Dangerous Puritans



Jane Champion

?? – 1632

   Society has had a difficult time executing women. That doesn’t suggest they didn’t do it, just suffered over the choice and then BLAMMO! Jane Champion was just the beginning; the only thing we know for sure was she was hanged in James City, Virginia, 1632. Her crime has been forgotten, but her name lives on. There is a huge variety of misdeeds that could have taken Jane to the gallows. Even though the laws regarding the death penalty varied from colony to colony, the Laws of New England had not been drawn up yet.

Margaret Hatch hanged in 1633 for murder and in 1638; Dorothy Talby was strung up in Salem Massachusetts for the killing of her 3-year-old daughter, Difficulty.   We will not enter into the expectations this mom had for her daughter. The youngest person hanged in America was Hannah Ocuish who was 12 years old and was described as a half-breed Indian girl. She was executed on December 20, 1786, for the murder of a 6-year-old girl whom she had beaten to death during an argument. This could have been avoided with the invention of time out.

The New York Colony instituted the Duke’s Laws of 1665, which made several Puritanical offenses punishable by death.   In the repressive society young women, black slaves, and the very young were at risk, they were seldom allowed a defense. There is a certain amount of wealth and social status mixed with a religious message resulting with the harshest penalty. Our modern society is still working on equitable punishment.

566 women were executed from 1632 to 1900 by various methods, not limited to hanging. The majority was for murder, witchcraft, improper behavior, hiding an illegitimate pregnancy, striking a parent, and denying the true God. Women’s executions constitute approximately 3% of the total since 1608, but the statistics are changing. The instance of violent crimes by women is escalating at an incredible rate playing havoc with the age old statistics. Not what was expected with female empowerment and equality. Getting the vote in 1920 was to change American justice, so maybe the next step is to use the vote. We have come a long way, baby!

How about a couple recipes?


5 c. chicken broth

6 carrots, peeled and sliced

2 stalks celery, sliced

1 c. chopped onion

6 half-chicken breasts, skinned

1 bay leaf

2 tsp. poultry seasoning

1 2 C Frozen peas

1 tsp. salt Fresh ground black pepper


1 1/4 c. flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp.onion salt

1/4 c. minced scallions, including green tops

3 tbsp. chilled butter or vegetable shortening

2/3 c. milk

In large wide soup pot or deep skillet, combine broth, carrots, celery, onion, chicken, poultry seasons and bay leaf. Bring to simmer, cover and cook 20 minutes while making dumplings.

In bowl, combine flour, baking powder, onion salt, scallion, and butter. Use your fingers to work ingredients together until butter is about the size of small peas. Add milk and stir just until a soft dough forms. Add peas to simmering chicken, and then drop dough by rounded tablespoons into simmering stew. Cover and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes until dumplings are cooked through. Season with salt to taste and generous grinding of black pepper.



Shrewsbury Cakes

1/2 cup soft butter (one stick)

1/2 cup sugar

2 T grated Ginger or lemon rind

1/4 Tsp Baking Soda

1/8 Tsp salt

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg beaten

2 tablespoons milk or cream

2 1/2 cups cake flour-sifted

1 cup dried fruit (cherries, apricots, raisins, up to you), chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter with sugar, then add ginger or rind, salt, egg, and milk. Blend well. Add flour. Mix in dried fruit. Chill dough for about one hour. Use a small scoop to form small rounds. Place the rounds on a greased cookie sheet and bake for about 12 minutes. Cool on a rack. Recipe yields three dozen cakes. The dough can be used to make larger cakes to serve for breakfast or brunch. Use an ice cream scoop to create six or seven mounds on a cookie sheet. Bake them for about 25 minutes until light brown. Split the cakes and serve them with butter and honey.




Don’t Get Comfortable



Under my mattress is a pea

Just the smallest disturbance I could easily ignore.

Another mattresses won’t stop the irritation.

I roll to my side and lull to rest,

But my backside pursues the lump.

Just another middle of the night

Tossing and turning in the smallest hours

As the clock ticks 2- 3- 4.

The single legume harasses my calm

As I fail to command a quiet mind.

The pea yelps at my slumber, robbing my rest

Begging for attention in the silence of night.

It laughs as my mind, hurls ideas into the never.

Plots twist and are lost, songs never sung, paint dried in tubes.

A thousand answers to a hundred questions.

All lost to the murdering numbness of comfort.

Creativity is a pea, a tiny seed

Under my mattress and it nags like a bitch.

With a repeated turn of phrase

The subtle combination of sounds Seeking-Sea King

a whispered plot revelations bizarre.