Sunday, September 27, 2015

An Unhealthy Obsession

Sarah Whipple was fifteen years old when a man named John Hobbs developed an unhealthy obsession with her. Sarah was my 8th great grandaunt, the daughter of my 9th great-grandparents, John & Sarah (Kent) Whipple. Her mother died when she was an infant and her father remarried, Elizabeth Woodman. When this happened, she was living in Newbury with her uncle, Richard Kent and it was Richard who filed the complaint against John Hobbs of Newbury in the Ipswich courts. I believe this is the John Hobbs who was born in 1652 to Thomas & Martha Hobbs. That would make him twenty years old and five-six years older than Sarah. 

Initially, Hobbs was found guilty and sentenced, but he appealed and was released on bond. He failed to appear at his next court appearance on September 24, 1672. He continued to "abuse her by many scandalous defamations and threatened to have the blood of any person that shall come to her under any pretense of love." Her father, John Whipple, then urged the court to bring Hobbs to answer for his behavior.

Sarah's testimony in the matter says that Hobbs had stated to her uncle that he would not allow any man to court her or it "would be the death of him" that tried. Rebecca Long backed up Sarah's testimony. (Rebecca is my 9th great-grandmother.) Beriah Browne testified that Hobbs told him that "he would be the death of any man who sought Sary Whipple in marriage and God's blud I think you are the man." Henry Akers testified that Hobbs also threatened Richard Doell and Beriah Browne because he suspected they were interested in Sarah.

Six months after failing to show up for his appeal, the Court record of March 25, 1673, reads "John Hobbs, for profane swearing the threatening to kill, for railing and shamefully abusing Sarah Whipple, and for not prosecuting his appeal at the last Ipswich court, was bound to good behavior, especially to Richard Kent and Sarah Whipple, and not to come into her company."

John Hobbs does not appear in the court record on this matter again. Sarah Whipple married Henry Short, Jr. on March 30, 1674.  There is no record of what reaction John Hobbs had to this event. What is known is that John Hobbs was one of the men killed during the Bloody Brook massacre on September 18, 1675.
Monument to those killed at Bloody Brook

John & Sarah (Kent) Whipple
Matthew Whipple - brother of Sarah
Dorothy (Whipple) Perkins
Ann (Perkins) Packard
Cynthia (Packard) Dunham
James Dunham, Jr.
Florilla (Dunham) Ellingwood
Nina (Ellingwood) Gibbs
Annie (Gibbs) Cotton
Fern Lyndell Cotton - my grandmother

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