Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Colonial New England Gossip

I've begun a database of items and authors in the New England Courant. In addition to articles, advertisements, "foreign affairs" and lists of people who have lately "cleared out" are various tidbits of gossip:

April 2, 1722
This last Winter there was a Women dy'd at Narraganset of the smallpox, and since the was buried, there has appeared upon her Grave cheifly, and in various other Places, a bright Light, as the Appearance of Fire. This Appearance com- monly begins about 9 to 10 of Clock at Night, and sometimes as soon as it is dark. It appears variously as to Time, Place, Shape and Magnitude, but commonly on or about the Grave, and sometimes about and upon the harn and adjecement Trees; sometimes in several Parts, but commonly one entire Body. The first Appearance is commonly small, but increases to a great Higness and Brightness, so that in a Jark Night they can see the Grass and bark of the Trees very plainly; and When it at the Highth, they can see Sparks fly from the Appearance like Sparks of Fire, and the Likeness of a Person in the midst wrapt in a Sheer with its Arms folded. This Appearance moves with incredible Swiftness, Sometimes the Distance of half a Mile from one Place to another in the Twinkling of an Eye. It commonly appears every Night, and continues till Break of Day. A Women in That Neigh- bourhood says she has seen it every Night for there Six Weeks past.

May 14, 1722
We hear from the Eastward, that two Women have lately murder'd their Bastard Children, one at Salem, the other at Hampton. Tis said several Persons are ill of the Small Pox at Seaconk.

June 11, 1722
Boston, June 11. On Saturday last a Proclamation was read here, by beat of Drum, for the Encouragement of Voluntiers to engage in his Majesty's Service against the Pirates, and 'tis said above 100 Men are already inlisted, who will sail this Day. 
July 23, 1722
On Monday last a Girl was drown'd at Scarlet's Wharff, who fell in between the Ship and the Wharff. And some Day last Week a Man was very much hurt by the blowing up of a Roc, which they were oblig'd to do as they were digging a Well at Roxbury, and 'tis said his Life is dispaired of.