Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Case of Domestic Violence

On June 5, 1632, Henry Sherburne arrived in Boston on the James.  He came from Odiham, Hampshire, England where he was baptized on March 28, 1611. He married his first wife, Rebecca Gibbons, on November 13, 1637 and she was the mother of all of his children. Sherburne settled in southern New Hampshire where he owned land in the Little Harbor and Sandy Beach regions of the Piscataqua settlement. Henry ran a ferry and kept an ordinary or inn, and was involved in town affairs, serving as town clerk for three years and a local justice for twenty-five years among other offices. During that time, Henry and his wife raised a family and seemed to have been good citizens of the colony. Only two incidents indicate any conflict. In 1649, Henry successfully sued Thomas Wedge for slandering his wife. Records do not reveal what Wedge said about Rebecca. Then in 1665, when there was some opposition to the authority of the Massachusetts Bay Colony over the Piscataqua area, Henry was arrested and charged with sedition. His defense was that he was influenced by his neighbors to attend a meeting at Strawbery Banke where a Mr. Corbett read a petition and asked those present to sign. Henry refused to sign the petition because there were some words in it “concerning the usurpation of power over the people here by the Massachusetts government.” It is unclear whether Henry supported the aims of the petition but was simply astute enough not to sign the document or whether he truly supported the Massachusetts authorities. 

After Rebecca died, Henry married Sarah, widow of Walter Abbott. That seems to be the start of a series of troubles. Walter Abbott was a Portsmouth innkeeper who died in 1667 and left his affairs in disarray. Because he married Sarah, Henry became involved in several protracted lawsuits involving Walter Abbott’s property and debts. Even more troublesome was the relationship between Henry and Sarah. Within a year of their marriage, they were in court where they each admitted to beating each other. Henry confessed to beating his wife “several times” and was fined. Sarah confessed to “beating her husband and breaking his head” and she also had to pay a fine. Two years later, they were presented to the court again for “disorderly living and fighting.” The next year they confessed once again to living “disorderly” and fighting and they were given the choice of paying 50s. each or being whipped ten stripes. They paid the fines.

After Henry’s death, his neighbor, Edward Bickford, his wife and children were summoned to appear before the court and “answer sundry objections about Mr. Sherburne’s death” but they were released when no evidence of foul play was found. There had been some conflict with this neighbor regarding Bickford’s hogs, cattle, and horses causing damage on Henry’s land and the Bickford children being accused of stealing Henry's pears. Neither of these minor disputes seems like something to kill someone over but apparently Henry’s death was unexpected and hard to explain so his family was seeking answers. Walter Goodwin Davis speculates that perhaps Henry disappeared during a winter storm in 1680 and his body was not recovered until spring. However, he notes that he has no evidence to support this hypothesis. 

Henry Sherburne was my 10th great-grandfather. His name is spelled in a variety of ways as was common at that time - Sherborn, Sherborne, Sherburn, Sherburne, etc. 
His youngest daughter, Ruth, married Aaron Moses. 
Ruth Moses m. Timothy Waterhouse
John Waterhouse m. Alice Babb
Lydia Waterhouse m. Richard Garland
Alice Garland m. Isaac Hayes
Richard Hayes m. Rebecca Greenwood
Sidney Hayes m. Apphia Delphina Cole
George Hayes m. Anna J. Rowe
Eva Delphinia Hayes m. Estes Yates
Linona Alice Yates

Davis, Walter Goodwin, and Gary Boyd Roberts. Massachusetts and Maine Families in the Ancestry of Walter Goodwin Davis (1885-1966): A Reprinting, in Alphabetical Order by Surname, of the Sixteen Multi-ancestor Compendia (plus Thomas Haley of Winter Harbor and His Descendants) Compiled by Maine's Famous Genealogist, 1916-1963. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical, 1996. 

Robert Charles Anderson. Great Migration Begins Index: Immigrants to New England, 1620-33 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2000.

1 comment:

  1. Loved your post. I learned a few new things. Henry Sherburne and Rebecca are my 10x great grandparents BUT, his 2nd wife, Sarah Steward Abbot is my 8x great grandmother. Her daughter, Mary Abbott had a daughter, Elizabeth Caverly, who was the bride of Thomas Wilkinson, my immigrant ancestor and 1st my Wilkinson line (my maiden name) to live in New Hampshire. In my Sherburne line I descend from Henry's eldest son, Samuel,