Person:Mary Besse (1)

  1. Anne BesseAbt 1641 - 1694
  2. Mary BesseAbt 1645 -
m. 20 Jul 1662
  1. Rachel Allen1663 -
  2. Abigail Allen1665 -
  3. Abiah Allen1666 - 1712
  4. Rebecca Allen1668 -
  5. Hannah Allen1672 -
Facts and Events
Name Mary Besse
Gender Female
Birth[1] Abt 1645 Sandwich, Barnstable, Massachusetts, United States
Marriage 20 Jul 1662 Sandwich, Barnstable, Massachusetts, United Statesto Francis Allen
Death? Y

The Besse family lived in Sandwich on Cape Cod, at the time of persecution of the Quakers, and there was a very large community of Quakers there. Anthony Besse and Jane (parents of Mary) were not Quakers, but rather seemed to be free spirits, as they apparently were living together before being married.

Anthony died in 1657, leaving widow Jane with 2 sons and 6 daughters Known daughters:

Dorcas Ann Mary.

At this time, laws were passed to try to get rid of the Quakers in Massachusetts. Sandwich came under the jurisdiction of Plymouth Colony, which was not so harsh as the Puritans of Massetchusets. Bay, but still, the authorities did everything that they could to stop the Quakers from worshipping. In 1657, the person assigned to enforce the laws in Sandwich was George Barlow -"notorious","infamous" - and called many other ugly names. He was given quite free reign to impose fines, public stocks, whipping, etc (but there were no cases of maiming or hanging as occurred in Boston). George got to keep 10% of whatever he collected in fines. When the Quakers refused to pay fines he would confiscate cattle, cookpots, or anything else of value, and he would keep more than the legal 10%. He kept getting into trouble with the authorities in Plymouth for being overzealous, but he was not fired -probably because nobody else was mean enough to take the job. Several people were fined for refusing to assist him in his duties

The Quakers continued to meet and defy the law. Finally, about 1661, the authorities gave up, and that was about the time that Jane Besse (mother of Mary Besse, maiden name unknown so called Besse after her husband) Married George Barlow, much to her regret. George's step-daughters Dorcas, Ann, and Mary hated him so much that they were arrested for "crewell and unnatural practice toward their father-in-law, George Barlow" Dorcas and Mary were sentenced to sit in the stocks. Not a very happy family. Part of the friction was because the girls were dating Quakers, whom George was actively persecuting.

In 1659, he had prevented a daughter from his previous marriage from marrying a Quaker. Ann was arrested for chopping the characteristically cruel George in the back, Mary was reproved by the Court for being the cause of that incident.

Ann was fined and would have been whipped, except that she was pregnant (she was never married at that time). Mary at age 17 escaped from the family by marrying a Quaker, Francis Allen.

Later on, another step-daughter, also named Jane, sued George to return a cow he had taken. She had married at the age of 15. Later, George and Jane were both severely reproved for "their most ungodly living in contention with the other and admonished to live otherwise"; also for drunkenness, Jane for selling liquor to the Indians, and George for tempting the chastity of Abigail Pratt

At one time it was thought that those that descended from Mary Besse must descend from George Barlow (because the Sandwich vital records say that Francis Allen married Mary "Barlow"), but this was not the case. Mary Besse had her name legally changed to Mary Barlow when her mother married the evil George.

  1. Anthony Bessey, in Anderson, Robert Charles; George F. Sanborn; and Melinde Lutz Sanborn. The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635. (NEHGS, 1999-2011).

    Listed in her father's 1657 will as "Mary", and in the 1661 court records described below, but not listed in her mother's will in 1693, and described as "no further record." Birth estimate based on the work of Mrs. John E. Barclay, who estimated that Mary was Anthony's 4th child.