What are to make of a Great Grandfather found by the courts of Plymouth, Mass., to be guilty of "lightnes and laciviousenes"? Are we descended from someone of questionable moral fortitude? Is the Puritan shame pronounced on our family seven generations ago still hanging over our heads? Should we take care when visiting Massachusetts, knowing that any altercation with the law may resurrect this dishonor?
We begin with the traditional Relationship Chart:
Thomas Crippen (1650 - 1709)
is your 7th great grandfather. Married Frances (Bray?)
Jabez CRIPPEN (1680 - 1785)
Son of Thomas
John Crippen (1720 - 1801)
Son of Jabez
James Osborn Crippen Crippen (1788 - 1866)
Son of John
Sarah Martha Crippen (1814 - 1891)
Daughter of James Osborn Crippen
John Mayberry Dennis (1844 - 1897)
Son of Sarah Martha
Vesta Althea Dennis (1892 - 1978)
Daughter of John Mayberry
Violet Mae Pierce (1918 - 1987)
Daughter of Vesta Althea
Violet married Walter Mattson
Luella, Linda, John and Marvin
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
Information taken from a web site authored by Donna Younkin Log
Samuel W. Comstock wrote of the history of the Crippen family:
"The Crippen family are of English descent. Thomas 'the' earliest known male member of America came over from England not far from 1665 to Plymouth, on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Other descendants use the spelling Crippin. It would appear that the majority of families today use the spelling Crippen, so with no priority given, I will use this spelling throughout unless it is known, by record, that a particular descendant used the "in" spelling.Comstock's records also included a number of references to early Crippen families in Virginia. Researchers have speculated that these families are actually descendants Thomas Crippen but, to my knowledge, this has not been proven.
Our 7th Great Grandparents, the First Crippens in the New World (That I Know Of)
Thomas Crippen1 and his wife Frances (Bray?) were in Plymouth, Mass., on 6 March 1665/66. Thomas Crippen and Moses Rowley bought land in the Quaker Colony, Falmouth, Mass. in 1685/86 called Society of Saconesset. Thomas and his family moved to Haddam, Conn. and he died in East Haddam about 1709. His will was dated 10 May 1705; and his estate inventory dated 24 January 1709, gives 47 lbs, 1 sh. The children, as named in the estate settlement, were:
The Plymouth Courts, Morality and Sex
Stratton, Eugene Aubrey, FASG. Plymouth Colony: Its History and People 1620-1691. Salt Lake City, UT
Part Two: Topical Narratives
Chapter 12: Morality and Sex .
.. Of course, barring confession or a couple being caught in flagrante delicto, it would have been harder to prove adultery than fornication resulting in pregnancy. The Plymouth courts were probably as fair as any courts of the time could be, and the Plymouth magistrates found themselves at times in a very delicate balance between their desire to punish morality crimes and their sense of not wanting to injure the innocent. Sometimes they found a compromise.
On 2 March 1651/52 the Court of Assistants ordered Edward Holman, who had been observed to frequent the house of Thomas Shrive "at unseasonable times of the night, and at other times, which is feared to bee of ill consequence," to keep away from Shrive's house, and ordered Shrive's wife not to frequent the house of Holman, and to avoid his company.
In another case, on 1 June 1663 the court went one step further, ordering Joseph Rogers to remove his dwelling from Namassakeesett, because he had been keeping company with Mercy, the wife of William Tubbs "after such manor as hath given cause att least to suspect that there hath bine laciviouse acts comitted by them." William Tubbs was ordered not to allow Rogers to come to his house, and Rogers was told that if he should be found at Tubb's house or in the company of his wife, he would be severely whipped.
On 6 March 1665/66 the court required a bond of £20 from John Robinson, plus £10 each from two sureties, for his future good behavior, he having been convicted of some lascivious speeches and actions toward Frances, the wife of Thomas Crippin. Crippin was also accused of being a "pandor of his wife in lightnes and laciviousenes," and he, not being able to find sureties, was required to bind over to the court £40 in livestock and other property. Jonathan Hatch was convicted of unnecessarily frequenting the house of Thomas Crippin, giving rise to "suspision of dishonest behavior" towards Crippin's wife, and he was warned to keep away from her or "hee will answare it att his peril."
inclined to lustfulness; wanton; lewd: a lascivious, girl-chasing old man.
arousing sexual desire.
indicating sexual interest or expressive of lust or lewdness: a lascivious gesture.
Now the plot thickens. In the ruling, Frances' husband Thomas is accused of being a "pandor..."
The court spelling of "pandor" is incorrect. The correct spelling is "pander". The defination is below:
a person who furnishes clients for a prostitute or supplies persons for illicit sexual intercourse; procurer; pimp.
a person who caters to or profits from the weaknesses or vices of others.
a go-between in amorous intrigues.
To add another level of unbelief, the court convicted Jonathan Hatch of frequenting the Crippen home giving rise as the court says to "suspicious behaviour". Mr. Hatch was ordered to stay away from the Crippen home or "he will answer to it at his peril".
I've connected the dots from the court ruling and find it hard to believe the facts. Could our 7th Great Grandfather be guilty of providing services to the Puritan community out of his home? Was Frances a willing participant? What would lead Thomas to such behavior?
The fine on Thomas for his part was 40 pounds. In today's money that would be roughly $3000 to $5000 dollars (although direct comparison with early colonial pounds and today's dollars is nearly impossible). Thomas couldn't raise the money. Instead, the court held property and livestock for that amount until he could raise the money himself. Perhaps the Crippen home needed a second income. Who knows?
My parting comment, these court actions occurred in 1665/66. Thomas would have been 15 or 16 years old and just newly wed to his wife Frances. Frances would have been 20 or 21 years old at the time. Their youth would have been taken into account in the judgement passed against them.
Again, all the more confusing. There are more questions than answers so, who are we to judge?
We leave it to history