Sunday, January 29, 2012

Following Seventeenth Century Rules

We started last week to look at some of the individual women who I am profiling in my book, “Tracing the Invisible Women Who Helped Birth Connecticut.” As I promised here is what happened to Hannah Spencer when she changed her mind about marrying Simon Lobell.

The Lawsuit

According to the records of the Quarter Court for Connecticut, March 7 1660/61, Simon Lobell sued Jared and Hannah Spencer “in an action of ye case shee for refuseing to marry with him according to promise.”

What was decided?

The magistrates and jury “doe returne this as a special verdict. That ye find not any possitiue engagemt broken by her respecting coniugal relation or absolutely binding her to consummate such a relation…we find vpon Evidenc that Simon hath sustained much damadge by their occasion and therefore doe find it just and meet that all expenses that he hath bin at in reference to these proceeding Jared shal repay.”

What it Cost

I don’t want to burden you with the whole proceedings but the first judgment charged Jared with 150 pounds. That was a lot of money. Later in the proceedings all they mention is 10 pounds and 15 pounds, which the court said Jared could pay in “pease and wheat.”

Of course, the bigger price for such an offense, the gossip and avoidance of her neighbors, challenged Hannah. It is obvious that Jared Spencer must have been a loving father because in most of these situations, the fathers forced their daughters to marry.

What do you think? Would you want to live by these rules?

1 comment:

  1. Very glad I'm not living back in those times!