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Martha Williams (Meade)

Also Known As: "Widow Richardson"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Lydd, Kent, England
Death: before November 20, 1695
West Farms, Westchester County, Province of New York
Immediate Family:

Daughter of William Mead; William Mead; Martha Mead and Martha Mead
Wife of John Richardson and Capt. Thomas Williams
Mother of Bethia Ketcham (Richardson); Mary Hadley and Elizabeth Leggett
Sister of Mary Mead; Joseph Meade; John Mead; Hannah Mead and Child Mead

Occupation: 3 children
Managed by: Virginia Lee Hill
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Martha Williams

From Mead Family Ancestry by Jim German

http://www.mead-family.net/histories/Mead_Family_Ancestry.pdf

In 1655 William and Philippa’s daughter, Martha Mead, was charged with “fornication outside of wedlock,” and was ordered to stand trial by the magistrates of New Haven.

She became pregnant while she was engaged to John Richardson, though he was not the father of the baby. Martha and John married in 1653, and left Connecticut and moved to Roxbury, Massachusetts to avoid a possible scandal. The baby was born and died a month later, so they returned to Stamford, Connecticut to resume their lives. The secret leaked out a few months later, and the charges were filed. Martha, who suffered from epilepsy, said she was unconscious and taken advantage of, and did not know who her assailant was. Many of the townspeople testified on her behalf, nevertheless, she was found guilty by the unsympathetic New Haven Court. The Court stated that the sexual act surely would have involved pleasure by its participants, and sentenced Martha to a severe public flogging and a fine. The flogging was suspended because she was pregnant again, this time by her husband John Richardson. Her fine was 10 Pounds.

John Richardson and Martha’s father, William Mead, paid the fine on installments, which included two “milch cows.” In reading about this sort of crime, the courts usually went heavy on the punishment for women and light on the men. It was the consensus that men had this in their nature and could not help it. In similar cases, many of the men got off with just a fine. Soon after her conviction, Martha and John, to avoid further reprisal, moved to nearby Westchester County, in New York.

There John Richardson, in partnership with Edward Jessup, bought Indian lands from the local Indians, the Shonearoekite and eight other tribes. This patent dated April 26, 1666 was known as West Farms Patent and was granted to them by King James. The name was given to describe its location relative to the other settlements in Connecticut.

The boundaries of their land was the Bronx River to the East; East River to the South; Harlem River and the Hudson Rivers to the West; and the township of Yonkers on the North. Within a year Edward Jessup died and willed his land to his daughter Elizabeth Hunt, the wife of Thomas Hunt. Today Hunt’s Point on the East river is named for this family.

In 1873 West Farm was removed from Westchester County and annexed into New York City. In 1898 it was made a Borough of New York City, known as Bronx. A descendant family through Elizabeth, the daughter of John and Martha, still owns land in Bronx. Their name is Tiffany.

John and Martha had three daughters:

  • Elizabeth who married Gabriel Leggett;
  • Mary who married Joseph Hadley;
  • Bertha who married Joseph Ketcham.

After John passed away, Martha remarried to Captain Thomas Williams who was a very prominent man in Westchester. He died a few years later leaving no heirs.

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Martha Williams's Timeline

1632
November 2, 1632
Lydd, Kent, England
1652
1652
Age 19
Middenburgh, Nieuw-Nederlanden
1654
1654
Age 21
Yonkers, Nieuw-Nederlanden
1656
1656
Age 23
West Farms, Bronx County, New York, Colonial America
1695
November 20, 1695
Age 63
West Farms, Westchester County, Province of New York
1905
April 18, 1905
Age 63
1921
March 24, 1921
Age 63
1945
December 20, 1945
Age 63