Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Zerubbabel Endecott, 17th-century physician and pharmacist

Remedies guaranteed to cure hypochondria and malingering! 
Short life sketch of Zerubbabel Endecott

© 2013 Christy K Robinson

Print by Jan van der Bruggen, 1665-1690.
Interior of a surgery with a surgeon seated
on a barrel and operating on a peasant man,
an old woman standing with her arm in a sling,
several shelves on walls in background,
a stuffed animal hanging from ceiling. Mezzotint.
 Be very glad for modern scientific research, sterility, and effective and measured anesthesia, none of which were known in 17th-century Europe or North America. You wouldn't want your childbirth pain treated with cat's blood and human milk, curing your nosebleed with hog's dung, or your seizures treated with Salt of Man's Skull (exactly as it sounds).

Gov. John Endecott was the man I call the “Hammer of the Quakers.” He sentenced Quaker missionaries to severe whippings, starvation and exposure, imprisonment, and death. He sentenced Mary Dyer to death by hanging for her civil disobedience, and countenanced the brutal torture and incarceration of Quakers throughout the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Baptists were also treated in an extremely harsh manner from at least 1650 on.

Gov. John Endecott had fathered an illegitimate son in England in the 1610s or 1620s, but wrote at least one letter saying that although he was providing some money for his upkeep, the boy was not to be sent to New England under any circumstances. John been married in England in the mid-1620s to an Anna Gover, but they had no children, and she died soon after her arrival in Massachusetts Bay. In August 1630, he married the widow Mrs. Elizabeth Gibson. She bore him two sons, John Jr., and Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel was born about 1635 in Salem.
The Maypole of Merry Mount: Thomas Morton & the Puritan Patriarchs, By Richard Drinnon  The Massachusetts Review Vol. 21, No. 2
(Summer, 1980), pp. 382-410 (29 pages)

When he was about 18 years of age, Zerubbabel was accused of raping his mother’s indentured lace-maker, Elizabeth Due/Dew. Testimony of other female servants told of Zerubbabel's serial sexual harassment and that they didn't want to be left alone with him. The servant girl Elizabeth, who gave birth in 1653-54, continued to accuse Zerubbabel even after her trial for slander, two serious public whippings totaling about 30 lashes, being released from her indenture early as a hush-reward, being hurriedly married off to another servant, Cornelius Hulett, who endured a whipping he didn't deserve, and told to leave.

As part of my research, I found some Hulett/Hewlett young adults in Rhode Island about 20-30 years later, but could not connect them with Elizabeth and Cornelius, so there's no proof they were related. Elizabeth and Cornelius disappeared from records, and I wonder if they changed their surname, died of a disease, lived off the grid (to use an anachronism), or moved back to England. 

Gov. John Endecott was not having his first grandchild born illegitimately, and of rape, to a mere servant girl, and he was not chaining his son to her for life, as the courts usually did after publicly whipping both fornicating parties.
Gov. John Endecott in the 1650s.
He may be wearing the lace made
by his wife's abused servant.

After his shameful conduct for which he was never tried, Zerub—as I shall abbreviate his name—was immediately wedded, about eight years earlier than most young men would marry, to a woman named Mary Smith, and then he was not heard of for a few years. Zerub probably sailed away to England for medical education as a chirugeon (surgeon). The custom was to read medicine in the home of a physician and go with him on patient rounds. In any case, he was back in Massachusetts by 1659, for he and his brother John were fined for drunkenness, another blow to the pride of his father, the governor. 

Zerub and Mary had ten children during their 23 years of marriage. He was made a freeman in 1665 (the  year his father died). He was a winning defendant in a trespass suit by a Mr. Nurse (of the Mrs. Rebecca Nurse witchcraft name) in June 1683, Zerub having logged valuable timber for firewood off the land in question; several Salemites testified that he had logged within his own boundaries. Five months later, he made his will, which indicates a life-threatening injury or illness, and two months after that he died.

Zerub’s will, made before his death at age 49 in the winter of 1684, specified cash bequests of £50 each to his daughters Mary, Sarah, Elisabeth, Hanna, and Mehetabel; farm properties to his sons; to his son John, also a physician, he left “all my Instruments and books of phisicke and chirurgery.” The inventory of medical instruments showed “a case of lances, 2 Rasors, a box of Instruments, a saw with six Instruments for a Chirurgion, a curb bit.” 

During Zerub’s medical practice, he took notes and in 1677 wrote a short book, entitled Synopsis Medicinae or a Compendium of Galenical and Chymical Physick Showing  the Art of Healing according to the Precepts of Galen & Paracelsus Fitted universally to the whole Art of Healing. It contains directions for mixing and applying medicines for the cure of disease or healing from surgery. The manuscript bears the byline “Zorubbabel Endecott.” You can find the booklet in several formats, HERE. 

The following recipes are a few of the concoctions Dr. Zerubbabel Endecott preferred for his treatment of Salem patients between 1659 and 1684. Interesting ingredients, considering the witchcraft craze less than 10 years later.

For ye Colic or Flux in ye Belly
the powder of Wolves guts
the powder of Boars Stones [testicles?]
oil of Wormwood a drop or 2 into the Navel
3 drops of oil of Fennel & 2 drops of oil of mints in Conserve of Roses or Conserve of single mallows, if ye Pain be extreme Use it again, & if need Require apply something hot to the belly

For Vomiting & Looseness in Men Women & Children
Take an Egg break a Little hole in one end of it & put out ye white then put in about 1/2 spoonful of bay salt then fill up the egg with strong Rum or spirits of wine & set it in hot ashes & Let it boil till ye egg be dry then take it & eat it fasting & fast an hour after it or drink a Little distilled wafers of mint & fennel which waters mixed together & drank will help most ordinary Cases

For a Person that is Distracted If it be a Woman
No cat's blood! 
"Take a he-Cat & Cut off one of his Ears
or a piece of it & Let it bleed..."
 Take milk of a Nurse that gives suck to a male Child & also take a he-Cat & Cut off one of his Ears or a piece of it & Let it bleed into the milk & then Let the sick woman Drink it, do this three Times

For the Shingles
Take house leek, Cats blood, and Cream mixed together & oint the place warm or take the moss that groweth in a well & Cats blood mixed & so apply it warm to the place where shingles be.

For a Cancer in a Womans Breast
A woman at Casko bay had a Cancer in her breast which after much means used in Vain they applied strong beer to it with Double Cloths which it drank in Very Greedily & was something eased afterwards beer failing they Used Rum in Like manner which seem to Lull it asleep afterwards they put Arsenic into it and dressing it twice a day it was Perfectly whole in the mean time her Kind husband by Sucking drew her breast with ye Loss of his Fore teeth without any farther hurt. Re New Englands Experiences

For Sharp & Difficult Travail in Women with Child
Take a Lock of Virgins hair on any Part of ye head, of half the Age of ye woman in travail. Cut it very small to fine Powder then take 12 Ants Eggs dried in an oven after ye bread is drawn or otherwise make them dry & make them to powder with the hair, give this with a quarter of a pint of Red Cows milk or for want of it give it in strong ale wort.

For ye Tooth Ache
Take a Little Piece of opium as big as a great pins head & put it into the hollow place of the Aching Tooth & it will give present Ease, often tried by me upon many People & never failed. Zerobabel Endecott. 

Falling Sickness (epilepsy or seizure)
In Children. has of the dung of a black Cow 3i. given to a newborn Infant, doth not only preserve from the Epilepsia, but also cure it. In those of ripe Age. The livers of 40 water-Frogs brought into a powder, and given at five times (in Spirit of Rosemary or Lavender) morning and evening, will cure, the sick not eating nor drinking two hours before nor after it. Compendium of Physick (Salmon), London, 1671.
Salt of Mans Skull. The skull of a dead man, calcine it, and extract the Salts as that of Tartar. It is a real cure for the Falling-sickness. Vertigo, Lethargy, Numbness, and all capital diseases, in which it is a wonderful prevalent.Compendium of Physick (Salmon), London, 1671.

To stop bleeding of the nose
If the flux be violent, open a vein on the same side, and cause the sick to smell to a dried Toad, or Spiders tied up in a rag; the fumes of Horns and Hair is very good, and the powder of Toads to be blowed up the Nose; in extremity, put teats made of Swines-dung up the nostrils. Compendium of Physick (Salmon), London, 1671.
Hog’s Dung is also used by the Country People to stop Bleeding at the Nose; by being externally applied cold to the Nostrils. English Dispensatory (Quincy), London, 1742.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Why the Pilgrim governor wanted to know about the Dyer “monster”

© 2013 Christy K Robinson

In October 1637, Mary Dyer gave birth to a premature, stillborn girl, which, according to descriptions, was anencephalic (lacking more than a brainstem) and probably had spina bifida (neural tube defects). (See link to my article at the end.) This was the first anencephalic baby ever reported in America. 

Drawing depicts an anencephalic child born in England,
but not Mary Dyer's child.
It had no head, nor any sign or proportion thereof,
there only appeared as it were two faces,
the one visibly to be seen, directly placed in the breast,
where it had a nose, and a mouth, and two holes
for two eyes, but no eyes, all which seemed ugly,
and most horrible to be seen, and much offensive
to human nature to be looked upon,
the other face was not perfectly to be seen,
but retained a proportion of flesh in a great round lump,
like unto a face quite disfigured, and this was
all of that which could be discerned. 
The face, mouth, eyes, nose, and breast,
being thus framed together like a deformed piece of flesh,
resembled no proportion of nature, but seemed
as it were a chaos of confusion,
a mixture of things without any description...

Back in their native country, England, gravely-deformed babies were called “monsters” or “monstrous births,” and were commonly known to be heaven-sent proof of heresy or monstrous religious or political beliefs of the mother. 

A holograph of William Bradford's letter to
John Winthrop regarding Mary Dyer's stillborn baby.
Source: Massachusetts Historical Society
 On April 11, 1638, in the first month after the revelation of Anne’s trial and Mary’s monster, the governor of Plymouth Colony, William Bradford, wrote a letter to his friend and colleague, John Winthrop. Most of the letter was about colonial boundaries and the islands in the Narragansett Bay, which Plymouth insisted were part of their original royal patent.

The first part of the Bradford letter asked for juicy details of Mary Dyer’s poor baby. 

"Beloved Sir: 
I thank you for your letter touching Mrs Huchngson [Anne Marbury Hutchinson]; I heard since of a monstrous, & prodigious birth [Mary Dyer's miscarriage which Anne attended] which she should discover amongst you; as also that she should retract her confession of acknowledgment of those errors, before she went away..."

For more information on Mary Dyer’s “monster,” visit my blog article HERE.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Mary Dyer and Martin Luther King Jr on civil disobedience

© 2013 Christy K Robinson
“Civil disobedience is always a criticism of the existing power structure. And it's always been that way. That's the role of civil disobedience. That's the role of dissent.” ~Tim DeChristopher, environmental activist who disrupted an auction, was convicted, and then chose to serve two years in prison instead of taking a plea bargain.

The Calvinist Puritans of colonial America believed that one could never know if God would award salvation and eternal life. They obeyed the Old Testament biblical and civil laws scrupulously, and performed good works in the hope that God would find them worthy; and they took comfort from their difficult task. They believed that God had a body of people who he’d predestined for eternal life. They called themselves the Elect, or the Remnant, after the proportionately-small group of faithful believers mentioned in the Book of Revelation.

Mary Dyer, who had rejected that dogma with her adherence to the teachings on grace of Anne Marbury Hutchinson, became a Quaker in the 1650s. That sect believed that with the New Covenant that came with Christ on the cross, God would replace the laws written on stone (the Ten Commandments) with a God-given conscience that told one what was right and wrong. They believed that eternal life was a gift to any person who trusted God (that he loved his children and desired their salvation) and obeyed the conscience. Mary went to her death on the gallows with perfect confidence that her next breath would be drawn in heaven.

For the persecuting Puritans of colonial Boston and Plymouth, the Quaker loosie-goosie feel-good religion that went straight from believer to God and back, instead of through the deliberative filter of church and state, was a clear threat to their authority and would result in chaos and anarchy. They’d also lose their royal charter, life savings, tithes and taxes, political power, and personal investments in the colony if a royal governor were sent. They wanted those Quakers rooted out and kept out.

William Robinson, Marmaduke Stephenson, Mary Dyer, and many other early Quaker converts were given a choice to leave the colony and live, or stay and be brutally beaten and probably executed. Most of us today would think there’s no contest about what to do. But the Quakers believed that God had specifically commanded and placed them there, and they were happy about it! Rather than avoid trouble, they took a lot of effort to stir up the people to anger against their government—anger that would change laws and bring justice, mercy, righteousness, and liberty to their colony.

What Robinson, Stephenson, and Dyer saw in their minds’ eyes was that long-range goal, and they were not only willing, but joyful, at their selection and assignment to do God’s will. 

Mary Dyer's handwriting from October 1659:
"...but to me to live is Christ and to die is gaine..."
The phrase is taken from the New Testament letter of Paul to the believers in Philippi, Macedonia.

"It is my own eager expectation and hope, that [looking toward the future] I will not disgrace myself nor be ashamed in anything, but that with courage and the utmost freedom of speech, even now as always, Christ will be magnified and exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ [He is my source of joy, my reason to live] and to die is gain [for I will be with Him in eternity]." 

October 1659 execution date (from which Mary was reprieved)
Mary’s letter to the General Court: ‘Therefore I leave these lines with you, appealing to the faithful and true witness of God, which is one in all consciences, before whom we must all appear; with whom I shall eternally rest, in everlasting joy and peace, whether you will hear or refuse. With him is my reward, with whom to live is my joy, and to die is my gain.”

Governor John Endecott of Massachusetts Bay Colony said, 'Take her away, marshal.' To which she returned, 'Yes, joyfully I go.' And in her going to the prison, she often uttered speeches of praise to the Lord; being full of joy.

The marshal asked Mary, "Are you not ashamed to walk thus between two young men?" "No,” answered Mary Dyer, "this is to me an hour of the greatest joy I ever had in this world. No ear can hear, no tongue can utter, and no heart can understand, the sweet incomes and the refreshments of the Spirit of the Lord, which I now feel."

June 1, 1660 march from prison to gallows:  
When offered her life if she would voluntarily leave the colony forever, Mary Dyer said no, “For in obedience to the will of the Lord I came, and in His will I abide, faithful unto death."
Someone from the crowd called out, "Did you say you have been in Paradise?"
Mary answered, "Yea, I have been in Paradise several days and now I am about to enter eternal happiness."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., martyr for civil rights, in a speech just before his assassination.
 “Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!” 


  • Obedience to a higher authority
  • Refusal to obey unjust or immoral laws
  • Publicizes unjust, immoral actions perpetrated by those in authority
  • Rarely passive or peaceful, but must be non-violent
  • Has consequences
  • Change is rarely instantaneous
For the Quaker martyrs and for Martin Luther King, Jr., civil disobedience was not a matter of merely protesting the existence of the government, or making a public statement of rebellion against government authority. It was a matter of obeying the higher authority, God, and the conscience (God's "voice" in your soul), while addressing the injustices of human beings viciously persecuted for their religious beliefs, or their right to exist as equal under God.

For information on the June 1, 1660 death of Mary Barrett Dyer, Englishwoman and colonial American, read the following links already posted in this blog.
Top 10 things you may not know about Mary Dyer
Mary Dyer: The establishment versus the individual
Mary Dyer and freedom of conscience
Mary Dyer and the First Amendment
Mary Dyer, pioneer of civil disobedience 

Read The Dyers series by Christy K Robinson, available at