Elizabeth Emerson, Sister of Hannah
From Jane Emerson James, "The Haverhill Emersons: Revised and
Extended", (Jane Emerson James, Lake Winnebago, MO, 1983), p. 25:
"On 10 Apr 1686 Elizabeth Emerson, unmarried, gave birth to Dorothy of whom no further record has been located by me. The father was Samuel Ladd, then 37, who was married to Martha (Corlis) Ladd, mother of their 6 children. Elizabeth was 23 at the birth of Dorothy and at 28 she again gave birth, this time to twin boys who did not survive. Again the father was Samuel Ladd, then 42. Whatever else may be thought of Elizabeth, she was not permiscuous [sic]. Doris Smith of Porterville, CA located the following record from Records of the Court of Assistants of the Massachusetts Bay, Vol. 1:
'26th Sept. Elizabeth Emmerson single woman Daughter of Michael Emmerson of Haverhill in the County of Essex being indicted by the Jurors for our Soveraigne Lord & Lady King William & Oueen Mary upon their Oathes. For that the sd. Elizabeth Emmerson being with child with two living Children or Infants on Thursday night the 7th of May 1691 before day of Fryday morning at Haverhill aforesd in the house of Michael Emmerson aforesd by the Providence of God two Bastard Children alive did bring forth and the sd. Elizabeth Emmerson not haveing the feare of Cod before her Eyes and being instigated by ye Devil of her malice forethought, the sd two Infants did feloniously kill & Murther, and them in a small Bagg or cloath sewed up, and concealed or hid them in sd Emmersons house untill afterwards, that is to say, on sabbath day May the tenth 1691, the sd two Infants in the yard of sd Emmerson in Haverhill aforesd did secretly bury contrary to the peace of Our Soveraign Lord 6 Lady the King & Queen, their Crown & Dignity, the Laws of God, and the Lawes & Statutes in that case made & provided. Upon which Indictment the sd Elizabeth Emmerson was arraigned and to the Indictment pleaded not guilty & put berselfe upon Tryal by God & the Country, * a Jury was impannelled being the first Jury, whereof mr. Richard Crisp was foreman, and were accordingly sworne (the prisoner making no challeng) The Indictment Examination & evidences were read, & the prisoner made her defence, The Jury return their Verdict, the Jury say, That she sd. Elizabeth Emmerson is guilty according to Indictment. The Court Order, That sentance of Death he pronounced ag. her.' *Left blank in the record
"She spent two years in prison and was hanged on Boston Common 8 Jun 1693. Although the entire village knew that Samuel Ladd was the father he seems never to have been officially censured."
The following comes from the Diary of Cotton Mather:
"I had often wished for an Opportunity, to bear my Testimonies, against the Sins of Uncleanness, wherein so many of my Generacon do pollute themselves. A young Woman of Haverhil, and a Negro Woman also of this Town (Boston)were under sentence of Death, for the Murdering of their Bastard-children. Many and many a weary Hour, did I spend in the Prison, to serve the Souls of those miserable Creatures; and I had Opportunities in my own Congregation, to speak to them, and from them, to vast Multitudes of others. Their Execution, was ordered to have been, upon the Lecture of another; but by a very strange Providence, without any Seeking of mine, or any Respect to mee, (that I know of) the order for their Execution was altered and it fell on my Lecture Day. I did then with the special Assistance of Heaven, make and preach, a Sermon upon Job. 36.14. Whereat one of the greatest Assemblies, ever known in these parts of the World, was come together. I had obtained from the young Woman, a pathetical Instrument, in Writing, wherein shee own'd her own miscarriages, and warn'd the rising Ceneracon of theirs. Towards the close of my Sermon, I read that Instrument unto the Congregation; and made what Use, was proper of it. I accompany'd the Wretches, to their Execution; but extremely fear all our Labours were lost upon them; however sanctifyed unto many others. The Sermon was immediately printed; with another which I had formerly uttered on the like Occasion; (entitled, Warnings From the Dead) and it was greedily bought up; I hope, to the Attainment of the Ends, which I had so long desired. T'was afterwards reprinted at London."
[In the referenced sermon, Mather read Elizabeth's confession
which follows. It may be found in his Magnalia Christi Americana.]
"I am a miserable sinner, and I have justly provok'd the holy God to leave me unto that folly of my own heart, for which I am now condemmed to die. I cannot but see much of the anger of God against me, in the circumstances of my woful death. He hath fulfilled upon me that word of his, "Evil pursueth sinners!" I therefore desire humbly to confess my many sins before God and the world; but most particularly my blood guiltiness. Before the birth of my twin-infants, I too much parlied with the temptation of the devil to smother my wickedness by muthering of them. At length, when they were born, I was not insensible that at least one of them was alive; but such a wretch was I, as to use a murderous carriage towards them, in the place where I lay, on purpose to dispatch them out of the world. I acknowledge that I have been more hard hearted than the sea-monsters; and yet for the pardon of these my sins, I would fly to the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is the only "fountain set open for sin and uncleanness." I know not how better to glorifie God, for giving me such an opportunity as I have had to make sure of his mercy, than by advertising and entreating the rising generation here to take warning by my example, and I will therefore tell the sins that have brought me to my shameful end. I do warn all people and expecially young people, against the sin of uncleanness in particular. 'Tis that sin that hath been my ruine. Well had it been for me, if I had answered all temptations to that sin as Joseph did, 'How shall I do this wickedness, and sin against God?' But, I see, bad company is that which leads to that and other sins; And I therefore beg all that love their souls to be familiar with none but such as fear Cod. I believe the chief thing that hath brought me into my present condition, is my disobedience to my parents. I dispised all their godly counsel and reproofs; and I was always of a haughty, stubborn spirit. So that now I am become a dreadful instance of the curse of God belonging to disobedient children. I must bewail this also, and although I was baptized, yet when I grew up, I forgot the bonds that were laid upon me to be the Lord's. Had I given my self to God, as soon as I was capable to consider that I had been in baptism set apart for him, How happy had I been! It was my delay to repent of my former sins, that provoked God to leave me unto the crimes for which I am now to die. Had I seriously repented of my uncleanness the first time I fell into it, I do suppose I had not been left unto what followed. Let all take it from me: They little think what they do when they put off turning from sin to God, and resist the strivings of the Holy Spirit. I fear 'tis for this that I have been given up to such "hardness of heart", not only since my long imprisonment but also since my just condemnation. I now know not what will become of my distressed, perishing soul. But I would humbly commit it unto the mercy of Cod in Jesus Christ. Amen."
[Elizabeth at first pled not guilty, but after sessions with Cotton Mather, did plead guilty. Whether or not Elizabeth could have fashioned the above confession (or was guilty of anything more than fornication) is a subject of speculation. It is to be noted that Elizabeth is the sister of Hannah Emerson Dustin, about whom Cotton Mather also wrote.]
Hannah Duston's Sister (book by Sybil Smith)