Sunday, January 04, 2015


Stephen Cross, William Andrews, Robert Cross and Joseph Giddings were put in jail for
their criminal behavior on March 26, 1667. They were to be held there until the next
"lecture day", which was what the Puritans called their Sunday services.  I checked.
March 26 1667 was a Saturday. So depending on what the court meant by "next", they
could have been in jail for one day, or a week.  They then would be part of the services,
confessing their guilt before the congregation and asking to be forgiven. Because of a few events surrounding their time in jail and in the stocks, I tend to think it was a week in jail.
It seems not everyone was happy with the sentence handed out by the Court. You'd think
given the damage to a few bridges, the pelting of houses with stones, and the desecration
of a grave, there might be a call for more serious punushment. But amazingly, there were
a few who felt the sentence was too harsh, and objected in such a way that they ended
up in court themselves:

April 30th 1667
William Quarles, presented for pulling up the bridge on the road, was fined and imprisoned until the last day of the week at night and bound to good behavior.

Ezekiell Woodward, for his great offence in affronting the constables in the execution of their office, was fined or to make a public acknowledgement next lecture day. He chose the latter.*

Thomas Bishop was fined and ordered to make a public acknowledgment for speaking reproachfully and defaming the court concerning their proceedings with and against the prisoners last court.f

Robert Pearce testified that when those four were in the stocks, Goodman Woodward said to Goodman Layton "what will you breed a mutanye and if you had stroake me I would a laid you ouer the head."
Sworn in court. John Layton and Theophilus Wilson deposed that attempting to see the sentence of the court executed and speaking to the company present to keep further off, Goodman Woodward said it was the King's ground, that he had a right to stand there as well as they and if they thrust him again he would set them further off. Sworn in court.

fCornett Whipple and Robert Lord, sr., deposed that speaking of the prisoners then in prison, Steephen Crose, Will. Andrews, Robert Crose and Jos. Giddens, Thomas Bishop said it was a very hard sentence and it was to punish the innocent and let the guilty escape, also to punish with fines and imprisonment was to punish their parents and not them and that they were not punished for any offence but because they would not confess that they did not do it. He also said that they would better have given them a little of the whip, adding that it was the simplest thing he ever knew. This was spoken in the meeting house in their seat before meeting. Sworn in court.

Daniell Epps deposed. Sworn in court.
Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts: 1662-1667 (Google eBook) VOL III  Essex Institute Salem, Ma 1913

I especially liked the pretzel logic of Thomas Bishop who felt "a little of the whip" was a less
cruel punishment than time in jail.

Cruel or not, it seemed the five boys learned their lesson and from what I can tell, eventually
became responsible adult citizens of the community.

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