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In Their Own Words

December 31, 1738

Woman Spread Gossip about Minister

William Stephens recorded in his journal about a woman in Savannah spreading malicious gossip about the minister. She was condemned for it, but the minister proved to be forgiving:

“…Mr. Norris went on doing the Duty of a good Minister. Upon his complaining to me Yesterday, that a scandalous Woman of the Town had wickedly invented and endeavoured to spread a vile Story of him, tending to lessen his Chara<5ler in the most sacred Part of it, as if he was lascivious, and addidled to Women; I advised him to have Recourse to the Magistrates; where I was present at her Examination; and it was proved fully by two Witnesses, that she had published a most abominable Scandal, suggesting that Mr. Norris had too much Familiarity with a Maid-Servant, whom he had borrowed of a Neighbour to clean his House; which she industriously reported in several Places, without the least Shew of any Foundation for, but purely did it to stir up more Mischief, as she saw there were not wanting a Few who would be ready to imbibe any Thing in Prejudice of Mr. Norris, though he lived ever so unblamably. Upon plain Conviction of the Offence, the Magistrates ordered her to be whipped publickly (a Correction she had more than once tasted before for other Crimes) but Mr. Norris rather chose to accept of such Satisfaction as she could make, by confessing her Fault, and asking God Forgiveness, before the Congregation; which she did this Day.”

Source: Allen D. Candler, ed. The Colonial Records of the State of Georgia, Vol. IV, Stephens’ Journal 1737-1740, Atlanta, GA, 1906, p. 255.