Early "mis[s]"(1652) as title?

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Sat Aug 29 16:01:30 UTC 2009

At 8/29/2009 10:38 AM, Victor Steinbok wrote:
>Hmm... can't speak to the original intent, but "married" does make sense
>in the context of "found"--that is, "found" because the husband was
>unaware (and, presumably, uninvolved).

When I wrote "found", I was visualizing the physical examination of
the accused by a group of experienced matrons.  While this was not in
the written law, it was apparently regular, as there was great
difficultly in proving an act of intercourse (two witnesses were
needed for capital offenses, and they would be extremely unlikely to
have seen actual penetration, lest alone ejaculation).  In one case
I've read of, "fresh milk" was evidence; in others, evidence of a
prior delivery was used.

A husband's denial of paternity could be evidence, but I'm pretty
sure would not have been considered sufficient in the capital case of
adultery; another witness, or evidence equivalent to a witness (see
"found" above) would be required.

>Given that, in this case, the
>husband, in his 90s, absconded to England that same year there might be
>some reasonable suspicion that the husband was not involved ;-)

Yes, her husband left for England in 1651 (I don't think the month is
known), and her (famous) conviction for adultery was in October 1651.

>But the other thing that makes me believe this is some of the Christian
>ontology of sexual activity. To put it simply, an unmarried woman could
>not have been guilty of adultery--a charge of fornication would have
>sufficed. There are similar distinctions in Sharia "jurisprudence", if I
>am not mistaken--and the punishments for an adulterer and a fornicator
>are different (not to mention different punishments for men and women).
>I don't know how early New England statutes listed such crimes, but I
>suspect they would have made the same scriptural distinction--given that
>the Puritans were literalists.

The earliest law against adultery in Massachusetts was passed in
1631, after several cases came before the court and would have been
decided according to Mosaic law.  (Due to doubt about whether death
should be imposed for adultery, these defendants were convicted of
lesser crimes.).  By 1641, the written law included Scriptural citations.

I would assume the Sharia law arises from the same "authority".


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