Colonial Virginia Woman
Image: Lady Susannah Beverley Randolph
Artist: Edward Caledon Bruce
Oil on canvas
Susannah Beverley was born about 1692 and became the wife of Sir John Randolph about 1718 – there are no records of the exact dates. If she was 26 at the time of her marriage, she was rather mature for a colonial bride. Her eldest sister was the wife of her husband’s eldest brother, which may suggest how they met. Whatever the uncertainties, there is no doubt that Sir John found her to be an excellent mate, or that she reared children of unusual ability.
In almost two centuries of colonial Virginia history, there was only one woman who had a certifiable claim to the title of Lady – Susannah Beverley Randolph. Courtesy, of course, bestowed the honor of lady on every woman of the better sort, and certainly most of the middling class. But she was the wife of Sir John Randolph, the only Virginian knighted from the day Roanoke Island was settled in 1585 until independence was declared in 1776.
Colonial Virginia Woman
Image: Bruton Parish Church
Catherine Blaikley, born in 1695, lived in Williamsburg, Virginia. Her husband was merchant William Blaikley, who was reported to have been a wealthy merchant there. William Blaikley died in 1736, and left her a considerable amount of money and property. In a will written February 10, 1734, Blaikley bequeathed “unto my loving wife Catherine Blaikley, all my whole estate of lands, houses, Negroes, goods, and chattels, meaning my houses and lots in Williamsburg and 50 acres of land in Powhatan.”
During her 35-year widowhood, Catherine Blaikley lived in the house now called the Blaikely-Durfey House on Duke of Gloucester Street. The property inventory shows that the house was a half story house with a hall on each floor with rooms designated as Great Chamber Upstairs, little chamber upstairs, closet upstairs, passage upstairs, chamber below stairs chamber closet, parlor below stairs, hall, Mrs. Blaikley’s closet, little room by the hall, back passage, kitchen loft, kitchen, cellar.
Namesake of Haddonfield New Jersey
Elizabeth Haddon was born May 25, 1680, in Southwark, London, England. By the age of six, Elizabeth had probably begun her education. She was also actively interested in her mother’s charities, and as she grew older, she went on modest little charitable ventures of her own. On one occasion, so the story goes, she asked her mother to let her have a party, and when the guests arrived, they were six tattered youthful beggars of the most forlorn London type.
In 1698, Elizabeth’s Quaker father, John Haddon – a friend of William Penn – bought a 500-acre tract of land in Gloucester County in the English colony of West Jersey to escape religious persecution. Mr. Haddon was required to take physical possession of the land within six months, but poor health kept him from making the trip.
Blandina Kiersted was born in 1653, and was the daughter of Sarah Kiersted, a translator for the Lenape sachem (leader), Chief Oratam, in what is now New Jersey. Blandina learned the Lenape language from her mother, and also acted as an interpreter.
Image: Building a Lenape Longhouse
The Lenape made dome-shaped houses called wigwams where a small family or individual could live. They pushed a circle of poles into the ground and then bent them over one another to make a domed frame, which they covered with sheets of bark, skins or woven rush mats. Several families sometimes lived together in a larger longhouse, still rounded on top, but longer. Inside the longhouse were platforms of poles on either side that could be used as seats or beds. Down the center was a row of fires to share. Openings in the roof let the smoke out. Corn and herbs were hung high in the roof, and there was room to store other goods beside the doorway.
Accused of Witchcraft
Born Margaret Stevenson in England in about the year 1615, she first appeared in the record books in 1642, when she married Benjamin Scott. Initially the Scotts lived in Braintree, Massachusetts, but later moved to Cambridge where they had four children between 1644 and 1650. The Scott family arrived in Rowley (a small town north of Salem) in 1651, where Margaret gave birth to three additional children.
The Scotts lacked the money to purchase their own land, and in 1664 the town donated land to Benjamin Scott. In March of 1665, Benjamin Scott was convicted of the crime of theft, for which he was “fined and admonished.” However, six months later he took the Freeman’s Oath, indicating he was both a householder and a church member.
Salem Witchcraft Trials
From June through September of 1692, nineteen men and women, all having been convicted of witchcraft, were carted to Gallows Hill, a barren slope near Salem Village, Massachusetts, for hanging. Another man of over eighty years was pressed to death under heavy stones for refusing to submit to a trial on witchcraft charges. Hundreds of others faced accusations of witchcraft. Dozens languished in jail for months without trials.
Mary Ayer, daughter to John and Hannah Ayer, married Nathanial Parker. She was 55 years old and a widow in 1692. Mary was accused of witchcraft, but refused to confess during the witchcraft trials saying, “I know nothing of it, there is another woman of the same name in Andover.”
The Year: 1692
On May 12, 1692, warrants were issued to apprehend and bring before the magistrates, “Alice Parker, the wife of John Parker, and Ann Pudeator, widow of Salem, widow.” Alice Parker, commonly called Elsie, was the wife of a mariner. Perhaps she had been prone to take melancholy views of the dangers to which seafaring people are exposed.
< A Witchcraft Trial
Illustration by Howard Pyle (1853–1911)
Samuel Shattuck of Salem seems to have been very active in getting up charges of witchcraft against persons in his neighborhood, and on the most absurd and frivolous grounds. Alice Parker had made a friendly call upon his wife, and not long after, one of his children fell sick. He suspected that it was “under an evil hand.”
Alice Parker, hearing that Shattuck had been circulating suspicions against her, went to his house. An angry altercation took place between them, and he gave his version of the affair in evidence. There was no one to present the other side. But the whole thing has a one-sided, irrelevant character, in no way bearing on witchcraft. All the gossip, scandal, and tittle-tattle of the neighborhood for twenty years back, in this case as in others, was dug up, and allowed as evidence, however remote from the questions belonging to the trial.
Salem Witch Trials
Image: The Salem Martyr
By Thomas Slatterwhite Noble
Noble gained a reputation for his dramatic paintings of abolitionist subjects, and later turned to the Salem witch trials for another powerful moral theme. The Salem Martyr won a silver medal at the 1869 Cincinnati Industrial Exposition. A tradition in the Noble family holds that the model for this painting was a Cincinnati librarian who was a descendant of a woman who was executed in the Salem witch trials.
Mary Easty was well respected in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. She was a kind religious woman whose dignified demeanor fit the strict Puritan mold. She was about 58 years old at the time, and was married to Isaac Easty, with whom she had seven children. They owned and lived on a large valuable farm.
Salem Witchcraft Trials
Image: Martha and Giles Corey
Martha Corey lived on a farm in the southwest corner of Salem village with her husband Giles, a prosperous, uneducated, eighty-year-old farmer and full member of the church. In March 1692, Martha Corey made the mistake of publicly questioning the sincerity of the accusations of the afflicted girls – a group of Salem girls who had condemned several people as witches.
When the girls learned of Martha’s attacks, they quickly responded by accusing her of witchcraft. When the girls first mentioned the name of Martha Corey, Edward Putnam and Ezekiel Cheever went to see Martha about the matter on March 12th. On the way, they saw Ann Putnam and asked her what clothes Mrs. Corey wore when her apparition appeared to her as Ann had said. Ann said that she was so blinded she could not see.
Salem Witchcraft Trials
Image: Scene at Witchcraft Trial
Born Martha Allen, she was the daughter of one of the original founders of the Massachusetts town of Andover. In 1674, Martha married below her station to a young Welsh servant, who was the father of her illegitimate child, Thomas Carrier. Living for a few years in Billerica, the couple returned to Andover in the 1680s with very little money and four children.
The couple settled in Billerica proceeded to enlarge their family. After what must have been a joyful time for the Carriers, now with three sons and two daughters, the tough times began in 1690. The next two Carrier children died from the common 17th century disease of smallpox.