Search the Database

Well-Behaved Women & History

well-behaved-plainGrietjen Westercamp. 1642 – Aft 1701  W | D

Sued the father of her first child for support, and wasn’t deterred by his ridicule. Abducted during the Esopus Wars by (probably) the Lenapi tribe, and made it home again. Spent a great deal of time in front of the court in her later life defending herself for various indiscretions and fits of temper.

Hannah Hinman. 1666 – 1743  W | D

Threatened with a nunnery if she didn’t behave. In her father’s will.

Catherine. 1632 – ? W

One of the thousands of Roman Catholics forced to leave Ireland by Cromwell and transported to New England, Catherine (her own last name is unrecorded) married Alexander Ennis, a Scots prisoner of war who had been sold — again this was Cromwell’s work — to labor in the Saugus Ironworks. Life in the Puritan Massachusetts Bay Colony was not easy for either of them, but Catherine was accused and convicted of having an affair. From the court documents:

Katheren Aines, for her vnclean and laciuiouse behauior with the abouesaid William Paule, and for the blasphemos words that shee hath spoken, is centanced by the Court to bee forthwith publickly whipt heer att Plymouth, and afterwards att Taunton, on a publicke training day, and to were a Roman B cutt out of ridd cloth and sowed to her vper garment on her right arme; and if shee shalbee euer found without it soe worne whil shee is in the gou(vern)ment, to bee forthwith publickly whipt

Apparently she was not meek when she came before the court, and expressed herself freely. For her sins she was publicly whipped and forced to wear a scarlet B (for blasphemy) on her bodice, for as long as she lived. Quite sensibly she and Alexander lit out for Rhode Island. I would guess that she left the scarlet B behind her.

Lillie Cantwell.  W |  D

Lillie was one of twelve children in a troubled family. Two of her brothers showed serious signs of mental illness.  In 1904 when she was seventeen, Lillie’s mother had her committed to Bracebridge Heath Lunatic Asylum in Lincolnshire England and gave this statement as her reason:

Can only be persuaded to take food with great difficulty. Has threatened to jump out of bedroom window, and taken up carving knife to cut her throat, and has also attempted to strike people with a poker.

Bracebridge Heath Lunatic Asylum, deserted

Bracebridge Heath Lunatic Asylum, deserted. According to White’s 1876 Lincolnshire, the parish of 1,482 acres (6.00 km2) was part of Boothby Graffoe Wapentake, and consisted of the Lincoln County Lunatic Asylum on Sleaford Road, All Saints’ church, and a vicarage. (Wikipedia)


Lillie’s medical records show definite signs of depression and mental illness, but she also had tuberculosis. In any case, she was too much for her family to deal with, though her friends tried to intercede.