The story of Rachel Haffield Clinton’s tragic life lies buried in the early records of Ipswich, Massachusetts. Her family emigrated to New England on the sailing ship named The Planter in the spring of 1635. She grew up in an affluent household when Ipswich was a new village in the colony of Massachusetts, but the Haffield family fortune dwindled shortly after their arrival. The years to come would find Rachel destitute and one of the accused during the Salem Witchcraft Trials.
The above image of a tithingman might imply that his job was a cross between a spiritual policeman and a royal fool. In fact, his position was one of the most important in Puritan New England and went beyond just policing unruly children.
The key responsibility for a tithingman was to keep order in church during the long services conducted in the meeting house or early church buildings. Most buildings had no heat or fireplace so winter services must have been a challenge. Stifling hot church services were no reason to keep the congregation at home sitting under the shade of an old oak tree.