Week 4 – Invite to Dinner

There are many ancestors I would like to have dinner with. Some just for the pleasure of seeing them again. Then, there are several grandparents who either died when I was young, or who I never got the chance to know. Also, there are more than a few I’d like to grill for information: Who were your parents? Where were you born? Where did you die? This week, I have chosen Herodias Long to have dinner with. She was my twelfth great grandmother, and a fascinating woman.

Herodias was a woman way ahead of her time, and has the distinction of being the first at several things in the State of Rhode Island. Her given name is written as Herodias, Harrod, Herod, Harwood, as well as a few other ways. She was born in approximately 1623 in England. A London marriage record shows she married John Hicks 14 March 1636/37.

In a 1665 petition to the court, Herodias states that she had been sent to London after the death of her father. It was there she married John Hicks when she was about 13 or 14 years old. I imagine the marriage must have seemed to be a good option to Herodias. It must have given her some sense of security. Soon after they were wed, John and Herodias set off for the New World and settled in Weymouth, Massachusetts. A few years later, the couple moved to Aquidneck Island in Rhode Island. They had two children, Hannah and Thomas. It was not a happy marriage, and Herodias petitioned the court to obtain a legal separation from Hicks.

In 1643, Herodias filed a complaint with William Coddington, Governor of Rhode Island, stating her husband was beating her. Divorce was not yet legal in the state, but as Coddington felt Herodias’ life was in danger, Herodias and John were granted the first legal separation in Rhode Island.

Herodias then moved in with her neighbor, George Gardiner. With George, Herodias had another 7 children. Benoni, Henry, George, William, Nicholas, Dorcas, and Rebecca. While Herodias was shacked up with George, John Hicks went to New Amsterdam to live amongst the Dutch. In 1655, Hicks requested a divorce from Herodias.

From Rhode Island court record:

The councilors of New Netherland having seen and read the request of John Hicks sheriff on Long Island, in which he remonstrates and presents that his wife Hardwood Longh has ran away from him about nine years ago with someone else with whom she has been married and had by him five or six children. His wife having therefore broken the bond of marriage (without him having given any reason thereto) he asks to be qualified and given permission to marry again an honorable young girl or a widow (in accordance with political and ecclesiastical ordinances).                                                                                          

At some point, Herodias became a Quaker. During a time when Quakers like Mary Dyer and Anne Hutchinson were being persecuted for spreading their beliefs, Herodias felt compelled to go to Weymouth to give religious testimony. In 1658 she set off on foot with her infant daughter through 60 miles of wilderness. Upon arrival, Herodias was transported to Boston where she was whipped and imprisoned for two weeks.

By 1665, Herodias decided to leave George. She poured out the sad tale of her life to the magistrates. She tells them of the circumstances in which she married John Hicks. I was upon the death of my father sent to London by my mother in much sorrow and grife of speritt; and ther taken by one John Hickes unknowne to any of my friends and by the said hickes privitely married in the under Church of paules, Called saint faiths Church; and In a Little while after to my great grife, brought to new England, when I was between thirteene and fourteene yeares of age, and Lived two yeares and halfe at waymoth, twelve milles from boston.”  

She had already made them aware of the abuse she suffered, and now she states she had no choice but to turn to George for maintenance. I had thought to goe to my friends but was hindered by the warres and the death of my friends.  My mother and brother loosing ther lives and estates in his majestyes service…” 

On 05 June 1665 Herodias and George were granted a separation on the grounds that they were never married.

Herodias moved on to the next man, John Porter. Porter was a wealthy landowner who had recently left his wife. He and Herodias spent the rest of their lives together. They may have married after the death of his wife, as Herodias appears as Herodias Porter on several land deeds dated after the death of Porter’s wife. 

Herodias seems as though she’d have some interesting stories to tell and I’d love the chance to sit down and share a meal with her.