TALE from the collections: a dOCUMENTED 18TH CENTURY AFFAIR

tale by Martha Larson - Object number:1988.008.001 - Donor Kathy Adams

Sometimes the Society acquires an object through serendipity. An acquaintance of Director Carol Majahad's husband mentioned that she had an old document which was from Andover and would his wife be interested? She was indeed, for the piece of paper turned out to be a deposition given by an unwed mother concerning the paternity of her child, dated 1737. The town was very concerned with such matters, not so much to punish the offenders but to establish financial responsibility for a child which might become a burden to taxpayers. The document reads in its entirety: 

The Examination of Joanna Lewis of Andover Single woman taken upon oath before John Osgood Esq. One of His Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the County of Essex (The Crim'I Samuel fflood being present) on the Second day of January AD 1737-
The said Joanna Lewis Saith that Samuel fflood of Andover aforsd Labourer had the Carnal knowledge of her Body (in the House of Mr. Joseph Parkers of Andover aforsd lnnholder) on the Second Day of October Last in the West Chamber of sd House and that She is according to the best of her knowledge now with Child by him the sd. 
Samuel fflood. 
Joanna + Lewis
her mark
Taken and signed Before me -John Osgood Just. Peace
A True Copy Exam'd [and approved by] John Osgood Just. Peace  

A check of the Andover vital records indicates that Joanna and Samuel recorded their intentions to marry not long after the above deposition, on January 25. The marriage does not appear to have taken place, however, since a daughter, Anna, was born to Joanna Lewis on June 13 with Samuel Flood the "reputed" father. There is no further mention of Joanna in the Andover records, but Anna Flood married William Wilson, Jr. In 1759. If this was Joanna's daughter, she would have been 22 years old, so that this is probably the right girl. 

Samuel, however, went on to marry Tryphena Powers of Groton in 1743 and seems to have left town at about the same time. 

Further brief research turns up nothing about Joanna or her daughter Anna. Both must have moved well away from Andover. Some information about Samuel can be found, however. He was apparently born in Newbury in 1707, and his father was originally from the Island of Guernsey. Samuel appears only once as a taxpayer(i.e., property owner) in Andover records, in 1734. After his marriage to Tryphena, he spent several years in Groton, then moved to Shirley where his wife died in 1758 after the birth of their 8th child. He probably moved on to Lancaster after that, since according to Lancaster vital records, a Samuel Flood died in that town sometime before 1780. 

This document also contains information which will go into the Society's architectural files. The folder on 330 Andover street contains a fairly complete title chain for this center chimney house which still stand at the intersection of Andover St and Chickering Rd, but past researchers have only been able to estimate the building date at between 1726 and 1742. We now know that Joseph Parker's inn, one of several inns and taverns which existed along the old post road from Boston, was built by 1736. It would have been practically new at the time of Joanna & Samuel's rendezvous. 

1988.8.1 paternity suit 1737.jpg

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