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.

The Old Quaker Meeting House in Dover

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.

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18 Responses to “Hatevil Nutter Was A Cruel Religious Hypocrite”

  1. Sue Wolfe April 15, 2011 at 4:51 pm #

    What a story! The second part of his name really describes him.

  2. Bill June 18, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

    Thanks for this. I too am a descendant. Ironically, one of Nutter’s great-grandsons (Hatevil Hall, my 7th great grandfather) became a Quaker and was a leader and founder of the Falmouth (now Portland), Maine meeting. I’m sure this cruel history was known to him.

  3. Jason March 31, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

    Thanks for writing this story. I too am a descendant of Hatevil from his daughter Mary’s marriage to John Wingate. What a cruel man to have to share DNA with!

  4. Jim Walton April 20, 2012 at 9:53 pm #

    I find it unfortunate that a piece of history is taken out of context and the blame laid on someone who really was not to blame. I too am a direct descendant of Hatevil Nutter and also the Quaker George Walton. But there is much more to this story that casts it in a little different light. First, I believe his name was pronounced “Hatavul” rather than the “Hate Evil” that the Quakers branded him with, but their version is certainly justified from their viewpoint. However it was not Nutter who was responsible. It was the entire society. In fact, had it not been for the Quaker poet, John Greenleaf Whittier, we may have never heard of this incident.

    For reference, check out the New Hampshire State Archives web site and download the first volume of the New Hampshire State Papers. From page 226 to page 240 you will find a number of court documents dealing with the Quakers. They include such things as cutting off their ears, piercing their tongues, expulsion from the colony with complete forfeiture of all property, death, and anyone aiding and abetting the Quakers was subject to the same punishments.

    In one instance, a woman who was sentenced to hang was allowed to live on the condition her son took her out of the territory within 48 hours. She was required, however, to stand on the gallows with the rope about her neck while she watched her two friends hanged.

    The standard punishment was tying them to the back of a cart, stripping them to the waist, and whipping them with 10 lashes then sending them on the the next town until they were literally whipped out of the territory. This law was passed in 1661.

    While we consider them wrong by any measure of decency, remember they were living in a different time and many of their laws would be very foreign to us. To them the Quakers were as much a threat as any terrorist today–and that’s how they were perceived.

    Let’s not be too hard on Grandpa Nutter. He was a sincere, righteous, Christian believer as he was taught to understand righteousness and Christianity. He acted as he thought best to protect his family and his community from the devices of the Devil. We would have perhaps done the same thing.

    The persecution of the Quakers got so out of hand, the King had to send his own emissary to put a stop to it. Hatevil was just a small cog in a very large wheel, but he was not the “cruel religious hypocryte” that Boyce would make him out to be. While I might feel shame for some of the things he may have done, I cannot feel shame for having him as by ancestor.

    • Boyce Thompson, Jr. May 2, 2012 at 8:06 am #

      Very strong argument, Jim. I’m a little less willing to let him off the hook because he was a product of his times. And it may be going too far to equate Quakers with terrorists. But I appreciate your perspective. Thanks for commenting.

      • Jim Walton July 17, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

        I wasn’t necessarily equating Quakers with terrorists, what I was doing was explaining the perception of the Puritans who did believe the Quakers were the equivalent to terrorists.

        Every society, even today, has things that are considered wrong or evil by other societies. We have our own standards and live by them. Perhaps 500 years hence we to will be roundly criticized for some of the decisions we make today.

        The real culprit in this event was the court in Boston who demanded the punishment. The local church members were merely asking for relief from what they perceived to be instruments of the Devil. They did not ask for them to be whipped, just removed from the territory. The court demanded the whippings, and the local constable carried out the court order. The “eye witness” accounts, particularly those reported by Quaker writers, is always suspect.

        Sad? Yes. Terrible? Absolutely. Would we do such a thing today? Well, we consider ourselves more humane when we use a relatively painless form of capital punishment. But I still contend that we cannot judge our ancestors based on today’s morality.

        Your grandmother may have been fined, or even whipped for having a child before she was married 9 months. I know some of mine were. A woman having sex outside of marriage was whipped and pilloried. How would that fly in today’s society :)

        Hatevil was not a cruel religious hypocrite, he may have been a misguided religious zealot, but he lived what he believed. How many of us can say the same about our own religious convictions?

    • Brandi March 26, 2014 at 2:11 am #

      I to am a direct descendant. To try to say he ‘stood up for Christian values as best as his knowledge permitted’ is a load of crap. He was far from righteous. He had obviously not read the Bible and understood it or believed it. He was a pharisee who used Christianity as tool to manipulate to get his way. Anyone who doesn’t feel shame for an ancestor that beat women has major problems. It doesn’t matter if ‘it was normal back then’, cruel is cruel, right is right and wrong is wrong. I to am a Christian and I feel nothing but searing shame and anger for this relative.

  5. Marybeth April 28, 2012 at 9:33 pm #

    I too am a direct descendent of Hatevil and I am a Quaker. I’ve heard that there is a painting of the Three Quaker Women of Dover in the Dover Friends Meetinghouse. Also, there may be a connection with Quakers and Hatevil before he came to America. I did some research on this a few years back, which is a bit fuzzy to me now. I think Hatevil was born in the area, Pendle Hill, where George Fox, the founder of the Religious Society of Friends (the formal name for Quakers), grew up. Furthermore, George Fox’s father may have been the caretaker for the church where Hatevil’s uncle was the minister (Anthony Nutter). So Hatevil and George Fox may have known each other, and probably didn’t like each other very much! This area, Pendle Hill, is also the place where there was a spate of “witch” killings in the early 1600s. There is a book written about this time — I think it is called “The Pendle Hill Witches.” Hatevil’s uncle Anthony played a role in the persecution of these women.

    • Boyce Thompson, Jr. May 2, 2012 at 8:01 am #

      This is amazing work. Thanks much for responding to my story. I can’t believe how much more can be learned from publishing a simple story on the Internet.

  6. June May 2, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

    I came to this site today, because I found a note from a Nutter’s descendants. It lists descendants as Thomas Roberts-John Dam- John Hall- Hatevil Nutter. It told story about the town’s approval for a saw mill in 1647. It also stated that it was an early history of the family given to her long ago buys an Aunt Mary. The book I found it in was one of the volumes of the Genealogy and Family History of the State of New Hampshire compiled by Erza S Stearns in 1901. It is interesting to see both sides of the story. What is the old saying “There are three sides of the truth: his, yours and the truth will be found somewhere in the middle.”

  7. Ed Peritz May 19, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

    Hi, I’ve just begun fact checking a partial family tree commissioned by my grandmother and given to me over 50 years ago. I just moved to this branch which starts with Elder Hotevil (sic) Nutter, of S. Piscataqua. no dates given. But next, in line is Mary Nutter married to John Wingate, died 1687 and continues the Wingate line to Betsy, 1798-1842 of Farmington, ME. She married a Joseph S. Kelley, 1793-1870 or ’71 of Gilmanton, N.H. It appears that this Hot or Hatevil must be one in the same.
    As a life long student of history, and one time teacher of same–still with most relatives in MA–I pretty much believe in the religious cruelties Puritans inflicted on non-compliers. Even the Dutch threw them out. John Williams fled and founded R.I. My brother’s house in Salem was near the so-called witch house. Be that as it may, at least when it came time to make a nation, the voice of the Puritans was gagged, while the voice of the Quakers was still influential.
    There are some Tebbets and Frosts, also in this branch whom married Wingates or their widows.
    Cheers, Ed Peritz

  8. Laura November 5, 2012 at 11:33 pm #

    Interesting history including the responses. Hatevil Nutter was my 10th great grandfather (through his daughter Abigail Nutter who married John Roberts and their son Thomas Roberts and his decendants Love Roberts I, II and III. Love III’s daughter married Wentworth Lowd and his granddaughter Laura Etta Lowd is my great great grandmother). It is interesting to read the history and so important to understand the context of the time.

  9. Sam Nutter December 20, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    I am also a great, great…. grandson of Hatevil Nutter and would love any more information about him and other Nutters.

  10. Rita Guinn January 31, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    I’m also a great-great-great, etc. grandchild of Hatevil Nutter (through his daughter Abigail). I’ve often thought that my maternal grandpa most resembled old Hatevil–sure he was right about everything. I’m curious as to whether Mayor Nutter of Philadelphia is any kin to us…

  11. Anthony Adams February 22, 2013 at 8:05 pm #

    Wow- excellent post, he is my 10th greatgrandfather as well. Thanks very much!

  12. Carol T. Lummus October 29, 2013 at 11:22 am #

    Also a descendant, my son lives on Dover Point in Dover, NH. Do read ‘How the women went from Dover’ by John Greenleaf Whittier. There he is, Hatevil!

  13. Cynthia Taylor March 9, 2014 at 10:34 pm #

    Also a descendant…just finding out about him. I was related through his daughter Elizabeth’s marriage to Thomas Leighton. Love to hear more about him. Sounds like he came from England with a religious motive as he was listed a Puritan. The things one can find out about ones family is amazing!

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