Friday, October 5, 2012

Connecticut, 1701: Don't mess with your mother-in-law

  In an article called “Reminiscences of Bean Hill, Norwich,” author Burrell W. Hyde noted the following court case involving my ancestors :
"Allusion to the Royces recalls what befell those who cast reflections upon their mothers-in-law in early times; it is stated in the Colonial Records of Connecticut (Norwich, June 23rd, 1701), Bean Hill:
 Whereas Thomas Stoddard being called before me to answer for casting reflections and aspersions upon his Mother-in-law Deborah Royce, after much kindness received, by him and his wife, after all, reporting that his wife's mother had broken his wife's heart for her unkindness in not giving her a bit of the cake made for her son Jonathan Royce, ordered: that Thomas Stoddard pay a fine of ten shillings to the County Treasurer.
 John Tracy, Justice of the Peace."
The Connecticut Magazine, an illustrated monthly, Volume 3, c. 1897, Hartford, CT,
pages 295-6.
I find myself wondering how this situation got to the point of being decided in court:  who complained, was this relationship always rocky, and what was it like afterward, especially for the wife/daughter caught in the middle, Deborah Royce Stoddard?  Families behaving badly are nothing new.  That must have been some cake.