case are not to be found, but it is plain that Symmes
won the suit, and that the costs of court were much larger than the amount of damage, as is liable to be the case today.
The record shows that ‘Johnathan Whitney
,’ one of the writer's ancestors, was one of the jurors in this case, which has a tendency to make him believe that the verdict was a just one!
Another contention which was settled in court in Charlestown
, October 6, 1663, was of a little different character from either of the other two already cited.
It indicates how closely bound together were the church and the people, and how the former insisted, as much as possible, in doing all the thinking for the people, especially in church and religious matters.
But some of our ancestors had commenced to think for themselves, and no amount of coercion or court proceedings could stop them.
The case now under discussion was that of the church at Charlestown
against Ursula Cole
, wife of John Cole
, who is recorded as being one of the owners of a Waterfield farm, now Winchester
The complaint was, that Mrs. Cole
indulged in ‘defamatory talk’ against the Rev. Zachariah Symmes
, who was also a Waterfield and, later, a Medford, land owner, besides being minister of the Charlestown church.
After a long trial and many witnesses were examined, the said Ursula Cole
was found guilty and fined ‘Five Pounds and costs of court, to be paid by her husband, or to be publicly whipped.’
History does not record whether the husband paid the fine (a very heavy one for those days) or allowed his wife to be whipped, but it is recorded that the sum of her offending, for which she was sentenced to such a grievous punishment, was this: it was proved beyond a reasonable doubt that she had said she ‘had as leife hear an old cat mew as hear the Rev. Zachariah Symmes
Perhaps Mrs. Cole
's judgment was good as regards the preaching the people had to listen to in Charlestown
, but she was not at liberty, as we of today, to ‘talk about the minister’ or the church or religion when and where we please.