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Colonial Cases


1668. - See 25 December 1827, below.


Otsego Herald, 23 November 1815

  Melancholy and distressing Occurrence.

   Drowned in Belfast Bay, Mass. on the 23d Oct. Mr. Nathaniel Cram, of Belfast, aged 49, Mr. Joseph Woodward, of Isleborough, aged 60, and Mr. Daniel Toward, of Vienna, aged 18.  They were passing in an open boat from Belfast to Isleborough, and while in the act of jibbing, the boat upset, and the above named persons were unfortunately drowned.  Mr. Abraham Libbey, of Belfast, was also in the boast, and was providentially preserved. - After the boast upset, they all got upon her bottom, but a sudden wave precipitated them the sea, and while under water, Mr. Libbey caught by the under gunwhale of the boat, and was brought up with her as she righted, and in about an hour after was taken off nearly exhausted.


CATAWBA JOURNAL (Charlotte, N.C.), 13 July 1826

A Coroner's inquest was held last week, on the body of a negro, who died suddenly at the House of Correction.  We understand the verdict was, that he died of debility.  In the afternoon, the body was inspected by two medical gentlemen, who were unable to satisfy themselves of the cause of his death.  There was a general disease of the viscera, - a tuberculous state of the liver and mesenteric glands, and a large quantity of fluid in the (pericardium) heart case.  [Continues.]  Boston Traveller.


CATAWBA JOURNAL (Charlotte, N.C.), 25 December  1827

Late decision in 1668. - The Hampshire (Mass.) Gazette, in a sketch of the early history of Hadlay and Hatfield, relates the following circumstance,. As having occurred in the former township 156 years ago:---

   "In the year 1668, Samuel, son of Timothy Nash, was thrown from a horse and killed.  A jury of inquest was summoned, whose verdict was as follows: The said Samuel was sent to the meadow by his father, with a piece of rope, to bring up the mare.  He fastened one end of the rope about the mare's neck, and tied the other end about his waist.  As he was riding from the meadow in this manner, William Goodwin's dog came out, ran after the mare and frightened her. - She threw the boy, and dragged him more than 40 rods, over a fence, and through a gate into his father's yard.  He died immediately.

   At the next County Court, Mr. Nash complained of Mr. Goodwin, for keeping such a dog.  The court, after hearing the testimony, decided, that Mr. Goodwin was blameworthy for keeping a dog which was in the habit if running after people, and that Mr. Nash was also blameworthy for letting his son go to fetch the mare with such mean  tackling.  They, therefore, ordered them to pay 10 shillings each, for court charges !


Carmarthen Journal, 6 June 1828

HORRID MURDER. - It becomes our painful duty to record one of the most shocking and appalling murders that ever blackened the catalogue of human crime, which occurred at Brownville in this county, on the 15th inst.  A misunderstanding had long subsisted between four individuals of that place, by the names of Joseph and Heber Rodgers, Henry Dimon and Henry Evans, neighbours, all of whom were concerned in this bloody tragedy.  Evans was living upon a piece of land which he held by contract, and had often stated that he should quit it this spring, upon hearing which one of the Rodgers, went to the owner of the land and obtained a new contract for it, and informed Evans what he had done.  Evans then swore that he would not leave the premises till he got bready.  This fanned the embers of the old feud existing between them to a flame, and a consultation was held between the two Rodgers and Dimon to devise how they should dispossess Evans. A brother of the Rodgers, who was the particular friend to Evans, overhearing the conversation respecting putting Evans out of the house, on the premises in question, went to him on the evening of the 15th of April, and told him what his brother Joseph, Heber, and Dimon, were determined to do, and remained with him in the house during the consummation of the horrid and bloody aft which ensued.

   He says Evans barred the door to keep his brothers and Dimon out, but Heber Rodgers, and Dimon, who still survive, say the door was not barred when they entered the house.  Some time in the evening Joseph Rodgers went to the house, his brother Heber and Dimon followed after at some distance.  Joseph entered the door, and was instantly struck to the floor by Evans, by a blow on the head with an axe, and soon expired.  Shortly after, Dimon and Heber came up to the house, and Dimon went in and was met by Evans with a blow upon the head with the axe, with which he was armed, which brought him to the floor, but which has not as yet proved mortal.  Heber then entered the house ignorant (as it appears) of the fate of his brother Joseph and Dimon; but on discovering their shocking condition, he attempted to retreat, and was pursued by Evans, who gave him a violent blow upon the back with the edge of the axe, which felled him to the ground, from which, however, hopes are entertained that he will recover.

   Evans then went to a distillery near by, and informed the owner, a Mr. Peck, that he had killed the Rodgers, and he was glad of it.  He said he had long designed to kill them, and requested Peck to go with him to his house.  On arriving at the house, and ascertaining that only one of the unfortunate men upon whom Evans had wreaked his premeditated vengeance was dead, he said he was sorry, and regretted that he had not despatched all three of them. 

   He has been lodged in gaol at Watertown, to await his trial, and to receive the inflictions of the law due to his crimes.  We are informed, that since in gaol, he boasts with great hardihood of the bloody and depraved deed his hands have done. - Sacket's Harbour Advocate.


HYANNIS PATRIOT, Wednesday, 31 October 1832 (2)


Casualty. - An inquest was yesterday taken before Prince Snow, Esq. upon the body of Earl Bosworth, whose death was occasioned by falling from a window in the third story of a house in Marshall street, on the night previous.  The deceased, who appeared to be a stranger in the city, came to the house on the evening of the 23d, requesting a night's lodging.  A few hours after he had retired, a noise was heard in the chamber in which he slept, and he was found in the street in a state of insensibility, from which he recovered only partially before his death, which occurred in the course of the forenoon of yesterday.  The verdict of the Jury was, that he came to his death by voluntarily throwing himself from the window.  In his pocket was found a pinchbeck watch, a wallet containing $4-61, a note for $25, signed by Silvanus Jogers, and dated East Bridgewater, Feb, 4, 1829, together with a letter directed to Lysander Bourne, of Halifax.  We are requested to say, for the information of his friends, that another person lodged in the chamber from which the deceased fell, and some evidence was given before the inquest to show that the deceased was forced from the window by his fellow lodger.  The articles are in the possession of the Coroner. - Daily Patriot.


FAYETTEVILLE OBSERVER (Fayetteville, N.C.), 17 July 1851


At Springfield, Massachusetts, on the 1st instant, Coroner Blake held an inquest upon the body of Cornelius Regan, at the House of Correction, in the course of which the following circumstances were brought to light, indicating one of the most extraordinary cases of self-starvation on  record.

   It seems that on the 10th June Regan was committed to jail, on the charge of drunkenness and riotous conduct at the depot, to remain thirty days, or till a fine of five dollars and costs were paid.  For the first few days of his confinement he was very sullen and obstinate, but otherwise there was nothing remarkable in his conduct.  He was twice confined in the  solitary cell, ate some of the meals, and, when ordered, did some work, though he soon stopped.  On the Friday after his committal he refused to eat or drink, declared that he would have his liberty or starve, and in every way exhibited the most dogged obstinacy and determination in his purpose.  He was put into the solitary cell, but, as far as could be seen, did not even touch the food which was left at his door through Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, but often repeated his cry of "liberty or death."  On Tuesday night Dr. Fray was sent for, and succeeded in persuading Regan to take about a gill of water and some bread.  On Wednesday, however, he again refused to eat; and on Thursday he was, in spite of the most violent resistance, thrown upon the floor and a little milk gruel was forced in through the nostrils.  His resistance was so great that it was not deemed advisable to pursue this course.

   From this time he went six days without eating or drinking, and his determination was such that, though he two or three times rinsed his mouth, he refused to swallow ordinarily, though it is possible he did swallow a few drops on one or two occasions.  He was finally told that his brother was ready to pay his fine, and that he should be liberated.  He expressed his satisfaction, but did not seem to rally much, and though after this he endeavored to eat, he was so weak that he could retain little or nothing.  He stood or walked about his cell as long as his strength lasted, but for four or five days preceding his death he was obliged to lie down most of the time.  On Monday, for the first time, did his obstinacy appear in the least subdued, but during the following night he died.

   Dr. Gray and his attendants endeavored in every way to ascertain if Regan exhibited any signs of insanity, but they all agreed that he appeared to be perfectly sane, displaying only the most systematic obstinacy and willfulness.


THE WINONA ARGUS, Thursday 5 March 1857 (2)

NEWS ITEMS. - Another horrible murder has been perpetrated at Hingham, Mass.  Mr. Gardner the post master at that place died from the effects of arsenic, administered to him by his wife.


BARNSTABLE PATRIOT, Tuesday 7 June 1859 (2)

Coroner's Inquest.

Adeline Pells, of Marshpee, recently died under such circumstances as to indicate death from violence, and Luther Hinckley, Esq., held an inquest and the verdict found that she died from repeated beatings by Charles Alvis, with whom she had been living on terms of intimacy for some time.  Alvis was arrested and brought before George W. Donaldson, Esq., Trial Justice, and committed for trial in September.  He had threatened the life of Mrs. Pells for some time.  He is an old offender having once been imprisoned for striking his wife with an axe.  He beat Mrs. Pells last winter, causing severe injuries, and recently beat her again causing death.  He was intoxicated at the time.  It is said that some persons were present, and saw the beating but did not interfere to prevent the serious result.


WINONA DAILY REPUBLICAN, MN., Wednesday 26 January 1870 (2)

   John M. Wood, of North Adams, Massachusetts, was garrotted in a building, No. 69, Wall street, at 2 o'clock this afternoon and robbed of a certified check for $3,000, obtained shortly before from Jay Cooke & Company.


HYANNIS PATRIOT, Tuesday, 21 August 1894 (2)

An inquest was held Aug. 10 before Judge Hopkins in the District Court at Harwich on the death of little Howard Kelley, who was killed by the train while riding over a railroad crossing in a team \at Orleans Aug. 1st.  As other witnesses are to be heard probably another hearing will be held.  A stenographer was present, and a type-written copy of the evidence will be furnished Judge Hopkins.  Supt. J. H. French, Dr. G. N. Munsell and Judge Harriman came from Hyannis by special train to attend the inquest.  Judge Harriman represented the railroad company. - Harwich Independent.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School