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  • Writer's pictureJae Hodges

Three Vagabond Women

In the cold and the snow of December 1662, three women were tied to the back of a horse cart, and whipped for the crime of being Quaker. They likely heard the rushing and crashing water of the Cocheco falls and may have imagined it was the sound of their own heart and blood pumping from the lashes on their backs. Looking on this scene, the town's Priest laughed. When Lidia's husband, Eliakim, who was standing nearby, heard this he turned to the Constable to complain. But, instead of the admonishing the Priest for his cruel levity, Eliakim was put in the stocks where he and another man were left until the women were marched on to the next town. From Dover, the women were dragged along a cart path south, perhaps along the shore of the Piscataqua river to Hampton, where they were whipped again. Then, on to Salisbury. The distance between these three towns is over thirty miles by today's roads, so it is difficult to imagine they might actually have been dragged the entire way. Perhaps they might have been allowed to ride, for the comfort of the Constables, before they were pushed off the cart and made to walk through each town before taking the whip again before a large crowd. The women were rescued from the third town, released and returned to Hampton where Eliakim and Lidia took them in. For this subsequent offense, Eliakim was whipped a few days later. Lidia tells not only of her own tribulations in The Rose and the Whip, but also of others around her. I can only imagine that she recognized the fear and shame that drives some to cruelty, perhaps from within her own family, while she is comforted by others who raise themselves up with compassion. She must have watched over time as the division between these two factions expanded before her eyes, and she must have felt she could not balance between them, but must choose a path for herself. A month later, Wenlock Christison appeared at the Wardell home, where he was welcomed by Lidia and Eliakim. There's no way to know if they knew Christison before this, or if Christison made his way to Hampton with the purpose of thanking the Wardells for their kindness to his sister-in-law, one of the three vagabond women. Read about the three vagabond women and Wenlock Christison in The Rose and the Whip.

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