"Partner" = spouse spoken of the male partner, 1775

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Sun Mar 23 14:53:01 UTC 2008

partner (n)

Perhaps the earliest instance for OED3 n.1 sense 7.a = "spouse"
referring to the male partner?  (See at end below.)

Hannah Winthrop, letter
undated; the editors have "[Andover, April or May, 1775]"

Not knowing what the Event would be at Cambridge at the return of
these Bloody ruffians, and seeing another Brigade dispatched to the
Assistance of the former, Looking with the ferocity of Barbarians, it
seemed necessary to retire to some place of Safety till the Calamity
was passed. My partner had been a fortnight confined by illness.
After dinner we set out not knowing whither we went.

[The "partner" is John Winthrop, second Hollisian Professor of
Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at the College, and
great-great-grandson of John "city-upon-a-hill" Winthrop.]

Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, Vol. 73 (1925),
"Warren--Adams Letters, Vol. II."
page 410

[This transcription is, I suspect, truer to the original than the
transcription in Proceedings of the MHS, 1875-1876, Vol. 14 (published 1876).]

The current earliest OED3 quotation where partner refers to a male is
"1789 A. FRANCIS Poet. Transl. Song of Solomon Pref. p. viii, She
speaks but little; just enough to convince her royal partner of the
preference her heart gives him."  The quotation "1667 MILTON Paradise
Lost X. 128, I stand Before my Judge, either to undergoe My self the
total Crime, or to accuse My other self, the partner of my life" is
spoken by Adam.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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