Early "mis[s]"(1652) as title?

Mark Mandel Mark.A.Mandel at GMAIL.COM
Fri Aug 28 20:55:30 UTC 2009

On Fri, Aug 28, 2009 at 12:58 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:
>  From the "Province and Court Records of Maine", Vol. 1 (1928), page
> 176, dated 1652 [NS] March 8:
> "We present Mis Batcheller for Adultery."
> [No period in this.  It is of course a transcription, so would need
> confirmation from the manuscript.]
> For "miss, n2", the OED's draft revision June 2009 has
> ...
>      2.  "In form Miss, as a title."  Earliest quotation "1667 S.
> PEPYS Diary 7 Mar. (1974) VIII. 101 Little Mis Davis did dance a Jigg
> after the end of the play."
> So does the Maine 1652 quotation antedate sense 2?  It must be
> admitted, of course, that since she is presented for adultery "Mis
> Batcheller" was married at the time.

Was she? Adultery takes two. OED:

Violation of the marriage bed; the voluntary sexual intercourse of a married
person with one of the opposite sex, whether unmarried, or married to
another (the former case being technically designated single, the latter
double adultery).

Where was the man? Charged separately? Not charged or otherwise not
mentioned, for whatever reason? If he was married, it was adultery even if
she was unmarried. Which of the three possible combinations -- married but
not to each other, he married and she single, she married and he single --
could result in a "presentation" of "Mis Batcheller for Adultery" would
depend on the law at the time.

m a m

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