Friday, April 04, 2014


The third court record involving William Pinson is not very pleasant to read. It seems my
8x great grandfather was not a nice person, according to the testimony of Thomas Robbins
and others before the Essex County Court in Salem. The case took place in June 1685. I
had some trouble finding the records, but luckily genealogy friend Genj Composer
located Vol IX on the University of Virginia's Salem Witch Trials website.

Five years earlier Thomas Robbins  had signed over all his property to his nephew by
marriage, William Pinson, in exchange for William' s promise to provide food, clothing
and shelter to Robbins and Robbins' wife. Apparently, he failed miserably:

"June 1686
Thomas Robbins of Salem v. William Pinson of Salem. Foer xuesing, swearing, and
reproachfully speaking speaking of persons and abusing him by throwing him in
the fire. *

*William Pinson's bond for good behavior, dated July 4, 1685, and giving his house and
land  for security, the said land being eleven acres, bounded by Mr. John Clifford on the west, land of Jacob Allen on the north, Mrs. Hollinworth on the east and by the sea on 

the south. Owned in court.

Thomas Robbin's request, dated Jan.10, 1684-5, of the Worsh. John Hathorne, Esq.:
Under ye sence of greate grievance which I haue Just cause to complaine of against
William Pynson. The concerne between us being not unknowne to ye most of ye
Inhabitants of this Towne of Salem. First I declare against him that he hath forfeited
his bond in not prouiding for me & my wifeaccording to the Couenenant, not prouiding
this winter nor other tymes before since he hath bin in ye enjoyment of my Estate
neither cloathing nor drink or severall other things necessary & suitable for ye age of
such people as myself & my aged wife but on ye contrary hath not only much neglected
us in this respect but shamefully abuses us both in word & deed This Pyson hath
notwithstanding taken care of his owne belly  as in getting fresh meat & strong liquor
for himself but wee ye poore Ancient people might have starved for all his care & regard
of us & whereas he made out of my orchard about 15 or 16 barrels of syder: he hath in
a most profuse &Lauish manner wasted & consumed it for about a month or six weeks
agoe so that now not any to be had in ye howse & not aboue one peck of wheate
brought into ye house for neer upon a Twelve month & this peck was brought at
Christmas Last for him & his friends to make merry withall & for my apparrell I am in
such a condition as I am ashamed to relate & hath threatened me that this weeke
he will dispose of of me too as Benj.Fuller can Testifie: & also said that I should be
in hell before Long my wife will owne ye relation aforesaid & to ye grief of her
heart desires that her condition may be considered."-p478-479
Records and Files
of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County Volume IX Published and Copyrighted by
the Essex Institute 1975

Two things about this excerpt:
- From the description of the land William Pinson gave up for security I now know
William's land was somewhere along the coast in Salem.

- I knew already that that the Puritans didn't usually celebrate Christmas. So when
I saw the testimony from Thomas Robbins' that Pinson and his friends had celebrated
Christmas I looked into it. After the Restoration of the Stuart kings in England the law
that punished anyone celebrating Christmas was repealed in 1681. Still, most colonists
held to the Puritan view of the holiday, and the story of William Pinson "making merry"
was not going to help his defense against his father-in law's accusations.

To be continued. 

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