Tuesday, February 02, 2010


Back before the holidays and before I had computer problems I added some books
to my Google Books library that dealt with some of my family lines or that were
histories of the towns where my ancestors lived. I had great success finding information
about my ancestors from Google Books that also provided me with plenty of material
for my blog and I'm hoping my luck with that will hold in 2010.

First up is a series of documents from a book about Lancaster, Ma. where my
ancestors John Prescott and Simon Willard(among others) lived. These pertain
to a young lady named Mary Gates who got herself into a bit of trouble when
she impulsively came to the defense of her mother during a church assembly.
John Prescott and Simon Willard have prominent roles in this affair:

"To Mary Gates of Lancaster.
By virtue heerof you are to apeere at the next Countie Court at Cambridge, to answer the complaint of John Prescott & James Atherton, for your sinfull cariage in the assembly one
the lord's daye — heerof you are not to faille at your perill.

Datted this 27th: of the IIth: mo 1656.
Simon Willard."

Next is the testimony about the outburst:

"The deposition of John Prescott & James Atherton both of Lancaster.
Vpon a lords day att after exercise in the afternoone goodwife gats being called forth to
giue satisfaction for sum ofence done against Master Rowlandson, and she justifying
herself, saying that she had formerly giuen him satisfacion, and in after Master
Rowlandson replved by sum arguments proving that she had not formerly giuen him satisfacion, her daughter Marie gats stood vp vncalled uerie boldly in the publique
asembly contradicting our minister, when he denyed that goodwife gats had giuen him satisfacion. the said marie gats said yes and shee would take her oath of it.

This was taken vpon oath the 27th of the 11th mo. 1656, before me.
Simon Willard."

Two other young women of the congregation had given their depositions earlier:

"Lancaster the 6th of the 11th mon 1656.

The deposition of Lidia Cibie Aged about 19 years. Vpon the Last Lord's daye goodwife
gats being called forth in the publique Congregacion to acknowledge an ofence don
against Master Rowlandson, 1 heard mary gats speake to Sergant Kerly that he would
goe and speake, he said noe for it will giue ofence. Ofence—said shee, Lett those take
ofence and be hanged all, If they will.

Sara Waters Aged 20 years witneseth, That shee heard mary gats at the same time
speaking to Sargant Kerly. She said Lett them take ofence and be hanged all. If they will.

these weare both taken vpon oath the 27th of the 11th mon 1656 before me.
Simon Willard."

Finally, Mary Gates confesses and apologizes:

"I Mary gates doe acknoleg that whearas I have spoke sumthing not long sence at this
place that was mater of joste offence and uery sinfull, I am hertely sory for it and doe
desire the Congregtion to pas it by, and I shall endever by the helpe of god not to alowe
myself in any such practes. this was acknoledged in publick in our hearing.

William Kerly Juner
William Kerly Sener
Henry Kerly."

But Mary Gates wasn't quite out of trouble yet. There was a little matter
of court costs to settle and her failure to appear in court:

"April 7 1657. This Court grants an Attachment agst Mary Gates of Lanchaster, and to
Jno. Prescott a bill of costs for himselfe & witnesses being 24s to be pd by the said Gates
and shee is to appeare at y* next Court to Answr ye Complt of the said Prescott & James Atherton for her sinfull Cariage in the assembly on y* Lords day."

"To the honoured Governour, Deputy Governour with the rest of the honoured magistrats assembled at the County Court holden at Charlestown the 16 of this instant Iune 1657,
In most humble wise sheweth and complaineth, and . . [a line worn orf in fold] . . petitioner Mary Gats of Sudbury lat of Lancaster was summoned to appeare at the County Court
held at Cambridge the seaventh of A prill last past and did not, your petitioner thought
that full satisfaction had been giuen befor the honoured Maior Willard for the offence,
also acknoledgement and satisfaction was farther rendered by your petitioner to all or
any persons at lancaster, whom it might concern, further your petitioner was informed
that if shee did appeare by an agent it might be exepted, hence what your petitioner did
was out of ignorance and not of any contempt of athoryty or aversnes farther to
acknoledge the euill of my rash spech and shall be at your mercy, submitting to your
fauorable sensur, allways praying for you.

Mary Gats."

"23 ,, 4 ,, 1657. Mary the daughter of Steuen Gates of Lanchaster being complained of
to this Court for bold and vnbeseeming speeches vsed in the Pubiique Assembly on the
Lords Day. and especially agst Mr Rowlason minister of Gods word there the evidence thereof appeareth by the testimony of Jno. Prescott & James Atherton Lidea Kibbie &
Sarah Waters wch are on file with y* records of this Court. the sd Mary Gates appearing
in Court freely, acknowledged her great evil therein, the Court admonished her. & ordered
that she should pay the Witnesses their charges & costs of Court."

And so ended an expensive lesson for Mary Gates about arguing in the church assembly
with the minister, even if it was in defense of her mother!

((Source :The early records of Lancaster, Massachusetts. 1643-1725, Parts 0-2322
By Lancaster (Mass.), 1884 Henry Stedman Nourse ed., pp46-48))


Karen Packard Rhodes said...

Well, Bill, these transcriptions show me once again why I prefer old Spanish documents to old English documents. While there are some oddball spellings at times in Spanish documents, they aren't anywhere near as wild as these!

However, I do love those old court records from MA, because they can be very entertaining! Those Puritans weren't all that "pure!"

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

I can always count on you to dig up something on my lines. Henry Kerley was my 7th great-grandfather and William Sr my 8th. Another line I know little about. Thanks!

Barbara Poole said...

Bill, Follow-up on your Gates line, are we related also?
My blog today is about Stephen Gates ahd his wife's name.

Bill West said...

Karen- No they weren't as my next post will show again!

Apple-We might have a Kerley connection. I have a Bridget Kerley
who is either the daughter of William Kerley or his widow.

Barbara-I left a comment on your blogpost about our possible GAtes connection.

Thank you all for the kind comments!

Dee D'Errico said...

What is the title and author of the book from which you got the transcription of the Case of Mary Gates?

Dee D'Errico
(another Kerley descendant)

Bill West said...

Hi Dee,
The book is:
"The early records of Lancaster, Massachusetts. 1643-1725, Parts 0-2322"
By Lancaster (Mass.), 1884 Henry Stedman Nourse ed., pp46-48)) and
it's viewable at Google Books.