Thursday, October 15, 2009


The transcriptions for the Essex County court session in Ipswich, Ma for Sept 13th,
1649 include the following tidbits:

"Thomas Cooke to be whipped or fined for his abuse of the ministry and magistrates,
and going into the woods at unseasonable time of night, carrying fire and liquors
with him. Wit: Richard Lowle and Danyell Thirston."

The brief description of the case against Thomas Cooke give the particulars
as to the "abuse of the ministry" :

"Thomas Cooke presented for saying Mr. Norton taught what was false, and also for
reproaching the ordinance of baptism, saying that if he had children he would not
have them so played the fools withal. Wit: Mr. Bartholomew and Joseph Medcalf.
Willm. Varney bound for him."

Infant baptisms were a hotly debated topic in Puritan New England and given the
lack of tolerance for opposing religious beliefs at the time the penalty could have been
much worse. More light is shed on the rest of the charges against Thomas Cooke by
by the next case record:

"Joseph Fowlar, Tho. Scott, John Kemball and Thomas Kemball admonished [for going
into the woods at an unseasonable time of the night, and carrying fire and liquor with them.
— Waste Book.]"

The details?

"Joseph Fowler, Thomas Cook, Thomas Scott and two of the sons of Richard Kimball
presented for going into the woods, shouting and singing, taking fire and liquors with
them, all being at unseasonable time in the night, and occasioning their wives and
some others to go out and search therein. Wit: Nathaniel S_______ and Danyell

Now I'm a descendant of Thomas Kimball through his daughter Priscilla who married my
8x grear grandfather John Eames(Ames) so this of course attracted my attention. I thought
a bit over the incident these past few days, toying with the idea that perhaps Thomas Cook
had been holding meetings of those who shared his religious beliefs and concealing them
under the disguise of some drinking party in the woods. But then I had a better thought:

Sometimes, to quote a worn cliche, it is what it is!

So I'm going to go with the simple explanation on this one: Thomas Cook, the Kimball
brothers and the others snuck out in the woods, built a campfire and passed a jug around
until their wives tracked them down and herded them back to hearth and home.

It might not have great historical significance but the image in my mind of chastened
husbands makes me chuckle!

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