Thursday, May 21, 2015

Timeline of Mary Dyer’s last month

The not-very-merry month of May

© 2015 Christy K Robinson

As I was researching and writing the two novels on Mary and William Dyer (originally, I planned one book about Mary, but when I included her “other half,” I had to separate the manuscripts), I found conflicting accounts among histories that were mostly written by Quakers. They told the story for the purposes of proselytizing, for justifying the actions of their fellow believers, and some wrote short pieces as eyewitnesses, but they told Mary’s part of the story from one perspective.

Today, we have the benefits of archived materials in both Old and New England, journals and correspondence that have been scanned and transcribed for the Gutenberg Project, satellite maps, geological surveys, online art collections, and we can analyze events with more logic and science than the historians of past centuries. We can fit Mary’s and William’s puzzle pieces into the greater picture.

A small portion of my timeline for the Dyer books.
© Christy K Robinson
To clear up the conflicts in their reporting, and insert actual events and lives the Dyers interacted with, I made an Excel grid from the 1580s when Gov. John Winthrop and Anne Hutchinson were born, to 1709, when the Dyers’ youngest child died. I could figure when women were pregnant and how long sea voyages took, how many times and how long Mary Dyer was in prison (and who she was with), and where people were when earthquakes and comets and epidemics occurred. It answered many questions, and inspired story lines.

When it came to the 1650s, though, the Anglo-Dutch War broke out and Cromwell’s Protectorate ruled the British Empire, and Quaker missionaries arrived in America, the facts were terribly garbled, so I broke the 10 years into months. It helped me unravel the conflicting reports, especially about Mary’s two dates with the gallows, and to realize that there were no coincidences. The events like the Hutchinsonians making the Exodus from Boston in 1638, and Mary’s final return to Boston in 1660, were deliberate and well considered.

In May, all across New England, colonial elections were held, and courts and assemblies heard cases like incorporating towns, funding roads and bridges, and criminal cases like dealing with Quakers and Baptists, thieves, alcoholics, and adulterers. During this month, freemen (voters and jurymen) came from all over the colony to stay in town and do their civic duty, attend church services, and do trading and exports.

William Dyer was at colonial assembly in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, in late May 1660. Boston was full of thousands of people at the same time, when the annual elections returned John Endecott for another year’s term as governor. That’s precisely why Mary Dyer chose May 21 to arrive in Boston: for the greater audience to witness her civil disobedience and be forced to deal with the issues. It wasn’t a random date or a sneak-in-the-back-door entrance: she calculated the time when the Governor, deputy governors, magistrates, freemen, leading citizens and candidates—would all be in one place. If she were to be executed, she wanted everyone to know it and see it.

Not quite two years before, two Quaker men had had their ears cut off in private, and they were immediately shipped back to England. Their disobedience had a smaller effect on the Boston populace. Katherine Scott, who would become the mother-in-law of one of those men, protested that secret punishment, noting that it was against English law to punish in private (because punishment was meant to deter further crime in the community), and Endecott and the deputies were in violation of the law. For being impudent to the governors, Mrs. Scott was stripped to the waist and they gave her 10 lashes with the tri-corded whip before they imprisoned her for a while.

May 1660, Julian calendar


From late November 1659 to May 11, 1660, Mary was staying at the northeast end of Long Island, on a smaller island called Shelter Island.

May 10-11: Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick, 62-year-olds who had been severely persecuted for Quaker beliefs and practices, died in exile on Shelter Island, where Mary Dyer had spent the winter. It’s a small island, half land and half marsh, so Mary and the Southwicks would have been in each others’ company at the Sylvester house during the extremely harsh winter. In my book, Mary Dyer: For Such a Time as This, I speculated that she saw their failing health and stayed until their deaths. Her sorrow and outrage may have helped propel her return to Boston.

Approx. May 12: Mary took a ship from Shelter Island to Providence, Rhode Island. It would have taken 12-24 hours in the best of weather, so estimate a May 13-14 arrival in Providence.
Mary attended a Quaker Meeting in Providence, and took young Patience Scott (daughter of Katherine Marbury Scott) with her on the 44-mile walk to Boston. It probably took three days to walk that distance, and sleep and eat in the forest, so they may have set out on May 17-18.

Saturday, May 20: “In the night there was a continuation of thunder and lightning, from 9 to 3 o’clock.” (Annals of Salem). The book only recorded remarkable events, not your everyday weather report, so this storm was severe and noticeable, and probably part of a system that included other parts of Massachusetts. There may even have been tornadoes.

Sunday, May 21: Mary arrested for returning to Massachusetts Bay Colony against her banishment order. Her arrival was timed for Sunday/First Day, when church attendance swelled the numbers of people in town. She was jailed for 10 days. (One historian wrote that Mary was free, ministering and preaching between the 21st and her arraignment on the 31st. My timeline containing all the accounts corrected that.)

Saturday, May 27: William Dyer was engaged with Assembly meetings in Portsmouth, RI, we learn from his letter of May 27. Someone needed two to three days to bring him the news that Mary was in Boston jail, meaning that she was incarcerated almost immediately on her arrival in town. And William’s letter needed 1-3 days to arrive at Boston’s General Court, even with a fast messenger. 

Wednesday, May 31: Mary Dyer arraigned at General Court, and sentenced to death based on her October 1659 trial. See related article, 1660 warrant to bring Mary Dyer to trial.

Thursday, June 1:  Thursday was Lecture Day in Massachusetts Bay Colony, with required church attendance. It was also the day when punishments and executions were carried out, because people were supposed to see the wages of wickedness and turn away from sin, and then go to church to hear a sermon tied to the events of the day. Mary Dyer was executed on Boston Neck at 9:00am, after which the 2,000 to 5,000 spectators went to church.

Christy K Robinson is author of two biographical novels on William and Mary Dyer, and a collection of her nonfiction research on the Dyers. In 1660, Mary Dyer was hanged for her civil disobedience over religious freedom, and her husband’s and friends’ efforts in that human right became a model for the United States Constitution’s Bill of Rights 130 years later. The books (and Kindle versions) are available on Amazon. CLICK HERE for the links.
And if you'd like to own or give an art-quality print of Mary Dyer's handwriting, her letter to the General Court of Massachusetts, CLICK HERE

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

17th-century Spirits

If you’re a fuddle-cup or swill-belly, you just might SEE spirits!

Join me in welcoming author Margaret Porter to William-and-Mary-Dyer-World. From time to time, I run articles on the 17th-century English culture that was so familiar to the Dyers and their associates, Anne Hutchinson, John Winthrop, Henry Vane, Roger Williams, John Clarke, and so many others. Margaret Porter has recently released a book that begins in 1684, the last of the reign of King Charles II, and the beginning of the reign of James II, the former Duke of York. To put this time in perspective with the Dyers, this was the adulthood of their children. Their son William Dyer was mayor of New York and a customs official, and is mentioned in the “Diary of Samuel Pepys” as assisting James, Duke of York, in investigating a scam on Long Island.

© 2015 Margaret Evans Porter

An English public house much like the
Dyers would have known.
For centuries, Britain’s main beverages were ale and beer—at all times of day—brewed at home or locally, in households and in the monasteries. For ale, the necessary ingredients were water, ground malt, and yeast, mixed together and left to ferment. From the fifteenth century, influenced by Continental methods, hops were added to create beer. Small ale or small beer, watered versions of the fully-brewed sort, were consumed with breakfast and given to children. There were other variations: buttered beer, derived by brewing eggs and butter, and the unpalatable-sounding cock-ale. If interested in making the latter, here are instructions:

Take eight gallons of Ale; take a Cock and boil him well; then take four pounds of raisins…two or three nutmegs…three or four flakes of mace…half a pound of dates…beat these all up in a mortar, and put to them two quarts of the best Sack; and when the Ale hath done working, put these in and stop it close six or seven days, and then bottle it, and after a month you may drink it.

Sack was a wine obtained from Spain or the Canary islands. Sherry, its fortified cousin, is the Anglicized term for Jerez (in Andalusia) where it originated, and at the start of the 17th century it became popular in England. French wines—from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, and other regions—were traded by Dutch merchants, although in wartime such goods might be obtained via smugglers. This was equally true of brandy, sometimes referred to as Nantz or Nantes, the area where it was produced.  
Bristol-made vessels
The Gaelic peoples of Ireland and Scotland had long been distilling their “water of life” (uisce beatha) from malt, which by the 17th century was Anglicized to usquebaugh and eventually to whisk(e)y. At that time there was no aging process, and the liquor was extremely potent and unrefined.

During the 17th century, rum began to be produced in Barbados and other sugarcane islands of the Caribbean, where molasses was fermented, distilled, and exported to England. The first rum distillery in the American Colonies started in New York in the 1660s, and rum-making soon became New England’s most notable industry. The British Royal Navy had initially provided French brandy as part of a sailor’s ration, but in the mid-17th century rum replaced it.

As well as delivering French wine and spirits to Britain, the Netherlands’ most significant contribution was gin—genever, or Hollands—made from juniper berries (often with turpentine as an additive), originating in the 16th century. Military men drank it when serving in the Low Countries, and Prince William of Orange’s accession to his deposed father-in-law’s throne resulted in its wider availability in Britain. Unlike ale, beer, and wine, it was unlicensed and not taxed, and therefore was the cheapest of spirits—prior to the Gin Act of 1736. Gin consumption was blamed for widespread public drunkenness, crime, and degradation of the populace.

Whether in city or countryside, taverns and alehouses were hubs of social activity, a place to meet, eat, smoke tobacco, sing, dance, converse, debate, fight, and receive messages. Female publicans—married or widowed—were not uncommon; they also managed breweries.
A rich man's spirits flask

Women were also skilled in making wines and spirits and cordials for medicinal or household use, from readily available plants. They distilled wine from cowslips, dandelions, parsnips, birch, and elder-blossom. Using berries plucked from hedgerow blackthorn bushes, they made sloe gin. Cider from apples and perry from pears were widely available in regions where orchards prevailed, especially Somerset, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, and Herefordshire.

Wine and spirits were ingredients in many other drinks. Arrack or rack punch was composed of a specific sort of East Indian brandy, double-distilled in Goa, combined with  sugar syrup, citrus, cinnamon and other spices, and boiling water. Syllabubs were whipped using wine or cider, fresh cream, and spices. Possets often included sack, with or without milk or cream, ale, eggs and spices. Wassail was a combination of dark sugar, hot beer, sherry, cold beer, and toasted bread, often with a roasted apple added at the last. The beverage known as Bishop involved piercing an orange with cloves and roasting it, then adding it to a saucepan of heated port wine. The steaming liquid was then poured over lemon rind to steep, served warm with grated nutmeg.

Alcoholic beverages were transported and stored in wooden hogsheads and casks of various sizes, and decanted to ceramic jars or bottles, the latter mostly manufactured in Bristol. Drinking vessels could be tankards of leather or wood or pewter, silver goblets or blown glass stemware which might be etched with a coat of arms or a device indicating political loyalties.

One of the best-known drinking songs is probably “John Barleycorn,” hundreds of years old:

Then they put him in the mashing-tub,
Thinking to scald his tale,
And the next thing they called Barleycorn,
They called him home-brewed ale.

Here’s the verse of another 17th century drinking song:

Be merry, good hearts, and call for your quarts,
and let not  the liquor be lacking,
We have gold in store, we purpose to roar,
until we can set care a-packing.
Mine Hostess make haste, and let no time waste,
every man shall have his due,
To save shoes and your trouble, bring the pots double
for he that made one, makes two.

Seventeenth Century Drinking Vocabulary

Bawdy-house bottle—very small in size
Blackjack—leathern drinking jug
The Drunkard's Cloak.
Related article:
Alcoholism and the Drunkard’s Cloak
in this Dyer blog.
Bowsy (Boozy)—Drunk
Bristol milk—sherry
Bumper—full glass
Cut—drunk; deep cut—very drunk
Half-seas over—almost drunk
Hot pot—ale and brandy boiled together
Maul’d—swingingly drunk
Maudlin—weepingly drunk
Mellow—almost drunk
Muddled—half drunk
Nazy-nabs—drunken coxcombs
Nipperkin—half a pint of wine, half a quarter of brandy
Noggin—quarter pint of brandy
Romer—a drinking glass
Rot-gut—small or thin beer
Stingo—strong liquor
Stitch—very strong ale
Swill-belly—a great drinker
Tall boy—a pottle or 2-quart pot of wine
Tears of the tankard—drops of the liquor that fall beside
Tipsy—almost drunk
Tope—to drink; old toper—staunch drunkard
Vent—bung-hole in a vessel

 MARGARET PORTER is an award-winning, bestselling novelist whose lifelong study of British history inspires her fiction and her travels. A PLEDGE OF BETTER TIMES, set in England’s late 17th century royal court, is her 12th novel. A former stage actress, she has also worked in film, television, and radio. Author website:

Margaret’s book, A Pledge of Better Times, is reviewed on another of Christy’s blogs HERE

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Passover Exodus from Massachusetts

Anne Hutchinson's secret theology

Anne Hutchinson statue at the Massachusetts Statehouse.
© 2015 Christy K Robinson 

 Anne Marbury Hutchinson, at her second trial before the Massachusetts Bay Colony theocratic government, was excommunicated from the Puritan First Church of Boston, on 22 March 1638*. She left her six-month house arrest, heresy conviction, and excommunication behind as she stalked out of Boston with the Passover.

The trial venue had been moved to New Towne (Cambridge) to get away from Anne’s many supporters in Boston. It was held when many of the men of the Hutchinson Party were away, having purchased Aquidneck/Rhode Island and begun surveying house lots and setting up wigwams and huts as temporary shelter for when the women and children would join them. This was one of the coldest winters ever to strike New England. One nor’easter blizzard after another, and a complete freeze of Boston Harbor, struck the colony. On one hand, people didn’t need a ferry to cross the ice of the Charles River; on the other hand, who could walk through the deep snows? (As I write this article, on 30 March 2015, there is more snow forecast this week for Boston, which has already measured more than nine feet of snow in 2015.)

This was no one-day trial, either, as you might gather from previous accounts in books and internet. Rev. Thomas Welde, one of the inquisitors, wrote in his preface to John Winthrop’s book Short Story of the Rise, Reign and Ruin of the Antinomians,
“The first week we spent in confuting the loose opinions that wee gathered up in the Country… The other fortnight wee spent in a plane syllogisticall dispute… In the forenoones wee framed our arguments, and in the afternoones produced them in publike, and next day the Adversary [Anne Hutchinson] gave in their answers, and produced also their arguments on the same questions; then wee answered them and replyed also upon them the next day. These disputes are not mentioned at all in the following Discourse, happily, because of the swelling of the book [the book would be too long and costly to publish].”
See * note below article regarding dates.

The trial ran three weeks, and for everyone from magistrates to defendant to the general community, it was a foregone conclusion that Anne Hutchinson would be convicted of heresy. 

On March 15, Anne was summoned again to trial on Lecture Day, the midweek church service in their community where attendance was required, and the day when criminals were put in stocks, whipped, or executed by hanging. (Mary Dyer was hanged on a Lecture Day.) Anne had a high enough status, as a wealthy and educated woman whose husband had been a magistrate, that she was in no danger of corporal punishment. Instead of coming on time, she arrived after the long prayer and longer sermon. John Winthrop said she was “pretending bodily infirmity.” She may have been ditching the religious service that day, but she had been confined to a hostile home for five months, she was middle-aged and perhaps tired of the stress of the trial, her supportive and loving husband was out of town, and it was insanely cold and snowy, so she may have been ill. 

One day during that trial, Anne Hutchinson walked out the door at the end of the day, and Mary Dyer, the other of the two “chief fomenting women,” took her hand in support. And that’s when the mud hit the fan. Gov. Winthrop learned that Mary had miscarried a deformed fetus five months before, and that Rev. Cotton had buried it secretly, at night. During Anne’s trial, Winthrop ordered the exhumation of the poor little bundle, and at least 100 men (those who were trying Anne, no doubt) “examined” it. Winthrop and Welde used that observation to describe Mary's “monster” in Winthrop’s book.

On March 22, the day Anne was convicted, according to John Winthrop’s Journal, he
“sent a warrant to Mrs. Hutchinson to depart this jurisdiction before the last of this month, according to the order of the court, and for that end set her at liberty from her former constraint [house arrest at Roxbury], so as she was not to go forth of her own house till her departure; and upon the 28th she went by water to farm at the Mount [Wollaston, where the Hutchinsons owned a farm], where she was to take water [a ship], with Mr. Wheelwright’s wife and family, to go to Pascataquack [Dover, New Hampshire, where Rev. Wheelwright had gone into exile]; but she changed her mind, and went by land to Providence, and so to the island in the Narragansett Bay, which her husband and the rest of that sect had purchased of the Indians, and prepared with all speed to remove unto. For the court had ordered, that, except they were gone with their families by such a time, they should be summoned to the general court, etc.”

1866: Gustav Dore' illustration
of Pentecost
I’ve never seen historians or researchers count the days like I have, but here’s what I discovered. When the June 1, 1638 major earthquake hit New England, Anne Hutchinson thought that the shaking was the latter rain of the Holy Spirit, which many Christians call Pentecost, 50 days after Easter. Pentecost was the commemoration of when the earth shook and tongues of flame rested over the assembled Christians in a Jerusalem upper room, after the first Easter (Christ's resurrection). In that experience, they received supernatural gifts of languages, healing, teaching, and other tools to grow the church.

Historians have never connected the Easter and Pentecost dates to the Hutchinson story because Puritans did not celebrate those holidays—ever. They considered religious holidays to be pagan in origin, promoted by the papists they hated, and not scripturally mandated. When Puritans gained the upper hand in the English Civil Wars of the 1640s, they officially abolished celebration of Christmas, Easter, Whitsun, and all other traditional Catholic and Anglican holidays. Other sects of the era—Presbyterians, Reformed, Quakers, Baptists, and Anabaptists—also spurned church holidays.

However, Anne knew the date of Pentecost, or she wouldn’t have exclaimed that the severe earthquake was the Holy Spirit coming down on them—at the time of Pentecost. And if she knew Pentecost, she knew the date of Easter. Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon of the vernal equinox. The night of the full moon is Passover, which she also knew. “And on that very day the Lord brought the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt.” Exodus 12:51.

Anne and her family and followers left Boston at Passover, the end of March. Rather than sailing around Cape Cod to Narragansett Bay, the Massachusetts exiles walked in the freezing, hostile wilderness. They left Boston, Charlestown, and Roxbury like the ancient Israelites left the bondage of Egypt, shaking off their shackles and slavery to the law. This exodus from Boston was made as a strong statement to John Winthrop and the rest of the theocratic magistrates. If the Hutchinsonians left on March 29, the Passover, the full moon, it was also Lecture Day, when hundreds more people were in town to witness it! It would have been plain in Winthrop’s eyes, surely, but the fact never made it into his books. (Winthrop himself likened Massachusetts' crop failures, insect invasions, and severe weather to the plagues of Egypt. A month after Anne's departure, Winthrop fell deathly ill, perhaps from the severe stress of the Hutchinson trial and losing scores of the colony's leading businessmen to exile.)
Snowy forest, late March 2015.
Photo courtesy of Jo Ann Butler, author of the Rebel Puritan novels

When Anne and her followers walked all the way from Massachusetts Bay to Providence (45-60 miles), they left during what we call Holy Week, the week between Palm Sunday and Easter. (Easter was on April 4 that year.) When the Hutchinsonians, including that “fomenter” Mary Dyer and her husband William and 27-month-old son Samuel, struck out through the forest, it was still a frozen wilderness. The snow lay three feet deep in some places, and they were on foot because horses were expensive and rare. They may have had an ox to pull a sled, but it’s unlikely. They would have spent at least two nights on the rough trail before they reached the small village of Providence, and then moved on to the north end of Aquidneck Island, where they founded the town that would be renamed Portsmouth, Rhode Island.
The Portsmouth Compact,
1638, in William Dyer's

When, before her hanging in 1660, Mary Dyer walked from Providence to Boston to defy the theocracy and call attention to the "bloody law" of religious persecution, she used the same road she'd walked out on. She knew exactly what she was doing: going back into the persecution and prison of Egypt. In her letter to the Massachusetts Bay general court, she wrote two references to the Hebrew Exodus:  

“Its not my owne life I seek for (I chuse rather to suffer with the people of god then to injoy the pleasures of eqypt)”   and  
“the lord wil overturne you and your law by his righteous Judgments and plagues poured justly on you.”

Christy K Robinson is the author of The Dyers trilogy of books and Kindle ebooks. They chronicle the greatest people of the Great Migration: Mary and William Dyer, John Winthrop, Anne Hutchinson, Edward Hutchinson, Katherine Scott, Henry Vane, and many others. For links to these five-star-reviewed books, click HERE
* All dates in this article are according to the Julian Calendar used in the 17th century, not the Gregorian Calendar we use now, so if you plot it on a modern calendar, the days of the week are about 10 days different. Most regular lecture days were held on Thursdays, and Sabbath church services were on Sunday. Court was not in session on Sunday, but that would not have stopped the ministers preaching against Anne and her followers. It certainly didn’t stop Rev. John Wilson and John Cotton.

Short Story of the Rise, Reign and Ruin of the Antinomians, by John Winthrop, Sr.
History of New England, John Winthrop’s Journal, Vol. 1
The American Puritan: Did You Know? Christianity Today 1994.
Easter: The Devil’s Holiday  A Puritan’s Mind, by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon

Friday, March 20, 2015

John Winthrop’s March 26 date with predestiny

John Winthrop in a portrait
made before 1630. It's considered
to be of the Van Dyck school.
  © 2015 Christy K Robinson

It’s not difficult to learn about the public life and accomplishments of John Winthrop, Sr., governor or deputy governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony between 1630 and 1649. There are books like John Winthrop, America’s Forgotten Founding Father by Francis Bremer, or websites galore, the Winthrop Society, and countless genealogical sites. If you’re not overly worried about accuracy, you might read Wikipedia.

I went to Winthrop himself for what I needed to characterize him for my books, Mary Dyer Illuminated , and Mary Dyer: For Such a Time as This. I found a spiritual journal of his young adult years, called Experiencia, and made great use of the famous two-volume Journal Winthrop wrote that became a history of the founding of Massachusetts; another valuable book was the Winthrop Papers, which are correspondence between John Winthrop Sr. and Jr., their relatives, business colleagues, and others. Once you’ve studied his words and know him, you can read between the words to see what he didn’t say.

Out of his own books and papers, I’ve written several sketches of John Winthrop, including
and many others. I plan to write more, too. (Click the highlighted text to read the articles.)

To understand events in Winthrop’s family life that might give context to his records, I plotted events on a grid along with all the other characters in my narrative of the Dyers. He was no friend to the Dyers after the events of 1637, and he caused them much grief when he demanded the exhumation of their anencephalic stillborn girl—and then wrote letters about it and described the sensational details.

This Winthrop timeline is very light on professional accomplishments, and is more concerned with his personal life because I wanted to see what he was going through in private while he said and did such momentous things in public. The list is not biographical or historical, but it may help you to understand that Winthrop was no two-dimensional character—he was brilliant, hard-working, he struggled with lustful feelings after his second wife died and before he married Margaret, he was charitable, vengeful, self-righteous, submitted to (what he thought was) God’s will, hypocritical, educated in religion and the law, both harsh and lenient, anti-democratic and autocratic. He loved his wife and children with all his heart.

1588 John Winthrop is born.
1602 Admitted to Trinity College, Cambridge.
1605 Leaves Cambridge; marries Mary Forth. [Known children: John Jr., Henry, Mary Winthrop Dudley, Forth]
1606 Son John Winthrop Jr born
1607 Son Henry born
1609 Son Forth born
16?? Daughter Mary born, will marry Thomas Dudley’s son
1613 John studies law at Gray's Inn in London, becomes probate magistrate.
1615 Wife Mary Forth dies in June; Winthrop marries Tomasine Clopton in December.
1616 Wife Tomasine Clopton dies after childbirth; baby daughter also died. Winthrop tormented by “fleshly” (sexual) thoughts that he controls by prayer, diet, and exercise. At some unknown time, John studies medicine and dispenses remedies as a side business.
1618 Winthrop marries Margaret Tyndall in April. She bears more children for John. [Known: Stephen, Adam, Deane, Samuel, Anne, William, Sarah, miscarriage]
1619 Son Stephen born
1620 Son Adam born
1622 Son Deane born
1626-27 Son Samuel born, dies
1628 John suffers life-threatening fever.
1629 John signs on with Massachusetts Bay Company, prepares to emigrate to Salem.
1630 John sails for New England; writes first journal entry of Bay Colony; delivers his lay-sermon, "Modell of Christian Charity," aboard the Arbella. Wife and oldest son John Jr. stay to sell estate.
1630-31 Daughter Anne born in England, dies on voyage to America in 1631. Wife Margaret and several children arrive in late winter.
1632 Son William born in Boston in fall, must have died young. John is developing Ten Hills Farm and other properties.
1634 Voted out of the governorship.
1634-35 Daughter Sarah born, baptized, and buried within a few days. This is Margaret’s last baby.
1637 Reelected governor after rigging election against Henry Vane. Margaret has miscarriage Oct. 31, Anne Hutchinson is midwife. John is chief inquisitor at Hutchinson heresy trial.
1638 John is chief inquisitor/magistrate at Hutchinson’s second trial, Hutchinson party leaves for Rhode Island in April. John is extremely ill in May, but is reelected Governor.
1640 Voted out of governorship, partly because of his financial difficulties. Economic depression and famine hit American colonies as civil war begins in England.
1641 He probably wrote his book on the Hutchinson Antinomian Controversy at this time, then shipped a copy to England. (8-10 weeks at sea, then having manuscript typeset and printed.) The first edition was published in 1642. The 1644 edition contains the moralized version of Anne Hutchinson's 1643 death.
1642 Reelected governor.
1644 Mary Winthrop Dudley’s four-year-old son dies of a fever, and Mary follows him in a few days.
1645 John stands trial, having been accused of overstepping authority. Acquitted.
1646 Reelected governor and serves until his death.
1647 Wife Margaret Tyndall dies in June during yellow fever epidemic. In December, Winthrop marries a young widow, Martha Rainsborough Coytmore.
1648 In autumn, John is very ill. Martha bears son Joshua in December.
1649 Winthrop dies in Boston on 26 March, aged 61.

Winthrop's book about the Antinomian
Controversy, including an introduction by
Rev. Thomas Weld that trashed Anne
Hutchinson and Mary Dyer.
How did John Winthrop die? We don’t know what he died of, but at the end, he was bedridden with a cough. It may have started with a disease like malaria or yellow fever, and progressed to pneumonia, or it could have been a miserable cold. As a chemist and dispenser of medicines like mercury and other 17th-century killer substances, he might have had lung cancer at the end, but that’s speculation. We just don’t know.

His biographer, Francis Bremer, wrote that Winthrop had become very ill in the autumn of 1648. (Reference point: Mary and William Dyer, in Newport, Rhode Island, had recently increased their family with the births of Henry and Mary, and William was appointed General Recorder for the Assembly.) Winthrop had been married to his fourth wife Martha for about eight to ten months, and she was pregnant with their son Joshua.

The baby Joshua was baptized near Christmas (which Puritans did not celebrate) of 1648. Winthrop must have been quite ill during the harsh winter, for there are few words written by him. On March 1, 1649 (by our reckoning), Deputy Governor John Endecott wrote a letter inquiring after Winthrop’s health and indicated that he knew Winthrop’s life was in danger.

At the middle of March, his son Adam wrote to John Winthrop Jr. in Hartford, saying that their father had been very ill for a month. “He hath kept his bed almost all the time. He hath still upon him a feverish distemper and a cough, and is brought very low, weaker than I ever knew him.” The father desired that Adam tell John Jr. of his love, so the father knew this was close to the end.

In the meantime, Gov. Thomas Dudley, who had known Winthrop for decades, came to visit, and urged Winthrop, who was still in office as governor, to banish a heretic. Winthrop declined, saying he’d “done too much of that work already.” Here, Winthrop was surely remembering, and possibly regretting, the banishment of the Hutchinsons, Dyers, and many others who had founded the colony of Rhode Island. Anne Hutchinson's sister, Katherine Marbury Scott, certainly believed that the elder Winthrop regretted his harshness, when she mentioned it in a letter to John Winthrop Jr. nearly a decade later.
This memorial marker was made in the 20th century,
as you see by the final dates.

On the first day of what they considered the New Year, March 26, 1649, John Winthrop passed away at his Boston home. Puritans did not have funerals for their dead, considering that if the deceased was saved, they were in heaven already; if they were lost, they were in hell. When John’s wife Margaret had died, there was no funeral. But John had been governor and co-founder of the colony, and the officials gave him a memorable funeral, with booming ordnance, on April 3. He was laid to rest with his beloved Margaret and his friend Izaak Johnson. When Rev. John Cotton and John Wilson died a few years later, they were placed near Winthrop at the King’s Chapel Burying Ground in Boston. All of them believed in resurrection to eternal life for those who were predestined to salvation and had lived a life of good works.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Justice, not mercy, for animal abusers

© 2015 Christy K Robinson

There were some sensational crimes in early-colonial New England that were so horrible that they resulted in execution of the perpetrators—and their innocent victims.

Anonymous pamphlet, 1641
In 1533, during the reign of Henry VIII, a buggery (anal sex) and bestiality law was passed in England that prescribed hanging for the offender. The law was repealed by Queen Mary in 1553, but reinstated by Queen Elizabeth in 1563.

 In Ireland in 1640, John Atherton, the Church of Ireland Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, was hanged for sodomy under a law that he had helped to institute. After his execution, gossip circulated that he had practiced zoophilia with cattle. With the Puritan war on all things Church of England, Church of Ireland, and Church of Scotland, it’s quite possible that the bishop was innocent of all charges and was the victim of a political conspiracy to be rid of him.

In the winter of 1640-41, John Winthrop, Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, recorded, “A wicked fellow, given up to bestiality, fearing to be taken by the hand of justice, fled to Long Island [the one in Boston Harbor], and there was drowned. He had confessed to some, that he was so given up to that abomination, that he never saw any beast go before him but he lusted after it."

Also that winter, a young man named William Hatchett, who lived in Salem, was observed violating a cow while other people were at church, and he was hanged. The cow was condemned “to bee slayne & burnt or buried.”

In 1642 in Plymouth Colony, Thomas Granger, aged 17, pleaded guilty to buggery with a mare, a cow, two goats, five sheep, two calves, and a turkey. The teenaged boy was hanged, and the animals were killed and buried in a large pit with no use made of any of them. This was an extreme financial hardship for whoever owned the animals (his parents or his master). One milk cow was worth £30, horses were even more rare and valuable, and sheep were so needed for wool that there were laws forbidding their slaughter for meat. The value of the animals that had to be slaughtered because of the boy's lust was vast at a time of economic depression and privation because of the English Civil War. Goods and livestock were simply not being shipped over from England, and rations were short in America--people starved in Virginia. As for young Thomas Granger, Governor Bradford of Plymouth wrote that the devil worked unusually hard to snare sinners from among God’s chosen people because he knew what a great victory it was to do so.

In Boston in 1643, Teagu O’Crimi, an Irish slave or servant, “for a foule, & divilish attempt to bugger a cow of Mr. Makepeaces, was censured to bee carried to the place of execution, and there to stand with an halter [hanging noose] about his necke, and to bee severely whipped.” The punishment was as much a lesson for the community as it was for the slave.

In New Haven Colony (before it joined with Connecticut Colony), George Spencer and Thomas Hogg—remember this name!—did the dirty deed with sows; the sows produced offspring that looked like the alleged fathers. Spencer had a false eye and was balding. In February, 1642, a sow gave birth to a dead deformed piglet. The piglet was completely bald and had "butt one eye in the midle of the face, and thatt large and open, like some blemished eye of a man." From its forehead “a thing of flesh grew forth and hung downe, itt was hollow, and like a man’s instrument of generration.” Eyewitness testimony and confessions sealed the doom of Spencer and Hogg—and the sows and their litters, who were destroyed and buried.
1588 illustration from De Monstrorum
illustrating human/hog and human/dog half-breeds.
In 1662 in New Haven Colony, the case of William Potter consorting with a female dog and a sow resulted in the accusation by his own teen-aged son and wife, and then his trial and conviction. Potter admitted that he’d committed bestiality since the age of ten, in England. Before he was hanged, he pointed out his recent partners: one cow, two heifers, three ewes, and two sows, and they died with him.

In Mary Dyer: For Such a Time as This, I wrote a short anecdote about a big case that really happened in Providence, Rhode Island, and played out in Newport court (because they had a jail and Providence didn’t). I used it as a contrast to the situation which was happening at the exact time in March 1657: Mary Dyer had arrived in Boston after a winter voyage and been thrown in jail for the first time for her affiliation with Quakers. William Dyer, the attorney, was unaware that his wife was a prisoner, only 60 miles away, while he participated in the Rhode Island court that prosecuted a bestiality case.

The case of Long Dick Chasmore begins
on page 147 of this book.
In the Rhode Island case, there was a years-long controversy about Rhode Island’s land claim, that Massachusetts Bay wanted to either annex the land for themselves or cede the land to Connecticut. One of the Pawtuxet landowners, Richard Chasmore, wanted to be under Massachusetts Bay authority, though his land was, according to the 1644 charter, part of Rhode Island. Chasmore had been observed by two Indians, one in winter, and one in spring, to have committed buggery with his heifer, but Indians’ testimony was not admissible in court. Mr. Chasmore’s wife corroborated their story and added that “Long Dick” (I’m not making up this nickname—that’s what he was called in 1657) Chasmore had violated other animals, as well, but women testifying against men, much less their own husbands… not so effective. Chasmore himself admitted to attempting but not succeeding in buggering his heifer. Roger Williams himself prosecuted the case, but because they didn’t have the witnesses, the case was dismissed, and Chasmore went free.

Why not punish the men only, and let the animals go? The poor creatures were innocent victims. But in the 17th-century understanding, it was possible for men and animals to mate and produce offspring. They believed that the mingling of men’s seed (sperm) with female seed (ovum) could result in a monstrous creature that was proof of the human’s sin. Any resulting progeny would be part human, they believed, and using their meat or hides would not only be “unclean,” but cannibalism. We might take small comfort that the poor, abused creatures were probably humanely dispatched and their carcasses given a decent burial.

It’s shocking that in the 21st century, the abuse and neglect of domestic animals is not more strongly prosecuted. People consider animals to be sentient beings, capable of thoughts and emotions, but causing them fear, pain, neglect, or distress is sad but not worthy of prosecution.  Existing laws consider animals to be mere property, and not of sufficient importance or value (beyond monetary) to be worthy of lawmakers’ efforts. When people are caught hoarding, running fighting pits, unethical breeding, and committing severe neglect or abuse, they don’t receive similar charges as they would for committing those acts on human children. So they walk away with a slap on the hands or a small fine, if any punishment at all. If the law doesn’t exist or the penalties are small, prosecutors have little to bring to a jury.

On the day I posted this article, two young men were arrested in Arizona (my state) for shooting a horse four times using two different guns. The horse was found the next day and had to be put down. Both men admitted to shooting the horse in court paperwork.One wept at his court appearance, saying that his friend and he were robbing a house when his friend shot the horse and wounded it, so he put another two bullets in it attempting to put it out of its misery. Then the men left and were later arrested. The horse suffered until the next day, when it was put down.

So what will be the outcome of their arrests? This state doesn't have very stringent laws about animal abuse, nor the punishment/deterrent that many of us would like to see meted out by judges. But the judges are limited in their sentencing. The Arizona laws call for Class 1 misdemeanor or Class 6 felony in animal cruelty convictions. If convicted of a Class 1 misdemeanor, they could get maximum penalties as follows: up to $2,500 fine and six months in jail. If convicted of a Class 6 felony, "The presumptive sentence for the first time offender is 1 year, with a 6 month minimum, though the severity of the crime can increase imprisonment for the first time class 6 felony offender to 1.5 years and up to 2 years for an aggravated class 6 felony. Mitigating circumstances can reduce the sentence to 4 months."

Where's the state legislature at a time like this? Oh, right. Putting forward bills about Daylight Saving Time, or trying to put guns in elementary classrooms. And claiming that they don’t have to obey federal law if they don’t like it.
Cruelty and abuse happen everywhere, all the time. It's so horrible, so nauseating, that I can't even list the recent cases I've read about, locally or across the country. In my own gut, and certainly in hundreds of comments one reads on Facebook stories about animal cruelty, there's a great desire for retributive violence--if only we could take vengeance on behalf of the animals. I'm a believer in peace and nonviolence, and the thought of vigilantism is abhorrent to me, but I confess that my first reaction is a wish for the offender to experience the same pain he's inflicted on an innocent animal. Personal morality, community harmony, and a lawful society demand a different response, though: legislation and the courts.

Do you despair at your local legislators putting forward lame-brain bills? Contact them and insist that they take on causes that really matter. Here's how you can discover who your representatives are, and how you can reach them

Given that abusing animals can be a precursor to abusing and murdering humans, and that torture and neglect of living creatures is inherently evil, prison terms (or committal to a mental hospital if applicable) and large fines might serve to deter people from those evil behaviors. And at least it would be small comfort for those who respect animals, that there is justice for all, even those, especially those, who can't speak for themselves.

Editorial in Asbury Park Press about strengthening laws and penalties surrounding animal cruelty: 
Medieval Animals in the Dock, by veterinarian and Regency-period author Grace Elliot
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