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Zerobabel Endecott's Biography (Books)

Zerubbabel Endecott was 17th-century physician and pharmacist.

Zerubbabel Endecott, born about 1635 in Salem, was the second son of Massachusetts Bay Governor John Endecott, the father being what I call the "Hammer of the Quakers." The governor was the man who sentenced Quaker missionaries to severe whippings, starvation and exposure, imprisonment, and death. He sentenced Mary Dyer to death by hanging for her civil disobedience.

When he was about 18 years of age, Zerubbabel was accused of raping his mother's indentured lace-maker, Elizabeth Due/Dew. The servant girl, who gave birth in 1653-54, continued to accuse Zerubbabel even after her trial for slander, two serious public whippings, being released from her indenture early as a hush-reward, being hurriedly married off to another servant who endured a whipping he didn't deserve, and told to leave. Gov. John Endecott was not having his first grandchild born illegitimately, and of rape, to a mere servant girl, and he was not chaining his son to her for life, as the courts usually did after publicly whipping both fornicating parties.

(The governor himself had fathered an illegitimate son in England in the 1610s or 1620s, but wrote at least one letter saying that although he was providing some money for his upkeep, the boy was not to be sent to New England under any circumstances.)

After his shameful conduct for which he was never tried, Zerub--as I shall abbreviate his name--was immediately wedded, about eight years before most young men would marry, to a woman named Mary, and then he was not heard of for a few years. Zerub probably sailed away to England for medical education. The custom was to read medicine in the home of a physician and go with him on patient rounds. In any case, he was back in Massachusetts by 1659, for he and his brother John were fined for drunkenness, another blow to the pride of his father, the governor.

Zerub and Mary had ten children during their 23 years of marriage. He was made a freeman in 1665 (the year his father died). He was a winning defendant in a trespass suit by a Mr. Nurse (of the witchcraft name) in June 1683, Zerub having logged valuable timber for firewood off the land in question; several Salemites testified that he had logged within his own boundaries. Five months later, he made his will, which indicates a life-threatening injury or illness, and two months after that he died.

Zerub's will, made before his death at age 49 in the winter of 1684, specified cash bequests of 50 pounds each to his daughters Mary, Sarah, Elisabeth, Hanna, and Mehetabel; farm properties to his sons; to his son John, also a physician, he left "all my Instruments and books of phisicke and chirurgery." The inventory of medical instruments showed "a case of lances, 2 Rasors, a box of Instruments, a saw with six Instruments for a Chirurgion, a curb bit."

During Zerub's medical practice, he took notes and in 1677 wrote a short book, entitled Synopsis Medicinae or a Compendium of Galenical and Chymical Physick Showing the Art of Healing according to the Precepts of Galen & Paracelsus Fitted universally to the whole Art of Healing. It contains directions for mixing and applying medicines for the cure of disease or healing from surgery. The manuscript bears the byline "Zorubbabel Endecott."

Credit: 2013 Christy K Robinson (