Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fearless Females: Anne Dudley Bradstreet, First Woman Poet in the American Colonies

Thanks again to Lisa Alzo The Accidental Genealogist for the great writing prompts for Women's History Month!

ANNE DUDLEY was born about 1612 in Northamptonshire, England, the daughter of Sir THOMAS DUDLEY and his wife DOROTHY YORKE. When she was 16, she married SIMON BRADSTREET in England. In 1630, Sir THOMAS DUDLEY, his wife and children, and SIMON and ANNE DUDLEY BRADSTREET all accompanied the Puritan Rev John Winthrop on the ship "Arbella",  bound for the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

ANNE DUDLEY BRADSTREET was exceedingly well-educated for her time, having been tutored in literature and history in several languages including Greek, Latin, French and Hebrew. She began writing poetry mainly for herself, family and friends.  How she managed to have time to write is unfathomable; she bore eight children within ten years,  rarely was in good health, and had left the relative civilization of England for a home in an undeveloped new land.

Both her father Sir THOMAS DUDLEY, and her husband SIMON BRADSTREET became colonial governors of Massachusetts. Although their portraits were painted while they were in office, none exists for ANNE DUDLEY BRADSTREET.  She was, however, memorialized in stained glass at St Botolph's Church in Boston, Lincolnshire, England. The painting below is an artist's idea of what ANNE DUDLEY BRADSTREET may have looked like; I don't know who the artist was, however.

Stained glass window of ANNE DUDLEY BRADSTREET, St Botolph's Church, Boston, Lincolnshire, England

In 1650, some of ANNE's early poetry was appropriated by a brother-in-law in England and published as a collection entitled "The Tenth Muse Sprung Up Lately in America". This may have been done without her knowledge or consent.  Most of her later poems are very personal and emotional.  I especially like her poem, "To My Dear and Loving Husband":

If ever two were one, then surely we.

If ever man were lov'd by wife, then thee;
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me ye women if you can.

I prize thy love more than whole Mines of Gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that Rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee, give recompence.

Thy love is such I can no way repay,
The heavens reward thee manifold I pray.
Then while we live, in love lets so persevere,
That when we live no more, we may live ever.

Although ANNE was a Puritan, she often had doubts, and questioned the power of  male dominance in society, as well as the Puritan concept of a harsh & punitive God.   Her views and intellect were very unusual for a woman of that time and place. She died Sept 16, 1672, age 60,  in Andover, Essex Co MA.

I am a direct descendent of ANNE DUDLEY BRADSTREET through my maternal grandmother, RUBY BOLTON BROWN:

ANNE DUDLEY , poet, b 1612 Northamptonshire, England m SIMON BRADSTREET, Colonial Governor of MA
HANNAH BRADSTREET b Oct 1642 Andover, Essex Co MA m ANDREW WIGGIN, b Sept 26, 1641 Dover, Strafford Co NH son of THOMAS WIGGIN, colonial gov of NH
JONATHAN WIGGIN b March 11, 1681 Newbury, Essex Co MA m MARY EMERY b Dec 29, 1684 Newbury, Essex Co MA
ANNA WIGGIN b abt 1720 Stratham, Rockingham Co NH m JOSEPH JEWETT b Dec 31, 1700 Rowley, Essex Co MA
ANDREW JEWETT b Oct 28, 1750 Stratham, Rockingham Co, NH m MARY PIPER b Jan 20, 1756 Stratham, NH
MOLLY JEWETT b March 5, 1777 Sanbornton, Belknap Co NH m STEPHEN GALE III b Nov 23, 1770 Sanbornton, NH
PHEBE GALE b Jan 24, 1802 Sanbornton, NH m BENJAMIN BUTLER BROWN b April 19, 1800, of Sanbornton, Belknap Co NH
HENRY "New Hampshire" BROWN b Sept 21, 1825 Sanbornton, Belknap Co, NH m Mrs CORDELIA (RICKARD) MYERS b 1830 Kenwyn Parish, Redruth, Cornwall, England.
FRANK RICARD BROWN b Feb 5, 1858 Sacramento CA m MARY ETTA KENNEDY b March 3, 1858 Portland, Cumberland Co, ME
RUBY BOLTON BROWN b July 17, 1893 Alameda CA m RANDOLPH BENJAMIN "Rolla" MARTINE b Dec 24, 1888 Kansas City, MO (my grandparents)

Have a great day!


1 comment:

judy gumaer testa said...

Anne Dudley Bradstreet is my ancestress too! 9th Great Grandmother.

Anne Dudley=Simon Bradstreet>
John Bradstreet=Sarah Perkins> Mercy Bradstreet=John Hazen> Samuel Hazen>
Samuel Hazen=Mary>
Ezra Hazen=Mary Coss>
Mary Ann Hazen=Gabriel Compton>
Adonriam Compton=Emiline Haines>
Delbert Compton=Thursey Palmer>
Ernest Compton=Electa Gumaer>
Betty Compton=2 Rudolph Testa>
Judy Gumaer Testa