Founder’s Brook

We started our research into our founding mothers with a list compiled by the Friends of Anne Hutchinson.  Last on their list was a “Herodias Long Gardiner” and that name led us to the story of a very interesting woman.  Divorce, domestic abuse, common law marriage, a lashing for expressing religious views – her story has much drama to it.  Life wasn’t always easy for some of these founding mothers.

Herodias was “married” to three of our early Aquidneck settlers – John Hicks, George Gardiner and John Porter.  In researching her story we found her name listed as Horod, Harwood, Harrud, and even Horad.  You wonder why her parents would name her after a biblical queen who was noted as responsible for the beheading of John the Baptist.

What we know about her early life comes from a petition she wrote in 1665.  She was probably born in England around 1623/24.  She married John Hicks in London when she was a young teenager.  They first settled in Weymouth, MA in 1637 and came to Aquidneck Island 1638.  By 1644/45 Herodias accused John of “many grievances & extreme violence” when she petitioned for divorce.  John left for the Dutch colony on Long Island and according to Herodias, he took her inheritance with him.  John had another story when he wrote John Coggeshall.  He believed her unfaithful and sought his own divorce in New Amsterdam.

Left with no money and searching for someone to “maintain” her, Herodias came to live with George Gardiner as his common law wife.  She seemed to have three children by John Hicks and yet another nine with George Gardiner.  Like Mary Dyer, she became a follower of George Fox and the Quaker faith.  In 1658 she walked for sixty miles from Aquidneck Island to Weymouth to protest the treatment of Quakers.  With babe at the breast and another child by her side, Herodias received ten lashes by order of Governor Endicott.  She was then imprisoned for fourteen days for supporting the Quaker faith.  She was never listed as a member of the Quaker faith and didn’t continue her protests after this incident.

By 1664 Herodias petitioned for a separation from Gardiner.  She admitted that they had never been married according to the law.  She asked for some money to keep her in her own house on her land and she wanted the authorities to restrain him from meddling with her.  The authorities judged that both had been “living in a horrible sin of uncleanness … which was a reproach and scandal.”  Both Gardiner and Herodias were fined and told not to lead such a scandalous life.

By 1666 Herodias was married to John Porter after he had settled a court case with his former wife.  After a good long life, Herodias had died by 1705.

Sources:  “Herodias (Long) Hicks-Gardiner-Porter, a Tale of Old Newport by G. Andrews Moriaty – RI History, July 1952, pp 84-92.

rebelpuritan.com – has an extensive section on the historical sources for Herodias’ life story.