Babies Born in (and Named) Captivity

During the 1600s and 1700s, English settlers in New England were periodically attacked by Native Americans (those that were allies of the French). The New Englanders taken captive were then forcibly marched into Canada.

On a few occasions, babies were born to the captives — either during the journey north, or while in Canada. A handful of these babies were given names to reflect their circumstances. Here are the ones I know of:

Canada Wait & Captivity Jennings (1678)

Twenty-one captives were taken during an Indian raid on Hadley, MA, on September 19, 1677.

The party reached Canada in early January.

While there, two members of the group gave birth. Martha Wait had a baby girl on January 22 and named her Canada Wait, and Hannah Jennings had a baby girl on March 14 and named her Captivity Jennings.

The captives were released later that spring.

Both babies lived to adulthood. Canada Wait is the great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother of Sarah Palin, in fact.

Captivity Smead (1746)

Thirty captives were taken during the Siege of Fort Massachusetts on August 20, 1746.

Two days later, captive Mary Smead gave birth to a baby girl and named her Captivity Smead.

The party reached Canada in September.

Mary died in March of 1747, and Captivity died in May. The 14 surviving members of the group were released a couple of months later.

Elizabeth Captive Johnson (1754)

Eight captives were taken during an Indian raid on Fort at Number 4 in New Hampshire on August 30, 1754.

One day later, captive Susanna Johnson gave birth to a baby girl and named her Elizabeth Captive Johnson.

The party reached Canada in September.

In mid-1757, Susanna Johnson and some of her family members were finally released.

Elizabeth Captive lived to adulthood, becoming the great-grandmother of Frederick Billings.

Sources:

  • Judd, Sylvester. History of Hadley. Springfield, Massachusetts: H. R. Huntting & Company, 1905.
  • Niles, Grace Greylock. The Hoosac Valley. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1912.

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