Journey of a Lifetime John Hurd and Mary

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Chapter 16 Freeman and growing business

New Year 1640, Boston, Massachusetts

John's POV

It was the New Year, and Thomas Lechford, a famous lawyer in the town, had me arrive at his home to measure his wife for a new gown. I asked Mary to come with me, but she felt sick this morning from her new pregnancy. Junior was starting to eat porridge, crawling getting into mischief and needed lots of attention. I understood that she could not come. I did hire an indentured servant at a very low wage to help her because she was having difficulties, and she needed extra hands to help with chores and baby care.

I went to Lechford's home and measured his wife. She was a cute woman, and very happy to have a new gown. Her other ones were getting tattered, and she wanted a new one. I showed her an idea for the design. Per the church's orders, she could not have silks, laces, golden or silver trims, no metal buttons. The design had to be modest. She could not have short sleeves or excessive lace, no scarves, silk roses or fancy designs. She understood and agreed on a design. I told the Lechford's that I would have it ready by February 1st, and that it would cost 8 shillings. I hurried to my shop and started measuring the cloth, cutting the cloth and sewing. It took me a month to sew it, and get it ready. The maid showed up on February 1st. She gave the money to Mary who was tending the counter, and took the gown back to the Lechford's. Mrs. Lechford was so satisfied with the quality and workmanship that she told others about my abilities. I started to get very busy.

On February 24, I went to the General Court again and found that I was granted more land that made my lot bigger. This would help with growing a bigger garden, and making my home bigger in the future. I went home and told Mary about it. She was thrilled. She was starting to feel better now that she is over her morning sickness. She was telling me that Junior was starting to climb on the edges of chairs. She has a feeling he will walk soon. I was watching him, and she was right. I picked him up and kissed his chubby cheeks and thanked the Lord for my numerous blessings.

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May 13, 1640 Becoming a freeman

A couple months went by and in May on the 13th, I stood before the General Court again. This time I was able to become a freeman. This would give me the right to vote for government officers and become a witness in court proceedings. It protected me as a business owner in case I needed to sue. Some freemen were able to be elected to the legislature to make laws. On this day, we left Junior with our servant, and we went to the General Court together. Mary had to hold the oath booklet while I read and recited it.

"I, John Hurde, being by God's providence, an inhabitant and freeman within the jurisdiction of this Commonwealth, do freely acknowledge myself to be subject to the government thereof and therefore do here swear, by the great dreadful name of the ever living, God that I will be true and faithful to the same and as will person and estate, as in equity, I am bound. I will also truly endeavor to maintain myself to the wholesome laws and privileges' thereof, by submitting myself to the laws and orders made and established by the same; and further, that I will not plot, nor practice any evil against the government nor consent to any that shall do so, but will discover and reveal in a timely fashion to the governmental authority to prevent evil. Moreover, I do solemnly bind myself in the sight of God, that when I shall be called to guide my voice touching any such mater to this state, where in freemen are to deal. I will guide my vote and suffrage, as I judge in my own conscience my best conduce and tend to the public will of the body, without respect of persons or favor any man, so help me God in the Lord, Jesus Christ!"

We had to wait for the rest of the freemen to finish their oaths, and we left soon after as Mary was in her 7th month of pregnancy and her feet were swelling and hurting her. The Grand Court let us go home early because they notices Mary was pregnant again. When we got home, Mary had provided us a celebration meal of roast chicken over the fire, mashed squash, and bread with butter and ale. We said our prayers before our feast, and afterward, Mary took a nap.

My orders in the shop were increasing. I had to make clothing for a few men. Of course, I had to follow the church's rules on making clothes. I was not allowed to make anything with lace, silk, ruffles, metal buttons, or immoderate breeches. Nothing could have lace, gold or silver trim either, so sometimes I felt my creativity dampened. I felt bored working with the same designs, but I had to follow the rules. This boredom led to stress and I felt I needed an extra drink. I needed a break from these tasks, so I started to go to the local tavern and drink. I did control the urge to get drunk though.

In July 12, 1640, it was night time. Mary had just put Junior down in his crib for the night. He no longer fit the cradle, and he needed a small bed with caged in sides, so he could not fall out. He was a year old, and he could walk. He also said small words, Mama, Dada, no, yes, milk, nap, dog, cat, see, pretty, love, you, and etc. Mary came into our room, and started sitting on the bed. She was having difficulty moving because her belly was so large. As she sat down, her pains started. We timed them out, and summoned the maid to get the midwife, and nurses to come. The maid saw that Mary was in labor, so she brought ale, towels and cakes in the room for later.

When the midwife and nurses arrived, Mary sent me to the parlor, and that is when the travailing happened, the crying, the hollering, and all I could do is sit there helpless and pray that she would survive the birth, and that the new baby would too. Ten hours later, the nurse came out and told me that Mary had a little baby girl. I was thrilled. I ran into the room to see how Mary was. She assured me that she was fine. The instructions were the same as Junior's birth, so I knew she would need more help now. I saw the baby against her chest. She was beautiful. She had pink lips like Mary, brown eyes, and a heart shaped face. She was precious. She had all her fingers and toes. I looked at Mary and asked her, "Have you thought of a name? She said, "Hannah." I said, "That is a lovely name and fits her perfectly. I love you Mary! You once again did a good job!" She said, "Thanks, I love you too! I am tired. I need to rest." I said, "Okay." I kissed her on the lips, kissed little Hannah, and left the room. I was elated and thanked God for his provision, protection, the babies and Mary.

Seven days later I took our baby girl to the First Church, and had her baptized on July 20, 1640....

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Little did he know that the next 10 years would be his roughest. The next chapter Blessings and Losses.

References for this chapter:

Lechford, T. A Sketch of Thomas Lechford. A Note-book kept by Thomas Lechford Esq, Lawyer: In Boston Massachusetts.

Earle, A. M. (1898). Home Life in Colonial Days. Macmillan/ NY. p 281-299.

Evans, C. (1921). Oaths of allegiance in Colonial New England. From: http://www.americanantiquarian.org.

(Oath written in day American English for this book).

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