American Pioneer Chronicles: Colonial Women, The Heartbeat and Backbone of our Nation

Among the roughly 7000 people living in Old Edinburgh, Scotland were hundreds of poor, uneducated people crammed in the dark, dank and disease-ridden tenements. Isabel Gairdin Moffat, was born here in 1605, surviving in the wynds and closes of the old town was a roll of the dice. Illnesses, hunger, abuse, murder – all were daily conditions of Isabel’s childhood. Overlaying these conditions was the role of faith in her precarious life. Born and raised Catholic her family realized the Protestant faith was a better path, but a hidden faith offers little to the sick, hungry, poor. Protestants were routinely imprisoned or executed. At fifteen, steadfast Isabel married Thomas Moffat, who had baptized in St Cuthbert’s church, and was also a Protestant convert. During their marriage Isabel gave birth to ten children, all before she turned thirty-two. Additionally, they faced wide-spread city riots in 1637 and a deadly episode of the plague in 1645. After Thomas died, resourceful Isabel kept her family together through undeserved poverty and the 1688 collapse of the Royal government. Seven of them lived to adulthood inheriting Isabel’s robust constitution. She was tough and strong with a singular focus – keeping her children fed, clothed and educated until they were on their own.  Resilient Isabel lived another thirty-five years, during which time she raised and educated her children and grandchildren, while keeping faith and working in her community until dying at ninety-five while the 1700 fire ravaged the city. Isabel’s legacy was a feisty, canny outlook inherited by her many descendants 

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