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History Talks Speaker Series: Greg Williams on Sandwich’s Bathsheba Spooner – Seducer of Souls

October 28, 2023 @ 2:00 pm

The “Seducer of Souls”, Bathsheba Ruggles Spooner, was born in the center of Sandwich, in what was then (1746) a tavern operated by her notorious-Tory father, Brig. General Timothy Ruggles. The extended family moved to central Massachusetts when Bathsheba was a child, and she married the well-off Joshua Spooner. The family lived on the Post Road in what is now Brookfield.

Bathsheba, aged about 32, began an affair with a teenaged Colonial militia soldier from Ipswich who was passing by, and eventually, with him and two British Army regulars (dispersed upon the Massachusetts countryside after the Battle of Ticonderoga) conspired to murder her husband, Joshua. Which they did: beating him and dumping him into the household well. All four were apprehended and convicted of murder and (in Bathsheba’s instance) aiding and abetting. They were publicly hanged in Worcester in July 1778–after the United States had declared its independence from Great Britain, and thus they were the first executed defendants in U.S. history. Notoriously, Bathsheba did not even benefit from a stay based on her claimed pregnancy because two examinations did not agree she was indeed pregnant. She was, five months. She was not, as sometimes claimed, also the last woman hanged in the country. A few followed her, though fairly soon thereafter.

About Gregory Williams:

Gregory Williams was a District Court judge for 15 years,
retiring in 2015—for his last ten years, he was First Justice
of the Edgartown District Court. A citizen of both the U.S. and
Canada, he holds degrees from Western Maryland College (now
McDaniel College) (B.A., English); Queen Mary College,
University of London (M.A., English [20 th -century British
Literature], and Washington and Lee University School of Law
(J.D.). He talks on such topics as Massachusetts historical
crimes, notable Cape Cod figures, and the romantic-macabre.
He has served on the boards of several Cape non-profits,and is
the immediate past-president of the Sturgis Library Board. His
Facebook page, Gregory Williams Speaks, continues to signal his
scheduled events, and also offers peeks at odd bits of history, art,
and music.

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