Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Frances Elizabeth (Alcock) Hutchins - 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 10, "Stormy Weather"

This week's theme for +Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge is "Stormy Weather."  My paternal 9th great-grandmother weathered several stormy events in her life and seems to be a perfect subject for the "Stormy Weather" prompt.

In 1612 in England, George Alcock and his wife, Anne (Hooker) Alcock, welcomed a new member to their Puritan family - a daughter named Francis (a.k.a., Frances) Elizabeth Alcock - who would face an adventure- and hardship-filled life.

A Young 17th-Century Puritan Girl
(Image courtesy of Early Childhood Images.)
This shows how I descend from Francis Elizabeth Alcock Hutchins.
My father (living) and I would be listed below Elizabeth Lee Henderson.

Francis' First Storm - England to America

According to the Bevis ship's passengers list, Frances Alcocke [sic], a servant aged 26, left Southampton, England, in May 1638 destined for America.  (Source: Anne Stevens of  The U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s shows Francis Alcock, born about 1612, arriving in Massachusetts in 1638.

Though I have not read any records of weather or other particular hardships the Bevis passengers endured, a journey from England to America by ship in 1638 certainly must have been perilous, at best.  Moreover, those sailing on the Bevis in 1638 were mostly Puritans leaving England to find religious freedom.  At that time, England was moving toward strict Catholicism, and the Puritans hoped to escape such an oppressive religious climate.1  David B. Gracy II noted that some of the King of England's associates noticed that the Bevis was almost entirely composed of Puritans and then tried to stop the ship from sailing but failed in that attempt.2

John Hutchins, a carpenter and servant aged 30, also traveled to the New World in 1638 aboard the Bevis.  U.S., New England Marriages Prior to 1700 shows that John Hutchins and Frances married circa 1637 in Newbury/Haverhill, Massachusetts.

Page 406 of New England Marriages Prior to 1700.

Since the Bevis' passengers list shows both of them departing Southampton, England, in May 1638, the "circa 1637" marriage date and its location in New England must be considered broadly.  Other records indicate that John Hutchins and Francis Alcock married circa 1645 in Newbury, Essex County, Massachusetts. (Sources: Family Data Collection - Individual Records and Family Data Collections - Marriages.)  However, given that birth records - such as the Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 (see below) - show that their son and my 8th great-grandfather, Joseph Hutchins, was born in Massachusetts circa 1640 and was their fourth child, it seems very likely that they married a few years prior to 1640.

Joseph Hutchins' 15 Nov 1640 birth as recorded in
Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988.

Map showing the English origins of the Massachusetts Puritans.
(Image courtesy of

Francis' Second Storm - "Finery"

In 1653, Francis faced another storm of sorts when she landed in court in Massachusetts.  About 1650, the General Court passed a law prohibiting the display of finery by persons "of meane condition," defined as persons whose property was valued under £200.  On 17 September 1653, Francis and her friend, Mrs. Joseph Swett, were arrested for wearing silk hoods, which constituted a "display of finery."  Mrs. Hutchins was acquitted because she had been brought up above the ordinary rank.  Mrs. Swett, however, was not as lucky and paid a ten shillings fine after being found guilty.3

Francis' Big Storm - Witchcraft

On 19 August 1692, at the age of about 80 years old, Francis was swept up into her life's biggest storm.  On that date, she was arrested and charged with witchcraft during the famous witchcraft hysteria that swept through Salem, Essex, Massachusetts and its surrounding villages.

The location of Salem (dark red) in Essex County (light red), Massachusetts.
(Photo courtesy of

Since her husband had died on 06 February 1685 (Source: Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988), she had been a widow for about seven and a half years at the time of her arrest.  The warrant for her arrest read as follows:

Essex/ To the Constable of Haverhill

Complaint being made to me this day, by Timothy Swan of Andover: & Mary Wallcott & Anna Putnam of Salem Village, Against Mrs: frances Hutchins & Ruth Willford , of Haverhill that the s'd frances Hutchins & Ruth Willford , hath sorely afflicted them, the s'd Timothy Swan Mary Walcott & Anna Putnam in their bodies, by witchcraft Severall times Contrary to the Peace of o'r: Sovereigne Lord & Lady King William & Queen Mary, of England &c: & to their Majests Law in that Case provided: & s'd Timothy Swan having according to Law, given sufficient bond, to Prosecute s'd Complaint, before Their Majests: justices of Peace att Salem the 19th: or 20th Instant. These therefore require you in their Majests. names to Apprehend & sease the bodies of the afores'd frances Hutchins & Ruth Willford , upon sight hereof, & them safely Convey to [to] Salem afores'd, to their Majests: justices of the Peace there, to be examined & proceeded with according to law: for which this shall be yo'r warrant: Given under my hand & seal this eighteenth day of August Anno Domini 1692: In the 4th year of their Majests. Reigne. &c

* Dudley Bradstreet

Justice of Peace

(Reverse) according to this warrant I have seesed and brought don mrs frances huchins: but sought with Diligenc for Ruth Wilford and she cannot be found

August 19: 1692

by Me Wilum Strlin Constbl for haverihill

haverhill August the 20 1692

I seased the body of Ruth Wilf [] of haverhill to answer the Complaint within mensioned

[Pbar ] me William Strlin of haverhill Constable.

Warrant for Arrest of Frances Hutchins and Ruth Wilford. 
Back of the Warrant for Arrest of Frances Hutchins and Ruth Wilford.

Francis was imprisoned and remained in jail until 21 December 1692 when she was released on bond.  The bond for the widow Hutchins read as follows:

Memorandum --

That on the Twenty one Day of Decemb'r: Anno'qe D[mbar ] : one Thousand Six hundred Ninty & two in the: fourth year of the Reigne of our Sovereigne Lord & Lady William & Mary by the Grace of God of England &c. King & Queen Defenders of the faith &c: Personally came and Appeared before me George Corwin High Shirriffe for the County of Essex of the Province of the Massathutets Bay in New England -- Samuel Hutchens of Haverell and Jospeh Kingsbury of Haverell afores'd Husbandman and Acknowledged themselves Indebted Unto our Sovereigne Lord & Lady the King & Queen or the Survivors of them their Heires & Successors: in the Summe of two hundred pounds to beleaved one their Goods & Chattles Lands & Tenements for the Use of our Sovereigne Lord & Lady the King & Queen or the Successors of them if Default be made in the Performance of the Condition Underwritten

Videllisitt --

The condition of the above written Recognizance is Such That Whereas francess Hutchens Widdow of Haverell afores'd is Suspected of and Accused of Committing Divers Acts of Witchcrafts If therefore the Said frances Hutchens afores'd: Shall & do make her Personall Appearance before the Justices of our Sovereigne Lord & Lady the King & Queen at the Next Court of Assize of Oyer & Terminer Next Generall Goal Delivery to be held for & within the County of Essex afores'd; to answar what shall be objected ag't: her on their Maj'tes: behalfe Refering to the Witchcrafts & to do & Receive that by w'ch said Court shall be then and there Injoyned & not Darpart without Licence Then the said Recognizance to be Void: or Else to abide in full force & Vertue In Wittness wherof the: above Named Persons #[have] Sam'll: Hutchings & Joseph Kingsberry have hereunto sett our hands & seales this Twenty first Day of December in the Year of our Lord one Thousand six hundred Ninty & two, and in the fourth year of their Maj'ties Reigne


*Thomas Beadle

*Joshua Conant

*Jno Gyles 1692

*Samuel huchins
*Joseph Kingsberry

The original Salem Jail, built in 1684, was replaced by this building, built on the same site, in 1763.
The jail remained in use until 1813 and then was remodeled into a private home.  It no longer exists today.
(Photo and information courtesy of Legends of America.)

There is no record of Francis being brought to trial, so it is assumed she was never tried as a witch.  Nonetheless, the stigma of association with and arrest for witchcraft surely followed and weighed on her given the strictly conservative community in which she lived.  After being bonded out of jail, she lived about one and a half years longer, dying on 05 April 1694 in Haverhill, Essex County, Massachusetts.

Frances death as recorded in the Haverhill Deaths section of
Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988.

©Amy Wood Kelly, 2015 - I am happy to share my genealogical research and writing with others, as well as to help others with their research efforts.  However, please do not reprint this post in full or in part or use excerpts from this post without giving full credit to me, Amy Wood Kelly, as the researcher and author as well as providing the permalink to this post.  Thank you, in advance, for showing respect for my request and the work I put into creating this post.