Elizabeth Meader Hanson was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, then a British colony, to John Meader, Jr., and his wife Sarah Follett. In 1703, at age 20, she married John Hanson, with whom she had 10 children.
They were both devout Quakers.
There were frequent skirmishes between British settlers and French-backed Native
Americans in New England during this period. On September 7, 1724, her home in Dover, New Hampshire was attacked by Native Americans. Two of her sons were killed and Elizabeth, four of her other children -- including a two-week-old baby -- and a servant girl were taken as captives to a Pennacook village in French-occupied Canada. The conditions of their captivity were grim but they were not subjected to physical abuse. Lack of food supplies was the biggest concern, but Elizabeth was helped by Pennacook women who taught her a few survival skills. After nearly two years, she and most of her children were ransomed by her husband and returned home. Her daughter Sarah Hanson was kept in captivity, and John Hanson died of exposure and illness while attempting to secure her release. She finally obtained her freedom in 1727 by marrying a Frenchman. Elizabeth Hanson's story, entitled God's Mercy Surmounting Man's Cruelty, Exemplified in the Captivity and Redemption of Elizabeth Hanson, was first published in Philadelphia 1728, and republished in London in 1760 as An Account of the Captivity of Elizabeth Hanson.