Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Tale of Sarah Dawes

Oliver Cromwell,
the villain of this tale (10)

Sarah's story took place centuries ago, and not everyone agrees on all the details. This is my version.

In 1650 the Scots sided with the monarchy in the English Civil War, and fought against the Puritans...  Thousands [of Scots] were captured as prisoners of war, and forced to march to London.  Oliver Cromwell sent these undesirables to the New World to be sold into forced servitude.  They died at a rate of about 30 a day until the ships left London, when the first ship “Unity” left with 150 prisoners.  The second ship was the “John and Sara” and it carried 272 men to Boston. (1)

One of the men on board the "John and Sara" was John Cragin (also spelled Craigon, Craggen, etc.). The story goes that although only men's names were on the passenger list, there were women on board as well. When smallpox broke out on the ship, John Cragin was taken ill--so ill that he was about to be thrown overboard with the dead when a young Englishwoman, Sarah Dawes, begged to save him, promising to nurse him back to health.

Some say that Sarah was not on the ship and this part of the story is pure romantic fabrication. At this distance, who really knows?

When the ship arrived in Boston, John and Sarah were sent on their separate ways: John to be an indentured servant for the usual period of six to eight years, and Sarah to be a servant in the household of John Wyman of Woburn, Massachusetts. (2)

Also working in the Wyman household was another servant, Daniel Mechrist. He and Sarah became close, had a child together, and Sarah was sentenced in 1657 to be whipped (12 stripes) for the sin of fornication. Someone paid her fine and she was let off. Then she became pregnant again, and both she and Daniel were sentenced to be whipped in public--this time twenty stripes apiece. (6)

They had told the court that they were, indeed, guilty, but couldn't marry because Daniel had a wife and children back in Scotland. I wonder if he had been transported against his will, just like John Cragin.

Then the story takes another romantic turn. John Cragin, having worked off his indenture, stepped in and married Sarah, saving her from further judgement. (7)

The names that Sarah's first two children went by were Benoni Macrease (1657-1690) and Mary Mechrist or Micrist (1659- ).

One of the descendants of her eight children with John Cragin was a patriot in Temple, New Hampshire, having signed the Association Test of 1776. (8)

Of interest to my own immediate family is the fact that another descendant of Sarah and John, Daniel Cragin, began Frye's Measure Mill in 1858 in Wilton, New Hampshire. It was one of our favorite places to visit when we lived in the area, although we didn't know about the connection to our family at the time. (11)

Let's go back to Sarah's first child, Benoni. The old Biblical name means "son of my sorrow," or "son of my pain" (9). Given the circumstances of his birth and the inability of his parents to marry, his mother chose his name well.

However, Benoni went on to marry well (I may be prejudiced here). He and his wife Lydia Fifield were my 8th great grandparents. Benoni and Lydia's daughter married into the Perkins family of Hampton, New Hampshire, good folks we've met elsewhere on this blog in:
Abraham Perkins of Hampton, New Hampshire,(3) 
Abraham Perkins' Will (4), and
My 8th Great Grandfather, "Slain By ye Indians." (5)

Sources and Notes

1. Passengers of the Ship “John and Sara”: Scots Prisoners of War, 1651: https://www.geni.com/projects/Passengers-of-the-ship-John-and-Sara-Scots-Prisoners-of-War-1651/12051

2. John Cragin, Scots Prisoner of War 1651 in Woburn, Massachusetts. Nutfield Genealogy: https://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2011/01/john-cragin-scots-prisoner-of-war-1651.html

7. Massachusetts, Compiled Marriages, 1633-1850. Ancestry.com

8. New Hampshire Revolutionary War Association Test, Town of Templehttp://www.newhorizonsgenealogicalservices.com/new-hampshire-genealogy/association-test/temple.htm

10. Painting of Oliver Cromwell by Peter Lely, circa 1660. National Museum of Wales. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Oliver_Cromwell1599-1658_by_Peter_Lely1.jpg

11. Frye's Measure Mill, Wilton, New Hampshire: http://www.fryesmeasuremill.com/

How I am related to my Grandfather Benoni:

Benoni Macrease (1657 - 1690)
8th great-grandfather

Lydia Macrease (1688 - )
daughter of Benoni Macrease

Joseph Perkins (1712 - 1761)
son of Lydia Macrease

Benjamin Perkins (1746 - 1834)
son of Joseph Perkins

Joseph Perkins (1776 - 1853)
son of Benjamin Perkins

Joanna Perkins (1799 - 1880)
daughter of Joseph Perkins

Eleanor Ruth Rankins (1822 - 1914)
daughter of Joanna Perkins

Oscar J. Ellis (1852 - 1907)
son of Eleanor Ruth Rankins

Eva Josephine Ellis (1888 - 1943)
daughter of Oscar J. Ellis

Daniel Lawrence Harris (1907 - 1972)
son of Eva Josephine Ellis

Clair Marie Harris
I am the daughter of Daniel Lawrence Harris

1 comment:

  1. One does have to wonder how much romantic license was taken over the decades, but even so - very romantic!!!


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