Tuesday, October 19, 2010

4 September 1638.

Arthur Peach, Thomas Jackson, Richard Stinnings, & Daniell Crosse were indicted for murther& robbing by the heigh way.They killed and robd one Penowanyanquis, an Indian, at Misquamsqueece, & took from him fiue fadome of wampeux, and three coates of wollen cloth.

. . . They found the said Arthur Peach, Thomas Jackson, and Richard Stinnings guilty of the said felonious murthering & robbing of the said Penowanyanquis, but say that they, nor any of them, had any lands or tennement, goods or cattles, at the tyme of the said felonie conitted that they know of; and so say they all.

Daniell Crosse made an escape, & so had not his tryall; but Peach, Jackson, & Stinnings had sentence of death pnounced; vizt, to be taken from the place where they were to the place from whence they came, and thence to the place of execucon, and there to be hanged by the neck vntill their bodyes were dead, wch was executed upon them accordingly.(5)

3 September 1639.

Mary, the wyfe of Robte Mendame, of Duxburrow, for using dallyance diuers tymes wth Tinsin, an Indian, and after committing the act of vncleanesse wth him, as by his own confession by seuall interpters is made apparent, the Bench doth therefore censure the said Mary to be whipt at a cart tayle through the townes streets, and to weare a badge vpon her left sleeue during her aboad wthin this gount; and if shee shalbe found wthout it abroad, then to be burned in the face wth a hott iron; and the said Tinsin, the Indian, to be well whip wth a halter about his neck at the post, because it arose through the allurement & inticement of the said Mary, that hee was drawne therevnto.(6)


The accounts I have chosen are taken from court records of an early new Plymouth settlement in 1638. It describes one case in which 4 white English men were sentenced to death for the robbery and murder of a native American man. The fact that the court in this settlement has sentenced 4 of its citizens to death for the murder of a native suggests a possible sense of solidarity between the Indians and the settlers, or at least with the pilgrim settlers of New England. However it could also be read that they did this simply out of fear of a backlash from the tribes if they didn’t. But either way it would surely have been a very controversial move at the time, to side with natives over Englishmen. The second case involves an English married woman named Mary who was convicted of committing adultery with a native American man named Tinsin. The interesting thing about the court’s decision is that they decided to punish Mary considerably more than they did Tinsin. They were both whipped, but Mary was taken around the town presumably to humiliate her. She was also made to wear a badge with an “A” on it, to identify her as an adulterer. The court seems to have blamed the female for the crime because she has drawn the male in, although it is interesting that they did not place more blame on the native. I think both these cases show that at least in some settlements, the settlers and natives did live as relatively equal, and the town leaders did see them as more than just savages.

1 comment:

Jill Glazier said...

As you say Billy, pretty unusual for justice to be given to a native american. From what I have read elsewhere, relations seem to have been better in the 17th century than they were later on. Jill