Wednesday, July 22, 2015


There  were two accusations against Thomas Tuxbury. The first, and more serious one was
the question of his wife in England: if she was still alive, he couldn't marry the widow Bartlett.
I've run across cases in the Essex County Court files where the some of the settlers had left
there families behind in England and rather than bring them over after them, had taken up
with other women. The problem with this in early colonial Massachusetts is that many of
the colonists came from specific areas in England and knew each others'  families back in
the mother country. Sooner or later  wayward husbands were found out and the Court
either ordered them to send for their families , or to go back to England and bring them

In this case, Thomas Tuxbury has a letter from home telling him his wife was dead. The fact
that there were "two different hands on it" made my ancestor Lt. Phillip Challis suspicious
that it might have been a ruse to fool Widow Bartlett, But Thomas Wells had seen the letter
and said while the letter was written by one person, it had been addressed to Henry Tuxbury
in the handwriting of another. In other words, the letter had been forwarded to Thomas
through his brother Henry who would be expected to know where Thomas was and give
him the letter. Other witnesses testified about what the Widow Bartlett had said about the
contents of the letter and of Thomas' plans for his children.

In the other instance, it seems strange that Richard and Mary Martin were summoned to
court because of Mary's "suspicious carriages" with Thomas, yet none of the depositions are
about her behavior. The statement of Richard Martin and his family give no actual incidents
of Thomas and Mary being together. Richard tells of a conversation where he says Thomas
talked about bigamy. There were no other witnesses to that statement. His mother Susannah
likewise had no evidence of wrongdoing except warnings from neighbors that he might
cause trouble with her daughter in law.

Indeed, if Mary Martin and Thomas had been involved with each other before her marriage,
Thomas didn't seem to desire her afterwards. The witnesses statements about his behavior
and how he spoke about Mary seem to paint a picture of an embittered rejected suitor who
had mentioned suicide rather than a determined lover.

And after all this, the complaint was dismissed by the Court for "lacking legal testimony".
Apparently the Court was satisfied about the authenticity of the letter from England, and there
was no evidence of improper behavior with or towards Mary Martin. Having some of
the more prominent townsfol vouch for his good behavior no doubt was helpful for
Thomas as well.

I've run into a bit of frustration in trying to find out what happened afterwards. There is no
record of Thomas marrying anyone in Amesbury, Newbury, Newburyport, or Ipswich. It's
possible he and Widow Bartlett married in Boston or another county. If so, I've found no
record of it as yet.

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