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Published on: 24 August 2016
91. Patrick Jimson [Jameson?]
Patrick Jameson, aka Gimison, Jemison, Jennison, Gynnison, “Patrick the Scott”
Scots at Oyster River
Patrick Jameson (d. 1678)
by B. Craig Stinson
17 August 2016
Patrick Jameson, was a Scottish prisoner of war whose darker story is mostly untold in the history books of the last century. Perhaps he is harder to track because his name is rendered so many different ways: Gimison, Jennison, Gynnison, or simply “Patrick the Scott”. He was probably the “Patrick Jimson” who was prisoner #91 on the John & Sara. He originally belonged to Valentine Hill and was one of the first Scots at Oyster River to earn his freedom. Mr. Hill trusted him enough that he wanted Jameson to live on his land (1659); the town of Oyster River valued his work and judgment such that they essentially offered Jameson and Philip Chesley a blank check to lay out a highway from Oyster River to Cochecho that was “fitt for horse and foot” (1664).
But in 1669 he perpetrated an ugly crime. Abetted by her older brother, “a simple-minded youth”, Patrick “Jenyson” raped a seven-year-old girl named Grace Roberts. Jameson was at least in his late 30’s and unmarried. The assailants were jailed and bound over for trial in Boston. The crime exposed a loophole in the law; rape of a child over the age of ten was punishable by death, but no one had thought to include younger children in the prohibition. It took only a month for the courts to close this loophole, and prosecutors argued for the death of Jameson in spite of the technicality.
Very little about the verdict can be found so far; a year after the crime was first brought to court Grace’s older brother William was publicly whipped. Jameson was to have received “some grievous punishment”; one source claims he was executed. But most histories seem to think Jameson may have escaped punishment. To be sure, we find him quite alive in Saco, Maine, and in trouble for being drunk on July 5, 1670; Major Pendleton even paid part of his fine. In 1674 he was at Yarmouth Falls with sawmill owner Henry Sayward; in 1675 he was in court at Wells for being absent from meeting. It appears that he died childless in 1678. But the legacy of pain he brought to Grace Roberts continued to echo through several more generations.
Patrick Jameson, aka Gimison, Jemison, Jennison, Gynnison, “Patrick the Scott”
John & Sara #91
1657 – taxed Oyster River as “Patrick the Scott”
11 May 1659 – Mr. Valentine Hill sold land on the north side of Oyster River to him [as Patrick “Gimison”] and told that he had been a useful servant about his mill.
John Meador testified in 1710: “the westerly bounds of that land Mr. Valentine Hill sold to Patrick Jemison begins at the salt river between a fence and a Littell Hill wher plume trees grow and soe running upon a straight Line to Stony Brook to an elm standing near Capt. Woodman Decesd orchard… I asked Mr. Valentine Hill why hee would sell that land to Patrick Jemison, Hee answered mee because hee was A usefull man to mee aboutte my mills hee was my Servt and I would have him settled by mee and further saith not.” [HTDNH 69]
1663 – town grant
1664 – he and Philip Chesley were chosen “to lay out the heigways from Oyster River to Cochechae and make the heigways fitt for horse and foot and bring thear a Compt of thear charges to the Townsmen.” [HTDNH 219]
HTDNH 80 is discreet or uninformed about the nature of his 1669 crime.
29 June 1669 – William Randle, Patrick Jenyson and William Roberts Jr. were bound over upon suspicion of raping seven-year-old Grace Roberts [NHCR 246-248]
07 Sept 1669 – under indictment in Boston for “mistreatment” of Grace Roberts, under age 8, of Oyster River [GDMNH 374]
New Hampshire Court Records 1640-1692, vol. 40, pp. 247-248:
Wm Randle Junr Patrick Jenyson & Wm Roberts Junr
being bound over to this Court by Capt Waldren upon suspition of a Rape done to ye body of Grace Roberts a Girle of aboute seaven yeares old,
This Court having Examyned all Parties that they Could receive Light from, ffind ye Case soe as that they order that they be at present secured in ye prison at Dover, and be transmitted to ye prison at Boston there to be Kept to yr further triall & that the witnesses be som’oned to reappear then & ye evedences Concerning the case sent in season.
New Hampshire Court Records 1640-1692, pp 246-247
13 Oct 1669 – enactment of death penalty for rape of child under age of ten
28 June 1670 – court determines a punishment for William Roberts Jr. of being “whipt forthwith to ye number of 10 Stripes upon ye bare back & ffees”. [NHCR 261]
Brother “a simple-minded youth” [HTDNH 85] was ruled complicit and was whipped
5 July 1670 – Jameson in court for being drunk in Saco, Maine; Major Pendleton paid part of his fine.
1674 – at Yarmouth Falls with Henry Sayward
1675 – at Wells absent from meeting
1677 – estate of Patrick Gynnison, deceased, granted to Samuel Austin of York, according to Alfred, Maine, court records. [HTDNH 80]
2 Oct 1678 – estate administered to Samuel Austin [of Wells]
What became of Grace?
Grace Roberts was born about 1662, the youngest child of William and Dorothy Roberts. Her father William had come to Oyster River by 1643; he rented a home on the north bank of Oyster River from William Follett. William Roberts became a strong Quaker and was in constant trouble with the authorities.
Grace was only about seven years old when she was raped by Patrick Jameson. Her older brother William Jr. was also indicted, alongside William Randle Jr. The courts eventually ruled that her brother was to be publicly whipped with 10 stripes. The actual perpetrator may have escaped serious punishment.
When Grace was nine, her father purchased the home he had been renting. Two years later, William Roberts and William Jr. were killed in an Indian attack. Grace was 13. Added to the horror of all the violence they had been subjected to, the family now faced a financial crisis as well. Grace went to work for Mrs. Follett; it appears that Grace was now a servant in the very house in which she had grown up.
Two years later, in 1677, fifteen-year-old Grace gave birth to a baby. The father was another of the Follett household servants, John Muchemore (Michelmore). Since birthing a bastard child was not only socially unacceptable but also illegal, a warrant was issued for her arrest. It was Grace that bore the brunt of the law. History does not seem to show what became of this child.
Five years later, February 13, 1682, twenty-year-old Grace Roberts was summoned before the grand jury in Portsmouth for committing the crime of “ffornication”. The evidence? Another illegitimate child. Grace claimed that a childless married man named Ezekiel Pitman was the father; he denied the charge and apparently was exonerated. This child, too, seems to be lost to history so far.
New Hampshire Court Records, February 13, 1682
About this time Grace’s life finally took a less turbulent turn. Grace married Philip Duley, a sailor in the service of Captain John Cutts. They were married for 35 years. There is not much documentation about them during these years, except for the five Duley children that Grace bore: Philip Jr., William, Hannah, Sarah, and Mary. Grace’s two older children are, so far, lost to the record. Grace’s husband Philip died in 1717, and two years later she was baptized, “an ancient widow”. She was 57 years old. Some time after that she married Timothy Moses and lived another two decades or so. But the drama in her life was not at an end.
Her children and her children’s children
Grace Roberts Duley’s three daughters all provided fodder for the gossipers of the day. Middle daughter Sarah died shortly after marrying Thomas Harris. Harris took up with Sarah’s younger sister Mary. By law they could not marry, so when they had a child together in 1721 in Maine, Mary was indicted for the crime of bastardy. The couple were undeterred; they relocated back across the river to New Hampshire and had a second child. But neither did the relocation deter the law; Mary was brought up on charges in that state as well. And while both partners were guilty under the law, the woman who gave birth was always easier to indict than the man who fathered the child. Undaunted, the couple continued to live as husband and wife, contrary to the law prohibiting in-laws from marrying. Over the years Thomas Harris and Mary Roberts had several more children together.
Grace’s older daughter Hannah may have lived unmarried. Hannah built a house for herself at Portsmouth in 1728. In 1736 she too was in court for bastardy, apparently bearing a child out of wedlock.
Grace lived to see all this, and probably also lived to witness the terrible tragedy that befell her oldest granddaughter. Sarah Duley was born in 1713, the oldest child of Grace’s son Philip Duley Jr. Sarah likely was named for her aunt, Sarah Duley Harris. Sarah Duley’s mother Elizabeth died when she was 8; she was probably not yet a teenager when her father Philip died. So it seems likely that went to live with her grandmother Grace, although she might instead have gone to live with her aunt Mary or possibly with her aunt Hannah. In 1733 Sarah married Peter Simpson; within the year they had a baby boy named Nicholas. Young Peter Simpson apparently died in 1739, leaving a young widow and probably a young son.
On Tuesday, August 11, 1739, the body of a female newborn was found floating in a well in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Suspicion was cast upon every woman who was known or suspected to have been pregnant in recent weeks, especially those who were unmarried. The young widow Sarah Simpson was accused and a warrant was issued for her arrest. Sarah admitted having recently given birth but claimed that the child was stillborn. She led authorities to a very shallow grave by the river. But this was not the child in the well.
The investigation widened. Soon another young woman was accused, a 20-year-old Irish servant named Penelope Kenny. Penelope lied at first, but then confessed that she had given birth to a boy on a Wednesday morning and had put him alive into a tub in her master’s cellar, and on the following Friday night, threw the body into the river.
This sensational revelation apparently shifted the focus from the mother of the child in the well, whose identity was still unrevealed. But the incensed community apparently had enough of what they sought. Both Sarah Simpson and Penelope Kenny were jailed. On August 31, 1739, after a long and difficult trial, a jury of “twelve good and lawful men” found both women guilty of “feloniously concealing the death of a… infant bastard child.” The penalty was for both to be “hanged up by the Neck until her body be dead”. This sentence was appealed to Governor Belcher, who granted a postponement for about six weeks.
A pastor was assigned to each imprisoned woman. Sarah Simpson repented of her lack of church attendance during her marriage, which the pastor noted, very often leads to the committing of capital crimes. On December 27, 1739, the delay of execution ran out. Rev. William Shurtleff preached what appears to be almost an hour-long sermon on the mile-long walk from the prison to the gallows. His sermon, “The Faith and Prayer of a Dying Malefactor”, can be found here: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/evans/N03751.0001.001?view=toc
Sarah Simpson and Penelope Kenny were hanged in the public square at Portsmouth in front of a large crowd, the first executions in New Hampshire. Apparently neither Sarah nor Penelope ever named the man who fathered her child.
Christopher Benedetto’s carefully researched and wonderfully told account of this sad affair can be found in his 2006 monograph, “A Warning to All Others,” which was published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Here is a link to his piece:
An echo across generations
Whether Patrick Jameson’s heinous act in 1669 in some way played a part in the tragedy that unfolded seventy years later we cannot know. But Grace Roberts’ daughters and granddaughter most likely knew of their loved one’s rape as a little girl and of the two children she bore outside of wedlock while she was yet in her teens. Two of her daughters and one of her granddaughters also gave birth to children out of wedlock. For Grace’s daughters Hannah and Mary, this probably caused trouble for them and their children at the hands of moral society. For Grace’s granddaughter Sarah Simpson, it cost her life.
GDMNH Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire, Noyes, Libby, and Davis, Portland, Maine: The Southworth-Anthoensen Press, 1928-1939, pp. 210, 274, 313, 374, 501, 557, 589.
HTDNH History of the Town of Durham, New Hampshire, vol. 1, Everett S. Stackpole and Lucien Thompson, 1913, pp. 48, 68-69, 80, 85-86, 171, 219.
NHCR New Hampshire Court Records 1640-1692, vol. 40, Ed. Otis G. Hammond, The State of New Hampshire, 1943, pp. 246-248, 261, 390-391.
“The Faith and Prayer of a Dying Malefactor”, William Shurtleff, December 27, 1739. http://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/evans/N03751.0001.001?view=toc
“A Warning to All Others”, Christopher Benedetto. http://www.seacoastnh.com/Places-and-Events/NH-History/first-women-executed-in-nh/?showall=1
B. Craig Stinson
August 17, 2016