Monday, August 03, 2009


Isaac Buswell Sr. arrived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony sometime around 1639,
took the oath of freeman 9Oct 1640 and was one of the first settlers of the town Salisbury
in Essex County. He was married twice, his first wife having died on 29 Sep 1642 and his
second on 31Mar 1676 or 1677. Isaac himself died in 1683 and was over 90 years old at
the time. He had at least five children, among whom was Isaac Jr.

Isaac Buswell Jr was 23 years old when he married Susannah Perkins on 12May 1673. The
couple had three daughters but apparently Isaac Jr. died sometime before April 1677 court
session in which Susannah was described as his relict or widow and convicted of burglary
and lying. What could have caused her to steal six shillings from her brother in law
William and then apparently lie about doing it?

Perhaps a clue lies in a ruling cited after her case in which William is named administrator
of the estate of a local widow. Could William have been appointed an administrator of his
dead brother's estate? Perhaps Susannah needed money which William was reluctant to
give her and the theft was the culmination of an argument? It seems to me that her
punishment was comparatively light in an era where penalties were often harsh. If this
was seen by the court as a family squabble that had gone too far, that might explain the
leniency shown towards Susannah.

It's another one of those things I may never know because I've yet to find more information
on this incident.

Things seemed to not go very well afterward for Susannah. In January 1677 she was fined
for excessive drinking to which she admitted. Then in the Oct 1678 records is this footnote:

"From Samuel Dalton's Commissioner Records. See ante, vol. V, p. 235.
Wm. Allin, sr. v. Sarah Taylor; for going from his service in a disorderly way and for
accusing his wife of cruelly beating her; judgment, that the girl went away disorderly
and she was found guilty of many contrary tales. that she had met with evil counsellors
which was the main trouble, and that in the complaint against Goodwife Allin for cruel
correction, there was found no legal conviction but considering the poverty of the girl's
relatives, each party was to pay his own charges, also that Ann Person, the girl's mother,
take care of her in the future to see that she be placed out in some godly family, and in
the meantime to refrain from the company of Goodwife Houldredg and Susan

-Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts Vol VI
1675-1678 (p340 )

So now Susannah was considered an "evil counselor". Was it because of her drinking, or
because she'd encouraged Sarah Taylor to leave a cruel mistress? After all, although
the accusation of "cruel correction" against Goodwife Allin was dismissed, the court
recommended Sarah Taylor next be placed out with some "godly family".

At any rate, Susannah Buswell's own future seemed very much in doubt.
(to be continued)

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