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Saturday, December 10, 2011

BAD BLANCHE HULL

Fellow geneablogger Heather Wilkinson Rojo and I have discovered many
cousin connections between our families, so I suppose I shouldn't have been
surprised when I discovered another one in her post today at her Nutfield
Genealogy
blog. It's sort of an indirect one, and it involves someone who
isn't a direct ancestor. Still, this person is involved in one of my favorite stories
about my ancestors.

Heather's post today was about her ancestor the Reverend Joseph Hull. In the
list of his children was  "3. Tristram, born about 1623, married Blanche Unknown".
"Blanche Unknown" is our connection. 

My ancestor William Hedge of Yarmouth, Massachusetts, married the widow
Blanche Hull. It was his second marriage as well, and I am descended from his
unnamed first wife. It may have been a marriage of convenience but for whom
it's hard to say: all the accounts I've found of the pair say that William was a much
older man than Blanche. On the other hand, Blanche was a widow and remarriage
offered her some stability and protection.  Whatever the case, things did not go
well for the couple and Blanche left William sometime before he died in 1670.

Blanche was involved in a case of impropriety during her marriage to Tristram Hull.
In Volume Three of "Records of the colony of New Plymouth, in New England"
there is this entry for the Court Session of 5Mar 1655:

"Wee prsent John Gorum for unseamly carriage towards Blanch Hull att 
unreasonable time, being in the night,

Wee prsent Blanch Hull for not crying out when shee was assaulted by John Gorum
in unseamly carriage towards her upon her own relation." (p97)


John Gorum was fined forty shillings; Blanche was fined fifty! Keep in mind that
"unseamly carriage" could have been something as simple as a kiss or a hug but
Blanche got the higher fine. Now at this time she was still married to her first
husband Tristram Hull and since their marriage continued until his death perhaps
he forgave the incident. In fact, he left her one hundred fifty pounds in his will.
Tristram Hull died in 1666.

When I first started researching my family many sources had Blanche as the mother
of my ancestor Elizabeth Hedge, but since Elizabeth was supposedly born in 1647
and Blanche was still married to Tristram Hull at that time that's obviously incorrect.

So sometime after the death of Tristram in 1666 Blanche married William
Hedge. Although legally the marriage lasted four years, it was actually shorter.
In his will of 30Jun 1670, at the very end is this final bequest:

" And whereas Blanche my Wife
hath dealt falcly with mee in the
Covenant of Marriage in departing
from mee, therefore I doe in this
my Last Will and Testament give
her twelve pence, and alsoe what
I have Received of hers my will
is shal be Returned to her againe. "


 (Hawes, James W.   No.44 Library of Cape Cod History & Genealogy: Captain
William Hedge of Yarmouth
  C.W. Swift, Publisher, Yarmouthport, Ma, 1914)

I hope that included her one hundred fifty pounds!

Time and history have been less kind to Blanche. Amos Otis in his Genealogical
notes of Barnstable families, Volume 2
(F.B. &  F.P. Goss, Publishers & Printers,
Barnstable, Ma, 1890) had this to say about her, followed by a footnote:

"Tristram Hull was a prominent man in Barnstable. He was of the board of
Selectmen, and held other offices of trust. His wife was named Blanch, and
is frequently named on the records as a woman whose reputation was not
creditable to herself, her family or her friends. In 1655 she married for her
second husband Capt. William Hedge of Yarmouth, but the change in her
residence did not improve her manners. Capt. Hedge cut her off with a shilling
 in his will, full eleven pence more than she deserved.*

•A question may arise whether it is right to publish such passages as thls. Some
squeamish persons object. I think It not only dearly right; but unjust to suppress
them. Is it right that the reputations of such persons as Martha Foxwall, Capt.
John Gotham, and Capt. William Hedge, should suffer because they unavoidably
came in contact with a bad woman? I think not. History is of no value when the
exact truth is suppressed. No line of distinction can be drawn between not telling
the whole truth and the wilful misstatement of facts"  (p.28)


But if (as Otis claims) Blanche was such a bad woman, why didn't her first husband
deal with her in his will as her second husband did in his?

As I said, this is one of my favorite stories about my ancestors. And since I'd
never noticed that footnote by Amos Otis before I saw it todat, I'm left with
another tantalizing mystery:

Just what did Blanche Hull do that would tarnish the reputation of a lady
named Martha Foxwall?  

2 comments:

Heather Rojo said...

Oooh, that was good! I love it! You kept me hanging, but it was worth it. Thanks, Bill!

cklauer said...

I am intrigued Bill....I descend from Tristram and Blanch through their daughter Mary who married Joseph. I will have to find some of these resources and check them out!! NICE!!!