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About Lydia Jefts
Lydia was probably born in Sandwich about 1657 as she was not a minor in the court case against Ambrose Fish in Oct. 1677, and if she was aged about 45 when her last child was born in 1703. She is most likely the daughter of Nathaniel Fish's second wife, Lydia Miller, given her mother's name. Lydia was not a name found in the preceding generations of Fishes, and many descendants of this family believe his first wife's name was Mehitable. Lydia was also the name of Nathaniel's second wife's mother. The first time we see Nathaniel's daughter Lydia in records is in a Plymouth court case. "Rape is very infrequently mentioned in the court records of Plymouth Colony. Certainly some of the cases where a man is accused of 'attempting the chastity of' a woman might have been attempted or actual rape, but the wording frequently leaves room for doubt. One clear cut case was tried on 30 October 1677, when Ambrose Fish was accused that he did 'by force carnlly know and ravish Lydia Fish, the daughter of Mr. Nathaniel Fish, of Sandwich aforsaid, and against her will.' The attack had occurred on 12 July, two months prior. The delay in bringing the case to court was probably to ascertain if the victim had become pregnant, which apparently she had not. Rape was a capital offense and the 'verdict of the jury of life and death' was that 'if one evidence with concurring cercomstances be good in law, wee find him guilty. But if one evidence, with concurring cercomstances, be not good in law, wee find him not guilty.' This apparently meant that Lydia Fish herself was the only witness of the act. The court hedged, 'Vpon consideration of the verdict, the Court centanced him, the said Ambrose Fish, to suffer corprall punishment by being publickly whipt att the post,' which accordingly was inflicted, and the prisoner released, not executed as was the ultimate penalty for the crime at that time. Lydia was a granddaughter of the Reverend John Miller, and Ambrose Fish was probably her half-brother. What is interesting is that there was no mention of incest, which leaves the relationship somewhat open to question."<ref>Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony Its History and People 1620 - 1691, p. 198-199.</ref> Since a woman in this situation would have then become the subject of disdain, perhaps scorn or ridicule, or at very least severe embarrassment, it would be likely that she and her family would want her to remove from the area. We suggest that she is the 'Lydia Fisk of Sandwich' that married John Jefts in 1688 in Billerica, Middlessex Co. Strengthening the argument is the residence of her maternal aunt, Elizabeth (Miller) Frost in Billerica from 1674-1692. This Lydia (Fisk) Jefts also named her fifth child Nathaniel, a name not found in the Jefts family. There also were no Fisks in Sandwich in the 1680s. Lydia perhaps removed to Billerica not long after the court case in 1677, living with her aunt and attending to the Frost children and household until her own marriage in 1688. Lydia and John Jefts had seven children born in Billerica between 1688 and 1703. Then in the year 1712 the family saw the deaths of their daughter Hannah in July, followed by Lydia herself in early September, and her husband John by the end of the same month. Their remaining six children were all quite young, and all unmarried when their parents died. Their oldest son, Henry, was age 24, and was granted administration on his father's estate in Nov. 1712. He also clearly shouldered the responsibility of caring for his younger siblings, as he was appointed guardian to Nathaniel, William and Ebenezer who were still minors when their parents died. <ref>John Jefts, Probate Administration case #12522 (1712), Middlesex Co. Probate Court, Middlesex County, Massachusetts</ref> Children: 1. Henry Jefts, Jr., b. 16 Jan 1688, Billerica, Middlesex County, Massachusetts; 2. Alice Jefts, b. 7 Sep 1691, Billerica, Middlesex County, Massachusetts; 3. Hannah Jefts, b. 18 Aug 1694, Billerica, Middlesex County, Massachusetts; 4. John Jefts, b. 19 Dec 1696, Billerica, Middlesex County, Massachusetts; 5. Nathaniel Jefts, b. 29 Mar 1699, Billerica, Middlesex County, Massachusetts; 6. William Jefts, b. 17 Mar 1701, Billerica, Middlesex County, Massachusetts; & 7. Ebenezer Jefts, b. 28 Jan 1703, Billerica, Middlesex County, Massachusetts.
Lydia Jefts's Timeline
Sandwich, Barnstable, MA, USA
September 8, 1712
Billerica, Middlesex County, Massachusetts