Yesterday I described how when Boston families realized that one of their boys was lost, the public criers would go through the streets, calling out the news. (Girls, who were expected to stick closer to home, don’t seem to have gotten lost so often.)
An interesting example appeared in the Boston News-Letter on 27 Oct 1768:
Monday last in the Afternoon, a Child of about 3 Years of Age, Son of Mr. Benjamin Goodwin, at the North-End, being missing from School, a Search was made, and the Cryer employed about the Town, but no Intelligence of it was had till late in the Evening, when upon its being cry’d in the Common, a Soldier’s Wife gave Information that such a Child had been bro’t to their Tent by a Woman belonging to the Town, and the Child being weary was lain down and asleep;This search came soon after British regiments had arrived in Boston and camped on the Common. If a woman associated with those troops had kidnapped a child, the Boston Whigs would have trumpeted the story as an example of the danger of turning the town into a military garrison. As it was, a soldier’s wife helped to rescue and return a child kidnapped by a “Woman belonging to the Town.”
upon which the Child was carried home to its Parents, and a Search was made for the Woman, who was taken up; and proves to be one who had been released from Goal the Saturday before:
she kidnapp’d the Child, taken the Buckles out of its Shoes and Buttons, and intended to have disposed of it, or something worse, as the Child said it was going to be carried into the Water.
Another intriguing detail in this story is that this three-year-old went to school. That must have been a private reading school rather than one of the five town schools, which enrolled boys starting about age seven.
The Descendants of Francis Le Baron of Plymouth, Mass. suggests that this particular three-year-old was Charles Goodwin, born 3 Aug 1765. He died at age eighteen in St. Augustine, Florida, so he did wander.
(The photo above was taken by kthypryn during a Revolutionary era reenactment on Boston Common.)