Tuesday, May 16, 2017


This is one of the most confusing court records I've ever found involving an sncestor . It's a slander case brought by William Cresy against Mordecai and Elizabeth Larcum. Apparently the Larcums claimed Cresy said he'd have liked to sleep with Elizabeth. But instead of testimony about the charges, witnesses talk about events involving  Elizabeth Larcum and the family of my 9x great grandfather John West :

25June 1661 Salem
William Cresy v. Mordecaie Larcum and Elizabeth, his wife. Slander. In saying that he would have come to bed to said Elizabeth. Verdict for plaintiff.t

Writ, dated, June 11, 1661, signed by Robert Lord,+ for the court, and served by Thomas Write, deputy marshal.

Mordeca (his mark) Larcum's bond. Wit: John Thorndike.; 

Henry Baly, aged about fifty years, deposed that being at the house of John West last summer, he heard said West and Goody Lorcome in discourse about a boy of said Lorcom's, whom the latter had let out to Goodman West for that summer. West asked her why she had taken away the boy and she said because he was sick. He answered that if he were sick, he could have kept him as well as she. She refused to let him take the boy again, because he would have learned what would have brought him to hanging. Goodman West told deponent to witness what she said, and upon demanding what it was, she said she would not tell it till she came before authority. This she spoke in the presence of the whole family and they were much troubled, and upon being urged further, she said “aske Thomas Write what my boy told him he saw Joseph West do upon a Lord's day,” etc., and  when she went away. Goodwife West fell down dead and the whole family was “set on trembling as though they were out of their wits.” Sworn in court.

Deliverance Frensh, of Glocester, deposed, that, June 27, 1661, being at Goodman Larcum’s house, Thomas West, son of John West, and Elizabeth Jackson, maid servant to Goodman West, came in and asked to see Goodman Cresse's boy. Goodwife Larcum answered that she would have them know that it was none of his. They told deponent that they had kept reckoning for her, etc. This discourse was about six weeks since, upon the Sabbath day, at night. Sworn in court. 

Thomas Bishop; deposed that Goody Larckum lived near his house several years and he never knew any light or immodest carriage by her toward any nor with any. Thomas Burnam deposed the same, she having lived sometime near him.

Aves Chub deposed that she was at Goody Larcum's house and the latter asked her to call in at Goody West’s, “ so I Cald in there to see how she did, & I told her y‘ goody Larcum remembred her loue to her, she told me she was a loueing neighbourly woman as shee Could line by, & if it had not beene for her she Could not tell what shee should haue done.” Sworn in court.

Mordecay Larcum deposed that William Creasy came upon at Lord’s day following to his house and said he was sorry for what abuse he had offered to his wife and prayed deponent that he would not prosecute against him.-

Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts, Volume 2
Essex Institute, 1912 - Essex County (Mass.)

Just that last section actually deals with the slander charge.

So what do we have here?

It looks like John West had taken on one of the Larcum sons as either a laborer or servant for
a few months, but Elizabeth Larcum had unexpectedly taken her son back home.  When she was
asked by the Wests why she had done this, she implied that her son had seen Joseph West, one of John West's sons, doing something on the Lord's Day. She refused to leave her son with the Wests
so he wouldn't learn something that could have him hanged. 

Although the file says John's wife "fell down dead" I believe that meant a "dead faint", because Elizabeth Larcom sent a friend to check on Goody West who spoke with her.

So William Cresy won his slander case. There must have been more testimony that wasn't recorded.

But now I'm left wondering just what the Larcum boy saw my 8x great granduncle Joseph West was doing on that Sabbath day over 350 years ago.

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