Last week I wrote about Dorothie Hoyt and the scandal she created by her “presentment” for dressing in men’s clothing. This week my “Black Sheep Sunday” story is about her elder half-brother John, or John Hoyt Jr. as he is called in some of the old manuscripts and documents of early Essex County MA.
John Hoyt Jr, my 8th great-grandfather, was the eldest son of Sgt. John Hoyt and his first wife Frances, born about 1638 in Salisbury, Essex County, Massachusetts.
By many accounts he was an upstanding member of the Puritan community of Salisbury and later Amesbury MA, often sitting in on court proceedings in different capacities, as did his father. He was also licensed in both towns to maintain an inn or tavern, as is shown in the following from Quarterly Courts of Essex County Massachusetts, Volume III, April – 1667 Records and Files, page 407:
Jno. Hoyt, jr., having been chosen by the new towne of Salisbury to keep the ordinary, was confirmed, and licensed to sell wine and strong waters for the year ensuing.
April, 1668 – Salisbury Quarterly Court, page 24
John Hoyt, jr. had his license renewed to keep the ordinary at the new town and to provide
entertainment for horse, men and foot men. He had liberty to sell what wine and strong
waters he had laid in, and Lt. Challis was to take notice of what he had on hand and make
return to the clerk within fourteen days.
His name also appears in Amesbury as a constable, a lot-layer and a market clerk.
It was in his capacity as constable that he apparently “fell from grace” and took up residence in the county jail of Salem, MA. While collecting taxes from the citizenry it appears that he pocketed some of the tax money for his own personal use!
His story is outlined in a petition that he penned while cooling his heels in the Salem Gaol which is in the collection of the Massachusetts State Archives and referenced in the following excerpt from A Genealogical History of John Hoyt of Salisbury, and David Hoyt of Deerfield, And Their Descendants, by David Webster Hoyt (1857):
“John Hoyt always signed his own name in full, and evidently had a pretty good education for a common man of those times. In old deeds (of which he gave and received a large number), he is sometimes called a “planter,” and sometimes a “carpenter.” He and his father sold buildings and land to the town for the use of the ministry, soon after Amesbury was incorporated. He had a seat assigned him in the meeting house, July 9, 1667. His name frequently appears on the Amesbury records as lot-layer, constable, etc. He was chosen a “standing lot-layer,” 12 March, 1667/68; constable, 1674 and ’77/78; to rectify bounds of land, 1680-81; constable in Thomas Stevens’ place, April, 1690; added to committee “to return the bounds of land into the towne book of Records,” March, 1690/91; chosen “Clarke of ye markett” for the town of Amesbury, 1692-93, etc., etc. But he did not always find these offices either agreeable or profitable, as is abundantly proved by the following petition, preserved in the archives of Massachusetts:
“To the Honorable their majesties Great and Generall Court of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England, now sitting in Boston by adjournement, March 6th, 1694/95.
“The Petition of John Hoite, one of the late Constables of Amesbury, now a prisoner in Salem Gaol,
“That your Petitioner is now in Prison under an Execution for the Nonsatisfaction of the arreares of the rates comitted to him to collect whilest he was Constable of Amesbury. That Your Petitioner has Lately mett with great losses, haveing had his house plundered by the Indians, and has been visited with much sickness through the holy afflicting hand of god upon him–besides sundry of the persons from whome many of sd arreares be due are both dead and removed out of ye Towne. Now Forasmuch as your poore petitioner by the providence of God is reduced to a necessitous condition, and wholely uncapacitated, by reason of his confinement, to doo any thing for himself & family or ye payment of said arreares for ye present, he therefore humbly entreates the favour of this high & honorable Court to Consider the premisses, by being pleased to grant unto him two or three yeares space for payment therof, as also for areleasement from his confinement.
“And Yor petitioner as in duty bound shall Ever pray, etc.
“Voted upon Reading the Petition abovesaid that said Petitioner is granted his Request provided he give security to mr Treasurer to pay said money within two years into the Treasury. March 8th, 1694/5 passed in the affirmative by the house of Representatives and sent up to the honorable Lt Governor & Council for consent.
“Nehemiah Jewet, Speaker.”
All that we know of his imprisonment is what is contained in the foregoing petition. Whether he ever paid the debt himself is uncertain as he died within two years after his release. He–with a young man named Peters, also of Amesbury–was killed by Indians in Andover on the road to Haverhill, Aug. 13, 1696.
(Black Sheep Sunday is a genealogy blogging prompt courtesy of GeneaBloggers.com!)