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2020-02-12 02:25:48
WARRANT FOR THE ARREST OF WEALTHY LEONARD, A SINGLE WOMAN OF TAUNTON, MASSACHUSETTS, ACCUSED OF COMMITTING "FORNICATION WITH A MAN."
[Bristol Co., Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1781. Manuscript warrant, 23.5 x 19.5 cm., approx. 200 words, signed by Samuel Fales, clerk. The warrant directed the sheriff of the county of Bristol "to make diligent search within your Precinct for the Body of Wealthy Leonard of Taunton in the same County Single Woman & her apprehending you are to have before one of our Justice of the Peace. to answer unto a Bill of Indictment for that the said Wealthy on the Fifth day of June Anno Domini 1780, at said Taunton with Force & Arms did committ Fornication with a Man to the Jurors of sd. County unknown in Evil Example to others to offend in like Manner against the Peace &c." On the verso, a note signed by Josiah Crocker, Deputy Sheriff, and dated Bristol Co., Nov. 9, 1781, states that he apprehended Wealthy Leonard and "had her before Apollas Leonard, Esq. one of the Justices of the Peace for the County aforesaid, for the purpose within mentioned." Old fold lines, neat archival taped repairs along folds on verso, small red wax seal in upper left corner of recto. Judicial punishments for premarital sex in 18th century Massachusetts included time in the stocks, fines, whipping, or imprisonment. The perpetrators were sometimes able to mitigate punishment by marrying. According to a recent study by Kelly Ryan, entitled "Regulating Passion: Sexuality and Patriarchal Rule in Massachusetts, 1700-1830," [Oxford Univ. Press: 2014], by the 18th century, more women than men found themselves hauled into court on fornication charges, "as the court and communities were especially concerned with … [Click Below for Full Description]
Bookseller: Bartleby's Books, ABAA [Chevy Chase, MD, U.S.A.]
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