October 2

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Essex Gazette (October 2, 1770).

Ranaway … a Negro Man, named Jack.”

“Elizabeth, my Wife, hath left my Bed and Board.”

Interspersed among the advertisements for consumer goods and services that ran in the October 2, 1770, edition of the Essex Gazette, another kind of advertisement documented disruptions to the social order.  Two versions of “runaway” notices appeared in that issue, one concerning an enslaved man who liberated himself and the other concerning a woman who left her husband.  In both instances, the advertisers attempted to use the power of the press to assert their authority and return to good order (as they understood it).

Joseph Homan reported that “a Negro Man, named Jack” made his escape from bondage sometime during the night of September 17.  He offered a reward to readers and other members of the community who captured and returned Jack.  To help others recognize the fugitive, Homan noted that Jack was “near 50 Years of Age” and “speaks bad English.”  He also provided descriptions of the clothes Jack wore when he departed, but also noted that he may have changed.  Given the uncertainty of what Jack might have been wearing, any Black man over the age of forty became a suspect worthy of scrutiny and surveillance.

James Messer stated that his wife, Elizabeth, “hath left my Bed and Board.”  He feared that “she may run me in Debt,” so placed his advertisement as a warning for others “not to trust her on my Account.”  He resolutely declared that he would “not pay one Farthing of Debt that she shall contract.”  All in all, Messer’s advertisement followed a standard format for such notices.

Jack the formerly enslaved man and Elizabeth the absent wife certainly had different experiences and endured different challenges, yet their stories had similarities as well.  Neither of them inhabited a position of authority, yet they exercised power when they chose to depart.  Neither Jack nor Elizabeth published their own version of events in the Essex Gazette.  Instead, an enslaver and an aggrieved husband placed advertisements meant to vilify Jack and Elizabeth, providing incomplete narratives.  Neither advertiser could be taken at their word to tell the entire story, then or now.  Contrary to the purposes for which they were placed, their newspaper notices provided evidence that people who were supposed to be subordinate and submissive did not simply accept those roles.  Jack liberated himself, the abuses and hardships he had endured untold by Homan.  Elizabeth removed herself from her husband’s household, that act only hinting at greater domestic discord that motivated her to take action.  Cast as the offenders by Homan and Messer, Jack and Elizabeth demonstrated courage and conviction when they asserted their autonomy and sought to transform their lives for the better.

September 25

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Connecticut Courant (September 25, 1770).

“My Husband has attempted by an Advertisement to ruin my Character.”

Advertisements warning against extending credit to runaway wives were a standard feature in American newspapers in the eighteenth century.  The one that Benoni Griffen, Jr., inserted in the September 10, 1770, edition of the Connecticut Courant resembled so many others that appeared in newspapers from New England to Georgia.  “Whereas Martha the Wife of me the Subscriber,” Griffen proclaimed, “hath for some Tome past, behaved herself in a very Disorderly Manner, by endeavouring to run me in Debt, THESE are Therefore to want all Persons not to Trust of Credit her on my Account, as I will pay no Debt she may Contract after this Date.”  Like Griffen’s notice, most advertisements concerning runaway wives did not provide further details about the alleged “Disorderly” conduct.

Most also did not garner a response.  Usually husbands had the last and only word in the public prints.  Yet Martha objected to how Benoni described her to friends, acquaintances, and strangers in the pages of the Connecticut Courant. She inserted her own advertisement, more than twice the length of his, to set the record straight.  Martha accused Benoni of attempting to “ruin my Character,” but she asserted that she could “produce the fullest Proof that my Conduct has been prudent and blameless, especially with Respect of running my Husband in Debt.”  Furthermore, she had a very different tale to tell about which spouse had treated the other poorly.  Martha complained that Benoni’s “Temper and Conduct and Disposition has been extremely Ill.”  Indeed, he had abandoned her and “a Family of small Children” more than once.  During his most recent escapade, he had been away for almost two years, leaving Martha and the children “in bad Circumstances.”  When he finally appeared again was not a free man but instead “a bound Servant.”  Martha found it irritating that Benoni warned against extending credit to her on his behalf because she and her father had so often paid off his debts.  Benoni’s shenanigans became so notorious that the town’s selectmen intervened.

Martha did not expect that Benoni’s advertisement had influence anyone who actually knew the couple.  “[W]here he and I are known,” she stated, “‘tis beyond his Power to injure my Character.”  Yet not all readers knew Martha and Benoni.  It was for the benefit of “Strangers” that she ran her own advertisement to dispute her husband’s version of events.  He used the public prints to defame her.  In turn, she inserted an advertisement in the same newspaper to defend her reputation.  Martha and other women who absconded from their husbands and became subjects of newspaper advertisements asserted their will in a manner considered unbecoming of their sex, further compounding any offenses they supposedly committed within their households.  Martha’s challenges to her husband’s authority, however, did not end there.  She continued to exercise her own will, publishing an advertisement that portrayed Benoni as an unsavory character incapable of fulfilling his responsibilities as husband and head of the household.

July 12

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Jul 12 - 7:12:1770 South-Carolina Gazette
South-Carolina Gazette (July 12, 1770).

“SIMON FRANKS, by an Advertisement … forth that I, MARGARET-JACOB-ENNER FRANKS, his Wife, eloped for him.”

On July 10, 1770, Simon Franks placed a short advertisement in the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal to warn others not to extend credit to his wife, Margaret.  In it, Simon declared that Margaret “eloped from her said Husband, without any just Cause.”  In turn, he ran the advertisement “to forewarn all Persons from trusting her, as I am determined to pay no Debts of her contracting.”  Such notices frequently appeared in newspapers published throughout the colonies.  Simon’s advertisement followed a familiar formula.

Such advertisements rarely garnered any sort of response in the public prints.  Wives often “eloped” from their husbands, often as a result of abuses they suffered within the household and not, as Simon claimed, “without any just Cause.”  Yet they rarely told their side of the story in newspaper advertisements of their own, in part because husbands exerted control over family finances and put purveyors of goods and services, including printers, on notice not to allow wives to make any charges.  Margaret apparently had access to cash or friends intervened on her behalf.  She did not even wait a week to publish her response in the next issue of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal.  Instead, two days later her own advertisement, more than twice the length of Simon’s notice, ran in the South-Carolina Gazette.

Margaret referred readers back to her husband’s advertisement “in Mr. CROUCH’s last Paper” and provided a short summary of Simon’s accusations and instructions about cutting off her credit.  She then went about setting the record straight, taking action in a way relative few “runaway wives” did in eighteenth-century America.  She was determined “to shew the Public a true State of my supposed Elopement.”  She explained that “my now being absent from him, was occasioned by his most cruel and inhuman Treatment to me.”  She cataloged a series of abuses that stemmed from “his always getting in Liquor, putting me in Fear of my Life.”  The “severe Threats” led to “Blows” and eventually to “turning me out of Doors, in the Dead of Night.”  Even more shocking, this left Margaret and “a poor helpless Infant” from a previous marriage “exposed to the Inclemency of the Weather.”  Her situation prompted Margaret to seek a “Peace Warrant” from a magistrate in order to “live from [Simon] undisturbed.”

According to Margaret, her husband did not tell the full and complete story.  He attempted to cast her in an unfavorable light when her had been the one who had given “just Cause” for her to depart from his household.  Formulaic runaway wife advertisements hinted at more complicated stories of marital discord; they did not narrate events from the perspectives of the wives.  Margaret Jacob Enner Franks was one of the relatively few women to respond to such an advertisement in the public prints, defending her reputation and providing the community with a more complicated picture of what had occurred in the Franks household.  In so doing, she shifted attention back to the misconduct of her husband.

April 28

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Apr 28 - 4:28:1770 Providence Gazette
Providence Gazette (April 28, 1770).

“Mary, Wife of me the Subscriber, has refused my Bed and Board.”

In addition to advertisements for “CHOICE INDICO,” printed blanks, the London Coffeehouse in New London, and “Mens and Womens Shoes, Slippers, [and] Boots,” the paid notices in the April 28, 1770 edition of the Providence Gazette included two that testified to disorder.  Those advertisements described the transgressions of their subjects while simultaneously revealing that the advertisers who placed them proved unable to properly exercise their authority.

In the first, John Stewart alerted readers that his wife, Mary, “has refused my Bed and Board, and in many other respects behaved herself very indecently.”  Stewart did not provide further details about those incidents; to do so would have embarrassed him and damaged his reputation even more than placing an advertisement that deployed formulaic language about a wife who did not exercise proper deference to her husband.  Stewart may very well have preferred not to make his marital discord even more widely known in the public prints, but he needed a mechanism to prevent his recalcitrant wife from incurring debts on his account.

In the other, John McClister described “a Negroe Man, named SAM” who made his escape at the beginning of the month.  McClister warned that “All Masters of Vessels are forbid to carry [Sam] off.”  He also offered a reward to “Whoever takes up said Negroe, and secures him, so that his Master may have him again.”  Sam apparently disagreed that McClister was indeed his master.  In an age when colonists regularly denounced their figurative enslavement by Parliament, Sam refused to allow McClister to hold him in literal bondage any longer.

Both Mary Stewart and Sam deviated from the attitudes and behavior expected of them due to their subordinate status in colonial society.  As a woman and an enslaved man, respectively, they were expected to submit to the men who claimed dominion over them.  Yet Mary and Sam had other ideas.  John Stewart and Jon McClister cast them as the offenders in advertisements in the Providence Gazette, yet those notices did not reflect well on the advertisers either.  Stewart and McClister attempted to regain their authority, but in doing so they first had to publicly acknowledge that they had not been able to maintain it.

November 13

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Nov 13 - 11:13:1769 Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post-Boy
Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post-Boy (November 13, 1769).

“My Character of an honest and industrious Woman can be asserted to all who may inquire.”

Runaway wife advertisements were a particular genre of paid notices that frequently appeared in eighteenth-century newspapers. In such an advertisement an aggrieved husband reported that his disobedient wife departed from the household without his permission. The husband warned others that he would not pay any debts contracted in his name by his wife. Some advertisements went into greater detail than others in recording the various offenses committed by runaway wives. No matter how elaborate, publishing such advertisements must have been just as embarrassing, if not more so, for husbands than wives. After all, it was a public confession that a husband had not been able to exercise patriarchal authority or maintain order in his own household. Instead, he turned to the community for assistance in disciplining his wife.

In the fall of 1769, John Kennedy repeatedly inserted a runaway wife advertisement in Green and Russell’s Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post-Boy. Dated “Bridgewater, Sept. 29, 1769,” it stated, “WHEREAS Margaret Kennedy, the Wife of me the Subscriber, has left my Bed and Board, and refuses to live with me:— This is to forwarn all Persons from trusting the said Margaret on my Account, for I hereby declare I will not pay one Farthing of her contracting from the Day of the Date hereof.”

Rarely did such notices generate a response, but occasionally wives did publish their own advertisements to address the accusations made by their husbands and defend their reputations. Margaret Kennedy did so in the November 13 edition of the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post-Boy. In an advertisement dated “Bridgewater, Nov. 10, 1769,” she expressed her dismay that she had been identified in “Green and Russell’s Weekly Paper as an Eloper from the Bed and Board of my Husband.” She did not acknowledge that her husband had placed the advertisement, but instead asserted that “an ill-minded Person” published an account that was “an absolute Falshood.” She also declared that she had never incurred any debt on his behalf, not “one Shilling Lawful Money.” Having been maligned in a newspaper that circulated well beyond Boston, she defended her reputation and references for anyone uncertain about which spouse to believe in the course of this public altercation. “[M]y Character of an honest and industrious Woman,” she declared, “can be asserted to all who may inquire it by a Number of my Friends in Boston, and the Community I belong to.”

Margaret met John’s advertisement with another act of resistance, one exceptionally visible to friends, neighbors, and strangers. His original advertisement continued to run in the November 13 edition of the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post-Boy, appearing on the page following Margaret’s response. Readers now had both sides of the story in a single issue, witnessing the Kennedys’ marital discord play out in print, even if not in person.

July 29

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Jul 29 - 7:29:1769 Providence Gazette
Providence Gazette (July 29, 1769).

“I hereby forewarn all Persons against trusting her on my Account.”

Newspapers printed in colonial America notably carried relatively little local news. As most were published once a week, printers realized that much of the local news of consequence spread via word of mouth between issues. Accordingly, they reserved space in their newspapers for printing news from other colonies, the Caribbean, Europe, and other places. This often involved reprinting items from other newspapers, organizing the contents such that news from the farthest away appeared first. Consider the July 29, 1769, edition of the Providence Gazette. The masthead proclaimed that it carried “the freshest Advices, both Foreign and Domestic.” It included news from London (reprinted from the London Gazette), followed by news from Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Newport, and Providence. The final page, usually reserved for advertising, carried more news from Boston and Philadelphia as well as a brief update from South Carolina. The brigantine Grant had just sailed for London from Charleston, carrying “twenty bales of STAMPED PAPER, which was imported here in the memorable year 1765.”

Although printers and editors ran little local news in colonial newspapers, the advertisements submitted by other colonists did include some of the “freshest Advices” about events that occurred in their own communities. Legal notices, estate notices, and other announcements certainly carried news of interest. Other advertisements advised readers of significant interactions and changing relationships between members of the community. In his advertisement dated “Providence, July 29 1769,” Thomas Lindsey announced that Sarah, his wife, “has eloped from my Bed and Board, and otherwise conducted herself in a very unbecoming Manner.” That being the case, Lindsey warned that he would not pay any debts contracted by his wife. This advertisement informed the community of discord in the Lindsey household, which was news as much as gossip. It documented a wife resisting the authority of her husband and the consequences for doing so. The advertisement also delivered important information to shopkeepers, innkeepers, and others who might consider doing business with a woman who was so exasperated with her husband that she saw no alternative except to remove herself from his authority. Readers who knew more of the backstory than the advertisement revealed may have extended aid despite the husband’s indignant warning.

Which piece of news had greater relevance to readers of the Providence Gazette, a note about stamped paper being returned to England several years after the repeal of the Stamp Act or a notice about evolving personal and financial relationships in the Lindsey household contained in an advertisement? Each touched on aspects of colonial life and culture. Each delivered information that helped readers better understand the society in which they lived. For those who interacted with the Lindsey family, news of Sarah leaving Thomas was as momentous in their daily lives as learning about continued resistance to all sorts of new legislation from Parliament. Purchasing advertising space gave colonists other than printers and editors an opportunity to deliver and shape the news that appeared in the public prints.

March 5

GUEST CURATOR: Olivia Burke

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago this week?

New-Hampshire Gazette (March 3, 1769).

“JUDITH, the Wife of me the Subscriber, hath Eloped from me”

In this advertisement in the New Hampshire Gazette, William Sampson said that his wife left him and would no longer live with him. He cautioned the public from trusting her or letting her charge things to his account; it was a typical warning in advertisements similar to this one. Sampson reported that his wife had “eloped” from him. Eloped in this sense meant she left suddenly. There is no information in the advertisement about what transpired between the couple to give readers an understanding of why she left.

At this time, divorces were nearly impossible to obtain, according to Dorothy Mays in Women in Early America: Struggle, Survival and Freedom in a New World. In a marital relationship, a wife’s duties centered around maintaining and running the household.[1] Marital relations were conservative partnerships in which the wife was understood to act faithfully to her husband at all times. Women were not able to act independently for themselves. Once they got married to a man, they had no legal options to leave. The only way to get out of a marriage was to leave on their own accord. In this advertisement it appears that Judith did just that. This is a daring move given the way colonists looked upon women who disrupted and acted outside of their place in society, a move met with public humiliation in the newspaper.

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ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY: Carl Robert Keyes

Olivia is correct that advertisements like the one William Sampson placed concerning his wife Judith departing from their home and refusing to live with him were intended to humiliate women when they engaged in such acts of resistance. Yet Judith would not have been the only partner in that relationship who experienced public scrutiny and disgrace for her actions. By placing a notice in the New-Hampshire Gazette, William made a public pronouncement that he was incapable of exercising the patriarchal authority that he was supposed to wield. He had been unable to keep Judith in her place as a dutiful helpmate and had to resort to cutting off her credit when she “Eloped” from him.

As Olivia indicates, this advertisement does not provide much detail about what transpired between Judith and William. It succinctly deployed formulaic language that appeared in such advertisements in newspapers throughout the colonies. Some readers, especially those who lived near the Sampsons in Arundel, may have been quite familiar with the causes of the domestic discord. Considering that the situation got to the point that Judith eloped, friends and neighbors had likely already witnessed some of the disagreements between the couple. They did not need William to rehearse them in a newspaper notice, nor did he necessarily wish to air all of his grievances with his wife in a public forum and, in the process, demonstrate his shortcomings as a husband to a much broader audience.

Other husbands who placed such advertisement, however, did provide much greater detail about the misbehavior of their wives. They accrued personal embarrassment when doing so, but may have calculated that the public would direct greater opprobrium at recalcitrant wives when presented with evidence of their impudence. In placing these advertisements, husbands exercised one more form of authority usually beyond the reach of wives: using the public prints to advance their version of events to the disadvantage of wives who had “eloped.” Very rarely did runaway wives publish notices in response. The printers who published advertisements on behalf of their husbands already knew not to extend them credit; they reserved whatever resources they had in their possession for necessities rather than newspaper notices.

Like advertisements for runaway indentured servants and enslaved men and women who escaped from those who held them in bondage, advertisements for runaway wives tell truncated stories from the perspectives of those who believed they had been aggrieved by the runaways. When considered from the perspective of the subjects of the advertisements, however, these notices tell stories of resistance that contribute to a more complete rendering of the past, one that incorporates the agency and experiences of colonists often marginalized in the historical record.

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[1] Dorothy A. Mays, Women on Early America: Struggle, Survival, and Freedom in a New World (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2004), 251

October 7

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Oct 7 - 10:7:1768 New-Hampshire Gazette
New-Hampshire Gazette (October 7, 1768).

“She now has full Liberty to contract any Debts on my Account.”

In the summer and fall of 1768, the Wiggin family of Stratham, New Hampshire, engaged in a domestic dispute that played itself out in the public prints. Readers of the New-Hampshire Gazette had their first glimpse of the Wiggins’ trouble when Tuften placed an advertisement in the August 19 edition. He informed the public that his wife, Sarah, “refuses to live with me as an obedient Wife” and instructed others from “giving her Credit on my Account.” In a nota bene, Tuften addressed a short note directly to his wife: “If she returns, she will be kindly received upon reasonable terms.”

Apparently Sarah had no desire to reconcile with her husband at that time. The next issue included a brief notice from the printers, Daniel Fowle and Robert Fowle, that her “APPEAL to the Public representing her Husband’s Advertising her in this Paper, came too late, but will be in our next.” The Fowles reinforced the discord, reporting that this appeal would demonstrate “how greatly [Sarah] has been injured and imposed upon by [Tuften].” In so doing, they signaled to readers that the pages of the next issue would contain gossip that they would not want to miss. A public argument between husband and wife certainly could not hurt circulation of their newspaper. The September 2 edition included Sarah’s advertisement, extending three-quarters of a column. The aggrieved wife delivered a detailed account of the many abuses she had suffered at the hands of her husband.

For three consecutive weeks readers of the New-Hampshire Gazette glimpsed a new scene of the Wiggins’ marital difficulties. Most eighteenth-century runaway wife advertisements did not garner responses in print, but occasionally a wife or one of her friends or relatives did attempt to present the story from her perspective. Even more rarely, a subsequent advertisement advised the public that a couple had resolved their altercation. Tuften Wiggin placed such an advertisement in the October 7, 1768, edition of the New-Hampshire Gazette. He advised “THE PUBLICK” that “the Breach between us is now made up; and I do hereby REVOKE that Advertisement in every Part.” Sarah now had “full Liberty to contract any Debts on my Account … if she should be so inclined.” The new notice did not mention how the Wiggins had arrived at their accord, only that they had made peace. Now that Sarah was back in Tuften’s good graces, the Fowles benefited from another windfall from the couple’s dispute: one more advertisement that generated revenues for the newspaper. The printers made money each time the Wiggins decided that they would continue to publish their saga in the public prints.

September 2

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Sep 2 - 9:2:1768 New-Hampshire Gazette
New-Hampshire Gazette (September 2, 1768).

“IT is with much Regret I find myself obliged to appear in Print against my Husband.”

A week ago the Adverts 250 Project featured a preview of “Mrs. Sarah Wiggenss APPEAL to the Public representing her Husband’s Advertising her in this Paper.” That preview took the form of a notice inserted by the printers in the final issue of the New-Hampshire Gazette published in August 1768. Upon learning that her husband, Tuften, had placed an advertisement in the previous issue to advise the public that he would no longer pay any debts contracted by her because she had “ELoped from me … and refuses to live with me as an obedient Wife,” Sarah submitted her own advertisement to tell her side of the story. It “came too late” to the printing office to appear in the August 26 edition, but the printers promoted it as a feature that readers should anticipate “in our next.” The printers did not merely acknowledge that they would publish Sarah’s response. Instead, they disclosed that “it will appear how greatly she has been injured and imposed upon” by Tuften. By inciting interest in this domestic dispute laid before the public, the printers likely hoped to increase readership of the New-Hampshire Gazette and reap the benefits of placing their newspaper before the eyes of greater numbers of colonists.

Sarah detailed response to her husband’s short advertisement made for lively reading. First, she apologized for even having to place a notice in the public prints. “IT is with much Regret,” she lamented, “I find myself obliged to appear in Print against my Husband.” However, she was stunned that Tuften had even placed an advertisement and, in the process, implied that she had committed adultery. She had been betrayed by her husband, “one whose Duty it is to be my Virtue’s Guard and preserve it from every stain.” That was only one way in which Tuften had failed as a husband, but it was sufficient for Sarah to defend herself in view of the entire community. Given “how base I have been and still am treated by him,” Sarah proclaimed, “my Resentment rises at his Folly, and in justice to my injur’d Reputation, I am bound to vindicate it.” She then revealed that Tuften had courted her for some time. She initially refused his advances, but eventually consented to marry him in January 1767, “though greatly against the Advice of my Friends.” At that point Tuften apparently became more interested in the property Sarah brought into the marriage than in his bride herself. He stole her “Marriage Settlement” out of her chest, depriving her of the legal document that offered financial protection in the event that she became a widow. Having surrendered her “Right of Dower” to Tuften’s estate, Sarah now had “nothing left me.” This provoked a heated argument that culminated in her departure, but “with his consent.” According to Sarah, she took some clothing with her and Tuften “promised to send all my other Things by any Body I sent for them.” When she sent a man named Kenniston to collect her belongings, Tuften became enraged and refused to hand over anything. Instead, he placed the advertisement accusing Sarah of departing without his permission and refusing to heed his authority as head of the household. Most upsetting to Sarah, the advertisement implied she committed adultery. In the wake of Tuften demanding that others not to extend credit to his wife, she relied on sympathy to overcome those instructions. She bemoaned her current condition: “I have one small Child of six Months old at my Breast, and we are exposed to the wide World, having no prospect of a Reconciliation with my Husband.” She concluded with one more apology for making a private matter so public, asking “Pardon of the Public, for the Trouble I have given them to read the Circumstances of my Misfortunes.” That Sarah found herself in the position to make such an apology painted an even more unflattering portrait of perfidious husband.

Extending three-quarters of a column, Sarah Wiggin’s “APPEAL” rivaled news items printed elsewhere in the issue for length. If the printers charged to insert this response, they certainly increased their advertising revenue for the week. Even if they did not charge but instead treated her response as a letter intended to inform the public of interesting news, they still stood to generate additional revenue. Printing such a salacious story likely captivated readers, perhaps even drawing the attention of some who did not regularly peruse the pages of the New-Hampshire Gazette but took a prurient interest in observing this drama unfold. More readers, for whatever reason, meant wider circulation and the potential to sell even more advertising space.

August 26

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Aug 26 - 8:26:1768 New-Hampshire Gazette
New-Hampshire Gazette (August 26, 1768).

“Mrs. Sarah Wiggenss APPEAL … will be in our next.”

The August 26, 1768, edition of the New-Hampshire Gazette included a notice from the printers concerning two advertisements, one that had been published and one that had not. “Mrs. Sarah Wiggenss APPEAL to the Public, representing her Husband’s Advertising her in this paper,” the printers explained, “came too late, but will be in our next.” The printers encouraged readers to acquire the next issue and peruse it carefully in order to learn how gros[s]ly she has been injured and imposed upon by him.” The Wiggins resided in Stratham, but their marital squabbles became common knowledge far beyond their own town.

Readers did not need to look any further than the next page to witness (once again, since it also appeared in the previous issue) the quarrelsome advertisement that had elicited Sarah Wiggin’s “APPEAL.” Her husband, Tuften, announced to the residents of Portsmouth and its hinterland that his wife had “ELoped from me … and refuses to live with me as an obedient Wife.” Given that turn of events, he resorted to the same measures as many other spurned husbands, stating that he placed his notice in the public prints in order “to forbid any Person, giving her Credit on my Account” because “I will not pay any Debt by her contracted from the ninth of August last, 1768.” In a nota bene he magnanimously, from his perspective at least, counseled that “If she returns, she will be kindly received upon reasonable terms.”

Sarah apparently had no intention of returning to Tuften. Instead, she submitted a detailed defense of her flight to the printers for presentation to the public, a defense so lengthy that the compositor did not have sufficient time or space to include it in the August 26 edition by the time it arrived in the printing office. When it did appear the following week it occupied three-quarters of a column (more on that in a subsequent entry). Public awareness of domestic strife in the Wiggin household expanded as husband and wife each placed advertisements and the printers inserted notices concerning those advertisements.

The printers did not merely note that a response from Sarah would soon appear in the pages of the New-Hampshire Gazette. Instead, they offered colorful commentary about “how gros[s]ly she has been injured and imposed upon” by her husband. Perhaps they found her response convincing and felt sympathy for her, but their own notice that another chapter in the saga would soon become available had the added benefit of provoking additional interest among readers. The printers leveraged these advertisements about an unhappy marriage to bolster circulation of their newspaper. It was not the first time that they capitalized on disputes made public in this manner.