King William’s War – Captured By Indians

A story that has been related by many sources is that of Mary Haines’ capture by Indians.  There is some question about the date as Mary would have been 19 in 1696 and the story is often told of her being captured as a girl, however.  It should also be noted that in 1696 her brother Joseph, who was also captured would have only been 7.  If Mary had been captured when she was a little girl, Joseph would not yet have been born.  So perhaps we need to assume, that Mary was captured as a young woman.  The timing also makes sense, when we consider the historical context.

From Descendants of Roger Preston of Ipswich and Salem Village with edits from the NEHGS V.IX:

“[On] August [15], 1696, while Jonathan Haines was reaping in a field near Bradley’s Mills and the children were picking beans near by, the father and four children, Thomas, Jonathan, Mary, and Joseph, were captured by the Indians, who immediately started for Pennacook [Concord, NH]; here the party separated and one portion with the father and Thomas went to Maine, while the other, with the three other children, went to Canada, where the children were sold to the French.  The father and Thomas soon had an opportunity to escape and made their way, with great fatigue, to Saco, Maine and thence to Haverhill.  Of the other three, Jonathan and Joseph remained in Canada permanently [married and became wealthy farmers] while it is said Mary was redeemed the following winter for 100 lbs. of tobacco [carried up on a handsled].

Two years later [on] February [22], 1698 Jonathan Haines [and Samuel Ladd] and [their sons] Thomas [and Daniel]…started with their teams to haul some hay…from their meadow in the western part of town.  On their way home they were surprised by Indians, and the [men] were killed and [boys] were carried prisoner to Pennacook (NH).  [They] escaped and returned to Haverhill.”

The Haynes Family Genealogy by Paulette Haynes goes on to say that the family found Jonathan and Joseph when they were adults, but by that time they had forgotten their native language, now speaking French.   They did remember their sister, as she had lost a finger shortly before they were captured….just the sort of detail that would stick in the head of a young boy.


Historical Context:

In 1696, the English colonies were at war with the French.   The war actually began when Catholic King James II of England was forced from the throne and fled to exile in France.  His daughter Mary and her husband Protestant William became the rulers of England in what is known as the English Revolution.   Louis XIV, in France, did not think that England should so easily be able to switch rulers and supported Catholic King James.  In what is now the United States this was was called King William’s War, the first of what is known as the French and Indian Wars.  Beginning in 1688 and lasting through 1697, King William’s War was the result of the French and the British fighting for control of the New England colonies, both in the name of religion and in the name of trade.  New France (Canada) was a Catholic colony and New England was almost entirely Protestant, but also at issue was trade.   The French, with their only ports in what is now Canada, wanted access to year round trading opportunities, as they were ice bound in the winter.   Various Native American tribes in New England and the surrounding areas allied themselves with either the French or the British.  The French, led by Governor Frontenac of Canada, allied themselves in part with several tribes, who together formed the Wabanacki Confederacy, which included the Pennacook tribe.  The British allied themselves with the Iriquois Confederacy.  The French and their Native American allies made multiple raids on English towns and villages in the area north of Boston.   It was not uncommon for these raids to result in the death or capture of English colonists.  Captives were then taken to New France and sold into servitude.  It is probable that Mary Haines and her family were caught in one of these raids, as she was taken to Pennacook.    And it is possible, that she was captured not only by Indians, but by Frenchmen as well.  It is notable, and probably an indication of the fear and prejudice of the time that the story that has been passed down is that she was captured by Indians, with no mention of the French and their significant role in the raids taking place in the area of her home.  A treaty was signed in 1697 between the British and French, which perhaps allowed the recovery of Mary the following winter.   This did not entirely stop indian raids in the area, and it would be in one such raid that her father was killed in 1698.   Animosity between the two European countries continued and by 1702 they were at war again and the French and Indian Wars continued with Queen Anne’s War.


Sources for King William’s War:

Wikipedia Article about King William’s War and the French & Indian Wars

Wikipedia Article about the French and Indian Wars

History of the USA article about King William’s War

Map of French and English Territory during the Wars



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