Puritan Family Life: The Diary of Samuel Sewall

Puritan Family Life: The Diary of Samuel Sewall

by Judith S. Graham
     
 

ISBN-10: 1555535933

ISBN-13: 9781555535933

Pub. Date: 10/23/2003

Publisher: Northeastern University Press

Historians have commonly characterized Puritan family life as joyless, repressive, even brutal. By such accounts, Puritan parents disciplined their children mercilessly, crushed their wills, responded callously to their deaths, and routinely sent them out of the home to be raised by cold-hearted surrogates. The diary of Samuel Sewall (1652-1730) contradicts this

Overview

Historians have commonly characterized Puritan family life as joyless, repressive, even brutal. By such accounts, Puritan parents disciplined their children mercilessly, crushed their wills, responded callously to their deaths, and routinely sent them out of the home to be raised by cold-hearted surrogates. The diary of Samuel Sewall (1652-1730) contradicts this grim portrait of the Puritan household.

Although Sewall was an exceptional Puritan father and not a representative one, his judicial, civic, religious, and business activities projected him far beyond his own privileged and respectable circumstances. As a record of the family and social life of New England's third generation, his remarkable journal, which spans fifty-five years, is rivaled only by that of his friend Cotton Mather. Sewall provides rich details about the home where his and Hannah Sewall's fourteen children were born, and the six who survived infancy were raised. He takes the reader through the streets and byways of Boston, to the meetinghouse, to the places where his children were educated and apprenticed, and to the homes of friends, neighbors, and kin.

Judith S. Graham's close reading of Sewall's diary and family papers reveals that warmth, sympathy, and love often marked the Puritan parent-child relationship. She suggests that the special nature of childhood was a concept that parents understood well, and that there was a practical and clear purpose for the "putting out" of children. Graham provides a much-needed balance to accepted scholarship on Puritan life and offers new insights into the history of both early New England and the family.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781555535933
Publisher:
Northeastern University Press
Publication date:
10/23/2003
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
296
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.80(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsix
Acknowledgmentsxi
Introduction3
Chapter 1"My Comfort and Defense" The Marriage of Hannah Hull and Samuel Sewall23
Chapter 2"Herein is my Father glorified" Birth34
Chapter 3"The sorrowfull remembrance of Adam's carriage" Child-Rearing61
Chapter 4"A red Coat for her little Aaron" Children as "Miniature Adults"78
Chapter 5"Give her a Lift towards heaven" The Illness and Death of Children99
Chapter 6"Your Son is now one of us" Education109
Chapter 7"A Trade that might be good for Soul and body" The Calling121
Chapter 8"No man came with him to me" Children Taken into the Sewall Home135
Chapter 9"Hopes by going to Sea ... after his Time is out, may get a livelihood" Sending Out and Taking In144
Chapter 10"A Stone-Ring, and a Fan ... with a noble Letter to my daughter" Courtship and Marriage167
Chapter 11"Govr Dudley mention'd Christ's pardoning Mary Magdalen" The Relationship between the Generations181
Chapter 12"The Fruit of the Womb is a Reward" Conclusion217
List of Abbreviations227
Notes229
Bibliography267
Index275

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