Date of Graduation

Spring 2018

Document Type

Honors Research Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Research Sponsor

Gina Martino

First Reader

Michael Levin

Second Reader

Walter Hixson


During the seventeenth century, New England was composed of several independent colonies of varying size and success. In the Puritan and separatist colonies of Massachusetts Bay, New Haven, and Plymouth, entire communities, including “others,” those who were relegated outside of the community on the basis of their status or faith, worked with the theocratical legal system to police sexual morality and preserve social hierarchies that colonists understood to be fundamentally intertwined. This commitment was so strong that these colonies overlooked centuries of English legal custom when drafting harsher fornication laws, relied on the expert testimony of midwives over that of men, even those who were reputable members of the community, and placed a greater emphasis on protecting status-based hierarchies and economic order than preserving hierarchies of gender and race