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Drunkards, Fornicators, and a Great Hen Squabble: Censure Practices and the Gendering of Puritanism
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 07 March 2011
The chamber pot was still full. The Dewy family's servant had not yet completed her morning chore of emptying the chamber pot when she dumped it over the head of their next door neighbor, Goody Ingerson. The unexpected assault was retaliation for the murder of some of the Dewys' hens. In 1714, the Dewys owned over 120 chickens, and as their closest neighbor, Ingerson grew tired of the fowl running freely through the Ingersons' property. The Ingersons chased those chickens out of their garden, barn, barley field, and scurried the unwanted guests out of their house. So, to show her unhappiness, Goodwife Ingerson wrung a few necks. The contents of the chamber pot did not slow her down, as Ingerson sent her daughter home with two more dead hens. Tensions escalated and a small brawl almost erupted when Abigail Dewy ordered her chamber pot wielding servant to apprehend the young girl escaping with the dead poultry. The Ingersons' daughter escaped the servant's clutches before Dewy could mete out a flogging with her whipping cord. The Ingersons' daughter made it home safely (perhaps to a chicken dinner). The case of the great hen squabble went to court, where the Connecticut magistrates ordered the Ingersons to pay for the dead chickens. However, when the court asked Abigail Dewy if she ordered her servant to drag Ingerson's daughter by the hair to the Dewy house, she lied and said no. For that, the Westfield church censured her for the sin of lying.
- Research Article
- Copyright © American Society of Church History 2011
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