Thursday, January 19, 2017


My 7x great grandfather Ralph Ellingwood Jr. was born in Salem, Ma. on 18 Mar 1657, the third
child asnd second son of Ralph and Elinor(Lynn)Ellingwood. His first wife was named Katherine,
but I haven't been able to find a record of the marriage online. In fact, I might have never learned  about it except for the way in which it ended. 

In June 1682, twenty five year old Ralph found himself being divorced by Katharine who stated
that she’d rather be dead than live with him. She sued on grounds of Ralph's "insufficiency"

Ralph for his part did what any man in 17th century Salem Ma.might do when faced with such an embarrassing situation: he claimed that it had to be witchcraft. Not exactly original, and highly ineffective in the light of the character witnesses Katherine had to testify in her behalf.

It must have been the talk of the town. Both husband and wife were given physical examinations, Katherine by a panel of “goodwives” and Ralph by two men(one of them a chirurgeon) appointed
by the Court. Based on their reports the Court granted Katherine her divorce and ordered she be allowed to take whatever clothes and property that she had brought with her into the marriage.

All of this might have been lost in the mists of time except that there was a court record of the proceedings and several centuries later the case is cited in several articles and a book about women
in Puritan society. I’ve not been able to read any of them in their entirety but what I have read
makes no mention of what happened after. So in the interest of fairness to Ralph, here’s the rest
of it:

Ralph remained single for nearly 9 years but in August of 1691 he wed Martha Rowlandson. The marriage lasted nearly 20 years before her death.

They had seven children

We don’t know what happened to Katherine after her divorce from Ralph, There is no record of her maiden name. Hopefully she too remarried and with a man she loved who gave her children of her own.

But if Ralph felt he had a point to prove to all of Salem and Beverly, Ma. the seven children he fathered may have done it.

You can read the court record at Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts, Volume 8, pp356-357

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