By Else L. Hambleton
This learn examines situations of fornication, bastardy, and paternity circumstances introduced sooner than the courts in Essex County, Massachusetts among 1640 and 1692. Prosecution and conviction premiums, sentencing styles, and socio-economic info, in addition to attitudes, have been analyzed to figure out that ladies who bore illegitimate teenagers have been punished extra significantly than their male companions, and thought of with contempt by means of nearly all of ladies.
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Extra resources for Daughters of Eve: Pregnant Brides and Unwed Mothers in Seventeenth Century Massachusetts (Studies in American Popular History and Culture)
Her employer was so affronted by her sexual activity and the subsequent stain on her character, and by inference his household government, that a court order was required to force him to receive her back into his house after the whipping. The first fornication case tried by the Essex County Quarterly Court was the presentation of Robert Coaker and Miriam Moulton of Newbury in December, 1641. They had engaged in sexual intercourse and then had married other persons. It was as Miriam King of Hampton that Moulton was presented for fornication.
After 1660, women and men were customarily given the option of paying a fine, which varied from £2 to £6, to avoid corporal punishment. It is difficult to arrive at the precise value, in present-day terms, of a fornication fine, but for women it appears to be the equivalent of a year’s wages. Given the more limited financial resources of many of the female defendants and their lower salaries, paying a fine meant committing themselves to a longer term of service, since their masters paid it for them.
The fact that the pregnancy that precipitated a fornication trial was illegitimate, not premarital, was an indication that the female defendant and her partner, where named, lacked the financial resources to marry. This makes class an inevitable fac tor in creating a vulnerable population of female servants and poor men looking for a sexual outlet outside of marriage. Fifty percent of both male and female defendants appear to be servants, but, in three of the four cases where both partners can be identified as “I KNOW THY CONDITION, ALAS, POOR WENCH” 29 servants, women were sentenced to be severely whipped (15 stripes) and their partners to be whipped (10 stripes).
Daughters of Eve: Pregnant Brides and Unwed Mothers in Seventeenth Century Massachusetts (Studies in American Popular History and Culture) by Else L. Hambleton