Bettey

Bettey

Appears in a Record From 1683

Bettey, the daughter of Awashonks, became pregnant while single in 1682. Another Sakonnet woman, known only as “Sames Wife” reported the pregnancy to English officials and triggered a frightening chain of events. The officials ordered two unnamed Sakonnet women to examine Bettey. They reported that she was not pregnant, but that was a lie. Awashonks ordered Sames Wife whipped for making the report. Months later, Bettey delivered, but the child did not survive.

Now charged with murder, Bettey, Awashonks, and Awashonks’ son Peter were brought to Plymouth, imprisoned, and placed on trial. Bettey testified that her child was stillborn and put the murder charges to rest, at least temporarily, but the court ordered her to be whipped by the “Indians at Saconett” for her crime of fornication. Bettey had to cover the cost of her transport and imprisonment and pay Sames Wife to compensate her for her earlier whipping. Bettey returned home, but court officials ordered the Sakonnets to continue to search for evidence of infanticide.

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Outdoor exhibit panel from the 2020 special exhibition, The Little Compton Women’s History Project.

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