Murdered by His Wife

Capa
Univ of Massachusetts Press, 2001 - 224 páginas
In March 1778, Joshua Spooner, a wealthy gentleman farmer in Brookfield, Massachusetts, was beaten to death and his body stuffed down a well. Four people were hanged for the crime: two British soldiers, a young Continental soldier, and Spooner's wife, Bathsheba, who was charged with instigating the murder. She was thirty-two years old and five months pregnant when executed. Newspapers described the case as the most extraordinary crime ever perpetrated in New England.

Murdered by His Wife provides a vivid reconstruction of this dramatic but little-known episode. Beautiful, intelligent, high-spirited, and witty, Bathsheba was the mother of three young children and in her own words felt an utter aversion for her husband, who was known to be an abusive drunk.

A year before the murder, she took in and nursed a sixteen-year-old Continental soldier who was returning from a year's enlistment under George Washington. The two became lovers and conceived a child. Divorces were all but impossible for women at that time and adulteresses were stripped to the waist and publicly whipped. Bathsheba's pregnancy occasioned a series of desperate plots to murder her husband, finally brought to fruition with the aid of two British deserters from General Burgoyne's defeated army.

The plots, the crime, the trial, and the aftermath are presented against a backdrop of revolutionary turmoil in Massachusetts. As the daughter of the state's most prominent and despised Loyalist, Bathsheba bore the brunt of the political, cultural, and gender prejudices of her day. When she sought a stay of execution to deliver her baby, the Massachusetts Council rejected her petition and she was promptly hanged before a crowd of 5,000 spectators.

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Índice

Unnatural Murder
5
Bv the Lot of Providence
8
A Bad Conjugal Example
14
Irrevocably Joined in Marriage
29
Seduced from Virtue and Prudence
36
Burgoin People
45
His Time Is Come
58
The Hands of Justice
67
Notes on the Trial ofBathsheba Spooner 1778 Associate Justice Jedediah Foster
119
Minutes of Trial and Law Cases 17771752
129
Indictment of William Brooks James Buchanan Ezra Ross
135
Minutes in the Case of the Murder of Mr Spooner Levi Lincoln
145
Notes of Cases decidedin the Superiour and Supreme JudicialCourts of Massaehusetts from 1772 to rj8g
154
Account of the Murder Trial and Execution from the Massachusetts Spy
155
APPENDIX H Petition ofjabez andjohana Ross
160
Documents from the ExecutiveRecordsRevolutionary Council Papers
163

Petitions to the Council
82
Dreadful Scene of Horror
95
Remains
105
THE DYING DECLARATION of JAMES BUCHANAN EZRA ROSS AND WILLIAM BROOKS
111
NOTES
169
BIBLIOGRAPHY
185
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
191
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An independent scholar, Deborah Navas worked as a magazine editor for twenty years. She is author of a short story collection, Things We Lost, Gave Away, Bought High and Sold Low, and won the PEN Syndicated Fiction Award and the New Hampshire Writers Project Emerging Writer Award.

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