Mary Rowlandson

Birth: 1637


Mary Rowlandson (c. 1637 - January 5, 1711) was a colonial American woman who was captured by savage Indians during King Philip's War and held for 11 weeks before being ransomed. She was a daughter of John White, and wife of the Rev. Joseph Rowlandson, the first minister of Lancaster, Mass., who died in 1678. On 10 Feb., 1676, during King Philip's war, the Indians surprised and burned Lancaster, and took her captive. For several days she had no food, and after her child was frozen to death and buried in the forest, she was sold by her Narragansett captor to a Sagamore named Quanopin, in whose wife she found a "most uncomfortable mistress," who treated her with insolence.

The Indians with whom she lived remained near the site of Petersham, Worcester co., Mass., until they crossed Connecticut river on hearing that they were pursued. Mrs. Rowlandson then met King Philip, who treated her with much civility. Soon the Indians returned to Worcester county. Timothy Dwight says:

"Mrs. Rowlandson went through almost every suffering but death. She was beaten, kicked, turned out of doors, refused food, insulted in the grossest manner, and at times almost starved. Nothing but experience can enable us to conceive what must be the hunger of a person by whom the discovery of six acorns and two chestnuts was regarded as a rich prize.

At times, in order to make her miserable, they announced to her the death of her husband and children." Her captivity lasted nearly three months, and was ended through the agency of a resident of Concord, Mass. She was redeemed for about eighty dollars, which was contributed by several women of Boston. She published her experience in a book entitled the "Narrative of the Captivity and Removes of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson among the Indians" (Cambridge and London, 1682; 2d ed., Boston, 1720; new ed., 1723). The 5th edition was edited by Joseph Willard (Lancaster, Mass., 1828).


Appletons' Cyclopaedia of American Biography (1900)

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