If you have been researching your family history for any length of time you know how hard it is to find anything, other than a few documents, for those Ancestors who were born before 1800. That is unless they are famous for some reason. Even harder is to find personal information on a female Ancestor since they usually aren’t even mentioned by name. Imagine my surprise when I actually found an exciting account of a risky confrontation that my 9 times Great Grandmother had.
Judith Vassall was born in 1619 in Cold Norton, Maldon District, Essex, England to William and Ann (King) Vassall. Her family were prominent merchants and devout Puritans. Because of the persecution of this religion in England, the Vassall’s along with dozens of other believers boarded the ship “Blessing” headed to the Colonies. They arrived in Plymouth Massachusetts in 1635 when Judith was 16 years old. In 1640 she married Resolved White who had come to Plymouth aboard the Mayflower with his parents William and Susanna (Fuller) White.
Judith’s father William, was considered a troublemaker among those who lived in Plymouth. The Puritans were intolerant of those of other religions. They would persecute them and run them out of town. Many were beaten beforehand. William was considered too liberal in his religious views and he would stand up for the Quakers and this caused quite a stir. He was even beaten at one point. As a result, William and his family moved to Scituate Massachusetts. He eventually left the Colony and moved to Barbados.
This is what was written about Judith in 1660: “She was a mother and woman worthy of her times; like Wycliffe, she could see, hear and act. When the Quakers were persecuted in court she could not sit still and listen to them denounced with persecutions and death, but (woman as she was, who had been taught to sit in silence in Church) arose and sternly rebuked the complainer for his unchristian like talk and behavior; and to her bravery, and influence over her husbands half-brother, Gov, Josiah Winslow, he refused his signature to the circular sent by the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and that no worse persecutions are found written on the Old Colony records, she is entitled to the grateful remembrance of the pilgrim daughters. Green as Green Harbor be her memory.”
At this time in history, women had very little rights, especially in Puritan society. She literally risked her life to stand up and publicly speak to “the complainer”. She apparently was well thought of to have any influence over her brother-in-law causing him to refuse to sign the circular. Also, her statements must have convicted those who heard it for them to cease their unjust treatment of the Quakers. She was indeed a woman of great faith and courage!
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.