Ransom of Mary Rowlandson

On Feb. 10, 1676, during an Indian attack on her hometown of Lancaster, Massachusetts Mary Rowlandson, wife of the village minister Joseph Rowlandson, was taken prisoner with three of her children by a band of Nipmuc warriors. Hoar, a prominent lawyer and Indian missionary, was requested by the Rev. Rowlandson to act as the colonial representative in the negotiation for her release. Hoar departed Lancaster on April 28, 1676 with two native guides, Nepphonet and Peter Tatatiquinea to meet King Philip’s War party at Wachusett Lake, located in what is now Princeton, Massachusetts. On May 2, after eleven weeks in captivity, Rowlandson was released to Hoar for a £20 ransom at the glacial stone outcropping known today as Redemption Rock. Rowlandson would go on to write a famous narrative of her experience as a captive, The Sovereignty and Goodness of God: Being a Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson which became a bestseller throughout the English speaking world. It is considered to be a seminal work in the American literary genre of captivity narratives and also ranks as the first published book written by a colonial American woman.

Life and Family

John Hoar was born in 1622 in Gloucester, Gloucestershire, England. He died on 2 Apr 1704 in Concord, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts. In 1645, he married his wife Alice, who is believed to have been Alice Lisle, daughter of Sir John Lisle and Lady Alice Beconshaw, however only one historical reference to this exists, which only states her Lisle connection as a mere possibility.[1] Other historians believe that his wife was Alice Sidney, daughter of Philip Sidney and Lady Alicia Sidney, and granddaughter of Barbara Gamage and Robert Sidney, 1st Earl of Leicester.[2] Robert Sidney was coincidentally granted the title of Viscount Lisle on 4 May 1605, allowing the “Lisle” title to be passed on through to his descendants, adding further confusion for researchers in search of the identity of Hoar’s wife. Currently, no physical or reliable evidence exists providing John Hoar’s wife’s maiden name, as many early records from the Concord colony have been lost. Their children were Mary, Elizabeth, Joanna, and Daniel.[3]


  1. George Frisbie Hoar, 1903, “Autobiography of Seventy Years”, [1]“, January 10, 2011
  2. The Graves Family Association Newsletter Vol. 12-16, 1987, “[2]
  3. , January 10, 2011

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