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

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Sat Aug 29 16:09:41 UTC 2009

At 8/29/2009 10:50 AM, Victor Steinbok wrote:
>OK--I checked a couple of sources and this assessment appears to be
>correct. The punishment for fornication was 5 pounds to each party,

In the Plymouth Colony (from 1645), the fine was less if
(1)  the couple married; and even less if
(2)  the couple was under contract to marry.
Paternity and financial responsibility were assignable in such cases,
whereas there might be doubt (or a missing male) with unaffianced or
unmarried persons.  (I have not researched the Massachusetts law for


>the entire sum was often assessed to the admitted father of a "bastard"
>child. Toward the end of the XVIIth century, confession was necessary
>for a conviction for "fornication" and a corresponding fine, but child
>support payments could have been assessed simply on mother's
>declaration. Earlier laws encouraged "fornicators" to marry.
>In contrast, punishment for adultery, with the discretion of the courts,
>rose to capital level. So, the answer to the original question is no--an
>UNmarried woman could not have been found guilty of adultery.

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