Ann Baynton, Abandoned Wife, in Colonial Philadelphia

Dateline: Philadelphia, 1698: Peter Baynton abandoned his wife and went back to England, where he got married. He’s now looking to get more of his estate in Philadelphia and bring it back into his possession.

What does the Council say? Will they favor the husband or his first wife?

Modernized transcription begins:

At a Council held at Philadelphia, die Jovis [Thursday], 19th May, 1698

Upon reading the petition of Ann Baynton, setting forth that her husband, Peter Baynton, late of Chester County, some years ago removed himself and most of the estate to England and left her destitute of a competent means of livelihood, promising in some short time to return and that he has lately sent over a letter to her that he has taken another wife there and never intends to return hither, nor take any care for her subsistence and that he will draw the remaining effects over to England, and leave her wholly destitute of means of living; and therefore requesting the Governor and Council to grant her an order to take and possess all that is left or can be found of her said husband’s estate within this government towards her necessities support and aliments as to justice and equity does appertain;

Ordered that it shall and may be lawful for the said Ann Baynton to take into her hands and possession all that is left or can be found of her said husband’s proper estate within this government, towards her support and aliment, as is desired; and it is further ordered that all and every person or persons whatsoever within this province and territories, having any of the said Peter Baynton’s estate, real or personal, in their hands or possession, as attorney or otherwise, shall upon sight hereof, deliver the same to the said Ann Baynton, towards her said support and aliment, whose receipt shall be sufficient discharge from the said Peter Baynton, his heirs, executors, administrators or assigns, and shall be accordingly deemed and taken in all Courts and before all magistrates within this government.

Transcription ends.

“Sufficient discharge” is another way of saying she is divorced from him or no longer legally entangled with him. He can’t collect any remaining estate.

Old World v. New World, and the New Worlders stuck together.

It was right to support Ann, anyway.

I still believe in redemption from your bad decisions, but only if you want it and ask for it.

Minutes of the Provincial Council, vol. 1, 1683-1700, (Jo. Severns and Co. 1852), pp. 536-37.

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