#52 Ancestors Week 50 - "Naughty"

My 8th great aunt Hannah Button (1672 - aft. 1676) was a naughty girl. In fact, so were many members of the Button family of 17th century Haverhill, Massachusetts. Notably her father Matthias Button. He had many dealings with the Massachusetts colonial judicial system. His story is too disputed and complicated for the purposes of this post, but suffice it to say, he was a scalawag.

 Hannah's mother, only known as "Teagle", was killed when John Godfrey burned the family home down in 1662 (because he claimed her father Matthias owed him a debt). Hannah and other members of the household were later called to be witnesses in a trial brought by her father claiming that John Godfrey was a witch.  There is no evidence that they ever testified, but, in any case, Godfrey was found not guilty. Godfrey and Matthias Button continued to sue each other until Matthias died.

Miss Hannah Button was "presented for fornication" on 11 May 1672.  Fornication was only considered a misdemeanor and not a felony. From what I have read, to be a fornicator in Puritan times was to have consensual sex with someone who is not your spouse. If the other person was married, it constituted adultery. Here is a really interesting article about Colonial Crimes and Punishments. We know Hannah lived to be at least 24 years of age because she is included in her father's will when he died in 1676. I haven't seen any other records. I've looked, too. I was hoping to find she got married and had a family, maybe even with her paramour. If there was an illegitimate child as a result of their crime, the man was compelled to pay child support. Since there is no record indicating who the man was, or that Hannah Button had a child, I assume they went their own ways. 

No comments:

Post a Comment