Hatevil Nutter had had enough. An elder in Puritan church in Dover, N.H., he objected to the way the three Quaker women “beset” Congregationalist minister John Reyner when he worshiped in public. He didn’t like the way they bedeviled the Puritan minister when he was at home. He believed their teachings were wrong and their methods pernicious.
For six weeks in 1662, the women had held meetings and services at various homes around town. The Quaker women, my 11th great grandfather cruelly reasoned, had the liberty to go elsewhere, but they failed to exercise that liberty. Instead, they tried to spread their beliefs in Dover, preaching against professional ministers, restrictions on individual conscience, and the established customs of church-ruled settlements. Something had to be done.
Nutter, who filled the pulpit on occasion, sprung into action. He helped to get Dover citizens to sign a petition “humbly craving relief against the spreading & the wicked errors of the Quakers among them.” According to a Quaker historian, Hatevil (pronounced just like you think, Hate Evil) stirred up crown magistrate Captain Richard Walderne to issue an order to the constables of surrounding jurisdictions.
A little background may be necessary. Many of the Puritans who settled in New England in the 1660s did not believe in a separate church and state. They fled Europe, in many cases, because they believed the Church of England had strayed from its basic principles. They refused to tolerate dissent.
Walderne’s order required the constables ”in the King’s name” to take “these vagabond Quakers, Ann Coleman, Mary Tomkins, and Alice Ambrose,” tie them fast to a cart’s tail, and “whip their naked backs, not exceeding ten stripes apiece on each of the them, in each town; and so to convey them from constable to constable, till they are out of this jurisdiction.”
The medieval-style punishment was severe, even by Colonial standards. The order called for whippings in at least 11 towns. It would require travel over 80 miles in bitterly cold weather. The first stop was Dover, to which Nutter had come from England 30 years before. The women were seized on a frigid winter day by constables John and Thomas Roberts. George Bishop recorded the events:
“Deputy Waldrom caused these women to be stripped naked from the middle upwards, and tied to a cart, and after awhile cruelly whipped them, whilst the priest stood and looked and laughed at it.”
Hatevil thought it was a real laugh-riot as well, according to Sewell, another witness. “All this whipping of the Quaker women, by the Constables (in front of the meeting-house) was in the presence of one Hate-Evil Nutwell (Nutter), a Ruling Elder, who stirred up the Constables (John and Thomas Roberts) to this wicked action, and so proved that he bore a wrong name (Hate Evil).”
According to Sewell’s History of the Quakers, the women were carried next to Hampton, where the constable wanted to whip the women with their clothes on. But they said, “‘set us free, or do according to thine order.’ He then spoke to a woman to take off their clothes. But she said she would not for all the world. Why, said he, then I’ll do it myself…So he stripped them, and then stood trembling whip in hand, and so he did the execution.
“Then he carried them to Salisbury through the dirt and the snow half the leg deep; and here they were whipped again. Indeed, their bodies were so torn, that if Providence had not watched over them, they might have been in danger of their lives.”
Once the women got to Salisbury, one Walter Barefoot convinced the constable to swear him in as a deputy. He received the women and the warrant and put a stop to the persecution. Dr. Barefoot dressed their wounds and returned them to the Maine side of the Piscataqua River.
Barefoot had the support of the town’s people, who were guided by the influential Major Robert Pike, one of the leaders of the lower Merrimac valley. According to history books, Pike stood far in advance of his time. He advocated religious freedom and opposed ecclesiastical authority. He even courageously wrote to the court at Salem, objecting to the witchcraft trials.
Eventually, much to Nutter’s chagrin, the Quaker women returned to Dover and established a church. More than a third of Dover’s citizens eventually became Quakers.
The Nutter connection to the Thompson family comes through Grandmother Marie (Meanie) Elise Kruttschnitt’s grandfather, Frederick Manthano Pickering (1862-1945), who was born in Portland, Me. Intrepid family genealogist Sue Wolfe discovered the connection several years ago and documented it with a set of papers more than an inch thick.
Sue discovered that Hatevil was born in 1598, probably in Harlington, Bedford, England, and came to the United States in the mid 1630s. According to the history of Dover, N.H., he did not arrive with the first wave of immigrants in 1633. He probably showed up a little later. Public records show that in 1637 he bought a lot from one Captain Thomas Wiggin. Over the years, he received various land grants from the town.
Hatevil was part owner of a sawmill at Lamprey River, and he owned a ship yard on the shore of the Fore River. He helped organize the First Church in November 1638 and served in various official capacities during his lifetime.
“His house stood on the east side of High Street, about 15 or 20 rods from the north corner of the meeting house-lot,” reads the history of Dover. “An old pear tree stands (1923) in the hollow, which was part of the cellar.”
Nutter was by no means alone in his hatred of Quakers. Laws were passed during his time imposing fines on the master of any vessel who brought a Quaker into the colony. Quakers who managed to set foot in the Colonies were supposed to be sent immediately to a house of correction, where they would receive 20 stripes and be confined to hard labor.
A later act levied a 40-shilling fine against anyone who harbored a Quaker for one hour. After the first conviction, the offender, if a man, would lose one ear; and upon the third conviction, the other ear. Offending women would be whipped each time. After four convictions, offenders–men and women alike–would have their tongue bored through with a hot iron.
Many Quakers came to America to escape religious persecution in Europe. They found it in new forms once they arrived.