About George Burdett
George Burdett (c. 1602-1671) was the second colonial governor of the Upper Plantation of New Hampshire, later to become the Province of New Hampshire, between 1637 and 1640. Born in England, Burdett was a minister of the Church of England serving at Yarmouth. Under the pretence of being oppressed by a fellow bishop, but in reality because he had been suspended for disrespecting a statue of Jesus, he left his wife and children and travelled to New England in 1636. Burdett spent a short time in Salem, Massachusetts before travelling to Dover, New Hampshire where his popularity led to his election as governor within a year. His ministry was characterised by the dispute between Episcopalian and Puritan settlers, resulting in "confusion and trouble."
Burdett corresponded with Archbishop William Laud, and when this was discovered by his political opponents, he was forced from office. Following an adulterous revelation, he left for Agamenticus (present-day York, Maine), however he fell into "usurpation, crime and injustice". According to State Papers from Maine, he was "indicted by the whole Bench for a man of ill name and fame." He was charged with committing adultery with two married women and ordered to pay compensation. As a result, he returned to England, where he served as chaplain to Parliamentary regiments during the English Civil War. After the Restoration he served as a minister in Ireland.
YORK RECORDS BOOK A, 28.
"8th September, 1641, General Court at Saco. Before Thomas Gorges, Richard Vines, Richard Bonighton, Henry Josselin, and Ed- mund Godfrey.
"Mary the wife of George Puddington of Agamenticus is here In- dicted by the whole Bench for often frequenting the House and com- pany of Mr. George Burdett, minister of Agamenticus aforesaid, privately in his bed-chamber and elsewhere in a very suspicious man- ner, notwithstanding the said Mary was often forewarned thereof, by her said Husband, and the Constable of the said Plantation with divers others ; and for abusing her said Husband to the great dis- turbance and scandall of the said plantation, contrary to the peace of our Sovereign Lord the King. This Enquest find Billa vera [true bill].
" Whereupon the Court enjoyneth the said Mary to make this pub- lick confession, here in this Court, and likewise at Agamenticus afore- said when she shall be thereto called by the Worship'l Thomas Gorges and Edmund Godfrey, two of the Councellors of this Province. Her confessions followeth.
"I Mary Puddington, do hereby acknowledge that I have dishon- oured God the place where I live, and wronged my Husband by my disobedience and light carriage for which I am heartily sorry, and desire forgiveness of this Court, and of my Husband, and do promise amendment of life and manners henceforth; and having made this confession to ask her husband forgiveness on her knees.
"Mr. George Burdett minister of Agamenticus is Indicted by the whole Bench for a man of ill name and fame, Infamous for inconti- nency, a Publisher and Broacher of divers dangerous speeches, the better to seduce that weak sex of women to his Incontinent practices contrary to the peace of our Sovereign Lord the King, as by Deposi- tions and Evidences. This Enquest find Billa vera.
"Whereupon the said George Burdett is fined by the Bench for this his offence ten pounds sterling to our Sovereign Lord ye King.
"Mr. George Burdett is also Indited by the whole Bench for De- flowering Ruth the wife of John Gouch of Agamenticus aforesaid as by depositions and evidence appeareth, contrary to the Peace of our Sovereign Lord the King. This Enquest find Billa vera .
" Whereupon the said George Burdett is fined by the bench for this his offence Twenty Pounds Sterling to our Sovereign Lord the King.
" Mr. George Burdett being found guilty by the grand Enquest for entertaining Mary the wife of George Puddington in his House as by the first Indictment against the said George Burdett appeareth, is therefore fined by this Bench Ten Pounds Sterling to the said George Puddington for those his wrongs and Damage sustained by the said George Burdett. page 29.
" Ruth the wife of John Gouch being found guilty by the grand Inquest of Adultery with Mr. George Burdett is therefore censured by this Court, that six weeks after she is delivered of child, she shall stand in a white sheet publickly in the Congregation at Agamenticus two several Sabbath Days, and likewise one day at this General Court when she shall be thereunto called, by the Councellors of this Prov- ince, according to his majesty's laws in that case provided.
The History Detective found that these were far from Mr. Burdett's first offenses, and that in all likelihood his real reason for leaving England in the first place was to get away from a wife, children, and sexual as well as religious difficulties. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/trail/htd_history/sources/hist_det_george_burdett_01.shtml
Our starting point is an entry in the Yarmouth Assembly Book from 1625 to 1642, which can be found in the Norfolk Record Office in Norwich. The entry was made in 1635, and it reads:
At the Assembly Mrs Burdett in regard of hir husbands absense from hir, being gone for New England, whereby she is much destitute of means for the maintenance of hir and hir children, petitioned the house for some relief to be afforded hir in supply thereof: which being taken into consideration it is agreed that she shall have 20 marks per annum to be paid quarterlie by the Chamberlines. The first payment to begin at St Michael next: and soe to continue during the good likeing and pleasure of the house.
We also find the following note in the margin:
'Annuity of 20 marks per annum granted to Mrs Burdett'.