Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Fig for the Law

In celebration of National Women's History Month I could have picked from many, but decided to go with a woman from the sixteen hundreds. I, as a guy, have a hard time getting all mushy so this might be a little mechanical.
Dionis Coffin nee Stevens wife of Tristram Coffin was born in Brixton, Devon, England. She was baptized 4 Mar 1609, daughter of Robert and Dionis Stevens. She married Tristram Coffin about 1629 and had nine children. She and her husband immigrated to New England around 1641 during the time of the puritan uprising. He may have been a royalist. They settled in Haverhill and then in Newbury and were licensed to make and sell beer and wine at their ‘ordinary’.
Quote from some unknown source past down many times:

In September 1653, Tristram Coffyn’s wife Dionis Coffin was presented for selling beer, at his ordinary in Newbury, for three pence a quart, higher than the set price for beer. Having proved upon the testimony of Samuel Moores, that she put six bushels of malt into a hogshead she was discharged. Dionis was found to be doctoring the beer sold at the ordinary. Contrary to current practice Dionis was making her beer stronger and charging a correspondingly higher price. The law at the time called for beer to be good wholesome beer of four bushels of malt to the hogshead. Goodwife Coffin is said to have remarked “I’ll have better beer than my neighbors and be paid for it. A fig for the law.”

Tristram and Dionis later settled on Nantucket Island where Tristram was Governor for a time. They were both buried there. Dionis was a plucky woman defiant of the law for something she felt was her right. She has many descendants, and some of her female descendants are just as plucky. I had a feisty grandmother who used to whip my grandfather with a willow for being late for dinner. I can still see my grandfather trying to protect his behind while she herded him
like a donkey all the way to the house. I also had a feisty mother and two aunts. And I have four sisters and four nieces that manifest the same spirit.

Old Families of Salisbury & Amesbury V1 p103
The Coffin Family a5 a9 p52-53
N.E.Hist and Gen. Reg. 68:129
Am.Pub. H. V24 p150

Word of the Week:
Ordinary = A tavern

1 comment:

Bill West said...

I'm descended from Tritram Coffin and Dionys through their daughter
Elizabeth and her husband Stephen
Greenleaf through my 4x great grandmother Amata Greenleaf. So, hi

I enjoyed the post!