The Haffield family fortune

Rachel Clinton was born Rachel Haffield, the daughter of Richard and Martha Haffield, in Suffolk County, England, in 1629. Her father had a considerable amount of wealth and property but married below his social station when he took Martha as his second wife. Martha came from a poor family and apparently resented the higher social standing of Richard's first wife, and let it be known it in many ways, including showing great animosity toward the two children from his previous marriage. This economic discrepancy (difference) was destined to become a curse once the family arrived in the colonies.

Rachel Clinton was first stripped of all her worldly goods and her good name, before finally being accused of being a witch. Reproduced by permission of the Corbis Corporation (Bellevue).

In 1635 the Haffields sailed for New England aboard the ship The Planter with their five daughters, one of whom was six-year-old Rachel. They settled in the town of Ipswich, near Salem, Massachusetts, where they became one of the wealthiest families in the region. When Richard suddenly died in 1639 he left a will in which he ordered that his estate be divided evenly among his wife and five daughters. Yet the will triggered years of quarrels and bitterness in the family, particularly in regard to the children of his first marriage. Martha received the bulk of the inheritance as well as the power to distribute other funds to the children. Strife within the family was met with equal tension in the community, which resented the flaunting of so much excess in a time of widespread poverty. Court records of 1639 show, however, that the eldest daughter Ruth was formally charged with dressing too extravagantly. The case was dismissed because of the Haffields's great wealth.

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