Tuesday, August 18, 2009


As I've previously posted, Susannah Buswell's husband, Isaac Buswell, Jr. apparently
died before her first appearance in court in 1677 at which time she was described as his
relict or widow. She was charged with theft and burglary and I've speculated that this might
have been caused by a dispute over her late husband's estate. I think this from the Salem
court records of April 1679 bears this theory out:

"Susanna Buswell, relict of Isaac Buswell, jr., was appointed administratrix of the estate
of Isaac Buswell, and was ordered to bring in an inventory to the next Hampton court
to take good care for the maintenance of the children."

-Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts Vol VII
1678-1680 (p 195)

There's no record I can find online as to what exactly happened next. Perhaps it was the
ordered inventory that was the cause of a dispute now between Susannah and her father-
in-law Isaac Buswell Sr. Whatever the exact cause, we do know that it all ended up again in court:

"Ephraim Winsley deposed that he was desired by old Goodman Buswell to go with
him to hear some discourse between Buswell and his daughter-in-law Susana Buswell
concerning some estate of Buswell's that she challenged as belonging to her and her
children, it being due to her husband Isack Buswell. Isack Perkins and his wife, Samll.
Felloes and Joseph Dow were also present and the agreement was that Isack was to
take the two eldest daughters of Susana Buswell, pay for their bringing up, pay all debts
of his son Isack, pay Susana 201i. and to the daughters of Isack Buswell 301i. at the age
of sixteen years. Susana gave up her right in the house and land of Isack, also her half
of eleven or twelve bushels of barley, and she was to have the household stuff of her
husband, two cows, a colt and two swine. This was done about July 13, 1679. The wife
of Isack Perkins desired old Goodman Buswell to let Susana stay in that house two or
three days or a week until they could bring her to Hampton, and then he would take her
to his house and she should not trouble him nor his any more. Sworn, Nov. 13, 1679,
before Nath. Saltonstall, assistant.

Samuell Fellows, aged about sixty-one years, testified that Joseph Dow was there to
write the agreement but he did not write it as it was concluded. Deponent was a witness.
Sworn, Nov. 11, 1679, before Nath. Saltonstall, assistant." (p 279)

And so the eighty year old Isaac Buswell finally brought an end to the turmoil caused by
his daughter in law. True to his word, he did take in his son's two oldest daughters, and
provided for them and the third girl in his will.

As for Susannah, she wasn't home with her parents for long. She married William Fuller
of Ipswich on 29Jun,1680 and they had a daughter Abigail.

Looking at the individual mentions of Susannah in the court records, it would seem that she
was a troublemaker and perhaps a scandal in the eyes of her contemporaries. But from a
modern prospective, it might also be put forth that she was a woman struggling against the
restraints of Puritan society on her rights to control her own finances.

But I think it is safe to say things were at least never dull around Susannah Perkins


Apple said...

Back then every item was valuable, no matter how small so I guess Susanna made out ok. Sad that they fought over every little thing in court. Great that she was looking out for her daughters. But weren't there three daughters? Did Merci/Marcy/Mary die young or was she raised by the Perkins I wonder. Especially when looking back this far we usually feel lucky if we can find names and dates of female ancestors. You've found a gold mine here and although it is not my direct line it does give me a feel for the family and the times.

Bill West said...

Hi Apple,
I'll have to dig a bit more on the daughters. But I just now discovered that Susannah was a sister of Lydia Perkins Wardwell, the "Naked Quaker".
So I guess she just came from a family of tenacious women!


Apple said...

I love it! A naturist well before her time. I guess I should be looking more closely at my ancestors from New England. Maybe I have a rebel or two, too.

Margaret said...

I am a descendant of Lydia Perkins Wardwell/Wardell. Another interesting fact about this woman is that her brother-in-law, Samuel Wardwell, was hung in Salem during the witch hysteria of 1692. He was found guilty of being a wizard.