Saturday, October 20, 2012

Surname Saturday - The Strange Death of Florence Whitridge

Florence Norman was the sister of my 10th great-grandmother, Margaret Norman. They were the daughters of the immigrant, Richard Norman. Florence was born about 1619.  She was married twice, first to John Hart in about 1629 and second to Thomas Whittridge about 1657. Florence took her own life on or shortly before 2 Aug 1672. A coroner’s inquest “appointed upon the sudden death of Flouranc Whiteridg, late wife of Thomas Whitridg of Ipswich, on 2:6:1672 [Aug 2, 1672] found her ‘accessory to her own death by stifling or drowning herself in the water."

From the Memoir of the Rev. William Adams accessed on - see link below.

I went to Ipswich and at Wenham had from Mr. Newman the full relation of ye strange death of Thomas -- Thomas Whitteridge his wife, being a woman of no commendable life was by a fortune-teller told ye she should meet with great trouble, if she escaped with her life; afterward being in great horror, Mr. Richard Hubbard gave her several scriptures to consider of. When he was gone she turned ye Bible the best part of an hour saying there was another scripture if she could find it, which what it was or whether she found it being unknown to others she clapt the Bible too and said she would never look into it more, which by the just judgement of God she never did. At night she told her son, a youth about 12 or 13 years at ye most, yet it wold be as ye fortune teller had said -- the boy desired his mother yet she would not mind what he had said, for he believed that he was a lying fellow, but yet she would mind what was said in the word of God. At this word she flew up saying (as some report) He is come! The door either by her or of itselfe being opened with great violence she ran out. And being presently followed no sight could be had of her, but a shrieking or groaning or both was heard. The next morning there was to be seen a path made thro the thickest places of weeds and briars as if a great timber log had been drawn there which being followed her coat was found therein, and she a little further with her face thrust into a little puddle of water not sufficient to cover all her face, lying dead. Quam inscrutabilia judicia Dei!

I'd love to know more about this colonial era fortune teller. It seems so odd to think about a fortune teller being accepted in Puritan society. And most likely this was not a common occurrence and frowned upon on by majority of the population. Was it a travelling con man? Why did Florence have an interaction with this man? It is likely that the Norman family was not strictly Puritan and perhaps more open to exploring other aspects of spirituality. This is based on various court records that seem to indicate that they were not the best at keeping the Sabbath. Still there are many unanswered questions.

Richard Norman - father of Margaret & Florence
Margaret Norman & Richard Morgan
Samuel Morgan & Elizabeth Dixey
Samuel Morgan & Sarah Herrick
Luke Morgan & Ruth Stone
Luke Morgan & Martha Pulcifer
Samuel Morgan & Judith Dennen
Martha Morgan & William Yates
Moses Yates & Martha Whittle
Gilbert Yates & Laura Emmons
Estes Gilbert Yates & Eva Delphinia Hayes
Linona Alice Yates - my grandmother


Robert Charles Anderson. Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-33 [database on-line] Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc., 2000 The Yates book: William Yates and his descendants: the history and genealogy of William Yates (1722-1868) of Greenwood, Me., [database on-line]. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005.


  1. Pam, this is another cousin connection. I descend from two of Margaret's and Florence's siblings, 1) Alice who married William Allen, and 2) John, who married Arabella Baldwin. I still have cousins who live near "Norman's Woe" in Manchester, MA. Very cool write up for Florence! Thanks!

    1. So we are related on my mom's side and my dad's side.