Finishing the story
As I reviewed the story we have created, the element with which I was personally least satisfied was Burdett's motive for leaving his family. Is prosecution enough to abandon a family? What of Winthrop's charges of adultery and fornication? So I went in search of a final jigsaw piece, using a different kind of resource - the New England Historical and Genealogical Register. This is a collection of notes and articles by American local historians, which is available on CD-ROM and can be searched extensively by word.
'Burdett promises to pay Ann £112 ... '
Here we find a reference to a deposition given in a 1682 court case by one Edward Johnson, of York, New England. In it he said that:
About 42 or 43 years agone (ie 1639-40] hee remembereth that at that time Mrs Ann Messant, alias Godrey, lived with Mr Geo[rge] Burdett then Minister of Agamenticus [now called York] In the Province of Mayne and at that tyme keept s[aid] Burdett's house. [Burdett then] ... had occasion to borrow of s[ai]d Ann Godrey a certen p[ar]cell of Money amounting to the valew of seaven scoore pounds or y[ere]abouts, which money remained in the sayd Burdetts hands for some years before the s[ai]d Burdett left ye Countrey'.
... the s[ai]d Ann Godfrey began to Consider how shee should have her money w[here]upon shee desired some Assurance for security y[ere]of upon which hee gave Ann Messant alisas Godrey afterwards a writeing pretending to be a deed for his farme'.
This 'writing pretending to be a deed' is recorded in the York County Deeds, and says that Burdett promises to pay Ann £112 at the end of March 1641. The problem with the 'deed' is that it was neither dated nor signed, thus making it legally unenforceable.