Friday, January 02, 2015


I have a low opinion of those who vandalize cemeteries, so you can imagine how unhappy
I was to discover I may be related to someone who desecrated a grave in Puritan times. The
John Andrews Jr. in this story may be in my Andrews line that begins with immigrant ancestor
Robert Andrews, or he may be from the family of John Andrews. At any rate it's a good story
and begins in the Essex County Court session in Ipswich, Ma. on 26Mar 1667:

Stephen Crose, William Andrews and Joseph Gidding, for their great misdemeanors of pulling up bridges at the windmill, were committed to prison until the next lecture day, and after the lecture to be brought forth by the marshal and constables, to sit one hour in the stocks, then to be carried back to prison until they pay a fine of 3li. each. They were also bound to good behavior.*

Robert Crose, jr., for his barbarous and inhuman act of digging up the grave of the Sagamore of Agawam and carrying his skull upon a pole, was sentenced to be imprisoned until the next lecture day, and immediately after meeting to sit in the stocks for one hour, thence to be conveyed to prison, there to remain until he pay a fine of 6li. 13s. 4d., and he was also bound to good behavior. It was further ordered that within ten days after, he should bury the skull and bones that can be found or brought to him in the place where it was dug up, and erect a cover of stones upon it two foot high or otherwise to pay a fine of twenty nobles more. John Andrews, jr., was to assist him when called to it by him under the same penalty.

 John Andrews, jr., having upon examination freely acknowledged the offences charged upon him, was admonished and ordered to make public acknowledgment next lecture day in public in the meeting house, or pay a fine of twenty nobles. He was also to assist Robert Crose in making up the Sagamore's tomb.

Here's what the witnesses told the court:

*Killicres Ross testified that John Gidding told him that Thomas Waite, staying at John Andrews' the night that the damage was done, heard the sons of John Andrews when they came from training, Stephen Crose being with them. That they said one to the other "what if Mr Wade should find the winmill post cut in the morneing when he comes he would conclude y' Bishop did it." Further that John Giding said he could have overtaken the men if the bridge had not been pulled up, etc.

John Andrews, jr., being examined, declared that Qorles did the most of the pulling up of the bridge near Mr. Saltonstall's and also confessed that he and Joseph Gidding did the most at the windmill. At Halfield bridge he pulled up one piece of it and laid it down again in the morning, Stephen Crose being in company with them. Also the past spring he was at the Sagamore's grave with Robert Crose, jr., when he was digging it up, and the latter carried the skull upon a pole to a lot where John Gidding was at plow. At first he dug up part of the grave, but later they used hoes.

John Andrews, jr., confessed that he helped dig up the coffin that he dug about half a foot deep when "my hart misgaue me," and he assisted no further, being heartily sorry for what he had done. Also that he helped do the damage at "the gin where the windmil now stands," for which he repented, etc.

Mary Ring deposed that the same night sticks and stones were thrown at the end of her master Samuell Rogers' house, and going out at ten o'clock she saw three men, whom she thought were John Andrews, jr., Stephen Crose and William Andrews. Sworn in court.

John Gidding, plowing in a field near Perlye's meadow, deposed that the skull had something like brains or jelly in it, and asked them to carry it away but they refused. Sworn in court.

Jonas Gregory deposed that Crose said he would make a grease pot of the skull for his wife, etc. 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

It's heartening to see the Court regarded the desecration of an Indian's grave as reprehensible. But
there were a few townspeople critical of the punishment the court gave the four miscreants, and
we'll discuss that in the next post.

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