Week 20 (May 14-20) – Black Sheep: Each of us has an ancestor who was the
troublemaker or the ne’er-do-well. This is their week.
Well, I wouldn’t exactly call Hannah Bradford Ripley a ne’er-do-well, but she might well be called a troublemaker – for doing good deeds.
Hannah Bradford is my 7th great grandmother. She was the seventh born child to William Bradford and his wife, Alice Richards, on May 9, 1662 in Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts. Her grandfather had been the Governor of Massachusetts and her father was the assistant deputy governor, one of Governor Andro’s council in 1687 and the chief military officer of Plymouth County, Massachusetts.
On November 28, 1682, she married Joshua Ripley in Hingham, Plymouth County, Massachusetts. She gave him Alice (my 6th gr.grandmother) in 1683, Hannah Bradford in 1684, Faith Judith in 1686, Joshua Jr. in 1688 and then the family removed to Connecticut where Margaret was born in 1690, Leah and Rachel, twins in 1693, Hezekiah in 1695, David in 1697, Irene in 1700, and lastly, twins Anna and Jerusha in 1704.
Nothing truly ‘troublesome’ or notable there, other than the sheer strength to survive ten pregnancies and two sets of twins…right?
Joshua was named the first Justice of the Peace in Windham, CT when the office was created in May 1698 and was sent to the General Assembly that same year. In the “History of Windham County CT 1600-1760” on page 77, it says “Nor were the wives of these leading Windham citizens at all inferior to their husbands. So far as can be ascertained, they were women of marked character and energy. Hannah Bradford, the wife of Joshua Ripley – a descendant of Plymouth’s famous governor – was a noble and useful woman, remarkable not only for intelligence and accomplishments but for skill in the art of healing. She was the first, and long the only, physician in the settlement, and it is said that the first male physician, Dr. Richard Huntington, received much of his medical knowledge from her.”
So, Hannah was a healer, a physician – even to the level of training the men to come after her. Why would this be troublesome? She was doing this during a time when women healers were often accused of witchcraft. The Salem Witch trials were in 1692-1693 but the hysteria started around 1688 and continued until about 1711 when the Massachusetts colony passed a legislative bill restoring the rights and good names of those accused of witchcraft.
Hannah died on May 28, 1738 in Windham, Connecticut at the age of 76. All of her children lived into adulthood and married and had children of their own. The strength of character of this woman to practice the healing arts in a dangerous time may have marked her as a troublemaker, but I consider her a hero.