Thursday, January 22, 2015


My relative Thomas Woodbury had been found not guilty of charges of lewd and lascivious
behavior with Hannah Gray, one of the household maids. I wondered what happened to
Hannah afterward. The witnesses in Thomas'  trial had said it was the girl acting improperly,
and in early colonial Puritan Massachusetts, they didn't just ignore such behavior. Sure enough, Hannah was brought to trial in the same court session Thomas had been tried in earlier.

There was more testimony about Hannah's unseemly ways:

*Mary Sollas, aged about seventeen years, deposed that sometime in the summer last year, as she came near Thomas Woodbery's house, she heard Hana Gray laughing, and going in quick without knocking, the door being open, she being a neighbor, saw said Hana and Andrew Davis together. Deponent told of many other occasions when said Hana was guilty of lascivious carriages, and deponent's brother Robert told her how Hana would entice the "scoller boys," and that she was guilty of baudly language and acts among the boys and girls. Sworn, 2 : 11: 1673, before Wm. Hathorne,t assistant.

Hanna Grove, aged about nineteen years, deposed that she had seen Hanna Gray riding about the field astride upon her master's mare and she also lived with her one winter. Sworn, 12 : 11 : 1673, before Wm. Hathorne,t assistant.

John Batcheler, sr., aged sixty-three years, deposed that when Hanna Gray lived in his family, she was a lying little devil and his wife Elizabeth could say the same. Sworn, 12 : 11 : 1673, before Wm. Hathorne,t assistant.

Freborne Black, aged about forty years, deposed that he gave Hanna's dame warning about her a year ago. She was so rude to his children in abusing and beating them, and when he spoke to her about it, she would mock him to his face. As for his neighbor Thomas Woodbery, he had lived by him thirty-five years and had never seen any uncivil carriage in his childhood or later years. Sworn, 12 : 11 : 1673, before Wm. Hathorne,t assistant.

Elizabeth Hill, aged about thirty-eight years, deposed that going to Macrell Cove about two and a half years ago, and passing Woodbury's house, went in to see his wife, etc. Sworn, 12 : 11 : 1673, before Wm. Hathorne,t assistant.


Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts, Volume 5 (Google eBook) Essex Institute, Salem Ma. 1916


Given this testimony and that from Thomas Woodbury's trial, the outcome was predictable:

Hanah Gray, for great offences, was ordered to stand at the meeting house at Salem upon a lecture day, with a paper on her head on which was written in capital letters, I STAND HEERE FOR MY LACIVIOUS & WANTON CARIAGES. Also at the lecture at Beverly, in like manner, or else be whipped, and the marshal and constable to see it done at Salem, and the constable of Beverly at Beverly.*

Being a Puritan girl or woman must have been incredibly frustrating for free spirits like
Hannah Gray!

No comments: