Saturday, December 10, 2016


In August 1676 my 8x great grandfather Nathaniel Wilder and three other men were sentenced to death for the murders of six Indians: three women and three children.

On 26Sep 1676  two of his co-defendants,  Samuel and Daniel Goble were hung in Boston. Neither Nathaniel or the fourth man, Daniel Hoare, were executed at that time. In fact they never were. I have my own theory on why the death sentence wasn't carried out. My ancestor and Daniel Hoare were sons of two prominent residents of their towns. Hoare and the Gobles were from Concord where the murders took place but the Gobles were not from an influential family. Appeals for mercy were probably made and two weeks after the date on which they would have been executed the following ruling was made by the Court:

 Oct 1676. Upon the humble petition of Daniel Hoare & Nathaniell Wilder, presented to this Court, acknouledging the justice of this Court. & begging pardon for their lines, the Court haue granted their petition, and accordingly doe remitt the sentence of death passed against them, and order, that they pay prison ohardges and ten pounds apeece money, halfe towards the charge of witnesses. to be payd to the Tresurer of the country. and the other halfe to Andrew Pittime, & Swagon, ye Indians prosecuting against them: on payment whereof they are dischardged.
[Massachusetts Records.]

The Early Records of Lancaster, Massachusetts. 1643-1725  W. J. Coulter,Pub.Lancaster,Ma. 1884

So for the sum of ten pounds my ancestor escaped the hangman's noose.

But I wonder. Two Indians had brought the accusation of murder against the four colonists. Five pounds in recompense for the loss of three women and three children probably did nothing to soother their grief and anger. So, when the town of Lancaster was attacked again by Indians in 1704 it may not have ben just coincidence that Nathaniel Wilder was killed, nor the death of his son Jonathan three years later in 1707. Another son, Ephraim, was severely wounded in that 1707 attack as well.

Perhaps the Indians exacted their own justice .

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