuscript, Of Plymouth Plantation." Morton's work is called New-Englands Memoriall and was published in 1669. This is the only source of signers of the Mayflower Compact and "notes the eight Native Leaders who added their names to the treaty with Massasoit in September, 1621 - but makes no mention of the famous First Thanksgiving." James W. Baker, a Plymouth historian calls this work "the first historical work to be printed in the English North American colonies." (emphasis added)

How cool is that? One of my ancestors authored the first historical work printed in British North America! 

My Line:
Nathaniel Morton
Mercy Morton
Eleazer Dunham
Mercy Dunham
Mary Kempton
Rebecca Burbank 
Hannah Keene
Timothy Cox
Christiana Cox
Francis Llewellyn Cotton
Ray Everett Cotton
Fern Lyndell Cotton - my grandmother

Early Families of New England is a wonderful database available from the New England Historic Genealogical Society. It extends beyond the immigrants covered in the Great Migration series but with the same level of research and detail. 


Saturday, August 22, 2015

What's Growing On Your Farm, Great-Grandpa? - 52 Ancestors #34

For week 32 of the 52 Ancestors challenge, I looked at the Carter family farm and then wrote an additional post comparing the farm in 1860 and 1880 to show the expansion over time. This week's challenge is to use the Federal Census Non-Population Schedules (agriculture, industry, manufactures, or the 1890 Union veterans). I decided to look at my mother's side of the family. My great-grandparents were Estes & Eva (Hayes) Yates. Gilbert's father and Eva's grandfather had farms near each other and they show up on the same page of the 1880 Non-Population Agricultural Schedule. So this week, I'm doing two ancestors in one post. 

Sidney Hayes was born on August 1, 1820 in Poland, Maine, son of Richard & Rebecca (Bailey) Hayes and married Delphinia Cole on June 2, 1848. The family that knew her
pronounced her name as "Del - fine - ee." She was born on June 20, 1823, daughter of Calvin & Betsey (Judkins) Cole. Sidney died on January 22, 1893 and Delphina died on January 18, 1895. Their son, George Hayes was the father of my great-grandmother, Eva. 

Gilbert William Yates was born on August 5, 1835 in Greenwood, Maine, son of Moses & Martha (Whittle) Yates and married Laura E. Emmons on November 24, 1872. She was born on January 18, 1852 in Biddeford, Maine, daughter of Jacob & Sarah (Shepard) Emmons. Laura died on February 28, 1894 and Gilbert died on April 9, 1925. After Laura's death, Gilbert lived with his daughter and son-in-law, George & Linnie May (Yates) Cole. 

In order to make things fit into one graphic, I eliminated categories that did not pertain to either farm. 

Linona Alice (Yates) Blake - my grandmother
Estes & Eva (Hayes) Yates - her parents
Gilbert & Laura (Emmons) Yates - parents of Estes
George & Anna J. (Rowe) Hayes - parents of Eva
Sidney & Delphina (Cole) Hayes - parents of George Hayes, in-laws of Gilbert William Yates

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday - Nathaniel Merrill


Memorial Stone - Newbury First Burying Ground
Nathaniel Merrill's Will, Part 1
Nathaniel Merrill's Will, Part 2

Nathaniel Merrill's Inventory, Part 1

Nathaniel Merrill's Inventory, Part 2

The Probate Records of Essex County, Massachusetts, Vol. 1

Nathaniel Merrill
Abel Merrill
Nathaniel Merrill
Priscilla (Merrill) Knight
Eunice (Knight) Sawyer
Hannah (Sawyer) Hilton
Catherine (Hilton) Churchill
Loann (Churchill) Rowe
Anna J. (Rowe) Hayes
Eva D. (Hayes) Yates
Linona Alice Yates - my grandmother

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Petition of the Poor, Distressed Widow - 52 Ancestors #33

Grace (Pratt) Dutch came from England to Gloucester, Massachusetts to join her husband, Osmund. Osmund died in 1685 and Grace found herself in dire circumstances. She needed money to support herself. Although she lived with her daughter and son-in-law, Samuel & Esther (Dutch) Elwell, there are indications that they did not treat her well. There were no social programs to provide for her and she needed to petition the court for permission to sell off some of the lands of her late husband. 




"The Humble Petition of the Poore distressed widdow Grace Duch of the towne of Gloucester to the honoured General Courte now setting at Boston this 21st July 1685


Yoer poore humble and distresed petitioner sheweth that whereas it pleased God to take away my deare husband out of this live in December last past with whome I lived above fifty yeeres with whome I Lived very poore in the Later parte of his Life and underwent a great deale of Sorrow and trouble hee being very ancient: by his owne relation above a hundred years of age & was very helpless for several yeeres before hee dyed and but Little wherewith all to mayntayne him and my Selfe but I Laboured for only sume cattle which wee ware Little the better for and Land which have Layed wast with out fences severall yeeres soe that it have not beene any wise benificiall to us while hee Lived nor to mee since his death and which the honoured county Court holden at Ipswich last March when the inventory of his Estate was regestered was informed of at the county court holden at Salem last June and [written over] made my addreses that there might bee some of the Land Sold for my maintenance in my old age haveing nothing to helpe my Selfe neither for ffood nor rayment of which I have not [conveniences?] and now am by Gods providance taken sicke and am in very great want which doth make mee humbly crave of this honoured courte to take into yer serious consideratione and grant mee the favour that there my bee an acre or two of Salte marsh sold for my prsent relieufe which is the only thinge that will yield money without which youer petitioner cannot bee supplyed in the tyme of my great distress I should not have made soe bold with yoer honours but that I was informed by the honoured county Courtes above mentioned that they could not grant the sale of any of the Land or else yoer poore petitioner had not made soe bold with yoer Honours therefore pray pardon on the bldnesse and grant the humble & needy request and desires of yoer Humble and needy petioner whoe prayeth for yoer Honours wealfare  Grace Duch


The Court gave her permission to sell the land belonging to the estate if her children should not provide for her. In June, she sold an acre and a half to her grandson, Christopher Hodgkins and another acre and a half to her son-in-law, Samuel Elwell. The sale to Elwell notes that she was in great want of clothing, meat, drink, and attendance. 

Grace died on October 10, 1694. 
(Not stone of Grace Dutch)


Grace (Pratt) Dutch                                                 Grace (Pratt) Dutch
Esther Dutch                                                             Grace Dutch
Robert Elwell                                                            Samuel Hodgkins
John Elwell                                                               Jonathan Hodgkins
Rhoda Elwell                                                             Rachel Hodgkins
Thomas Edgecomb                                                  Elizabeth Moody
Mary Edgecomb                                                       William Ackley
Benjamin Perley Philbrick                                     Sarah Ackley
Lizzie Philbrick                                                         Mary Jane Abbott
Ray Everett Cotton                                                  Fannie May Capen
Fern Lyndell Cotton - my grandmother              Thomas Richard Carter - my grandfather

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Crime of Fornication

John Ellis first shows up in Sandwich, Massachusetts in 1643 on a list of those between the ages of 16 and 60 and able to bear arms.

The next time he shows up in the records is on August 20, 1644, when he is charged with fornication with his then wife, Elizabeth (Freeman) Ellis. They are my 9th great-grandparents. It would be great to know what the witnesses said in their testimony. It is interesting that part of the sentence was that his wife had "to stand by" while the whipping was carried out.

"A warrant [was] set forth to bring in the bodies of Jonathan ffish & Mary his wife; Nathaniel ffish; Jane the wife of William Wood; Rose the wife of Joseph Holly; the wife of Richard Kerby; the wife of Michael Turner & Joanna Swyft, widdow, to give evidence in John Ellis and his wife's case..." 

Then on June 4, 1645:
"John Ellis of Sandwich...and his now wife...is censured to be whipt at publicke post and Elizabeth his wife to stand by whilst execucon of the sentence is pformed; which was accordingly done. And the said John Ellis for his long and tedious delayes occasioning much trouble and charge to the countrey, for that he would not confess the truth untill the present, is fyned 5 li." 


The first child of Elizabeth Freeman was born around August 20, 1644, and it was about this time that John Ellis married Elizabeth. However, no record has been found that names that child. The first Ellis child recorded would seem to be "Benet Elles " (no parents listed) in 1648-49. So what happened to that first child of Elizabeth? It appears that the first child was Elizabeth, my 8th great-grandmother. She married Samuel Briggs. John and Elizabeth (Freeman) Ellis went on to have nine more children together.

Children of John & Elizabeth (Freeman) Ellis

  1. Elizabeth
  2. Bennett
  3. Mordecai
  4. Deborah
  5. Joel
  6. Matthias
  7. Manoah
  8. Freeman
  9. Gideon
  10. William

John & Elizabeth (Freeman) Ellis
Elizabeth (Ellis) Briggs
Elizabeth (Briggs) Benson
Caleb Benson
Content (Benson) Barrows
Rachel (Barrows) Ellingwood
Asa Freeman Ellingwood - nice tribute with his middle name
Nina K. (Ellingwood) Gibbs
Annie F. (Gibbs) Cotton
Fern Lyndell Cotton - my grandmother

See the New England Historical Genealogical Register Vol. 119 for more information.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Carter Farm on Middle Intervale in 1860 and 1880

Haying on the farm in the 1970s
Augustus Mellen Carter took over the farm from his father, Elias Mellen Carter. It is interesting to see how they expanded the farm over the twenty years between 1860 and 1880. The Non-Population Schedules don't have the exact same information in them, but there is enough that is the same to do a comparison. Augustus is my 2nd great-grandfather and Elias is my 3rd great-grandfather. The farm was started by Dr. Timothy Carter, father of Elias, and it is still in the family 7 generations later. However, there are no more males in this direct family line.
Original post about 1860 enumeration
Buckwheat and rye seem to be falling out of favor as corn and potatoes greatly increased. The production expanded into maple products, both sugar and syrup, and making cheese and a lot more butter. The livestock value tripled and seems to be based on the number of sheep and the amount of wool being shorn. 
T. Richard Carter - grandson of Augustus, great-grandson of Elias 
Tom Carter, my dad, logging on family land in the 1980s - 6th generation on the same land