Dorothie Hoyt was born on 13 Apr 1656 to my 9th great grandparents; Sgt. John Hoyt, a founding father of the towns of Salisbury and Amesbury MA, and his second wife Frances.
Dorothie’s “scandalous” behavior in Puritanical New England is best told with the following extract from “A Genealogical History of the Hoyt, Haight, and Hight Families” by David W. Hoyt (1871).
(Original spelling of old court record has been retained).
“From the Old Norfolk County records, it appears that she once indulged in a frolic which highly offended the stern Puritans, though their descendants are more indulgent to the ladies of the present day.
Att ye County Court held att Hampton
October: ye 9th: 1677.
“Dorithie Hoyt beeing called in Court to answere her presentment for putting on mans apparrell made default : being before warrant went out removed out of ye County. But her father who was ordered to bring her appeared in Court & owned ye fact comitted by his daughter : hee with others manifesting ye great appearance of ye said Dorethies repentance upon which ye said John Hoyt her father desiering to fall under ye penall part of ye sentence of court for ye fact comitted. The said Dorethie is adjudged by said court to bee apprehended as soone as shee comes into ye County & be layd hold on & bee severely whipt unless yet her father forthwith on her beehalfe pay a fine of forty shillings in corn or money to ye Tresurer of ye county & costs.”
It is worthy of note, that, at this session of the Court, “John Hoyt Junior” (her brother) was on the “Jurie of Tryalls,” and “John Hoyt Senior” (her father) and William Barnes were members of the “Grand jurie.” Whether the fine was paid, we cannot say. It is possible the offender may have remained without the Court’s jurisdiction, as we have discovered no further traces of her.”
At the time of this court proceeding Dorothie Hoyt would have been 21 years of age. Of course one can only speculate as to her reasons for dressing in mens clothing. Was it a rebellious streak against the strict confines of Puritanical morality, or just simply a more comfortable and practical way of performing her daily chores? I like to think it was a bit of both!
That Dorothie disappears entirely from all future records of the town points out the gravity of her situation, along with the serious penalty imposed of a severe whipping if she returned to the county.
Did she stay away of her own volition or was she banished by her shamed family? One can only wonder.
Her brother John Hoyt Jr., my 8th great grandfather, was not without a scandal of his own! That’s a story for a future “Black Sheep Sunday”.
(Black Sheep Sunday is a genealogy blogging prompt courtesy of GeneaBloggers.com!)