All Things Maine
All Things Maine

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

No Hogs or Women Allowed on Hog Island

Hogs and women were once banned on the Isles of Shoals. Janice Brown of Cow Hampshire explains what happened when John Reynolds brought his wife and "a great stock of goats and swine" to Hog Island (now Appledore) in 1647. Only his wife was allowed to stay.

Reynolds wasn't the first to bring a woman to the islands, as John Scribner Jenness notes in his The Isles of Shoals: An Historical Sketch, and the majority of islanders approved of the presence of women.
[T]he married men of the Islands, when this obsolete law had been brought to notice, were not permitted to rest in peace, until it was expunged from the statute book. A petition for the repeal of the obnoxious law was presented to the Court by one William Wormwood, the hapless husband of Jane Wormwood, who had been already complained of as a common scold; and it was urged with such zeal, that at the General Court, held at Gorgeana, in 1650, "It was ordered, upon the petition of William Wormwood, that as the fishermen of the Isles of Shoals will entertaine womanhood, they have liberty to sit down there, provided they shall not sell neither wine, beare, nor liquor."1

We regret to add, that the "womanhood," thus licensed to sit down at the Shoals, did sometimes sorely abuse their privilege. Their offences generally consisted, it seems, in a singular volubility of tongue, and a certain asperity of temper.
1York County Court Records
Jenness proceeds to enumerate several cases of women of the Isles abusing their husbands and neighbors with "evil speeches" and "badd words." Installation of a "cucking stool" to punish them was resisted, and "the natural liberty of tongue, which the fishwives of Gosport and Hog Island seem to have prized so highly, was never afterwards assailed."

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