Learning from the past, living in the moment, and leaving footprints for the future. Stories of lov

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Society Saturday - The Hanging of Ruth Blay

I just finished reading “The Hanging of Ruth Blay” by Carolyn Marvin.  It is a true story that takes place in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.   We learn about the atrocious ways in which women were treated during this early period.  Although it depicts the horror and unjust treatment of women, the story focus is on Ruth Blay. 

Women didn’t have a name of their own; they were referred to as Mrs. followed only by their husband’s name.  Women were subservient to their husbands to the extreme.  Men governed their lives in society and in the courts.  Women were at their mercy.

There is very little written in history about any achievement of women from the mid seventeenth to the late eighteenth century.  Here you find no written record of any achievement or contribution.  An exception to that would be Anne Hutchinson, for her word was only written for history because she was being tried in court by a jury of men for preaching, a man's domain where women were not to tread.  Women were second-class citizens at best.  They were expected to teach their children how to live their lives in the manner of the scriptures.  Not just according to the cloth but also by the political powers that be.

When Ruth, a single woman, became pregnant with a Bastard child, only she was to blame. Women did not reveal the father’s name so his reputation would not be tarnished. When Ruth fell and miscarried the child she was accused of infanticide.

I recommend reading “The Hanging of Ruth Blay” to only begin to understand how our female ancestors struggled every day in copping with a male dominated society that kept them oppressed.   


  1. Sounds interesting, Kathryn! I'll add it to my reading list.

  2. Take two - Thanks for sharing your find Kathryn. I will begin searching for a copy of this book today.


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