On this day 342 years ago Anne Dudley Bradstreet, the first American poetess, died. She was the daughter and wife of two Massachusetts Governors, Thomas Dudley and Simon Bradstreet respectively. She arrived in on the North American coast in 1630 on the Arbella, the flagship of the Winthrop fleet, during the Great Migration from England. The Arbella first landed in Naumkeag, now Salem, a small fishing village. Pioneer Village in Salem is a recreation of the Naumkeag fishing village.1
The Winthrop fleet departed from Naumkeag, moving south, and founded the Boston settlement. Thomas Dudley, along with daughter Anne and husband Simon Bradstreet, ventured across the Charles River and founded the settlement of Newtowne, now Cambridge.2 According to local legend Thomas Dudley placed his staff in the ground at Cambridge and declared, "This is the place." The location is marked at the modern-day intersection of John F. Kennedy and Mount Auburn Streets.
Thomas Dudley's house was located near the modern-day intersection of South and Dunster Streets in Cambridge. Simon and Anne's home was located a few blocks away near the intersection of Dunster Street and Massachusetts Avenue.
In 1636 the Antominian Controversy introduced by firebrand Anne Hutchinson and her followers burst into flame in the Boston settlement and Anne Hutchinson was brought to trial. Two of her judges were Thomas Dudley and Simon Bradstreet. Anne’s trial took place in Cambridge and Thomas Dudley decided to move his family to the small remote settlement of Agawam, now Ipswich, nearly forty miles north of Boston. Dudley wanted his daughters to be far away from the strong influence of Anne Hutchinson.3
The Bradstreet home in Ipswich is no longer standing but a plaque marks the location of the home at 33 High Street. The Waldo-Caldwell House now stands on the site of the Bradstreet home.
Just a few doors from the Bradstreet house site is the site of the Thomas Dudley house at 45 High Street. The John Lummus house now stands on the site of the Dudley home:
Anne began to write poetry while living in Ipswich, as her husband Simon was away from home for long stretches of time, first as a judge in the Hutchinson case and then as governor of Massachusetts. Her friend and neighbor, Nathaniel Ward, was the force behind the eventual publication of her poems.4
Anne, Simon, and their family eventually moved to North Andover, where Anne died at the age of sixty on September 16, 1672. Anne’s burial place is not known but is likely near the location of her home in North Andover. Anne’s husband Simon remarried in 1676 to Anne Gardiner and relocated to Salem, where he died on March 27, 1697. Simon is entombed in the Charter Street Burying Ground in Salem.5
Anne’s poetry revealed her deep love for her husband and family and subtly veiled her intellectual and feminist views. Open expressions of her feminism would risk ruin for herself and her family in Puritan society.
Anne and Simon had eight children. Their son Dudley Bradstreet became a justice in North Andover and in September 1692 he and his wife Ann were accused of witchcraft when he refused to sign warrants to accuse local residents of witchcraft during the 1692 Witchcraft Hysteria. Dudley and his family escaped from North Andover until the Witchcraft Hysteria ended.7
I am extremely proud to be a descendant of Anne Dudley Bradstreet through her son Dudley Bradstreet. To view my descent from Anne Dudley Bradstreet to my grandfather Philip Swaine please click here.
For additional information about the Pioneer Village restoration site in Salem please visit http://www.pioneervillagesalem.com/.
For additional information about a self-guided walking tour of Cambridge please visit http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM7T1Q_The_Founding_of_Newtowne_Cambridge_MA and http://www2.cambridgema.gov/historic/Tour1_Old_Cambridge.pdf.
For additional information about the Bradstreet home site at the Waldo-Caldwell house in Ipswich please visit http://www.historicipswich.org/waldo-caldwell-house-33-high-street/. For additional information about the Dudley home site at the John Lummus house in Ipswich please visit http://www.historicipswich.org/john-lummus-house-45-high-st/.
1Charlotte Gordon, Mistress Bradstreet: The Untold Life of America’s First Poet (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2005), 3-14, 280.
2Gordon, Mistress Bradstreet, 118-124.
3Gordon, Mistress Bradstreet, 155, 186.
4Gordon, Mistress Bradstreet,159-240.
5Gordon, Mistress Bradstreet, 280-83.
6Charter Street Burying Ground (Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts), Simon Bradstreet tomb, photographed by Carol Swaine-Kuzel, 05 September 2005.
7Marilynne K. Roach, The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege (Lanham, Maryland: Taylor Trade Publishing, 2004), 292.