John Rambo and the rough wooing

In 1685 Peter Cock and his daughter Bridget sued John Rambo for breach of promise and for ruining Bridgett’s reputation. The court testimony was sensational. Bridget’s sister Catherine said that one winter night she heard a noise about midnight, and a plank opened and John Rambo jumped down into the room and then came into the bed where she was with her two sisters. It was pitch dark but they recognized him by his voice. He jumped into the bed. There was no room so Catherine and Margaret got out of the bed and left Bridget there, and they lay on the floor until daybreak.

John asked Bridgett if she would have him. She answered no at first and then when he asked her again she said yes. He swore “the devil take him if he would not marry her”. And in the morning he heaved himself out of the bed and left.

William Orion said that when Andrew Rambo was married to Peter Cock’s other daughter, he heard John Rambo, between the dwelling house and cow house, about midnight, say to Bridgett Cock, “God damme me my brother hath gott one sister and I will marrie tother.”

And Lasse Cock, brother of Bridget, deposed that about the end of February last, his sister Bridget went to the mill with corn, and they saw John Rambo. Bridget said, “John Rambo you are going to cheat me”, and he answered “God damme me I shall never marrie another woman but you.”

The jury found Rambo guilty. Bridget’s father Peter was fined five shillings for swearing in court.

But it did not work out quite as smoothly as that. A year later they were back in court.

In the meantime Bridget had borne a child, which John refused to maintain, and he was trying to marry another woman. Bridget sued him for 150 pounds damages. He claimed that he never offered to marry her. She produced the records of the earlier court.

It would seem a cut-and-dry case in her favor. But Lawrence Hiddings, a neighbor of the Cock family in Kingsessing, testified that Bridget had refused to let him have the child when he offered to maintain it, saying that it was more than he was able to do and that he did not have a nurse ready. The  jury found for him.

What happened?

The ending is a surprise. John and Bridget married and had eleven children. They moved to West Jersey where John became quite respectable—a justice of the peace and delegate to the assembly.  Let’s hope that Bridget got what she wanted.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *