William Bradford Institute
for Study of the
Early Settlement of America

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Mary Rowlandson (c. 1636-1711)


The Sovereignty and Goodness of GOD, together with the faithfulness of his
promises displayed, being a narrative of the captivity and restoration of
Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, commended by her, to all that desires to know the
Lord's doings to, and dealings with her. . . . (Narrative of the Captivity
and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson)

Brief Biographical Background on Mary Rowlandson

Mary Rowlandson was born circa 1637-1638 in England. With her parents
John and Joan White, she sailed for Salem in 1639. Joseph Rowlandson
became a minister in 1654 and two years later he and Mary were married.
They had a child, Mary, who lived for three years; their other children
were Joseph, b. 1661; Mary, b. 1665; Sarah, b. 1669. At the time of their
capture, the children were 14, 10, and 6.

In 1675 Joseph Rowlandson. went to Boston to beg for help from the
Massachusetts General Assembly, during which period Mary Rowlandson was
captured. After her redemption, the couple lived in Boston and then moved
1677 to Wethersfield, Connecticut. Joseph Rowlandson died 24 November 1678
after preaching a powerful fast-day jeremiad. Mary Rowlandson remarried 6
Aug 1679 to Captain Samuel Talcott. He died in 1691; she lived until 1710.
Disgrace later came to the family: her son Joseph got his brother-in-law
drunk and sold him into servitude in Virginia.

While a prisoner, Mary Rowlandson travelled some 150 miles, from
Lancaster to Menamaset then north to Northfield and across the Connecticut
river to meet with King Philip/Metacomet himself, sachem of the
Wampanoags. Next she traveled up into southwestern New Hampshire, south
to Menamaset, and north to Mount Wachusett.

According to Katherine Derounian-Stodola, "Introducing her work in all
four 1682 editions was an anonymous preface to the reader, signed only
'per Amicum' (By a Friend), but almost certainly written by Increase
Mather. In 1681, Mather had proposed to a group of Puritan ministers that
they collect stories of 'special providences' concerning New England to be
evaluated, sorted, and eventually anthologized. Quite probably
Rowlandson's narrative was among the providential accounts he received,
but owing to its length, local currency, and intrinsic worth, he may have
suggested separate publication and agreed to help. . ."






 

Promoting a Greater Understanding of the Pilgrims and Puritans