Wednesday, June 19, 2013


This is one of those ancestral stories that trouble me because of the vague wording in
the document.

My 10x great grandfather Edward Bompasse/Bompas/Bumpas was married to a Hannah
Annable, but I don't know exactly how old she was in 1662 when the incident took place.
What I do know is that Edward married her in 1628 so I think she would have been in her
fifties or sixties by 1662. It's more likely the Hannah Bompas in the story was their
daughter who was born in 1646 and would have been fifteen or sixteen when Thomas
Bird and she became involved.

What troubles me is that it's not clear if Hannah was a willing partner of Thomas Bird
or if he had forced himself upon her. If he had, then the punishment she received from
the Court is unjust. Yes, I know judging events in earlier cultures by our modern values
is problematic but judge for yourself. Here's the entry in Volume 4 of The Plymouth
Court Records:

10Jun 1662
Att this Court, Thomas Bird, for comitting of seurall adulterouse practices and
attempts, soo farr as strength of nature would pmitt, with Hannah Bumpas, as
hee himselfe did ackowlidge, was sentanced by the Court to bee whipt two
seuerall times, viz, the first time att the psent Court, and the second time betwixt
this and the fifteenth day of July next.

And the said Hanah Bumpas, for yeilding to him, and not makeing such resistance
against him as shee ought,is sentanced to bee publickly whipt,which accordingly
was pformed.

Mr Timothy Hatherly was requested and authorised by the Court to see justice
done on the body of Thomas Bird by publicke whiping in Scittuate, according to
the abouesaid sentance.

Was this a case of "blaming the victim"?

I hope not, but I have a feeling it was.


Claudia said...

Blaming the victim still exists today, I suppose it will as long as humanity exists.

Karen Packard Rhodes said...

Wow, that is hard to tell, isn't it? One would hope not. It's difficult to unearth painful family stories, but it is all part of the human condition. Anything more about Hannah? Did she ever marry, have children?

Unknown said...

I agree that it's hard to tell whether she was a willing partner or victim. I'm sure there were instances of both in colonial times. There are many things I wonder when I read these accounts -like were the sentences actually carried out or was there a reprieve and how many lashes were to be administered and was that number the same for both of them? I'm not sure I could watch the punishment be carried out but again it's a matter of applying modern norms to a different era. Trying to place myself back in time (at least mentally), is part of what makes history and genealogy interesting to me.

Linda Stinson said...

There's another legal document for Hannah Bumpus, definitely the daughter this time--her indenture to Robert Sprout, looks like in 1665. Perhaps you can decipher it better than I. Edward Bumpus is also an ancestor of mine.