Ann married Reverend William Cotton, minister of Hungar’s Creek parish in 1637. She was 17. Cotton seemed to get things done by complaining or suing. He demanded a parsonage at a monthly court after hearing that each parish was ordered to supply one. He sued for tithes and special fees through the court system on the small East coast of the colony. Upon marrying Ann, the visits to the court immediately reduced in frequency. He and Ann acquired land on both sides of Hungar’s Creek, making him a considerable land-holder. She seemed to have had a soothing effect on his behavior. They would have been happy were it not for the death of the first two children. Cotton, himself, died a little over three years after the marriage, while Ann was pregnant with their third child.
The baby, Verlinda, survived and inherited the land, with Ann as executrix. A young woman did not last long as a widow. Ann married Nathaniel Eaton, a young widower, whose whole family was lost at sea. Nathaniel passed himself off as a minister and became curate of Hungar’s Creek parish. He was actually a liar, a cheat and a pretender. Eaton sold Verlinda’s land and pocketed the money. Then he moved his little family to the mainland where Ann knew no one. In a demonstration of audacity, Eaton bought a house in Warwick and never paid for it. When he was called to court on that account, he bribed a pirate ship owner to take him aboard with out the required passport and help him escape from the colony. Ann was left with a lawsuit and three little children, the oldest about 6. She never saw or heard from him again.
Ann fended for herself, probably living on the good graces of others, for a decade. In her mid- 30s, with three older children, she met Francis Doughty, another in a series of ministers attending Hungar’s Creek parish. He had lost his wife, left his children in New York and Maryland and had one grown son with him. Ann, thinking she would like some companionship, no doubt, married him. A pre-nuptial agreement was written and published, possibly the first such in the colony. Ann was not going to lose land or money over a man again! She soon found that Doughty lied, argued and exaggerated to the point that he could not keep a parish. After several moves around the colony, Doughty sought to move back to New York. Ann was unwilling to go. They divorced.
By now, Ann was closing in on 50. She watched her stepson die due to Bacon’s Rebellion, her brother-in-law be wounded and imprisoned due to the effects of the English Civil War on the colonies, and her sons die in accidents. But Verlinda was always there for her, dying a few years after her mother.
A strong woman, Ann managed to survive and lend loving support to her sisters, her daughter and her eight grandchildren.
Thank you for writing the history of Anne. She was a strong woman. My son-in-law is related to her.
Thank you for your kind words. Ann and her sister, Verlinda (not to be confused with her daughter, Verlinda) are models of the colonial women.