Tuesday, January 26, 2016


Having found testimony against Henry Phelps' behavior with his future sister-in-law Hannah Baskell in Volume 1 of  Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts, I searched for more information. But there was nothing else about the matter there, so I turned to Volume 2, where there were several more mentions of them. The first was at a session of the Salem Quarterly Court on Nov 27 1660:

Henry Phelps, being bound to this court to answer a complaint for keeping company or in the house with his brother's wife, and appearing, was released of his bond. Upon further consideration and examination of some witnesses, which the court did not see meet for the present to bring forth in public, and the wife of Nicholas Phelps not appearing, said Phelps was bound to the next court at Salem. He was ordered meanwhile to keep from the company of his brother Nicolas Phelps’ wife.‘ 

In the footnotes of the page is this: 

Henry Phelps, of Salem, was complained of at the county court at Boston, July 31, 1660, for beating his son, John Phelps, and forcing him to work carrying dung and mending a hogshead on the Lord's day, also for intimacy with his brother's wife and for entertaining Quakers. It was ordered that John Phelps, the son, be given over to his uncle, Mr. Edmond Batter, to take care of him and place him out to some religious family as an apprentice, said Henry, the father, to pay to Mr. Batter what the boy's grandmother left him, to be improved to said John Phelps’ best advantage. Said Henry Phelps was ordered to give bond for his good behavior until the next Salem court, and especially not to be found in the company of Nicholas Phelps’ wife, and to answer at that time concerning the entertaining of Quakers. Copy of judgment, made by Edward Rawson,T recorder. Sureties: Tho. Joy and Nicholas Phillips. Copy of bond, made by Edward Rawson,T recorder.

Henry Phelps bound for appearance at the next Salem court. Copy of Ipswich court record, made by Robert Lord,T cleric.-pp261-262

The next session was held at Salem on June 4 1661

Henry Phelps, appearing under bonds, to answer the complaint against him concerning his brother, Nicholas Phelps’ wife, and no one appearing to testify against him, was discharged of his bond for appearance, but was still bound in 10li. not to accompany his brother’s wife.-p310 

Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts, Volume 2, Essex Institute, Salem, Ma. 1912

The Boston Court awarding custody of Henry's son John to another relative wasn't just a matter
of his harsh treatment of the boy. It was done, I think, more because of the biggest crime of the
Phelps' family. The Phelps were Quakers, and Hannah (Baskell) Phelps was quite vocal about it.
Perhaps that, plus the testimony years before from Janet Johnson about the behavior of Henry
and Hannah, was the reason he was warned off from associating with her. 
I'll discuss Nicholas and Hannah's dealings with the Court in another blogpost. 

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