Thursday, August 23, 2012

Murder In Agamenticus

Catherine Cornish and possibly Thomas Footman and/or John Hull, Jr. murdered Richard Cornish, Catherine's husband. He was found in the river with a head wound and a pole stuck in his side. His canoe had been filled with clay and sunk. He bled to death. My 12th great-grandfather, Roger Garde, presided over he trial. Thomas Footman is my 10th great-grandfather and her suspected lover. (See disclaimers below)

Catherine was indicted, tried, and hanged for her husband's murder. Catherine had been in trouble with the law before this incident. In 1634 she was brought before the court and then in 1638, she was charged with "incontinency." That's indulging in lust or having an uncontrolled sexual appetite. Catherine accused two men of committing adultery with her. The first, Edward Johnson, confessed. The second, Roger Garde, was a the mayor of Agamenticus (Old York, Maine) and she accused him after he presided over her trial and found her guilty. He denied it although John Winthrop still suspected him.

563-4 (10/4/1644):  "One Cornishe dwelling sometyme in weymouthe removed to Accomenticus, for more outward accommodation, & in the month last was taken up in the river, his head brused & a pole stickinge in his side, & his Canoe laden with Claye fonde sunke: his wife (beinge a leud woman & suspected to have fellowshippe with one Footman) comminge to her husbande, he bledd abundantly, & so he did also, when footman was brought to him: but no evidence could be fonde against him: then somethinge was discovered against the sone of mr Hull their minister & the woman was arrayned before the maior mr Roger Garde, & other of the Province of maine, & stronge presumptions came in against her whereupon she was condemned & executed:  she persisted in the denyall of the murder to the deathe, but confessed to have lived in Adulterye with diverse, she charged 2: specially: the said Gard the maior, & one Ed: Johnson [had been licensed by JW as an Indian trader in Aug. 1632, had lived in York since the early 1630s] , who confessed it openly at the type of her execution: but the maior denyed it: & it gave some likelyhood, that he was not guilty, because he had carried himselfe very zealously & impartially in discovery of the murder, but there might be skill in that, & he was but a Carnall man, & had no wife in the Contrye: & some wittnesse came in against him, of his acknowledgment to the woman &c:  (JW is John Winthrop)

Part of the evidence of her guilt is based on an old superstition that if the body of a murder victim was visited by the murderer, it would bleed profusely. 

The book, The Early Background of the Gard Family in America, says that the last days of Roger Gard's life "were made intolerable by the slanderous statements of his enemies." He died not long after the trial but "in despair" and suffering from a "broken heart." 
Old York Gaol - this one wasn't built until 1719 but no images of the original gaol exist and this one can still be visited if you're into old historical buildings like I am.

My preliminary research indicates that Roger Garde is my 12th great-grandfather. But it's a good story even if the documentation doesn't hold up to closer scrutiny in the future. 
Mary Garde & Arthur Bragdon
Arthur Bragdon, Jr & Lydia Twisden
Lydia Bragdon & Philip Babb
Joshua Babb & Deborah Bickford
Alice Babb & John Waterhouse
Lydia Waterhouse & Richard Garland
Alice Garland & Isaac Hayes
Richard Hayes & Rebecca ? 
Sydney Hayes & Aphia Delphina Cole
George H. Hayes & Anna Rowe
Eva Delphinia Hayes & Estes Yates
Linona Alice Yates - my grandmother

Thomas Footman - also based on preliminary research
Abigail Footman & Benjamin York
Elizabeth York & Job Judkins
Josiah Judkins & Hannah Huntoon
Philip Judkins & Miram Hunt
Moses Judkins & Aphia Perry
Betsy Judkins & Calvin Cole
Aphia Delphina Cole - see above for the rest of the line

1 comment:

  1. Yes, the Old Gaol in York is a fun tour! It seems that everyone is blogging about blacksheep female ancestors this week. I love finding naughty ancestors because they leave such wonderful material for us to discover in the court and newspaper records!