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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

How Judge Sewall Courted Madam Winthrop

By Samuel Sewall (1652–1730)

[From the “Sewall Papers,” Vol. III., published by the Mass. Hist. Soc. 1882.]

SEPTR. 5.Mary Hirst goes to Board with Madam Oliver and her Mother Loyd. Going to Son Sewall’s I there meet with Madam Winthrop, told her I was glad to meet her there, had not seen her a great while; gave her Mr. Homes’s Sermon….

7r. 30.Mr. Colman’s Lecture: Daughter Sewall acquaints Madam Winthrop that if she pleas’d to be within at 3. p. m. I would wait on her. She answer’d she would be at home.

8r. 1.Satterday, I dine at Mr. Stoddard’s: from thence I went to Madam Winthrop’s just at 3. Spake to her, saying, my loving wife died so soon and suddenly, ’twas hardly convenient for me to think of marrying again; however I came to this Resolution, that I would not make my Court to any person without first Consulting with her. Had a pleasant discourse about 7 [seven] Single persons sitting in the Fore-seat 7r. 29th, viz. Madm Rebekah Dudley, Catharine Winthrop, Bridget Usher, Deliverance Legg, Rebekah Loyd, Lydia Colman, Elizabeth Bellingham. She propounded one and another for me; but none would do, said Mrs. Loyd was about her Age.

Octobr. 3. 2.Waited on Madam Winthrop again; ’twas a little while before she came in. Her daughter Noyes being there alone with me, I said, I hoped my Waiting on her Mother would not be disagreeable to her. She answer’d she should not be against that that might be for her Comfort. I Saluted her, and told her I perceiv’d I must shortly wish her a good Time; (her mother had told me, she was with Child, and within a Moneth or two of her Time). By and by in came Mr. Airs, Chaplain of the Castle, and hang’d up his Hat, which I was a little startled at, it seeming as if he was to lodge there. At last Madam Winthrop came too. After a considerable time, I went up to her and said, if it might not be inconvenient I desired to speak with her. She assented, and spake of going into another Room; but Mr. Airs and Mrs. Noyes presently rose up, and went out, leaving us there alone. Then I usher’d in Discourse from the names in the Fore-seat; at last I pray’d that Katharine [Mrs. Winthrop] might be the person assign`d for me. She instantly took it up in the way of Denyal, as if she had catch’d at an Opportunity to do it, saying she could not do it before she was asked. Said that was her mind unless she should Change it, which she believed she should not: could not leave her Children. I express’d my Sorrow that she should do it so Speedily, pray’d her Consideration, and ask’d her when I should wait on her agen. She setting no time, I mention’d that day Sennight. Gave her Mr. Willard’s Fountain open’d with the little print and verses; saying, I hop’d if we did well read that book, we should meet together hereafter, if we did not now. She took the Book, and put it in her Pocket. Took Leave.

8r. 5.Midweek, I din’d with the Court; from thence went and visited Cousin Jonathan’s wife, Lying in with her little Betty. Gave the Nurse 2s. Although I had appointed to wait upon her, Mm. Winthrop, next Monday, yet I went from my Cousin Sewall’s thither about 3. p. m. The Nurse told me Madam dined abroad at her daughter Noyes’s, they were to go out together. I ask’d for the Maid, who was not within. Gave Katee a penny and a Kiss, and came away. Accompanyed my Son and daughter Cooper in their Remove to their New House. Went to tell Joseph, and Mr. Belcher saw me by the South Meetinghouse though ’twas duskish, and said I had been at House-warming, (he had been at our house). Invited me to drink a Glass of Wine at his house at 7. and eat part of the Pasty provided for the Commissioners voyage to Casco-Bay. His Excellency, Madam Belcher, S. S. Col. Fitch, Mr. D. Oliver, Mr. Anthony Stoddard, Mr. Welsteed, Mr. White, Mr. Belcher sat down. At coming home gave us of the Cake and Ginger-Bread to carry away. ’Twas about Ten before we got home; Mr. Oliver and I waited on the Governour to his Gate; and then Mr. Oliver would wait on me home.

8r. 6th.Lecture-day, Mr. Cutler, President of the Connecticut College, preached in Dr. C. Mather’s Turn. He made an excellent Discourse from Heb. xi. 14. For they that say such things, declare plainly that they seek a Country. Bror Odlin, Son Sewall of Brooklin, and Mary Hirst dine with me. I ask’d Mary of Madam Lord, Mr. Oliver and wife, and bid her present my service to them. 8r. 6th. A little after 6. p. m. I went to Madam Winthrop’s. She was not within. I gave Sarah Chickering the Maid 2s., Juno, who brought in wood, 1s. Afterward the Nurse came in, I gave her 18d, having no other small Bill. After awhile Dr. Noyes came in with his Mother; and quickly after his wife came in: They sat talking, I think, till eight a-clock. I said I fear’d I might be some Interruption to their Business: Dr. Noyes reply’d pleasantly: He fear’d they might be an Interruption to me, and went away. Madam seem’d to harp upon the same string. Must take care of her Children; could not leave that House and Neighbourhood where she had dwelt so long. I told her she might doe her children as much or more good by bestowing what she laid out in Hous-keeping, upon them. Said her Son would be of Age the 7th of August. I said it might be inconvenient for her to dwell with her Daughter-in-Law, who must be Mistress of the House. I gave her a piece of Mr. Belcher’s Cake and Ginger-Bread wrapped up in a clean sheet of Paper; told her of her Father’s kindness to me when Treasurer, and I Constable. My Daughter Judith was gon from me and I was more lonesom—might help to forward one another in our Journey to Canaan.—Mr. Eyre came within the door; I saluted him, ask’d how Mr. Clark did, and he went away. I took leave about 9 aclock. I told [her] I came now to refresh her Memory as to Monday-night; said she had not forgot it. In discourse with her, I ask’d leave to speak with her Sister; I meant to gain Madm Mico’s favour to persuade her Sister. She seem’d surpris’d and displeas’d, and said she was in the same condition!

8r. 10th.Examin Mr. Briggs his Account; said they could not find Mr. Whittemore. Mr. Willard offer’d to answer for him. But I shew’d the necessity of his being here; and appointed Wednesday 10. a-clock; and order’d notice to be given to the Auditours, to pray their Assistance.

In the Evening I visited Madam Winthrop, who treated me with a great deal of Curtesy; Wine, Marmalade. I gave her a News-Letter about the Thanksgiving; Proposals, for sake of the Verses for David Jeffries. She tells me Dr. Increase Mather visited her this day, in Mr. Hutchinson’s Coach.

It seems Dr. Cotton Mather’s chimney fell a-fire yesterday, so as to interrupt the Assembly a. m. Mr. Cutler ceased preaching 1/4 of an hour.

8r. 11th.I writ a few Lines to Madam Winthrop to this purpose: “Madam, These wait on you with Mr. Mayhew’s Sermon, and Account of the state of the Indians on Martha’s Vinyard. I thank you for your Unmerited Favours of yesterday; and hope to have the Happiness of Waiting on you to-morrow before Eight a-clock after Noon. I pray GOD to keep you, and give you a joyfull entrance upon the Two Hundred and twenty-ninth year of Christopher Columbus his Discovery; and take Leave, who am, Madam, your humble Servt.

S. S.”

Sent this by Deacon Green, who deliver’d it to Sarah Chickering, her Mistress not being at home.

8r. 12.Give Mr. Whittemore and Willard their Oath to Dr. Mather’s Inventory. Visit Mr. Cooper. Go to the Meeting at the Wido Emon’s: Mr. Manly pray’d, I read half Mr. Henry’s 12th Chapter of the L. Supper. Sung 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, and 12th Verses of the 30th Psalm. Bror Franklin concluded with Prayer. At Madm Winthrop’s Steps I took leave of Capt Hill, &c.

Mrs. Anne Cotton came to door (twas before 8.) said Madam Winthrop was within, directed me into the little Room, where she was full of work behind a Stand; Mrs. Cotton came in and stood. Madam Winthrop pointed to her to set me a Chair. Madam Winthrop’s Countenance was much changed from what ’twas on Monday, look’d dark and lowering. At last, the work, (black stuff or Silk) was taken away, I got my Chair in place, had some Converse, but very Cold and indifferent to what ’twas before. Ask’d her to acquit me of Rudeness if I drew off her Glove. Enquiring the reason, I told her twas great odds between handling a dead Goat, and a living Lady. Got it off. I told her I had one Petition to ask of her, that was, that she would take off the Negative she laid on me the third of October; She readily answer’d she could not, and enlarg’d upon it; She told me of it so soon as she could; could not leave her house, children, neighbours, business. I told her she might do som Good to help and support me. Mentioning Mrs. Gookin, Nath, the widow Weld was spoken of; said I had visited Mrs. Denison. I told her Yes! Afterward I said, If after a first and second Vagary she would Accept of me returning, Her Victorious Kindness and Good Will would be very Obliging. She thank’d me for my Book, (Mr. Mayhew’s Sermon), But said not a word of the Letter. When she insisted on the Negative, I pray’d there might be no more Thunder and Lightening, I should not sleep all night. I gave her Dr. Preston, The Church’s Marriage and the Church’s Carriage, which cost me 6s at the Sale. The door standing open, Mr. Airs came in, hung up his Hat, and sat down. After awhile, Madam Winthrop moving, he went out. Jno Eyre look’d in, I said How do ye, or, your servant Mr. Eyre: but heard no word from him. Sarah fill’d a Glass of Wine, she drank to me, I to her, She sent Juno home with me with a good Lantern, I gave her 6d. and bid her thank her Mistress. In some of our Discourse, I told her I had rather go the Stone-House adjoining to her, than to come to her against her mind. Told her the reason why I came every other night was lest I should drink too deep draughts of Pleasure. She had talk’d of Canary, her Kisses were to me better than the best Canary. Explain’d the expression Concerning Columbus.

8r. 13.I tell my Son and daughter Sewall, that the Weather was not so fair as I apprehended. Mr. Sewall preach’d very well in Mr. Wadsworth’s Turn. Mr. Williams of Weston and Mr. Odlin dine with us. Text was, the Excellency of the Knowledge of Christ….

8r. 17.Monday, Give Mr. Danl Willard, and Mr. Pelatiah Whittemore their Oaths to their Accounts; and Mr. John Briggs to his, as they are Attornys to Dr. Cotton Mather, Administrator to the estate of Nathan Howell deceased. In the Evening I visited Madam Winthrop, who Treated me Courteously, but not in Clean Linen as somtimes. She said, she did not know whether I would come again, or no. I ask’d her how she could so impute inconstancy to me. (I had not visited her since Wednesday night being unable to get over the Indisposition received by the Treatment received that night, and I must in it seem’d to sound like a made piece of Formality.) Gave her this day’s Gazett. Heard David Jeffries say the Lord’s Prayer, and some other portions of the Scriptures. He came to the door, and ask’d me to go into Chamber, where his Grandmother was tending Little Katee, to whom she had given Physick; but I chose to sit below. Dr. Noyes and his wife came in, and sat a considerable time; had been visiting Son and daughter Cooper. Juno came home with me.

8r. 18.Visited Madam Mico, who came to me in a splendid Dress. I said, It may be you have heard of my Visiting Madam Winthrop, her Sister. She answered, Her Sister had told her of it. I ask’d her good Will in the Affair. She answer’d, If her Sister were for it, she should not hinder it. I gave her Mr. Homes’s Sermon. She gave me a Glass of Canary, entertain’d me with good Discourse, and a Respectfull Remembrance of my first Wife. I took Leave.

8r. 19.Midweek, Visited Madam Winthrop; Sarah told me she was at Mr. Walley’s, would not come home till late. I gave her Hannah 3 oranges with her Duty, not knowing whether I should find her or no. Was ready to go home: but said if I knew she was there, I would go thither. Sarah seem’d to speak with pretty good Courage, She would be there. I went and found her there, with Mr. Walley and his wife in the little Room below. At 7 a-clock I mentioned going home; at 8. I put on my Coat, and quickly waited on her home. She found occasion to speak loud to the servant, as if she had a mind to be known. Was Courteous to me; but took occasion to speak pretty earnestly about my keeping a Coach: I said ’twould cost £100. per annum: she said twould cost but £40. Spake much against John Winthrop, his false-heartedness. Mr. Eyre came in and sat awhile; I offer’d him Dr. Incr. Mather’s Sermons, whereof Mr. Appleton’s Ordination Sermon was one; said he had them already. I said I would give him another. Exit. Came away somewhat late.

8r. 20.Mr. Colman preaches from Luke xv. 10. Joy among the Angels: made an Excellent Discourse.

At Council, Col. Townsend spake to me of my Hood: Should get a Wigg. I said twas my chief ornament: I wore it for sake of the Day. Bror. Odlin, and Sam, Mary, and Jane Hirst dine with us. Promis’d to wait on the Govr about 7. Madam Winthrop not being at Lecture, I went thither first; found her very Serene with her daughter Noyes, Mrs. Dering, and the widow Shipreev sitting at a little Table, she in her arm’d Chair. She drank to me, and I to Mrs. Noyes. After awhile pray’d the favour to speak with her. She took one of the Candles, and went into the best Room, clos’d the shutters, sat down upon the Couch. She told me Madam Usher had been there, and said the Coach must be set on Wheels, and not by Rusting. She spake something of my needing a Wigg. Ask’d me what her Sister said to me. I told her, She said, If her Sister were for it, She would not hinder it. But I told her, she did not say she would be glad to have me for her Brother. Said, I shall keep you in the Cold, and asked her if she would be within to morrow night, for we had had but a running Feat. She said she could not tell whether she should, or no. I took Leave. As were drinking at the Governour’s, he said: In England the Ladies minded little more than that they might have Money, and Coaches to ride in. I said, And New-England brooks its Name. At which Mr. Dudley smiled. Govr said they were not quite so bad here.

8r. 21.Friday, My Son, the Minister, came to me p. m. by appointment and we pray one for another in the Old Chamber; more especially respecting my Courtship. About 6. a-clock I go to Madam Winthrop’s; Sarah told me her Mistress was gon out, but did not tell me whither she went. She presently order’d me a Fire; so I went in, having Dr. Sibb’s Bowels with me to read. I read the two first Sermons, still no body came in: at last about 9. a-clock Mr. Jno Eyre came in; I took the opportunity to say to him as I had done to Mrs. Noyes before, that I hoped my Visiting his Mother would not be disagreeable to him; He answered me with much Respect. When twas after 9. a-clock He of himself said he would go and call her, she was but at one of his Brothers: A while after I heard Madam Winthrop’s voice, enquiring somthing about John. After a good while and Clapping the Garden door twice or thrice, she came in. I mention’d somthing of the lateness; she banter’d me, and said I was later. She receiv’d me Courteously. I ask’d when our proceedings should be made publick: She said They were like to be no more publick than they were already. Offer’d me no Wine that I remember. I rose up at 11 a-clock to come away, saying I would put on my Coat, She offer’d not to help me. I pray’d her that Juno might light me home, she open’d the Shutter, and said twas pretty light abroad; Juno was weary and gon to bed. So I came home by Star-light as well as I could. At my first coming in, I gave Sarah five Shillings. I writ Mr. Eyre his Name in his book with the date Octobr. 21. 1720. It cost me 8s. Jehovah jireh! Madam told me she had visited M. Mico, Wendell, and Wm Clark of the South [Church].

Octobr. 22.Daughter Cooper visited me before my going out of Town, staid till about Sun set. I brought her going near as far as the Orange Tree. Coming back, near Leg’s Corner, Little David Jeffries saw me, and looking upon me very lovingly, ask’d me if I was going to see his Grandmother? I said, Not to-night. Gave him a peny, and bid him present my Service to his Grandmother.

Octor. 24.I went in the Hackny Coach through the Common, stop’d at Madam Winthrop’s (had told her I would take my departure from thence). Sarah came to the door with Katee in her Arms: but I did not think to take notice of the Child. Call’d her Mistress. I told her, being encourag’d by David Jeffries loving eyes, and sweet Words, I was come to enquire whether she could find in her heart to leave that House and Neighbourhood, and go and dwell with me at the South-end; I think she said softly, Not yet. I told her It did not ly in my Lands to keep a Coach. If I should, I should be in danger to be brought to keep company with her Neighbour Brooker, (he was a little before sent to prison for Debt). Told her I had an Antipathy against those who would pretend to give themselves; but nothing of their Estate. I would a proportion of my Estate with my self. And I supposed she would do so. As to a Perriwig, My best and greatest Friend, I could not possibly have a greater, began to find me with Hair before I was born, and had continued to do so ever since; and I could not find in my heart to go to another. She commended the book I gave her, Dr. Preston, the Church Marriage; quoted him saying ’twas inconvenient keeping out of a Fashion commonly used. I said the Time and Tide did circumscribe my Visit. She gave me a Dram of Black-Cherry Brandy, and gave me a lump of the Sugar that was in it. She wish’d me a good Journy. I pray’d God to keep her, and came away. Had a very pleasant Journy to Salem.

8r. 25.Sent a Letter of it to my Son by Wakefield, who delivered it not till Wednesday; so he visited her not till Friday p. m. and then presented my Service to her….

31. 2.At night I visited Madam Winthrop about 6. p. m. They told me she was gon to Madam Mico’s. I went thither and found she was gon; so return’d to her house, read the Epistles to the Galatians, Ephesians in Mr. Eyre’s Latin Bible. After the clock struck 8. I began to read the 103. Psalm. Mr. Wendell came in from his Warehouse. Ask’d me if I were alone? Spake very kindly to me, offer’d me to call Madam Winthrop. I told him, She would be angry, had been at Mrs. Mico’s; he help’d me on with my Coat and I came home: left the Gazett in the Bible, which told Sarah of, bid her present my Service to Mrs. Winthrop, and tell her I had been to wait on her if she had been at home.

Novr. 1.I was so taken up that I could not go if I would.

Novr. 2.Midweek, went again, and found Mrs. Alden there, who quickly went out. Gave her about 1/2 pound of Sugar Almonds, cost 3s. per £. Carried them on Monday. She seem’d pleas’d with them, ask’d what they cost. Spake of giving her a Hundred pounds per annum if I dy’d before her. Ask’d her what sum she would give me, if she should dy first? Said I would give her time to Consider of it She said she heard as if I had given all to my Children by Deeds of Gift. I told her ’twas a mistake, Point-Judith was mine &c. That in England I own’d, my Father’s desire was that it should go to my eldest Son; ’twas 20£ per annum; she thought ’twas forty. I think when I seem’d to excuse pressing this, she seemed to think twas best to speak of it; a long winter was coming on. Gave me a Glass or two of Canary.

Novr. 4th.Friday, Went again, about 7. a-clock; found there Mr. John Walley and his wife: sat discoursing pleasantly. I shew’d them Isaac Moses’s [an Indian] Writing. Madam W. serv’d Comfeits to us. After a-while a Table was spread, and Supper was set. I urg’d Mr. Walley to Crave a Blessing; but he put it upon me. About 9. they went away. I ask’d Madam what fashioned Neck-lace I should present her with, She said, None at all. I ask’d her Whereabout we left off last time; mention’d what I had offer’d to give her; Ask’d her what she would give me; She said she could not Change her Condition: She had said so from the beginning; could not be so far from her Children, the Lecture. Quoted the Apostle Paul affirming that a single Life was better than a Married. I answer’d That was for the present Distress. Said she had not pleasure in things of that nature as formerly: I said, you are the fitter to make me a Wife. If she held in that mind, I must go home and bewail my Rashness in making more haste than good Speed. However, considering the Supper, I desired her to be within next Monday night, if we liv’d so long. Assented. She charg’d me with saying, that she must put away Juno, if she came to me: I utterly deny’d it, it never came in my heart; yet she insisted upon it; saying it came in upon discourse about the Indian woman that obtained her Freedom this Court. About 10. I said I would not disturb the good orders of her House, and came away. She not seeming pleas’d with my Coming away. Spake to her about David Jeffries, had not seen him.

Monday, Novr. 7th.My Son pray’d in the Old Chamber. Our time had been taken up by Son and Daughter Cooper’s Visit; so that I only read the 130th. and 143. Psalm. Twas on the Account of my Courtship. I went to Mad. Winthrop; found her rocking her little Katee in the Cradle. I excus’d my Coming so late (near Eight). She set me an arm’d Chair and Cusheon; and so the Cradle was between her arm’d Chair and mine. Gave her the remnant of my Almonds; She did not eat of them as before; but laid them away; I said I came to enquire whether she had alter’d her mind since Friday, or remained of the same mind still. She said, Thereabouts. I told her I loved her, and was so fond as to think that she loved me: she said had a great respect for me. I told her, I had made her an offer, without asking any advice; she had so many to advise with, that ’twas an hindrance. The Fire was come to one short Brand besides the Block, which Brand was set up in end; at last it fell to pieces, and no Recruit was made: She gave me a Glass of Wine. I think I repeated again that I would go home and bewail my Rashness in making more haste than good Speed. I would endeavour to contain myself, and not go on to sollicit her to do that which she could not Consent to. Took leave of her. As came down the steps she bid me have a Care. Treated me Courteously. Told her she had enter’d the 4th year of her Widowhood. I had given her the News-Letter before: I did not bid her draw off her Glove as sometime I had done. Her Dress was not so clean as somtime it had been. Jehovah jireh!

Midweek, 9r. 9th.Dine at Bror Stoddard’s: were so kind as to enquire of me if they should invite M’m Winthrop; I answer’d No. Thank’d my Sister Stoddard for her Courtesie: sat down at the Table Simeon Stoddard, esqr, Mad. Stoddard, Samuel Sewall, Mr. Colman, Mm Colman, Mr. Cooper, Mrs. Cooper, Mrs. Hannah Cooper, Mr. Samuel Sewall of Brooklin, Mrs. Sewall, Mr. Joseph Sewall, Mrs. Lydia Walley, Mr. William Stoddard. Had a noble Treat. At night our Meeting was at the Widow Belknap’s. Gave each one of the Meeting One of Mr. Homes’s Sermons, 12 in all; She sent her servant home with me with a Lantern. Madam Winthrop’s Shutters were open as I pass’d by.

Novr. 10.Mr. Webb preached, Walk as becomes the Gospel. Dined at my Son’s with Cousin Holman’s Wife.

Novr. 11th.Went not to Mm. Winthrop’s. This is the 2d Withdraw….

About the middle of Decr Madam Winthrop made a Treat for her Children; Mr. Sewall, Prince, Willoughby: I knew nothing of it; but the same day abode in the Council Chamber for fear of the Rain, and din’d alone upon Kilby’s Pyes and good Beer.