Hello Everyone. It’s been a while since I’ve posted news on So Dreadful A Judgment. It looks like it’s going to be a big year for our film, so I’ll have more updates and news as the summer progresses. For now, I thought I would post a short summery I put together about what we know of Awashonks during the period after King Philip’s War.
Awashonks shows up in the records only once after the war. She’s brought before the Plymouth Court in July of 1683 and is accused of helping to kill the illegitimate child of her daughter Betty. It appears that a Sakonnet woman, referred to in the record only as “Sames [Sam's] squaw” or “Sames wife,” had accused Betty of being pregnant out of wedlock. Sam’s wife told the court that Awashonks ordered her whipped for spreading lies about Betty, but in fact Betty had given birth to a child. Now the child was dead, and the court believed that Awashonks, her daughter Betty, and her son Peter, had killed the child to hide the illegitimate birth.
Awashonks argues before the court that Betty’s child was born dead and therefore no murder took place. Lack of evidence against her forces the court to dismiss the charge. However, because the birth proved that Sam’s wife had told the truth, Awashonks, Betty, Peter, and two other Sakonnet women involved in the cover-up, where forced to pay damages. The court also ordered Betty whipped for committing the English crime of fornication.
Attempting to understand this incident, historian Ann Marie Plane writes, “The 1683 infanticide prosecution signals the effects of a new English influence over postwar Indian politics. No longer would Awashunkes or other Indian leaders be able to wield power separate from and equal to that of English authorities. All natives, not just the leaders, were now subjects of the English government, and thus could make appeals for English aid if frustrated by native authorities.”
Thus in such a manner Awashonks disappears from the historical record, leaving us to speculate on what her last years must have been like.