Catherine & Scipio Pt. II

This is the page from the 1924 print copy of Salem’s Vital Records showing the recording of Catherine’s marriage to Scipio on September 7, 1743. (The asterisk indicates that their intention was also recorded.)


How did Scipio come to be held as a slave by Joseph Porter is a question I would like to be able to answer. Did they meet only when they entered the Porter household? Scipio, we’ll find out from later records, is about 24 years old, Catherine, as a “maid” in 1741, may have been anywhere from 17 to 23 by 1743. Was this a marriage of convenience for both of them in order to regularize an existing, or likely to happen, sexual relationship? Unless she had an early miscarriage, we’ll find out tomorrow that Catherine was not pregnant at the time of her marriage.

Since it’s recorded in the Salem Vital Records, this marriage likely occurred at the Salem Village Church. Those church records are now online but, unfortunately, in a very poor 1960 microfilmed version.

Despite the lack of baptisms, there were significant marriages being recorded in the Salem churches. Thirty-one, in total, between 1720 and 1770. That life for Africans and African-descended people was changing in Salem can be seen in the marriages that are recorded in the 1770s – 24 in total,  over half amongst free people.

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