“Dalliance and too much familiarity”

William Row v. John Leigh, Mar. 28, 1673

Writ: William Row v. John Leigh; for insinuating dalliance and too much familiarity with his wife, drawing away her affections from her husband, to the great detriment both in his estate and the comfort of his life.

From the Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts.


  • Mary Sparke, (the wife of Taverner John Sparke), deposed that being at William Rowe’s house, together with Thomas Day and his wife one Sabbath day at night, there arose a discourse between us about fishing, and some of them asking him whether he intended to go fishing. He answered that he had intended not to go out of the town this winter although he said he had an invitation by a letter from a friend to go to the Isle of Shoals to split fish by the month.
Puritan Licentiousness
  • Gov. Samuel Graves and Grace Graves testified that their sister, the mother of Sarah Roe, consented to the match of her daughter Sarah with Roe, “because we had Intelligence from ye Island where he lived that he was a man of a Good Carriage, of a Good estate, able to maintain a wife, as also that he was very Industrious to improve his estate. Sarah Roe at first was unwilling to accept, but at his second coming, distance of time betwixt the match, went on to our apprehension with mutual satisfaction. But since the business fell out about John Lee accompanying her, we know that he hath been much distressed in his spirit. He told us that when he first married Sarah, she cared cared well to her husband, till John Lee frequented the House, being “her Company when her husband was abroad a fishing.” Speaking of her husband Wm Roe, John Leigh spoke of him in a deriding way, with disparagement of his person. Sarah answered,” Well why is he not as other men? If you had been a sea man as long as he, you would have had wrinkles in your forehead as well as he.”
  • Elizabeth Hunt, aged about thirty-six years, deposed that Sarah Roe, being at deponent’s house the Monday before her marriage, said what she had said against Wm. Roe was in jest, for she loved him better than any man in the world, and she said that Sarah would have loved her husband well enough if John Leigh had not kept her company after she came from the Shoals.
  • Mary Fullar, wife of James Fullar, deposed that she had heard Sarah’s Aunt Peettar wish her to have a care what she did, and not to marry him if she did not love him. She also told her she had better break of it now than afterwards if she could not love him, for that would be a disgrace to herself and to all her friends too. “Do not you fear, saith Sarah, I love him well enough.”

Sworn in court, June 17, 1673.

Verdict in the case of Wm. Row v. John Leigh: For the Plaintiff

Sarah Row, for unlawful familiarity with John Leigh, and abusing her husband, was sentenced to the house of correction for one month, and to suffer the discipline thereof according to law, which the keeper is required to execute, and on the next lecture day to stand all the time of the meeting from the last bell ringing in the meeting house at Ipswich, on a high place where the master of the house of correction shall appoint, in open view of the congregation with a fair white paper written in fair capital letters FOR MY BAUDISH CARRIAGE, open also to the view of the congregation. She should also give bond of 301i. not to abide in the company of John Leigh.

John Leigh, complained of for unlawful familiarity with Sarah Row, was sentenced for his great offence to be severely whipped, to pay a fine of 51i., to be bound to good behavior, and not to come in company with Sarah Row.

Source: Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts (Vol. 5), published 1916.

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