, Newburyport, MA


December 31, 2013

Confessions of a midwife


When Constable Henry Jacques was named “upon proof” with Eleanor Bryer, his wife’s niece, he fled to New Jersey. Henry was no doubt in hot water with his wife, Anna, Deacon Richard Knight’s daughter. When Bryer appeared in court with uncle John Knight (1666), Jacques was nowhere to be found. The judge ordered Jacques “to appear in court upon penalty of having 30% of his estate seized and of being disenfranchised” (EC 3:309). Jacques did return with his tail between his legs and the deacon kept his son-in-law’s paws busy erecting the new meetinghouse

In 1670, Eleanor Bailey and Judith March, midwives to Anne Chase, were more than glad to offer up big daddy James Allen. He had forced himself on the young lass while she was working at a Salisbury home. Bailey asserted, “At the point of death, she still affirmed she told the truth.” Furthermore, the midwife had known Chase for over two years at the time of the birth and had “never seen any unseemly carriage in her at all time” (EC 4:24).

Joseph Mayo was pinned by Newbury midwives Dole, Thurley and Moores. They delivered this chap and rallied firm and hard to get a conviction. All were present during the birth of Hannah Adams’ child (October 1678) and gave sworn testimony that Mayo was the father (EC 7:138). Adams’ brother represented her in court, and the judge ordered Mayo to “pay from the times of the child’s birth and 20s. to Abraham Adams” (7:137). Additionaly, in a November 1679 session, the court ordered him “to pay 30s. per week until further notice” (7: 316). However, Mayo’s daddy drama did not end here.

Mayo also shared his love potion with Adams’ half-sister, Sarah Short, listed on the September 1679 court docket next to Hannah Adams (7:265). In May, Sarah’s brother Henry brought a complaint against Mayo, but then in June, he withdrew it, as Mayo agreed to marry Sarah. The conjugal math shows that while Mayo was visiting the expecting Hannah, he impregnated Sarah. In the end, Mayo made out like a bandit from spreading his seed, receiving a hefty dowry and estate from Short.

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