A Historical Tidbit about Those Puritans

Some people sling around the word “Puritan” as a shorthand for a prude who is anti-sex. I think the Puritans themselves would find this ironic. Finding Paradise (by Allison Lockwood, published by the Daily Hampshire Gazette, p. 12-13) tells us,

Many [Northampton] Puritan couples were prolific. Elder John Strong fathered 17 children; one of his sons, Thomas, fathered 15; another, Jedediah, fathered 12; yet another, Samuel, also fathered 12; and his grandson, Jonathan, fathered 17. Isaac Sheldon fathered 15 children; David Burt, 13; Medad Pomeroy, 13; and John Clark and John King, 12 each. Within the first 10 years of Northampton’s existence, 330 children were born to 25 couples.

Since the Puritans had no access to modern reproductive technologies, we must conclude they produced their children the old-fashioned way.

In today’s Northampton (2000 census), the average household size is 2.14 people. The population is 28,978. In 1980, the population was 29,286, so Northampton actually shrank a little during that time. I would venture that Northampton was as culturally “unrepressed” during 1980-2000 as it has ever been.

This is not to say that the Puritan lifestyle was all good, or that the only purpose of sex is to have children, but that the issues merit more thoughtful consideration than they’ve been getting from some people.

10 thoughts on “A Historical Tidbit about Those Puritans

  1. Thank you for that irrelevant interlude into Ivy League nit-picking… this seems about as relevant as “Did you know that the Vandals were once a people?”

  2. For a long time now many sexual liberationists have been saying Puritan=Anti Sex. The evidence suggests, however, that Puritans had lots of sex. This underscores the sloppy thinking and lack of historical awareness of many people on the pro-porn side.

  3. I guess that’s why you believe that the Meese Commission’s report is relevant and why 1970’s Des Moines is like present-day Northampton: because of historical awareness.

    And because “many” Northampton Puritans had a lot of kids, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all Puritans had “lots of sex.” But that just goes to show the sloppiness of NoPorn’s thinking; they’re never afraid to make a gross generalization out of a random fact or two.

  4. Old facts are still facts, and they are consistent with today’s facts, so we present them to fill out the picture.

    Perhaps you have facts of your own showing the Puritans actually had less sex than “average”?

  5. First,
    I find the puritan defense to be both ignorant and disturbing. Perhaps NoPornNorthampton should think twice before using racist slave traders as a battering ram to defeat their opponents. You claim to stand in defense of women, but you defend no one when you use the Puritans to prop up your argument.

    Second,
    In regard to the Puritans and their sexual habits, I think what’s most important to remember is not the amount of sex they had, but why they had sex. Number of offspring from sex aside, Puritans procreated because they felt it was their GODLY duty to do so, to take pleasure in the act was considered SINFUL. These were not people who got their jollies from sex, quite the contrary in fact.

    Third,
    When mopornnorthampton and their like refer to you folk as puritanical, it is not the amount of sex that puritans had that they refer to, but their (the puritans) attitudes regarding sex (see second).

    Most importantly, both sides should really err on the side of caution when speaking of the puritans whose treatment of women, blacks, and others they considered to be less than human is NOTHING to be proud of, and certainly NOT a good foundation from which to construct a case for or against a porn shop.

    If anyone feels the need to reduce the discussion to crap slinging and name calling they should be sure to keep history in mind when they do so.

  6. The American puritans certainly had sex but they did so only within the bounds of marriage. Punishment was common for those who practiced sex outside of wedlock. Thus, equating those who are anti-sex with puritans, though somewhat inaccurate, is still fairly understandable and logical. The American puritans also frowned upon various secular forms of entertainment, claiming these activities as immoral and corruptive. I think it’s a little counter productive trying to defend the puritan’s stance on sexuality as they were clearly staunch social conservatives in that area.

  7. It is not our intention to open up a distracting debate on the overall merits of the Puritans, but merely to call attention to the fact that it is absurd to swat at them as anti-sex.

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