Dangerous Woman Lady Deborah Moody

Deborah Moody was a dangerous woman of the 1600s. She had founded Gravesend, which was the only early American colony that was founded by a woman.

Lady Deborah Moody was a widowed English immigrant in the seventh century. She is known for being a dangerous woman of the 1600s. She received the nickname because she was the only woman to have found one of the only permanent settlements in colonial America.

Deborah Dunch was christened this in 1586. She had come from a family of wealth that had a strong political and religious background. The family also believed strongly in civil liberties and religious non-conformity. Deborah married a well-connected landholder named Henry Moody. He was later given knighthood; therefore she became Lady Deborah or Dame Deborah. In 1629 Henry passed away, when she was approximately 33. At this time England was in great religious turmoil, and she was very attracted to Anabaptism. Anabaptism was the Protestant sect that believed that baptism should be received by adult believers and not put onto a child or infant baptism. She could no longer live in the oppressed religious climate that England had been and therefore headed for Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1639.

When Moody had arrived in New England she founded a Puritan community. This community was just as oppressive, because she had brought her Anabaptism view with her. Later in July of 1643 John Winthrop had been the governor at this time. He wrote in his journal: The Lady Moody, a wise and anciently religious woman, being taken with error of denying baptism to infants, was dealt withal by many of the elders and others, and admonished by the Church of Salem (where of she was a member), but persisting still, and to avoid further trouble, etc., she removed to the Dutch against the advice of her friends. Many others, infected with Anabaptism, removed thither also. She was after excommunicated.



Even though the Dutch Reformed Church in New Amsterdam was considered extremely rigid, the director general William Kieft would give permission to Moody to settle on unoccupied land. This land today is southern Brooklyn. There is an argument on where the town name had originated. Some believed the name came from Kieft's birthplace Holland, Gravezande and others believed it had come from the English settled town of the Thames River. The name was Gravesend. The settlers had just moved into their quarters when they were attacked by Indians from somewhere up the Hudson River. The settlers were able to repell the Indians, yet they still temporarily relocated to Amersfoot. Today Amersfoot is actually the Flatlands. Even at this point Moody thought about going back to New England. After all of this, John Endecott, who was Winthrop's deputy at the time wrote to his superior: I shall desire that she may not have advice to returned to this jurisdiction, unless she will acknowledge her ewill (evil) in opposing the churches, and leave her opinions behind her, for she is a dangerous woeman.

In 1645 she had returned to Gravesend, later on December 19 Kieft granted a patent that was memorable for all the freedoms it allowed. The patent had not only allowed freedom of conscience but the right to make this a self-governing town. The plan for the town as quit unique with Moody in charge.

The town was made up of two main roadways that bisected the town from the north-south and east-west side. Alongside the roads were four squares that were made up of four acres each. Inside each of the four sections were ten houses with a one-acre commons for the people. On the outside of the town there were triangle pieces that made up hundred acre farms. These farms where known as boweries that poked out from the center of town, making it look like the spokes from a wheel.

There had been a war that broke out in 1652 across the Atlantic Ocean between the Dutch and the English. This war made a great tension grow between the New Netherlands between the English towns and the Dutch rulers in the western part of Long Island. This became even more aggravated when the Quakers had come to The New Netherlands in 1657. They elected a new director general named Peter Stuyvent. Making a big step for the people Moody had invited them into the first Quaker meeting in the colonies, which was held at her very own home. Eventually the Dutch colony would be under the English rule, yet Moody had not lived to see this. She had died in 1659, when she was 73 years old. No one knows where Lady Deborah Moody is actually buried, but many believe that an appropriate epitaph would say, "She is a dangerous woman."

In the fall of 1993 Thomas J. Campanella wrote in the Landscape Journal about Lady Deborah Moody, "Gravesend was the only permanent settlement in America's early colonization period to have been initiated, planned, and directed by a woman," as well as "In its elegant and logical simplicity, the plan of Gravesend was almost without precedent in the English New World."

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