Margaret / Christine Otis (1689 - 1773) MP

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Margaret / Christine Otis's Geni Profile

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Nicknames: "Christine"
Birthplace: Dover, Strafford, NH, USA
Death: Died in Dover, Strafford, NH, USA
Managed by: Martin Otis
Last Updated:

About Margaret / Christine Otis

Margaret Otis was 3 months old when Indians attacked her father's garrison. Her father was killed, and she and her mother were taken captive. They were sold to the French in Canada, and baptized as Roman Catholics, Margaret becoming "Christine." Her mother remarried. Christine was educated by nuns, married a Frenchman in 1707, and was naturalized in May 1710. In 1714, after his death, she met and fell in love with Thomas Baker, who was in Canada arranging for the release of prisoners. He secured her release among others, but was unable to gain the release of her two daughters. Margaret's mother argued against her going, saying that Margaret did not know how to bake bread and that there were no bake shops in New England. The government ordered Margaret's property to be sold and the money put into the hands of a "keeper." No funds were thereafter disbursed to her, the government taking the position that she was the prisoner of a former war and could not benefit by the terms of the Peace of Utrecht and that the law prevented persons intending to leave the country from taking their money with them. Further, the church threatened to keep her children. Nevertheless, Margaret did leave with the governor's grudging consent. It seemed at first that she would be allowed to take her older daughter, then aged 4, with her. On 9 June 1714 she executed a deed leaving her younger daughter, then aged 2, and her property, including a house on rue Saint-François, in the hands of her mother and step-father. The deed states that she planned to depart for Peskadaoué (Piscataqua, Maine), planned never to return to New France (Québec), and provided that if Margaret's younger daughter should die, then the property would belong to her mother and step-father, but that if either she or her older daughter should ever return they would receive the property back. Many years later, about 1740, Margaret's step-daughter Agatha sued Margaret's mother to recover the house. Margaret's daughters were probably both dead without heirs at that date, but Agatha did not recover the house until after the death of Margaret's mother.

In January of 1715 Margaret Otis was living with Joanna Perry in Boston. Thomas Baker later brought her to his home in Brookfield, where a grant of "upland and meadow" was made to "Margaret Otice, alias Le Bue, one that was a prisoner in Canada and lately come from thence, provided she returns not to live in Canada, but tarries in this province and marries to Captain Thomas Baker." They were married soon after, and lived at Brookfield, Massachusetts. Margaret was re-baptized and given back the name "Margaret."

Margaret and her husband were visited in Brookfield by her half-brother Philippe Robitaille, who worked a year on her farm, then returned to Canada, and died soon after. In March 1722 Thomas and Christian [Margaret] Baker proposed to undertake a journey to Canada to recover her daughters left behind. Margaret petitioned the General Court for a grant to cover the expenses of the journey: "the said Christian from her natural affection to her Children in Captivity at Canada [although the children, having a French father, owning property in Canada, and being French citizens were not actually captives] and in hopes of Recovering them, Design to Undertake a Journey thither, That She is Encouraged to hope she might be Useful to perswade many others, in the Hands of the French & Indians to return to their Countrey, and Religion & praying a Suitable allowance for her support in this affair." The Council granted her £20. They made the journey in April, but came back without her children. Of course, she was a stranger to them by then, and they were age 19 and 21 with lives of their own.

In 1729 Margaret received a letter from Fr. Seguenot in Canada. He addressed her as his "Spiritual Daughter" and reminded her that she "had the happiness of making one of the holy Family of Jesus, Maria, Joseph, Joachim and Anne, whereof I had the honor to be the Director, and that you, as well as Madame Robitail [her mother] . . . were of the Number of about Two Hundred Women of the best fashion of Ville Marie . . . who then made up the mystical body of that holy Association." Fr. Seguenot went on to beg Margaret to adjure her Apostasy, promising that if she and her husband will return to Canada she will not want for bread, and promising that her husband would be granted land, or work if he has a Trade. Finally, he describes the Happy and Christian death of her married daughter [who had died two years previously, along with an infant child, having been married only 10 months] in Québec where she had lived with her husband "peaceably and to the edification of all the town." The letter was signed "Seguenot of the Seminary at Ville-Marie: you know me very well" In 1732 Thomas Baker sold their possessions in Brookfield, and in 1735 the family moved to Dover, New Hampshire, Margaret's original home.

In June 1735 she petitioned the Court of Massachusetts that she "Suffer'd many hardships" during her 25 years in captivity, that she "took a Journey to Canada with her husband" to redeem her children and "was there Instrumental In bringing back Divers Captives etc." The court granted her 500 acres in York County (now Maine). The same year she petitioned authorities in New Hampshire for leave to keep a "Public House for Entertainment of Travellers etc." being reduced to very low circumstances by the chances of fortune, having a large family (six children) and her husband "past his Labour." In this petition she recited her past difficulties, but affirmed that she hath this Comfort: "That she is alsoo returned into the Bossum of the Protestant church." In March 1737 she petitioned for another 500 acres, fearing that her several children might become burdensome, but the petition was laid over for the next session. Margaret outlived her husband by 20 years, and died leaving a large posterity, having lived "in good reputation, being a pattern of industry, prudence and economy."

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Margaret / Christine Otis's Timeline

March 9, 1689
Dover, Strafford, NH, USA
July 14, 1707
Age 18
Montreal, QC, Canada
November 20, 1708
Age 19
Montreal, QC, Canada
June 14, 1710
Age 21
Montreal, QC, Canada
May 20, 1712
Age 23
Montreal, QC, Canada
Age 25
February 23, 1773
Age 83
Dover, Strafford, NH, USA