J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Thursday, February 04, 2016

“To make a just return to his injurious Advertisement”

Yesterday I quoted Robert Hebbard’s advertisement from the 17 Jan 1766 New-London Gazette. That same ad appeared last month at Prof. Carl Robert Keyes’s new Adverts 250 Project, which runs one advertisement from a 250-year-old American newspaper every day. You can read more about that project in Keyes’s conversation with the Junto.

Adverts 250 also featured the advertisement that appeared in the New-London Gazette on 24 January in response to Hebbard’s notice:

Norwich, Jan. 12, 1766.

WHereas Robert Hebbard, of Amena, in the Province of New York, has of late in the New-London Gazette, advertised his Wife Mrs. Joanna Hebbard, as an Eloper, &c. I have thought proper (being well acquainted with her Person and Character) to make a just return to his injurious Advertisement, in as public a Manner as his ignoble Spirit (by which he is ever conducted) has led him to Advertise, tho’ in few Words, for a multiplicity will be taking too much Notice of his Littleness.———

Mrs. Hebbard’s Marriage with this Man was truly a Leap in the Dark, as she had not that Opportunity for Acquaintance which is so very necessary in a Transaction so important: However finding herself deceived on all Accounts, by her unworthy Consort, used all possible Prudence in her Carriage towards him; which from first to last was approved of by all her Friends and Acquaintance; and instead of her Eloping as he asserted, he utterly refused her Maintenance and after repeated Instances of Disrespect and Inhumanity towards her sent her from his House.

She now resides in this Town, in good Credit, and has never contracted the least Debt on his Account, the fear of which said Hebbard pretends as a motive to his Advertisement; but this cannot be, for he knows too well for that the Insufficiency of his Credit in these Parts. From the whole it appears that his Advertisement was the invidious product of Malice, and not of Prudence.

The date of Cleaveland’s letter, 12 January, indicates that Robert Hebbard’s advertisement about his estranged wife had appeared in the New-London Gazette by that date. Norwich was about eleven miles from New London, so Cleaveland probably could have delivered this text to the newspaper in time for its 17 January issue. Perhaps it was only after the ad ran again in that issue that Cleaveland went through with printing what he had written. Neither man’s notice appeared the following week.

Obviously, Aaron Cleaveland didn’t think much of Robert Hebbard. And he thought well of Joanna Hebbard. But why was he getting involved in this marital quarrel?

TOMORROW: The background of the Hebbard marriage.


J. L. Bell said...

If anyone wants to take a stab at the illegible word or phrase in Cleaveland’s ad, Adverts 250 reproduces the image from microfilm. Unfortunately, it looks like that phrase fell right on a crease that got gunged up, and the microfilming reduced the contrast. An image of the original newspaper might be easier to read, but the New-London Gazette is a rarity.

Michael Stephens said...


J. L. Bell said...

Excellent work, Michael Stephens! That word fits the blur. I looked up the phrase "refused her maintenance," and it was a legal formula for husbands not supporting their wives. So I'm going to edit the text accordingly. Thanks!