Monday, March 30, 2015

The Passover Exodus from Massachusetts

This article removed temporarily, for later release. 

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.

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August 4, 2016 NPR story: Using human stem cells in lab animals. Click this link.
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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.

FOR INSTANCE
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 http://www.usa.gov/Agencies.shtml

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.

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Editorial in Asbury Park Press about strengthening laws and penalties surrounding animal cruelty:  http://www.app.com/story/opinion/editorials/2015/03/09/editorial-time-stiffen-animal-cruelty-laws/24635635/ 
Medieval Animals in the Dock, by veterinarian and Regency-period author Grace Elliot  http://graceelliot-author.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/animals-in-dock.html
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Religious liberty under constant assault

Mary Barrett Dyer deliberately gave her life for "liberty of conscience," which is the freedom to practice and believe as your conscience dictates without government interference. The attempted blending of church-state functions continues in state legislatures across America even today. In fact, it's greatly increased since 2000--the instances are too numerous to mention here, but some of them include government funding for religious activities and schools (and conversely, directing what Christian schools and hospitals may or may not do), the designation of corporations as "people" who have the right to discriminate, and the rewriting of history curricula to eliminate certain events and pump up others to fit a political agenda.

Graphic: Americans United for Separation of Church and State,
posted March 13, 2014


Mary Dyer's life and death, her motives for standing up for liberty of conscience (religious liberty), and William Dyer's participation in the historic legislation that led to religious liberty's enshrinement in the US Constitution are detailed in three five-star-rated books about the Dyers: Mary Dyer Illuminated (Vol. 1), Mary Dyer: For Such a Time as This (Vol. 2), and The Dyers of London, Boston, & Newport (Vol. 3, nonfiction). http://bit.ly/RobinsonAuthor

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