Showing posts with label Colonial Women. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Colonial Women. Show all posts


Eliza Lucas Pinckney

South Carolina indigo plant

Colonial South Carolina Woman

Eliza Lucas was born on the Caribbean island of Antigua in the West Indies in 1722, the daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel George Lucas of the British Army and his wife. She had two younger brothers and a younger sister. Eliza attended a finishing school in England where French, music, and other traditionally feminine subjects were stressed, but Eliza's favorite subject was botany.

In about 1738, the Lucas family migrated from Antigua to a farming area near Charleston, South Carolina, where Eliza's mother died soon thereafter. George Lucas bought several plantations, but he was soon recalled to Antigua, and Eliza was left to take care of her siblings and to manage his three plantations.


Mary Easty

witchcraft hanging

Salem Witch Trials

Image: The Salem Martyr 
By Thomas Slatterwhite Noble
Noble gained a reputation for his dramatic paintings of abolitionist subjects, and later turned to the Salem witch trials for another powerful moral theme. The Salem Martyr won a silver medal at the 1869 Cincinnati Industrial Exposition. A tradition in the Noble family holds that the model for this painting was a Cincinnati librarian who was a descendant of a woman who was executed in the Salem witch trials.

Mary Easty was well respected in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. She was a kind religious woman whose dignified demeanor fit the strict Puritan mold. She was about 58 years old at the time, and was married to Isaac Easty, with whom she had seven children. They owned and lived on a large valuable farm.


Martha Corey

witches in the american colonies

Salem Witchcraft Trials

Image: Martha and Giles Corey

Martha Corey lived on a farm in the southwest corner of Salem village with her husband Giles, a prosperous, uneducated, eighty-year-old farmer and full member of the church. In March 1692, Martha Corey made the mistake of publicly questioning the sincerity of the accusations of the afflicted girls – a group of Salem girls who had condemned several people as witches.

The Accusation
When the girls learned of Martha's attacks, they quickly responded by accusing her of witchcraft. When the girls first mentioned the name of Martha Corey, Edward Putnam and Ezekiel Cheever went to see Martha about the matter on March 12th. On the way, they saw Ann Putnam and asked her what clothes Mrs. Corey wore when her apparition appeared to her as Ann had said. Ann said that she was so blinded she could not see.


Martha Carrier

Salem witch

Salem Witchcraft Trials

Image: Scene at Witchcraft Trial

Born Martha Allen, she was the daughter of one of the original founders of the Massachusetts town of Andover. In 1674, Martha married below her station to a young Welsh servant, who was the father of her illegitimate child, Thomas Carrier. Living for a few years in Billerica, the couple returned to Andover in the 1680s with very little money and four children.

The couple settled in Billerica proceeded to enlarge their family. After what must have been a joyful time for the Carriers, now with three sons and two daughters, the tough times began in 1690. The next two Carrier children died from the common 17th century disease of smallpox.


Rebecca Nurse

accused Salem witches

Salem Witch Trials

Image: The Towne Sisters
This plaster statue depicts sisters Rebecca Towne Nurse, Mary Towne Easty, and Sarah Towne Cloyce wearing shackles. Nurse and Easty were hanged, but Cloyce was later released. The statue is located in the Salem Wax Museum of Witches and Seafarers.

Rebecca Towne was baptized at Yarmouth, England, on February 21, 1621. She came to Salem, Massachusetts with her family in 1640. In about 1645, she married Francis Nurse, who was described as a tray maker. The making of trays and similar articles of domestic use was important employment in the remote countryside.

In 1692, the "black cloud of the witchcraft delusion descended upon Salem Village." Rebecca Nurse was a 71-year-old invalid who had raised a family of eight children. Her family had been involved in several land disputes, which could have caused ill-feelings among some of the residents of Salem. Nevertheless, most of her contemporaries sympathized with her.


Susannah Martin

Salem witch

Salem Witch Trials

Susannah North Martin
Reading her Bible in Salem Jail

Susannah North was baptized at Olney, Buckinghamshire, England, September 30, 1621. Her mother died when she was a child, and her stepmother was named Ursula. She came to America with her father, stepmother, and at least one sister. Her family moved to Salisbury, Massachusetts, around 1639. On August 11, 1646, Susannah became the second wife of George Martin, a blacksmith with whom she had eight children.

First Accusation
In 1669, Susannah was first formally accused of witchcraft by William Sargent. Susannah was required to post 100 pounds bond to appear in court on a charge of witchcraft, a capital offense. George Martin sued Sargent for slander against Susannah for accusing her of being a witch, but the Court upheld the accusation of witchcraft. A higher court later dismissed the witchcraft charges.


Sarah Wildes

Salem witch

Salem Witch Trials

In 1692 the Puritans had governmental control of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and only members of the Puritan church were allowed to vote. Well-to-do merchants were complaining, and King Charles I was considering changing the charter for Massachusetts to allow all property owners to vote. This would mean loss of power for the Puritans. All the upper echelons of the church were enraged at the prospect.

John Wildes' first wife Priscilla died in 1662, and he remarried in 1663 to Sarah Averill. By this time, John was very prominent in Topsfield politics (at the time of his death he was known in Topsfield as "Old Father Wildes." He was responsible for surveying the land to establish the boundary between Topsfield and Salem. The survey was a matter of great contention, and it was ultimately resolved in Topsfield's favor.


Elizabeth Howe

Salem witch

New England Witch Trials

Topsfield, Massachusetts
New England was organized into townships roughly six miles square with a village surrounding the "commons", which was a central community grazing ground, with the church and community meeting house facing the commons. Town meetings elected town officers and the sheriff, raised taxes, and tried to resolve any problems present in the community. Many communities set up different rules than those pronounced by the General Court in Boston.

The people of such communities were very dependent upon each other. Individuals interacted by means of the sale of goods or labor or by barter for other goods or labor. One's ability to generate trades was economically necessary, but generosity was needed as well since all these dealings were seen and known throughout the whole community.


Sarah Good

accused colonial witch

Salem Witch Trials

Seventeenth century laws on witchcraft in New England paralleled those in England, based on a verse from the King James translation of the Bible. The verse, Exodus 22:18, reads "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." The King James version of the Bible was ordered by King James I, who ruled from 1603 to 1625. By 1647, all New England colonies had made witchcraft a capital crime, punishable by death.

Sarah Solart was the daughter of a prosperous Wenham innkeeper, John Solart. Solart took his own life by drowning in 1672 when Sarah was 17, leaving an estate of 500 pounds. After testimony of an oral will, the estate was divided between his widow and her two eldest sons, with a portion to be paid to each of the seven daughters when they came of age. Mrs. Solart quickly remarried, and her new husband came into possession of her share and the unpaid shares of the daughters, and most of the daughters never received a portion of the Solart estate.



colonial witch Tituba

Accused of Witchcraft

Image: Tituba's Encounter with Cotton Mather in the Woods of Salem
A scene from the play Giles Corey of the Salem Farms
Illustration in The Political Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Volume II

Tituba was a South American Indian woman, not an African American slave, as is commonly believed. She was originally from an Arawak village in South America, where she was captured as a child, taken to Barbados and sold into slavery. It was in Barbados that her life first became entangled with that of Reverend Samuel Parris.


Salem Witch Trials

13 women were hanged on Gallows Hill during the Salem Witchcraft Trials

Witchcraft in 17th Century Massachusetts

Image: Witchcraft Victims on the Way to the Gallows
Illustration in the Boston Herald 14 May 1930

Scattered episodes of witch trials and hangings occurred throughout New England from the middle sixteen hundreds. The only escape for the accused or condemned was to confess and claim to negate the pact with the Devil, or to escape south out of New England to New York or Pennsylvania where witchcraft was not punished. Most of the accused were not wealthy enough to escape south fast enough to stay ahead of the sheriff sent to detain them.


The Life of a Colonial Wife

colonial women

A Woman's Place

Because most colonial women married, the term good wife came into existence and a code of ethics developed that would govern female life in New England from 1650 to 1750. Good wives had legal rights in colonial America, and actually had more freedom than nineteenth-century women would have.

With This Ring
Marriage was considered the normal state for all adult residents in the colonies. Most men first married in their mid-twenties, and women at around age 20. Second marriages were not uncommon, and widows and widowers faced social and economic pressures to remarry. On average, most widows and widowers remarried within six months to a year.


New Jersey Women

colony of new jersey native Americans

Native American, Dutch and English Women

Image: Lenape Woman

Native American Lenape women were the first New Jersey women. They lived in the Land of the Lenape for more than 12,000 years. They were a highly developed culture with communities that included a great hall, a central building for government, agricultural and spiritual meetings. Smallpox and other imported diseases ravaged the Lenape population. Although Lenape were known as a peaceful people, they were forced to defend themselves and their land against Dutch settlers in the 1600s.

Lenape communities included separate buildings for trade, food storage, cooking, children's education, medical purposes, and a building for teaching war tactics. Lenape communities also included single-family dwellings for newlyweds and elders. The central and largest building was used for gatherings to celebrate engagements, weddings, births, spring festival, and annual harvest.


Rebecca Greensmith

colonial woman washing clothes in a basin

The Year: 1662

In each of the New England colonies, witchcraft was a capital crime that involved having some type of relationship with or entertaining Satan. The earliest laws of Connecticut and New Haven colonies, the Blue Laws, made it a capital offense.

The largest witch-hunt in mid-seventeenth century New England occurred in Hartford, Connecticut. After the execution of John and Joan Carrington of Wethersfield in 1651 and Lydia Gilbert of Windsor in 1654, a witchcraft tragedy took place among Hartford's residents.


Joan Carrington

colonial witch trials

Witchcraft in Connecticut

Murder may be the surest ticket to the death chamber in Connecticut today, but 350 years ago, witchcraft was the crime most likely to result in a death sentence. Connecticut made witchcraft a capital offense as far back as 1642.

Between 1647, when Alice Young of Windsor was hanged for witchcraft, to 1663, when the state's taste for executing suspected witches began to wane, Connecticut convicted and executed more witches than anywhere else in colonial America. At least seven suspected witches were executed during that time.


Sarah Kiersted

Dutch colonial women

The Year: 1638

Image: Sarah Kiersted Translating for Lenape chief Oratam
Painting depicts Sarah Kiersted, a Dutch woman in New Netherlands who learned the Lenape language and served Chief Oratam as a translator in his negotiations with Dutch colonists. She was rewarded by him in 1666 with a gift of 2260 acres of land on the Hackensack River.

The Lenape Nation
When Verrazano sailed into Delaware Bay in 1524, and when Henry Hudson cast anchor at Sandy Hook in 1609, the land was occupied by Native Americans. The Lenape Nation lived throughout what would become New Jersey. They were farmers, hunters, and fishermen.


Elizabeth Knapp

witches in the colonies

The Groton Witch

Elizabeth Knapp was born in Massachusetts in 1655. At age 16, she was a servant in the household of Reverend Samuel Willard of Groton, Massachusetts when she first exhibited signs of being possessed by the Devil.

As her symptoms intensified – she fell into violent fits, complained of being strangled, and attempted to throw herself into the fire – Reverend Willard observed that she began to "carry herself in a strange and unwonted manner," saw apparitions, and experienced violent "fits" over a period of three months.


Dutch Women

Women of New Amsterdam and New Netherland

colonial Dutch women
For more than forty years, the women living in New Amsterdam (New York City) experienced more autonomy, more rights and more income than other colonial women.

Dutch Law
Colonists in New Amsterdam and New Netherland lived for the most part under the law as it was in the Netherlands. The orders given to the first settlers by the Dutch West India Company were to establish law and order in the colony as it was in the fatherland. When new situations arose, the Director General and Council enacted appropriate legislation, though still in conformity with the laws of the Netherlands.


Margaret Hardenbroeck Philipse

colonial New York estate
Philipse Manor

The Year: 1659

The Philipses owned 52,000 acres of land along the Hudson River, where they constructed this lavish estate, clustered with mills, barns and other structures.

Born circa 1630, Margaret Hardenbroeck's early life in Holland is unclear, but she would have likely received some education. Holland was the only European country in seventeenth-century Europe to provide primary education to females. The Reformed Church urged equality for women, and the Dutch brought their liberal attitudes concerning women's rights to the New World.

In 1659, Margaret came to New Amsterdam (later New York) as an ambitious twenty-two-year-old with an unusual job—she was a factor for a well-to-do cousin, managing his New World dealings. A factor is an agent employed to sell merchandise for his principal for a commission. A factor may buy and sell in either his own name or his principal's name. Margaret did both, and she did not stay a factor for long.


Verlinda Graves Stone

puritan women
Calvert Presents Acts of Toleration to Governer Stone

The Year: 1648

Verlinda Graves was born about 1618 in England. William Stone was born in England around 1603. He came from a well-known merchant family in London. William came to America in1628 with a group of Puritans who settled on the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. Verlinda and William were married in the 1630s in Virginia, and they had seven children.

The Stones were successful in the Chesapeake, and respected by their neighbors. William worked as a merchant and planter. He was appointed justice of the peace, and then sheriff in Accomack County, and a burgess in the Virginia Assembly. The settlement thrived there, but eventually came into conflict with Virginia's established Episcopal Church.