The Notorious Elizabeth Tuttle: Marriage, Murder, and Madness in the Family of Jonathan Edwards

The Notorious Elizabeth Tuttle Marriage Murder and Madness in the Family of Jonathan Edwards Who was Elizabeth Tuttle In most histories she is a footnote a blip At best she is a minor villain in the story of Jonathan Edwards perhaps the greatest American theologian of the colonial era Man

  • Title: The Notorious Elizabeth Tuttle: Marriage, Murder, and Madness in the Family of Jonathan Edwards
  • Author: Ava Chamberlain
  • ISBN: 9780814723722
  • Page: 188
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Who was Elizabeth Tuttle In most histories, she is a footnote, a blip At best, she is a minor villain in the story of Jonathan Edwards, perhaps the greatest American theologian of the colonial era Many historians consider Jonathan Edwards a theological genius, wildly ahead of his time, a Puritan hero Elizabeth Tuttle was Edwards s crazy grandmother, the one whose madnWho was Elizabeth Tuttle In most histories, she is a footnote, a blip At best, she is a minor villain in the story of Jonathan Edwards, perhaps the greatest American theologian of the colonial era Many historians consider Jonathan Edwards a theological genius, wildly ahead of his time, a Puritan hero Elizabeth Tuttle was Edwards s crazy grandmother, the one whose madness and adultery drove his despairing grandfather to divorce.In this compelling and meticulously researched work of micro history, Ava Chamberlain unearths a fuller history of Elizabeth Tuttle It is a violent and tragic story in which anxious patriarchs struggle to govern their households, unruly women disobey their husbands, mental illness tears families apart, and loved ones die sudden deaths Through the lens of Elizabeth Tuttle, Chamberlain re examines the common narrative of Jonathan Edwards s ancestry, giving his long ignored paternal grandmother a voice Tracing this story into the 19th century, she creates a new way of looking at both ordinary families of colonial New England and how Jonathan Edwards s family has been remembered by his descendants, contemporary historians, and, significantly, eugenicists For as Chamberlain uncovers, it was during the eugenics movement, which employed the Edwards family as an ideal, that the crazy grandmother story took shape.The Notorious Elizabeth Tuttle not only brings to light the tragic story of an ordinary woman living in early New England, it also explores the deeper tension between the ideal of Puritan family life and its messy reality, complicating the way America has thought about its Puritan past.

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    1 thought on “The Notorious Elizabeth Tuttle: Marriage, Murder, and Madness in the Family of Jonathan Edwards”

    1. Most of the reviewers of this book have concentrated on the story line, or on the gender roles, or on Puritan daily life. All of these were very interesting and well represented in this book. But I found something more. I grew up in western Massachusetts and graduated from high school in Hartford, from a school founded in 1635, during the time of this microhistory. Rural New England, when I was growing up, reflected the same ideals of manhood and masculinity that Chamberlain outlines as Puritan [...]

    2. Exacting microhistory excavating the lives of Jonathan Edwards' grandparents and their extended families--Chamberlain mines records (the Edwards' were friends of Wallington and appear in his voluminious diary) in England and New England to set up the scene: the Tuttles were well-to-do gentry, the Edwards fallen-on-hard-times artisans. Elizabeth Tuttle married the younger Richard Edwards pregnant--maybe with his baby, maybe not. This seemed to sour their marriage from the start, a problem compoun [...]

    3. This was quite an interesting look at an historical figure about which little is known. Elizabeth Tuttle, a 17th century Puritan Goodwife has alternately been written out of the story of her famous grandson, Jonathon Edwards, and held up as the paragon of womanly virtue that begat numerous famous Americans. Claimed by both sides of the eugenics debate in the early 20th century as proof for or against eugenics, Elizabeth Tuttle was just an ordinary woman to whom bad things happened.Chamberlain pa [...]

    4. The story of Jonathan Edwards' grandparents' marriage is an interesting one because it demonstrates that mental illness, domestic violence, and unhappy marriages are nothing new. The author does well at constructing a narrative when there is a severe dearth of material from Elizabeth's perspective -- no diaries or letters at all. But the writing is sometimes clunky and often repetitive. One might almost think it was a PhD thesis. The author is in a department of religion, not history, but might [...]

    5. This book about Elizabeth Tuttle, the Theologian Jonathan Edwards' controversial grandmother, examines how colonial women are presented in the historical record. Through careful examination of the existing information about the Tuttle and Edwards families, the author pieces together a short biography of Elizabeth Tuttle that differs in significant ways from the existing versions of her story which include the deceased wife, the sexually promiscuous and crazy grandmother, and then source of the s [...]

    6. Last night I picked up Ava Chamberlain's The Notorious Elizabeth Tuttle: Marriage, Murder, and Madness in the family of Jonathan Edwards (New York: New York University Press, 2012). Like much of my own work, Chamberlain's study of Tuttle is studying that which is missing. This microhistory following in the tradition of work by Natalie Zemon Davis seeks to recover the life of a woman who left no historical records of herself. She appears in documentary sources briefly as Edwards grandmother but C [...]

    7. Women, in Puritan times were to be obedient to their husbands or they would be considered insane. I'd have been in big trouble as a Puritan. Jonathan Edward's grandmother was a woman who also didn't follow the rules. Her family story is actually way more interesting than Edwards'. Two axe murders, adultery, a refusal of paternity, divorce, madness etc. this family had it all. What made this book so interesting was the context for everyday Puritan life. The author got a bit repetitious, but I fou [...]

    8. This is a great work of history. Wonderfully written, a deep dig into the archives, upfront about its limitations, and just plain interesting.

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