Dorcas Ye Blackmore

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Dorcas Ye Blackmore (c. 1620-after 1677) was one of the first named African Americans to settle in New England and the first known African American to be admitted to church membership there in 1641 by the Puritans.[1]

Dorcas was likely born in Africa around 1620 and may have arrived in Boston, Massachusetts aboard the slave ship, "Desire" in 1638 after Bostonians transported Pequot Indians captured during the Pequot War to the Bahamas to trade for African slaves.[2] By 1641 Dorcas was a slave/servant for Israel Stoughton, a prominent colonial leader and businessman in Dorchester, Massachusetts, and in 1641 Dorcas joined the First Parish Church of Dorchester in 1641 after giving a public testimony to the congregation.[3][4] Later in 1641 several months after Dorcas joined the church, the colony passed a law formally sanctioning slavery of Africans and Native Americans in the Massachusetts Body of Liberties and explicitly stating that church membership did not exempt anyone from servitude. The early publication, New England's First Fruits (1643), recorded how Dorcas evangelized Native American servants and was admitted to full church membership.[5] [6][7][8] Israel Stoughton died in 1644, and his will did not address Dorcas' status.[9][10] Dorcas likely continued living in the large Stoughton household with Israel's widow, Elizabeth, for a period.[11] Prior to 1652 Dorcas likely married a man named Matthew and had several children including a son, Matthew, baptized in Boston in 1652 and a daughter, Martha, who died in 1654.[12][13][14] In 1653 fellow members of Dorchester's First Church, including Rev. Richard Mather and elder, Henry Withington, sought to purchase Dorcas' freedom and raised funds to free her. In 1677 Dorcas was allowed to formally transfer her church membership from the Dorchester Church to First Church in Boston as the first known African American member there.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Deborah Colleen McNally, "To Secure her Freedom: “Dorcas ye blackmore,” Race, Redemption, and the Dorchester First Church" The New England Quarterly, Volume 89 | Issue 4 | December 2016 , p.533-555
  2. ^ Deborah Colleen McNally, "To Secure her Freedom: “Dorcas ye blackmore,” Race, Redemption, and the Dorchester First Church" The New England Quarterly, Volume 89 | Issue 4 | December 2016 , p.533-555
  3. ^ The Records of the First Church of Dorchester
  4. ^ Deborah Colleen McNally, "To Secure her Freedom: “Dorcas ye blackmore,” Race, Redemption, and the Dorchester First Church" The New England Quarterly, Volume 89 | Issue 4 | December 2016 , p.533-555
  5. ^ Deborah Colleen McNally, "To Secure her Freedom: “Dorcas ye blackmore,” Race, Redemption, and the Dorchester First Church" The New England Quarterly, Volume 89 | Issue 4 | December 2016 , p.533-555
  6. ^ http://www.blackpast.org/aah/dorcas-blackmore-ca-1620
  7. ^ Winthrop's Journal, "History of New England," 1630-1649
  8. ^ New England's First Fruits
  9. ^ Deborah Colleen McNally, "To Secure her Freedom: “Dorcas ye blackmore,” Race, Redemption, and the Dorchester First Church" The New England Quarterly, Volume 89 | Issue 4 | December 2016 , p.533-555
  10. ^ New England Historical and genealogical Register 4 (1847-1852): 51-52 https://archive.org/details/newenglandhistor004wate/
  11. ^ Deborah Colleen McNally, "To Secure her Freedom: “Dorcas ye blackmore,” Race, Redemption, and the Dorchester First Church" The New England Quarterly, Volume 89 | Issue 4 | December 2016 , p.533-555
  12. ^ Deborah Colleen McNally, "To Secure her Freedom: “Dorcas ye blackmore,” Race, Redemption, and the Dorchester First Church" The New England Quarterly, Volume 89 | Issue 4 | December 2016 , p.547-549
  13. ^ Pierce, ed., The Records of the First Church of Boston, 1:323
  14. ^ for Martha's (daughter of Dorcas and Matthew) death: Boston Town records: https://books.google.com/books?id=1pBIAAAAYAAJ
  15. ^ Pierce, ed., The Records of the First Church of Boston, Volume 1