My historical novels Rebel Puritan and The Reputed Wife, Herodias (Long) Hicks Gardner Porter, colonial New England, travels, and whatever else seizes my fancy...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Herodias/Harwood (Long) Hicks vs John Hicks: A New Transcription

Herodias/Horod/Harwood Long is the protagonist of my historical fiction novel, A Scandalous Life: Rebel Puritan.  One of the most notorious women in 17th century New England due to her stormy domestic life, Herodias was separated from John Hicks after requesting Rhode Island's first divorce because of his abuse.

On December 3, 1643    Herodias complained to Rhode Island’s governor that her husband was beating her.  Probably she intended to have her petition heard by the General Court sitting in Newport at that time, but the Hickses' case was apparently not aired until the next spring.

Though Herodias and John Hicks were separated in some time after March 1644, Herodias’ accusation was not entered into the Rhode Island colonial records until 1655, when George Gardner was charged with keeping John Hicks’ wife as his own.

The following document from the Rhode Island colonial records was transcribed by Josephine C. Frost for her article, "John and Harwood Hicks," which was printed in 1939 in the New York Genealogical & Biographical Record, Volume 70, pg. 116.  The article was missing a few words and phrases, but with the help of a 100-year old dictionary, I was able to supply them.  Words differing from Josephine Frost's transcription are in boldface:

This witnesseth tht in the yeare 1643, decemb. the 3d/ Harrwood Hicks, wife to John Hicks, made her Complaint to us of Many greevances, & Exstreeme violence, that her Husband used towards her, uppon which she desired ye peace of him uppon ye Examination whereof we found such due grounds of her Complaints by his Inhumane & barbarous Carriages such Crewell blows on Divers parts of her body, with many other like Cruelties, that we fearing the ordenarie & desperate afects of such barbarous Cruelties, murthering, poysioning, drowning, hanging, wounds & Losse of Limbes, Could not but bind him to ye peace, Moreover we found him soe bitterly to be Inraged, & soe desparate in his Expreshions, uppon which the poore woman fraught with feares, Chose Rather to subject herselfe to any Miserie than to Live with him; He also as desirous thereof as She, Solicited us to part them, with much Impretunyty we therefore diligently observing & waighing, ye prmeses Conceived & Concluded, that it were better, yea farr better for them to be separated, or devorced than to Live in such bondage being in such parfect hatred of  one another, & to avoayde & prevent the said desperate hazards premised, yet observing & knowing how Odious this act was amongst men, Refused to order theire separation, but tould them theire act should be theires wherein if they agreede we would be witnesses thereof uppon which they Came to an accord, & declared it to us which Accordingly we doe testifie the same, being perswade that god had separated them soe Inmeewtablie, that they were free from that marriage bond before god, Now we being Majestrates in this place, & in Commission for ye peace, & by order we are to walke accordinge to ye Lawes of England, under grace of our Soveraigne, had no direct Rule to walke by to devorce them did therefore under grace by our Authoritie declare them duly separate in wittness where of we therfor sett to our hands this is a True Coppie Pr me

Wm. Lytherland

[witnessed by]
William Coddington
John Coggeshall
Nicho. Easton


  1. Welcome to the blogosphere, Jo Ann! You're making a fine addition to your RebelPuritan website. Can Twitter and G+ be far behind? ;) I do get most traffic to my blogs from Facebook, but because of Twitter hashtags, my articles go before complete strangers who are interested in history, genealogy, books, culture, etc., and this drives even more traffic, so plank by plank, the platform is built. Maybe a platform will become a turnpike.

    Good luck, my friend. I'll tweet you up for now, expecting that you'll follow soon.

  2. Christy, you are right! It's high time I got on Twitter, but for now, many thanks for your help!


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