Colonial Literature – Puritan Beginnings – Winthrop, Bradstreet, & Sewall

20 From The Diary of Samuel Sewall – Courtship of Madam Winthrop

Samuel Sewall

Feb 6. 1718
This morning wandering in my mind whether to live a Single or a Married Life.

Sept 5. 1720
Going to Son Sewall’s I there meet with Madam Winthrop, told her I was glad to meet her there, had not seen her a great while; gave her Mr. Homes’s Sermon.

30.
Mr. Colman’s Lecture: Daughter Sewall acquaints Madam Winthrop that if she pleas’d to be within at 3. p. m. I would wait on her. She answer’d she would be at home.

Octobr 1. Satterday,
I dine at Mr, Stoddard’s : from thence I went to Madam Winthrop’s just at 3. Spake to her, saying, my loving wife died so soon and suddenly, ’twas hardly convenient for me to think of Marrying again ; however I came to this Resolution, that I would not make my Court to any person without first Consulting with her. Had a pleasant discourse about 7 [seven] Single persons sitting in the Fore-seat [September] 29th, viz. Madᵐ Rebekah Dudley, Catharine Winthrop, Bridget Usher, Deliverance Legg, Rebekah Loyd, Lydia Colman, Elizabeth Bellingham. She propounded one and another for me; but none would do, said Mrs. Loyd was about her Age.

Octobr 3.
Waited on Madam Winthrop again ; ’twas a little while before she came in. Her daughter Noyes being there alone with me, I said, I hoped my Waiting on her Mother would not be disagreeable to her. She answered she should not be against that that might be for her Comfort. I Saluted her, and told her I perceiv’d I must shortly wish her a good Time ; (her mother had told I me, she was with Child, and within a Moneth or two of her Time ). By and by in came Mr. Airs, Chaplain of the Castle, and hang’d up his Hat, which I was a little startled at, it seeming as if he was to lodge there. At I last Madam Winthrop came too. After a considerable time, I went up to her and said, if it might not be inconvenient I desired to speak with her. She assented, and spake of going into another Room ; but Mr. Airs and Mrs. Noyes presently rose up, and went out, leaving us there alone. Then I usher’d in Discourse from the names in the Fore-seat ; at last I pray’d that Katharine [Mrs. Winthrop] might be the person assigned for me. She instantly took it up in the way of Denyal, as if she had catch’d at an Opportunity to do it, saying she could not do it before she was asked. Said that was her mind unless she should Change it, which she believed she should not ; could not leave her Children. I express’d my Sorrow that she should do it so Speedily, pray’d her Consideration, and ask’d her when I should wait on her agen. She setting no time, I mentioned that day Sennight. Gave her Mr. Willard’s Fountain open’d with the little print and verses ; saying, I hop’d if we did well read that book, we should meet together hereafter, if we did not now. She took the Book, and put it in her Pocket. Took Leave

8r 6th
A little after 6. p. m. I went to Madam Winthrop’s. She was not within. I gave Sarah Chickering the Maid 2s, Juno, who brought in wood. If Afterward the Nurse came in, I gave her 18ᵈ, having no other small Bill. After awhile Dr. Noyes came in with his Mother ; and quickly after his wife came in : They sat talking, I think, till eight a-clock. I said I fear’d I might be some Interruption to their Business : Dr. Noyes reply’d pleasantly : He f ear’d they might be an Interruption to me, and went away. Madam seem’d to harp upon the same string. Must take care of her Children ; could not leave that House and Neighbourhood where she had dwelt so long. I told her she might doe her children as much or more good by bestowing what she laid out in Hous-keep- ing, upon them. Said her Son would be of Age the 7th of August. I said it might be inconvenient for her to dwell with her Daughter-in-Law, who must be Mistress of the House. I gave her a piece of Mr. Belcher’s Cake and / Ginger-Bread wrapped up in a clean sheet of Paper ; told her of her Father’s kindess to me when Treasurer, and I Constable. My Daugher Judith was gon from me and I was more lonesom — might help to forward one another in our Journey to Canaan. — Mr. Eyre came within the door; I saluted him, ask’d how Mr. Clark did, and he went away. I took leave about 9 aclock. I told [her] I came now to refresh her Memory as to Monday-night ; said^ she had not forgot it. In discourse with her, I ask’d leave to speak with her Sister ; I meant to gain Madᵐ Mico’s favour to persuade her Sister. She seem’d surprised and displeased, and said she was in the same condition !

8r 11th
I writ a few lines to Madam Winthrop to this purpose : ” Madam, These wait on you with Mr. Mayhew’s Sermon, and Account of the state of the In- dians on Martha’s Vinyard. I thank you for your Unmerited Favours of yesterday ; and hope to have the Hapiness of Waiting on you to-morrow before Eight a- clock aiter Noon. I pray God to keep you, and give you a joyfull entrance upon the Two Hundred and twenty ninth year of Christopher Columbus his Dis- covery ; and take Leave, who am. Madam, your humble Servᵗ.

S. S.

Sent this by Deacon Green, who delivered it to Sarah Chickering, her Mistress not being at home.

8r. 12.

Mrs. Anne Cotton came to door (twas before 8.) said Madam Winthrop was within, directed me into the little Room, where she was full of work behind a Stand ; Mrs. Cotton came in and stood. Madam Winthrop pointed to her to set me a Chair. Madam Winthrop’s Countenance was much changed from what ’twas on Monday, look’d dark and lowering. At last, the work, (black stuff or Silk) was taken away, I got my Chair in place, had some Converse, but very Cold and indifferent to what ’twas be- fore. Ask’d her to acquit me of Rudeness if I drew off her Glove. Enquiring the reason, I told her twas great odds between handling a dead Goat, and a living Lady. Got it off. I told her I had one Petition to ask of her, that was, that she would take off the Negative she laid on me the third of October ; She readily answer’d she could not, and enlarged upon it ; She told me of it so soon as she could ; could not leave her house, children, neighbours, business. I told her she might do som Good to help and suport me. Mentioning Mrs. Gookin, Nath7 the widow Weld was spoken of ; said I had visited Mrs. Denison. I told her Yes ! Afterward I said. If after a first and second Vagary she would Accept of me returning. Her Victorious Kindness and Good Will would be very Obliging. She thank’d me for my Book, (Mr. Mayhew’s Sermon), But said not a word of the Letter. When she insisted on the Negative, I pray’d there might be no more Thunder and Lightening, I should not sleep all night. I gave her Dr. Preston, The Church’s Marriage and the Church’s Carriage, which cost me 6s at the Sale, The door standing open, Mr. Airs came in, hung up his Hat, and sat down. After awhile. Madam Winthrop moving, he went out. Jn° Eyre look’d in, I said How do ye, or, your servant Mr. Eyre : but heard no word from him. ‘ Sarah fill’d a Glass of Wine, she drank to me, I to her. She sent Juno home with me with a good Lantern, I gave her 6d and bid her thank her Mistress. In some of our Discourse, I told her I had rather go to the Stone- House adjoining to her, than to come to her against her mind. ; Told her the reason why I came every other night was lest I should drink too deep draughts of Pleasure. She had talk’d of Canary, her Kisses were to me better than the best Canary. Explain’d the expression Concerning Columbus.

8r 17. Monday,

In the Evening I visited Madam Winthrop, who Treated me Courteously, but not in Clean Linen as somtimes. She said, she did not know whether I would come again, or no. I ask’d her how she could so impute inconstancy to me. (I had not visited her since Wednesday night being unable to get over the Indisposition received by the Treatment received that night, and I must in it seem’d to sound like a made piece of Formality.) Gave her this day’s Gazett.  …

8r 18.
Visited Madam Mico, who came to me in a^ splendid Dress. I said, It may be you have heard of my Visiting Madam Winthrop, her Sister. She answered, Her Sister had told her of it. I ask’d her good Will in the Affair. She answer’d. If her Sister were for it, she should not hinder it. I gave her Mr. Homes’s Sermon. She gave me a Glass of Canary, entertained me with good Discourse, and a Respectfull Remembrance of my first Wife. I took Leave.

8r 19.
Midweek, Visited Madam Winthrop ; Sarah told me she was at Mr. Walley’s, would not come home till late. I gave her Hanah 3 oranges with her Duty, not knowing whether I should find her or no. Was ready to go home : but said if I knew she was there, I would go thither. Sarah seem’d to speak with pretty good Courage, She would be there. I went and found her there, with Mr. Walley and his wife in the little Room below. At 7 a-clock I mentioned going home ; at 8. Il put on my Coat, and quickly waited on her home. She! found occasion to speak loud to the servant, as if she had a mind to be known. Was Courteous to me ; but took occasion to speak pretty earnestly about my keeping a Coach : I said ‘twould cost £100. per anum : she said twould cost but £40. Spake much against John Winthrop, his false-heartedness. Mr. Eyre came in and sat awhile ; I offer’d him Dr. Incr. Mather’s Sermons, whereof Mr. Apleton’s Ordination Sermon was one; said he had hem already. I said I would give him another. Exit. Came away somewhat late.

8r 20.
… Madam Winthrop not being at Lecture, I went thither first ; found her very Serene with her dalter Noyes, Mrs. Dering, and the widow Shipreev sitting at a little Table, she in her arm’d Chair. She drank to me, and I to Mrs. Noyes. After awhile pray’d the favour to speak with her. She took one of the Candles, and went into the best Room, clos’d the shutters, sat down upon the Couch. She told me Madam Usher had been there, and said the Coach must be set on Wheels, and not by Rust- ‘ ing. She spake somthing of my needing a Wigg. Ask’d me what her Sister said to me. I told her, She said, If her Sister were for it. She would not hinder it. But I told her, she did not say she would be glad to have me for her Brother. [Said, I shall keep you in the Cold, and asked her if she would be within to morrow night, for we had had but a running Feat. She said she could not tell whether she should, or no. I took Leave.^ As were drinking at the Governour’s, he said : In England the Ladies minded little more than that they might have Money, and Coaches to ride in. I said, And New-England brooks its Name. At which Mr. Dudley smiled. Gov’ said they were not quite so bad here.

8r 21. Friday,
My Son, the Minister, came to me p. m by apointment and we pray one for another in the Old Chamber; more especially respecting my Courtship. About 6. a-clock I go to Madam Winthrop’s ; Sarah told me her Mistress was gon out, but did not tell me whither she went. She presently order’d me a Fire ; so I went in, having Dr. Sibb’s Bowels ‘ with me to read. I read the two first Sermons, still no body came in : at last about 9. a-clock Mr. Jn° Eyre came in ; I took the oportunity to say to him as I had done to Mrs. Noyes before, that I hoped my Visiting his Mother would not be disagreeable to him; He answered me with much Respect. When twas after 9. a-clock He of himself said he would go and call her, she was but at one of his Brothers : A while after I heard Madam Winthrop’s voice, enquiring somthing about John. After a good while and Claping the Garden door twice or thrice, she came in. I mentioned somthing of the lateness ; she banter’d me, and said I was later. She received me Courteously. I ask’d when our proceedings should be made publick : She said They were like to be no more publick than they were already. OJffer’d me no Wine that I remember. I rose up at 11 a-clock to come away, saying I would put on my Coat, She offer’d not to help me. I pray’d her that Juno might light me home, she open’d the Shutter, and said twas pretty light abroad; Juno was weary and gon to bed. So I came h6m by Star-light as well as I could. At my first com- ing in, I gave Sarah five Shillings. I writ Mr. Eyre his Name in his book with the date Octobf 21. 1720. It cost me 8*. Jehovah jireh ! Madam told me she had visited M. Mico, Wendell, and W”‘ Clark of the South [Church].

Octobr 24,
I went in the Hackny Coach through the Comon, stop’d at Madam Winthrop’s (had told her I would take my departure from thence). Sarah came to the door with Katee in her Arms : but I did not think to take notice of the Child. CalFd her Mistress. I told her, being encouraged by David Jeffries loving eyes, and sweet Words, I was come to enquire whether she could find in her heart to leave that House and Neighbourhood, and go and dwell with me at the South-end ; I think she said I softly. Not yet. I told her It did not ly in my Lands to / keep a Coach. If I should, I should be in danger to be brought to keep company with her Neighbour Brooker, (he was a little before sent to prison for Debt). Told her I had an Antipathy against those who would pretend to give themselves ; but nothing of their Estate. I would a proportion of my Estate with my self. And I supos’d she would do so. As to a Perriwig, My best and greatest Friend, I could not possibly have a greater, began to find me with Hair before I was born, and had continued to do so ever since ; and I could not find in my heart to go to another. She comended the book I gave her. Dr. Pres- ton, the Church Marriage ; quoted him saying ’twas in- convenient keeping out of a Fashion comonly used. I said the Time and Tide did circumscribe my Visit. She gave me a Dram of Black- Cherry Brandy, and gave me a lump of the Sugar that was in it. She wish’d me a good Journy. I pray’d God to keep her, and came away. Had a very pleasant Journy to Salem.

8r 31.
… At night I visited Madam Winthrop about 6. p. in. They told me she was gon to Madam Mico’s. I went thither and found she was gon ; so return’d to her house, read the Epistles to the Galatians, Ephesians in Mr. Eyre’s Latin Bible. After the Clock struck 8. I began to read the 103. Psalm. Mr. Wendell ^ came in from his Warehouse. Ask’d me if I were alone ? Spake very kindly to me, offer’d me to call Madam Winthrop, I told him, She would be angry, had been at Mrs. Mico’s ; he help’d me on with my Coat and I came home : left the Gazett in the Bible, which told Sarah of, bid her present my Service to Mrs. Winthrop, and tell her I had been to wait on her if she had been at home.

Novr 1. I was so taken up that I could not go if I would.

Novr 2. Midweek, went again, and found Mrs. Alden there, who quickly went out. Gave her about J pound of Sugar Almonds, cost 3″ per £. Carried them on Mon- day. She seem’d pleas’d with them, ask’d what they cost. Spake of giving her a Hundred pounds per anum if I dy’d before her. Ask’d her what sum she would give me, if she should dy first ? Said I would give her time to Consider of it. She said she heard as if I had given all to my Children by Deeds of Gift. I told her ’twas a mistake, Point-Judith was mine &c. That in England,

I own’d, my Father’s desire was that it should go to my eldest Son ; ’twas 20£ per anum ; she thought ’twas forty. I think when I seem’d to excuse pressing this, she seem’d to think twas best to speak of it; a long winter was coming on. Gave me a Glass or two of Canary.

Novr 4. Friday,
Went again about 7. a-clock; found there Mr. John Walley and his wife: sat discoursing pleasantly. I shew’d them Isaac Moses’s [an Indian] Writing. Madam W. serv’d Comfeits to us. After a-while a Table was spread, and Super was set. I urg’d Mr. Walley to Crave a Blessing ; but he put it upon me. About 9. they went away. I ask’d Madam what fashioned Neck-lace I should present her with. She said. None at all. I ask’d her Whereabout we left off last time; mention’d what I had offer’d to give her ; Ask’d her what she would give me; She said she could not Change her Condition: .She had said so from the beginning; could i^ot be so far from her Children, the Lecture. Quoted the Apostle Paul aflBirming that a single Life was better than a Mar- ried. I answer’d That was for the present Distress. Said ‘she had not pleasure in things of that nature as for- merly : I said, you are the fitter to make me a Wife. If she held in that mind, I must go home and bewail my Rashness in making more haste than good Speed. How- ever, considering the Super, I desired her to be within next Monday night, if we liv’d so long. Assented. She charg’d me with saying, tbat she must put away Juno, if she came to me: I utterly deny’d it, it never came in my heart ; yet she insisted upon it ; saying it came in upon discourse about the Indian woman that obtained /’her Freedom this Court. About 10. 1 said I would not disturb the good orders of her House, and came away. She not seeming pleas’d with my Coming away. Spake to her about David Jeffries, had not seen him.

Monday, Novr 7
My Son pray’d in the Old Chamber. Our time had been taken up by Son and Daugh- ter Cooper’s Visit; so that I only read the 130*? and 143. Psalm. Twas on the Account of my Courtship. I went to Mad. Winthrop; found her rocking her little Katee in the Cradle. I excus d my Coming so late (near Eight). She set me an arm’d Chair and Cusheon ; and so the Cradle was between her arm’d Chair and mine. Gave her the remnant of my Almonds ; She did not eat of them as before ; but laid them away ; I said I came to enquire whether she had alter’d her mind since Friday, or remained of the same mind still. She said, Thereabouts. I told her I loved her, and was so fond as to think that she loved me : She said had a great respect for me. I told her, I had made her an offer, without asking any advice; she had so many to advise with, that twas a hindrance. The Fire was come to one short Brand be- ) sides the Block, which Brand was set up in end ; at last “^ it fell to pieces, and no Kecruit was made : She gave me a Glass of Wine. I think I repeated again that I would go home and bewail my Rashness in making more haste than good Speed. I would endeavour to contain myself, and not go on to sollicit her to do that which she could not Consent to. Took leave of her. As came down the steps she bid me have a Care. Treated me Courteously. Told her she had enter’d the 4th year of her Widowhood. I had given her the News-Letter before : I did not bid ‘ her draw off her Glove as sometime I had done. Her Dress was not so clean as somtime it had been. Jehovah jireh!

Midweek, 9r 9th
Dine at Stoddard’s : were so kind as to enquire of me if they should invite Mᵐ Winthrop ; I answer’d No. Thank’d my Sister Stoddard for her Courtesie ;  … She sent her servant home with me with a Lantern. Madam Winthrop’s Shutters were open as I 1/ pass’d by.

Nov 11
Went not to M Winthrop’s. This is the 2nd Withdraw


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American Literatures Prior to 1865 by Samuel Sewall is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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