Crazy Puritan Sex. (It Happened. A LOT.)
By Sarah Ballance
It’s no secret the colonial Puritans had a rather unique way of thinking—that whole witch hysteria thing ascertains as much—but crazy sex? It can’t be! Well, that’s what I thought before I started researching my new historical romance, HER WICKED SIN. I was WRONG, you guys. So, so wrong! Underneath those dull, unflattering outfits they were as crazy as the rest of us (and in some cases, far crazier than most). Here’s the proof.
The exact number depends on who you ask, but let’s think about this. The chance of getting pregnant during a given month is relatively small—about 25%, even while actively trying to conceive. The fact that 20-40% of these young brides were with child on their wedding day means there was a LOT of premarital sex happening. And just HOW it happened…well, read on.
Puritans expected awesome sex to rock the marital bed—so much so that a lack of fulfillment was considered grounds for divorce. A cheating man was most often charged with fornication, the punishment for which was commonly a public flogging. Women, however, were charged with adultery and could be put to death. (For the same crime. Asshats.) Anyway, when a woman strayed some of the blame fell to her husband. In one such documented case, the husband was found guilty of “exposing his wife to such temptations” due to his extended absence. The cheaters were whipped and jailed, while the husband had to pay his wife’s fines and sit in the stockade.
Group sex was a crime to begin with, but this one has Jerry Springer written all over it. In a documented case, one woman and four men hit the bump and grind together. Two of the men got it going and another resisted a bit, leaving the lovely lady to go at it with her own brother. I’m not sure what the resistor was doing—probably taking notes since he’s the one who told on them—but he goes down with rest of them as part of this infamous tryst. They were all whipped, by the way, except the voyeur. He was merely found “faulty” for witnessing the event.
Every now and then some of the Goodwives extended rather generously of themselves to the Natives. Some were caught, and some were caught repeatedly. One wife was found to have enjoyed “dalliance diverse tymes” with a Native, who was later determined to have been seduced by the wicked woman. Another wife was fined and whipped—not the same Native, by the way—while he walked away with nothing more than a new notch in his tent pole.
When one finds oneself lacking in virginal young ladies, willing family members, or naughty Natives, there’s relief to be found in the barnyard…or so thought a 16 year old servant boy, who was caught servicing a mare. And a cow, two goats, a number of sheep, and two calves. And what really got these folks in a tizzy—not that buggary wasn’t a horrific crime in itself—was the fact not all of these animals were willing females. And it gets even! This young man also had his way with a turkey. A …on Thanksgiving Day.
But that’s not the most shocking buggary story stemming from the Puritan and Pilgrim colonists. George Spencer was an ugly, balding servant with one glass eye. He was also suspected of fornicating with animals—a fact some considered validated when a sow gave birth to a one-eyed piglet. Naturally this proved one-eyed George was dear ol’ dad, and he was subsequently executed for “fathering” the faulty bacon.
In a similar case, Thomas Hogg (you can’t make this stuff up) spent several months in prison for frequent rolls in the hay with his four-legged friends. When a sow gave birth to two deformed piglets, the immediate outcry was that they resembled Hogg himself. However, Hogg never confessed to fathering these poor ugly piglets and the required two witnesses never came forward, so Hogg didn’t face charges for that particular crime.
Clearly these tales speak for a few—many Puritans, I’m sure, were as droll as school kids have been led to believe—but if nothing else, this goes to show they lusted. (Lusted like fiends, some of them!) But not all Puritan lust was felonious. My new historical romance, HER WICKED SIN, looks at the other side of desire—one where passion ignites, lies are perpetuated, scandal ensures…and lives are changed.
And all without a turkey in sight.
On a moonless night, he rides into the winter forest on his beast as black as midnight….
Dashing stranger, Henry Dunham, comes to Salem on a mysterious errand, but is thrown from his horse in the dead of night and rescued by the local Puritan midwife, Lydia Colson.
Haunted by her past, Lydia is running from her own dark secrets, avoiding intrusive questions by pretending her dead husband is simply…away. But when she and Henry are caught in a compromising situation, one punishable by Puritan law, he saves her from scandal by claiming to be her errant spouse…and claiming her bed.
Forced to fake a marriage, Lydia and Henry find their passion overwhelming and their vows a little too real. As their lies become truths, a witch hunt closes in on Lydia, threatening not only their burgeoning love, but her life.
“Willard, you beast.” A round of profanity followed the utterance. Though the stranger’s words were foul, they offered for his equine companion both comfort and reassurance. Their soothing cadence eased the alarm from the horse’s eyes, leading his ears to relax from their pinned state.
Lydia found herself enchanted by the man’s tones and by his obvious affection for the horse.
He shifted in the leaves, still facing away, and he had yet to acknowledge her. She should flee. She had freed him from his quandary, and his voice tinged itself not with pain, but with humor. She would feel no remorse for moving past, yet her feet did not budge.
If she remained silent, would he not know her there? No, eventually he would wonder what held the reins aloft. She watched, waiting for that moment. Through the profound darkness, she noticed his hair was a nutty brown and longer than that of a Puritan man, though its richness showed no trace of the powder worn by many wealthy travelers. He was a study of contrasts, this man. For all of his finery, he seemed to shun the ways of society, and his roguish nature appealed to those innermost desires she had thought long lost. Her husband, as he were, had ruined her womanhood.
This stranger, in the most insignificant ways, had roused it.
She loves creating unforgettable stories while putting her characters through an unkind amount of torture—a hobby that has nothing to do with living with six children. (Really.) Though she adores nail-biting mystery and edge-of-your-seat thrillers, Sarah writes in many genres including contemporary and ghostly supernatural romance. Her ever-growing roster of releases may be found at http://sarahballance.com