Saturday, June 23, 2018

The first thing we do, let's flog all the poseurs...

The Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony on people whose attire exceeded their rank and condition in life:
“As early as 1640 the General Court intended that the inhabitants should measure their apparel by the length of their purses – the Court being the judges. The constable in each town was ordered to take notice of all persons, and if he judged any persons exceeded their rank and condition in life, in their attire, to warn them to appear before the Particular Court to answer for the offence. Most of the penalties attached to the criminal laws, were accompanied with flogging and pillory; so much so that a law was enacted in 1643, which made it imperative upon all the towns on Connecticut River to appoint a whipper to do execution upon offenders. The Puritans appear to have punished offenders by whipping, with the same object that a parent corrects his children, only to improve their habits.” 
-Windham County History Records <http://www.ctgenweb.org/county/cowindham/records/history/firstpuritansettlers.html>

Full disclosure: While SWNE unequivocally rejects flogging people whose attire exceeds their rank and conditions in life, it was 9th great grandfathers John Winthrop and Thomas Dudley,  Governors of the Massachusetts Bay Colony,  who likely oversaw it.  For those who take issue with this policy, please address your complaints directly to the General Court, Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1640.


21 comments:

  1. If this was applied today!! There is a PhD thesis in this somewhere. Sartorial expression in the early 21st century - a tale of two tailors: upscale & downscale.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your 9x Great-Grandfather John Winthrop (Winthrop's Fleet, 1630) would have personally known many of my 9x great-grandfathers (Mayflower passengers William Brewster, Myles Standish and Stephen Hopkins). The flagship of Winthrop's Fleet in 1630 was The Arbella (named after Lady Arbella Feinnes - related to Robert Wixson, a 9x direct great-grandfather of mine). Other direct 9x great-grandfathers of mine that John Winthrop would have been familiar with: Edmund Freeman II (1596-1682). Edward Winslow wrote a letter of introduction to Wintrop about Freeman / Robert Hempstead (1645 Winthrop Fleet) / Rev. Edward Howe’s death (1639) / Thomas Minor (1630 Winthrop Fleet flagship Arbella) Edward Rainsford (1630 Winthrop Fleet) / Robert Wixom (1630) Wintrop Fleet.

    You might appreciate the following paragraph found in Albion’s Seed by David Hackett Fischer: The builders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony thought of themselves as a twice-chosen people. Once by God, and again by the General Court of Massachusetts. Other English plantations eagerly welcomed any two-legged animal who could be dragged on board an emigrant ship, but Massachusetts chose its colonists with care. Not everyone was allowed to settle there. In doubtful cases, the founders of the colony actually demanded written proof of good character. This may have been the only English colony that required some of its immigrants to submit letters of recommendation. The great majority were yeomen, husbandmen, artisans, craftsmen, merchants and traders—the sturdy middle class of England. They were not poor. These colonists were also extraordinary in their occupations. A solid majority (between 50 and 60%) had been engaged in some skilled craft or trade before leaving England. In summary, by comparison with other emigrant groups in American history, the great migration to Massachusetts was a remarkably homogeneous movement of English. The heads of these families tended to be exceptionally literate, highly skilled, and heavily urban in their English origins. They were a people of substance, character, and deep personal piety. The special quality of New England’s regional culture would owe much to these facts.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Winthrop probably also knew Governor Thomas Prence of Plymouth Colony (my 10x great-grandfather). I've read enough about your Great-Grandfather John Winthrop do know that he gave a powerful sermon prior to sailing in 1630.

    ReplyDelete
  4. All things go in cycles, flogging is due to soon come back in fashion, for fashion atrocities.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Y'all flog metaphorically.

    ReplyDelete
  6. We should bring back flogging for certain youths who wear saggy pants that emulate prison Fashion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Even more so for disingenuous politicians .

      Delete
    2. Of all stripes... The point, here, appears to be that of authenticity (though I have to say, that I prefer not to use that word - makes for a poor existential rebuttal). To thyne own self be true; words to live, rather than flog, by...

      Delete
  7. Genuine and welcome "LOL" this morning. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Some replies to this post have revealed the worst in people. I think the SWNE post was intended to illuminate a less tolerant society in a historical perspective. I cannot imagine that SWNE actually wanted to start a discussion about physical punishment for "certain youth" current fashion transgressions.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Either that Jane, or this post brought out the best in people's subtle wit and humor, I'll go with that explanation. About the Puritans: we often see them as harsh and critical, however, I think the spirit behind their rules was a kind of striving for excellence (to put it in modern terms) and good behavior and character. Looking at a 350-year-old mindset through the lens of today's habits, it can be hard to see that. I suppose it will be the same, a hundred or two hundred years from now, when people will look at our habits and say, "what were they thinking!"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We are rapidly heading to the point (if not already there) to where even the slightest crack of humor is going to find its way to offending someone. Those offended, or looking for a reason to be offended, need to lighten up a bit and enjoy life, or at least let the un-offended of us continue to enjoy life.

      Delete
    2. "Offense Collectors"! Good one! That's about says it all!!!

      Delete
  10. When addressing your complaints to the General Court, Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1640, don't forget a postage stamp.

    ReplyDelete
  11. LIFE IS THE GIFT -- 350 years ago, people understood this and tried to give thanks and dignify their lives. They did their best and had faith. We owe them a lot.

    ReplyDelete
  12. "Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new." Henry David Thoreau.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well said Henry and how true! OH, and thanks for Walden! PA

      Delete