Saturday, March 28, 2015

Mentally Ill, Accused, Imprisoned, & Deserted by Her Husband - 52 Ancestors #13

This week's prompt is "Different." Well this is the story of how being different was a dangerous thing in colonial New England. Instead of finding compassion, this poor woman was persecuted for her mental distress. 

Rebecca Andrews was the daughter of Thomas & Rebecca Andrews. She was married first to John Frost on June 26, 1666 in Cambridge, MA. After John Frost's death, Rebecca was married to George Jacobs, Jr. The Jacobs and Andrews families got swept up in the Salem Witchcraft hysteria. Rebecca's father-in-law, George Jacobs, Sr., an old man, was hanged with John Proctor, George Burroughs, John Willard, and Martha Carrier on August 19, 1692. 

When Rebecca's husband, George Jacobs, Jr. and Daniel Andrews (Rebecca's brother) were accused, they both fled to avoid prison and a trial. At the time of Rebecca's arrest the house was searched thoroughly for her husband and brother but they were not located. It astounds me that her husband and her brother just left her in this awful time. In addition, Rebecca (Andrews) (Frost) Jacobs had been described as crazy for a number of years before this stressful event. 

So with her husband & brother accused and on the run, her daughter imprisoned, her father-in-law executed, Rebecca was in prison with little support except for her mother. 

"Rebecca Fox [mother of Rebecca Jacobs] petitioned the court in 1692 on behalf of her daughter, Rebecca (Andrews) (Frost) Jacobs, who was imprisoned for witchcraft. In November she stated that her daughter had been in prison "for (I think) about this half Year" and her "poor Daughter ... is a Woman Craz'd, Distracted & Broken in her mind, & that She has been so these twelve Years & upward." The other petition stated that Rebecca Jacobs "at some time uttered hard words of her self as tho she had killed her Child, which words are much accounted of as is famed."

Fortunately, both Rebecca and her daughter, Margaret are released and George Jacobs, Jr. returned from his exile. 

Children of George & Rebecca (Andrews) (Frost) Jacobs: 
  1. Margaret was born in 1675 and married John Foster (or Forster). She was arrested and was the one who gave testimony against her grandfather. 
  2. George was born in 1677 and he married twice: 1) Hannah Cousins in 1701; 2) Elizabeth (Donnell) (Harris) Burnham
  3. John was born in 1679 and married twice: 1) Abigail Waters in 1704; 2) Lydia Cooke in 1721. 
  4. Jonathan was born in 1681. 
  5. Mary was born in 1683 and drowned in 1685 when she fell into a well. One has to wonder if her death had something to do with her mother being "Craz'd, Distracted, and Broken in her mind." According to the petition, her troubles had started before this but losing a child certainly could not have helped Rebecca's mental state. 
  6. Joseph was probably the baby that was still nursing when his mother was arrested.

Rebecca Andrews
George Jacobs (the third of this name)
Priscilla Jacobs
Lydia Bartlett
Nancy Ripley
Galen Blake
Charles Galen Blake
Harriet May Blake
Clayton L. Blake - my grandfather

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