Henry Herrick and Editha Laskin Little Is Known

Henry Herrick (1610-1671) and Editha Laskin (1612-AFT 1677)

Henry Herrick helps to Start Salem, Massachusetts? Probably!

Henry Herrick was born about 1598 in England. It is not known who his parents were, although a great deal of people have suggested that he was the fifth son of Sir William Herrick of England. There is, however, no proof of that — not yet, anyway. (See Herrick Family History page.)

He came to Salem, Massachusetts, probably in 1629 on board a ship whose captain was named Lyon. Herrick, along with his wife, were among a group of 30 people who helped found the First Congregational Church in Salem. He became a freeman on 18 May 1631 in Salem, but later moved to Beverly, near Salem, and became a prosperous farmer.

Lots of evidence exists that Henry was indeed in Salem

Other evidence of Henry’s existence in Salem includes:

Henry marries Editha in 1632

In 1632, Henry married Editha Laskin, who was the daughter of Hugh and Alice Laskin. She had been born between 1610 and 1614 in England, and immigrated to Salem, Massachusetts in 1628 (just four years before her marriage to Henry). Henry and Editha had several children, many of whom would be greatly affected by the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. Because of their involvement, their names and birthdates are listed here, as well as their connection to the trials:

Life with the Puritans in the 1600’s

Although the Herricks mostly lived in Beverly, it was just another village across the bay from Salem Village with a ferry boat connection. The Reverend Hale, who figures prominently in the witchcraft trials was the pastor of the Beverly Church, not the Salem Church. Henry is listed as a yeoman in The Great Migration Begins: Sketches. He was generally considered to be a farmer or a landowner. He could “make his mark.”

There can be little doubt that Henry and Editha were Puritans, as few others were tolerated in the area at that time.

The following paragraphs come from The Salem Witch Trials by Lori Lee, Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Company, 1997:

“In 1629, King Charles I of England granted a charter to the Puritans which gave them the right to settle and govern an English colony in the Massachusetts Bay area. A year later, in 1630, about one thousand English colonists went there. The Puritans left the Church of England (the church which King Henry VII formed after the Catholic Church would not grant him a divorce) after many attempts to reform the Church of England. They rejected all Catholic traditions and wanted to “purify” the church; hence, their name. They objected to frills, such as fancy lace collars and feathered hats. They denounced popular pastimes, such as the maypole dance.

“Many Puritans moved to the New World to seek religious freedom. By 1640, the Massachusetts Bay Colony had about 10,000 settlers. Their churches were not only places of worship, but also the seat of Puritan colonial government. In the 1600s there was little separation between church and state. For example, the magistrates passed a law requiring all colonists to join a church congregation. Men who did not join a congregation gave up their right to vote. The bible served not only as a source for religious instruction, but also as a legal guide.

“The Puritans in Massachusetts Bay Colony faced many difficulties: crop failure, hunger, cold, war, and attacks from wild animals and hostile Native Americans (whose land they had taken). They found strength in their faith, but they did not coexist as peacefully as they had hoped. While some prospered, others did not. Property disputes arose and people accused each other of crimes and immoral behaviour. Religious differences developed as new colonists arrived, not all of them Puritans.

“In 1692 the growing Puritan community population was scattered. Villages and arms outside the seaport towns of Boston and Salem were separated by a half-day’s travel, usually walking, or more. Puritan doctrine stressed that everything was in God’s hands. Good fortune and health came to those whom God blessed. Salvation was a gift from God. In worship services, Puritans emphasized Bible reading, prayer, and preaching, and they believed in grace, devotion, prayer, and self-examination to achieve religious virtue.

“In Puritan society, marriage was an essential part of the ideal social order. They believed that women were created for men so they might be wives and helpmates. In the home, the husband and father was the “godhead.” As Christ rules the church and as the minister rules his congregation, so the good man must rule his household. The good wife was expected to be submissive, supportive, diligent, faithful, pious, strong, wise, and loving. The husband who dealt too harshly with his wife was warned that such action could cause his wife to become discontent and easily tempted.”

Accumulation of Wealth in the New Land

This, then, was the society in which both Henry and Editha and their children lived. It could not have always been easy to live up to the Puritan ideals of perfection. Editha, Henry’s “helpmate”, died sometime after 27 March 1677, since that is the date of her son Benjamin’s death and she is named in his will.

Most of Henry and Edith’s children became prosperous farmers. Henry died between 24 Nov 1670 (date of his will) and 15 March 1671 (the date of the inventory of his estate). When he died, he had a house and orchard and 70 acres of land. He also owned other land which he did not occupy. He left, according to his inventory, 974 pounds (included 413 acres valued at 804 pounds, plus a musket, sword, and rapier). His inventory also included “four bibles and other books.”

This page written and researched by Susan Overturf Ingraham, wife of Robert Philip Ingraham, a descendant of Henry Herrick and Editha Laskin. This page last updated on January 2, 2012.

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