Chapter 20 Drunkenness and Excommunication
Mary POV 1649
John came home so drunk that the town official who brought him home had a look of disgust on his face. He told me to take care of him and not let him get drunk again, or he would have to be tried in church. The First Church frowned upon drunkenness, and John got caught. I was very upset with his behavior because it was not being a good role model for our children. It also put our reputation in jeopardy. He's been sleeping for a couple hours, and he called me to our room. I had a tray ready for him to help him sober up. I had tea with honey and ginger. I cooked some eggs, toast, some nuts and water. I went into the room, and told him to eat and drink. After he ate, I asked him to explain why he got drunk. John said, " Nathaniel died, Benjamin, baby Mary died young. I have dealt with customers not paying me right when services are rendered, and I am not able to be creative in my clothing designs. I was so upset about all these deaths and stresses that I went to drink with my buddies at the tavern." I nodded my head in understanding and said, "John do you remember how you got home and who took you here?" John scratched his head in bewilderment, "No, I do not." I stood there with my arms crossed over my chest and said, " Well, it was one of the leaders of the church. He warned me to control you or you would go to a hearing at the church." John was startled and said, "Oh my beloved, Mary, I am so sorry. I will try not to drink too much again." Mary said, "If you want to drink your sorrows away, do it when the kids are in bed, and tell me, so I am not unaware of you leaving. You did not even tell me that Nathaniel died. I am so sad. He was like a parent to me. I wonder how Elizabeth is doing. Please be more careful from now on. I wouldn't want to be kicked out of the church." John replied, "I know Mary I will try. He hugged me, comforted me, and kissed me. Before I knew it we made wild and crazy love. I was not sure if it was to make amends for his behavior or the last affects of the alcohol. A few months later I was with child again. John seemed to have trouble controlling his drunkenness, and he ended up in front of the church. They stated, " Our brother, John Hurd, with consent of the church was in the Name of the Lord cast out for drunkenness having had warning thereof." I realize that the Bible warns against drunkenness, but I could not believe that they could not intervene in helping him stop. After getting this sentence, John tried really hard to sober up. He went through the shakes, nausea and pain of withdrawals. He had an addiction. I allowed him to have 2 cups of ale with his dinner and supper. He seemed happier.
In August 1650, I was in labor again. The midwives, nurses, and Hannah were in attendance. Hannah was now 10 years old and wanted to learn nursing, so I let her be present. John and the boys went to the shop to work on making clothing. It kept his mind off my suffering. The midwife offered me ale to help with the pain of labor. We also offered cake as a thank you for all who helped. After many hours, I finally pushed and my third baby girl was born. I decided to call her Mary in honor of the first Mary we lost. John was called in, and he was thrilled. All of my family agreed with the name. He told me to rest, and I did.
John took baby Mary to the church to be baptized, but since he was not in fellowship her record states Mary Hurd of our sister Ann.
John stayed sober for a while and acknowledged his sin before the congregation and asked for forgiveness. He was allowed back in as a member in June 1652. I was pregnant again, and had Benjamin named in honor of his deceased brother in November. His baptismal record states of Brother John Hurd.
Baby Mary dies of small pox, and John fell into a depressed state. He started to drink heavily again. He got caught and was excommunicated from the church. I was so embarrassed and upset with him that I refused to condone his behavior. I yelled at him and told him he had a problem. He yelled back a denial. I told him that our family feels like we take second place to his drinking buddies. He knew I was very upset. I told him that he needed to stop, or he would sleep in the barn because he disgraced us in front of the church. The community was labeling him as a trouble maker, and that was not good for us. He was apologizing to me and the children. He tried to sober up. I knew he was sorry. He was very stressed at work and sad about the baby dying. I told him, "John, you need help, and the only person to heal you of this addiction is Jesus. Maybe we should pray for repentance and healing. We did. He went through withdrawals so bad that he was irritable and it made him impatient. I realized that he was addicted. I told him he was allowed 2 glasses of ale a day, and that if he snuck any behind my back, I would take it all away. He was sweet once he had one.
He understood that he needed to control his drinking, so he agreed. He told me that he loved me, and he kissed me. We locked the door, tore off our clothes and made passionate love. It had been awhile and I wanted another child before it was too late, so we did and I conceived.
John was still excommunicated, so when I had the child nine months later in March of 1655, there was confusion. First, I wanted to name him Samuel, but when he got baptized, his name changed to Jacob Hurd of Sister Ann of course. His birth was celebrated because it was almost a three year distance between Jacob and Benjamin. Jacob and Ben were best friends. Jacob was babied by Hannah. She was about 15 years old and loved him as her own. She was a huge help with both Ben and Jacob. She also loved her father dearly and understood his struggles with staying sober. I loved him too. I promised him to accept him even on his darkest days. In 1657, we had our last and final child a baby girl named Mehetable. She was baptized as of Sister Ann. I was 43 years old, and I felt that I was done having babies. Mehetable did not survive the winter of 1658. John got drunk again....
Because of his habitual drinking I was forced out of the church being his wife in 1662. I was so upset that I forced him to sober up. In 1664, we were allowed back into church because John repented of his sin. He was excommunicated again in 1666 for drunkenness. Finally in 1670, the church intervened and John, his drinking buddy, Nicholas Hodsden was prohibited from all houses of entertainment and taverns. This was an attempt to stop his habit. As his wife, I prayed with him when he had the urge to drink. We restored our relationship with the church, and our family was able to attend church again. The church silently let us restore our membership by repenting. We thanked God for our surviving children and for his provision. We also looked forward to the next chapter in our lives..being grandparents.
There was no such thing as Alcoholics Anonymous in this time period. Drinking was enjoyed just not in excess. That is why Mary gave him limited numbers of alcohol. She did not want him to sneak it either, so allowing him 2 helped him deal with withdrawals. Basically, it allowed her to live in peace because John was unbearable if he did not drink.
Next chapter: Growing children
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