Friday, September 9, 2016

Holbrook line: Alice Frost Blower Tilley 1594-Immigrant and a bit of a rebel

In my last Holbrook post, I noted that there was a story about the daughter of Edward and Thomasine Belgrave Frost, and that I would follow up with that information in a later post.  It's not often that we find records of the woman in the marriage.  Usually they have to have been very good, controversial, or outright law breakers in order to draw the attention of anyone studying the early immigrants to New England.  Alice may have been all three of the above-a good woman, controversial, and possibly a law breaker.  What fun to find her!

Alice was baptized at Stanstead, Suffolk, England on December 1, 1594.  She was one of 10 children, but six of her siblings died as infants or children.  We wonder what impact that had on the family, and whether it influenced Alice's decision to become a midwife later in her life.  She married Thomas Blower at Stanstead, Suffolk, England on November 19, 1612, and they in turn had seven children. 

Alice was apparently a free-spirited woman, and drew the attention of the authorities on February 18,1633/34.  She was fined the huge sum of 100 pounds for "her notorious contempt of ecclesiastical laws and jurisdiction" in her (word or words illegible).  Apparently the case had been postponed in case someone wanted to appeal it, but "This day inasmuch as neither the said Alice Blower nor anybody else for her gave in any petition to desire any mitigation of her fine imposed upon her, the said fine to an hundred pounds was to be certified into his highness exchequer and estreated to his highness use."

We aren't told any more than this about the fine, but this was the time period when Archbishop Laud was becoming more and more powerful, insisting upon "High Church" worship, when many held dissident views and wished to practice their own religion.  We can't tell from this limited information whether Alice and possibly refused to attend the required state church services, or whether she had been more active in her defiance.  At any rate, 100 pounds was a huge fine and a year later, the commissioners reconsidered.  She was no longer at Sudbury, the location of the alleged offense, and "thereby the scandal grown by her (was) taken away, and for that she had in all obedience submitted herself & would continue herself conformable to the order's doctrine, and discipline of the Church of England", basically the case was dismissed. 

Thomas went to New England in or before 1635.  It is possible that Alice had already gone to Boston with him, since there was a reference in the court record to her being "long removed from Sudbury".  There is no record of her immigration, which is not all that unusual.  Women and children were not always noted on the ship manifests.  Thomas died in 1639 and soon after, she married William Tilley, probably in Barnstable, Massachusetts, and soon after July 6, 1640.

We don't know when she began practicing as a midwife, but by 1648 she was in trouble again and was actually jailed.  Dozens of women in Boston and Dorchester signed petitions on her behalf, and she was eventually released.  William Tilley came to his wife's defense and made Hugh Gullison of Boston his attorney, and gave him authority "in my name to implead & arrest & prosecute & recover of Wm Phillips of Boston & his wife or either or both of them"... So we have a good clue here as to whom the Tilley family blamed for Alice's imprisonment. 

William Tilley was in court in 1649, being fined four pounds for an infraction, and Alice petitioned them to reduce the fine, which eventually resulted in a reduction to 40 shillings.  Despite William's actions to support his wife and despite Alice's action in attempting to get his fine reduced, apparently all was not bliss in the Tilley household. 

Some sort of petition was made by Mr. Tilley to the court and the response on October 11, 1665, was that "the court, having heard what he & his wife could say for themselves, judge meet to order & enjoin Mr. Tilley & his wife forthwith to live together as man & wife, that Mr. Tilly provide for her as his wife, & that she submit herself to him as she ought, on the penalty of forty pounds on his part, & imprisonment on hers.  So a separation, or a divorce, or whatever the petition requested, was apparently not granted. 

We know that both William and Alice were still alive in 1668, when she made a deposition involving her maidservant.  This one word, plus the size of the fines that were previously mentioned, makes us think that this family was not poverty stricken.  I haven't located a will or inventory, which would perhaps help clarifIy their financial stataus.

I like Alice.  She was a feisty woman, who may or may not have broken laws, but who certainly pushed them to their limit.  It must have been hard for her to live in Puritan Boston.  I'd love to know more about her!

The line of descent is:

Alice Frost-Thomas Blower
Alice Blower-Richard Brackett
John Brackett-Hannah French
Hannah Brackett-Joseph Stannard
John Stannard-Hannah Jordan
John Stannard-Hannah Hatchett
Libbeus Stannard-Eunice Pomeroy
Libbeus Stannard-Luceba Fay
Hiram Stanard-Susan Eddy
Louis Stanard-Mary Alice Hetrick
Etta Stanard-Loren Holbrook
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen
Their descendants

I suspect that most of this information originally came from Robert Charles Anderson's "Great Migration" series, or the "Great Migration" newsletters.  It was available, unidentified, on Find A Grave and on Geni.  My access to AmericanAncestors.ogr, where I normally would look, is temporaraily unavailable, since I waited till the very last day to renew my membership!