Wednesday, January 16, 2013



Lt. Robert Feake 1630 (1602 - 1662) married
Elizabeth Fones Winthrop  (1609-1673); widow of Gov. Winthrop's son, Henry
AKA: "The Winthrop Woman"
Elizabeth Feake (1633 - 1675), Daughter of Lt. Robert
Deborah Underhill (1659 - 1698) Daughter of Elizabeth
Uriah Townsend (1698 - 1767) Son of Deborah
Robert Townsend (1728 - 1803) Son of Uriah
Uriah Townsend (1753 - 1804) Son of Robert
Ezra Edwin Townsend (1788 - 1851) Son of Uriah
Rebecca Townsend (1808 - 1878) Daughter of Ezra Edwin
Marietta Watson (1830 - 1890) Daughter of Rebecca
Emma Jane Amrhine, Emerine (1860 - 1933) Daughter of Marietta
Leon Vern Smith (1897 - 1947) Son of Emma Jane

To tell the story of "The Winthrop Woman" we need to know a little about her husband first:
Robert Feake came to Massachusetts Bay in the fleet with Governor Winthrop, in the year 1630. He married Elizabeth, the young widow of Henry Winthrop (son of the Governor and her first cousin).
He established his homestall[stead] in Watertown, and was grantee and owner of a number of plots in that area.  By May, 1631 he was admitted a freeman of the colony and, as such, could serve as a selectman chosen to order "all civil affaires of ye town."  From 1634-1636 he was representative in the General Court from Watertown after having been appointed Lieutenant to Captain Daniel Patrick, then chief military officer at Watertown and the neighboring settlements.
 He was also appointed by the Court of Boston to be part of a team led by Captain's Underhill (later son-in-law) and Patrick to establish the site for a fort on Castle Island in the Bay.   According to my source, he continued to 'follow the fortunes' of Captain Patrick and in 1639 accompanied him on his removal to Connecticut. In the month of July 1640, together they purchased the Indian-held lands which later became the town of Greenwich Conn. 
 Included in this tract was a parcel of land, named Elizabeth Neck in honor of the wife of Robert Feake, Elizabeth Fones Winslow. (It is said that -although this settlement was made under the sanction and in the interest of the New Haven colony- Director Willem Kieft of New Amsterdam (later New York) soon warned them off as intruders on Dutch Territory. Patrick and Feake persisted and continued for two or more years in the occupation of these lands, harassed and threatened by neighboring Indians until they finally decided to put themselves under the protection of the Dutch.)
From this point on our story takes on a more tragic note for Robert Feake, within a decade -losing his marriage to an unfaithful wife who created a major scandal in a conservative community; -losing his children and his property and, it is said, also losing his mind :
COMMENTS: In his lengthy article on the Feake family (see HENRY FEAKE for full citation), George E. McCracken went into great detail on Robert Feake, and particularly on the matter of his "divorce," arguing that the couple had in fact received only a legal separation, and that Elizabeth (Fones) (Winthrop) Feake was not free to remarry.  In 1966 Donald Lines Jacobus reviewed the same problem, and came to the conclusion that Robert Feake and his wife did obtain a divorce from the Dutch government, that she had married William Hallett by August 1649, and that the marriage was performed by John Winthrop Jr., her cousin and former brother-in-law.

Feake was described as "... a man whose God-fearing heart was so absorbed with spiritual and heavenly things that he little thought of the things of this life, and took neither heed nor care of what was tendered to his external property".

To others he was a "distracted" person who could not manage his estate, and whose lofty connections alone preserved him.  His abrupt return to England in 1647 is not entirely understood. McCracken suggests that the Robert Feake pardoned by the House of Commons 4 March 1649/50 for some unstated crime might be Robert of Watertown. In any event, he left considerable scandal behind him in New England. 

(BLOGGER'S NOTE:  It might also be true that the 'considerable scandal' was not only left behind him, but was acted out during his absence by the friend he left in charge of his property and his unfaithful wife.)

In a letter dated Stamford 14 April 1648, Thomas Lyon related to his "loving grandfather" John Winthrop the history of Mr. Feake and Elizabeth (Fones) Winthrop:
...when I married first I lived in the house with her because my father being distracted I might be a help to her. Whereupon seeing several carriages between the fellow she now hath to be her husband and she the people also took notice of it which was to her disgrace which grieved me very much ... and seeing what condition she were in  I spake to her about it privately and after I discovered my dislike I see her carriage alter toward me ... Father concerning the condition she is in and the children and estate my father Feike going away suddenly, having taken no course about the children and estate only desired a friend of his and I in case we see them about making away the estate and to remove we should stay it ... She also hath confessed since she came there openly she is married to him  is with child by him [blogger's note: but only officially married one year after birth of the child] and she hath been at New Haven but could have no comfort nor hopes for present to live in the jurisdiction and what will become of her I know not [WP 5:213-14].

In a letter dated New Haven 21 July 1648, Theophilus Eaton told John Winthrop Jr.:
...I understand William Hallet etc. are come to your plantation at Nameag, their grievious miscarriage hath certainly given great offense to many. I wish their repentance were as clear and satisfying. It is possible that William Hallet and she that was Mr. Feake's his wife are married, though not only the lawfulness and validity of such a marriage, but the reality and truth is by some questioned, because themselves and Toby Feakes sometimes deny it; but leaving that, I shall acquaint you ... with some passages about that estate. Mr. Feakes from Boston October 6, 1647 wrote to Stamford that he reserved the whole propriety of his estate, till he saw how God would deal with him in England, and desired he and the children might not be wronged etc., after which that estate being from the Dutch in danger of confiscation, they brought it to Stamford, and at their request, it was there seized, as wholly belonging to Mr. Feakes, though after they challenged part thereof as the proper estate of William Hallet, and she besides desired a share in what was due to Mr. Feakes. I was not willing they should be wronged in the least, ... and accordingly at their request, I wrote to Stamford. William Hallet after this brought a letter from your honored father, and told me, he met with some opposition at Stamford, whereupon I advised him to attend the Court of magistrates ... but I perceived in him an unwillingness thereunto.... It was ordered that ... if she settled at Watertown, Pequod, or within any of the English colonies, two of the children, with half Mr. Feakes his proper estate should be put into the power and trust of such English government ... with such respect to Mr. Feakes, as may be meet, and that the other half of the estate should be improved at Stamford for the use of Mr. Feakes and maintenance of the other two children. I hoped that this might have satisfied, but the next news was that William Hallet etc. in a secret underhand way, had taken the children, two cows, all the household goods, and what else I know not, and by water were gone away ... when they had all the estate in their hands, the children went (if not naked) very unsatisfyingly apparelled.

John Winthrop Jr. interceded with Peter Stuyvesant in a letter in the beginning of 1648/9, asking him to manage what estate was left so that "Mrs. Feakes" and her children had a comfortable living. By the spring, Andrew Messenger was informing Winthrop that the estate at Greenwich was still unimproved. Winthrop wrote again in May to Stuyvesant, asking that he honor the agreement made between William Hallet with Mr. Feakes, Feakes having consented to it before going for England "knowing him [Hallet] to be industrious and careful" and also to allow Hallet back into Greenwich to improve the land there.
Evidently Stuyvesant came through, for Elizabeth (now Hallett) wrote last from Hellgate 10 January 1652/3 saying to her cousin John Winthrop Jr.:
"Our habitation is by the whirlpool which the Dutchmen call the Hellgate where we have purchased a very good farm through the governor's means ... we live very comfortably according to our rank. In the spring the Indian killed four Dutchmen near to our house which made us think to have removed ... yet now the Indian are quiet and we think not yet to remove."
The story of Elizabeth Fones (Winthrop) (Feake) Hallett was told in 1958 in an historical novel called The Winthrop Woman by Anya Seton

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