[APG Public List] "Mrs." in a colonial New England marriage record--social class or married state?

Christine Crawford-Oppenheimer christine3cats at gmail.com
Sun Jul 18 09:25:00 MDT 2010

Hi, Craig,

Actually, "Mrs." is an abbreviation for Mistress, although the
pronunciation has also been abbreviated. I had a response off list
from someone who kindly sent a copy of a short article he wrote after
noticing the same phenomenon. His conclusion was that using the social
title "Mistress" for young unmarried women died out around 1735 or so,
at least in Connecticut where he was observing it.

Now I still have to figure out who Jane Boynton's father is...I do
have two potential Boynton fathers, so will have to write to the
county, town, or whatever to see if they left estates.


On Sun, Jul 18, 2010 at 6:52 AM, Craig Kilby <persisto at live.com> wrote:
> Christine,
> What a good question. I have seen young woman--girls really--styled "Mrs." in Virginia records. I have come to believe it is an abbreviation for Miss. Since I know for a fact these young maids were not married and were about ten years old at the time, it really did throw me for a loop at first.
> You have done a great job of compiling data for the purpose of comparison. I thank you for the corroboration.
> Craig Kilby
> On Jul 17, 2010, at 2:33 PM, Christine Crawford-Oppenheimer wrote:
>> History of the Town of Hampton Falls, New Hampshire...(1900) by Warren
>> Brown, p. 135 includes a marriage in 1741:
>> "April 3, John Duty and Mrs. Jane Boynton, both of Newbury [Massachusetts]."
>> In this context, does the title "Mrs." mean that she was previously
>> married, or does it simply imply a higher social class than the women
>> who didn't have this designation? On this one page, 16 of the 34
>> brides are designated "Mrs.'; one of them is identified as a widow;
>> the others aren't.
>> Jane (Boynton) Duty later married my husband's ancestor, Richard
>> Goodridge (1719-1797), and I am having very little luck in making a
>> definite identification of her parents. I've looked at a number of
>> Boynton genealogies, databases on the NEHGS web site, etc., etc.
>> There's a Jane Boynton, daughter of Jonathan, baptized in 1723 in
>> Newbury, who would be perfect, but I'm not finding much about her
>> (yes, I need to see if he left a probate record that names her).
>> If Boynton was a first married name for Jane, it would explain why I
>> can't find her in Boynton genealogies. She had her last child in 1767
>> (perfect for a 1723 birth date!), so if she was married first to a
>> Boynton, she would have been quite young, and quite possibly had no
>> children by him.
>> Thanks for input about use of the title "Mrs."
>> Christine
>> --
>> Christine Crawford-Oppenheimer
>> Hyde Park, NY
>> Author of: Long-Distance Genealogy:
>> Researching Your Ancestors from Home

Christine Crawford-Oppenheimer
Hyde Park, NY

Author of: Long-Distance Genealogy:
Researching Your Ancestors from Home

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