A Woman to Know: Lady Deborah Moody

When the deputy governor of Massachusetts got wind of Lady Deborah's desire to return, he wrote to Governor John Withrop and characterized her as a "dangerous woman" who should not be permitted to return. — Dorothy A. Mays

(image via National Society of Colonial Dames)


Lady Deborah Moody had to leave both England and Massachusetts to find a home for her radical independence — and when she couldn't find a place to settle down in the New World, she founded one of her own: the small village of Gravesend (now part of Brooklyn).

When she purchased the land in 1643, she became the first female landowner in the newly-colonized America. There, she fought back attacks from both Native Americans and other settlers, and she set up Gravesend as a sanctuary city for those fleeing religious persecution. Once the deputy governor of Massachusetts banned her from returning, she wore his exile with pride. His warning letter — "she is a dangerous woman" — suited her just fine.

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