Part of our First Fridays lecture series
Friday, February 5 noon - 1 pm
NEHGS, 99-101 Newbury Street Boston, MA
Presented by Rose Doherty, Partnership of the Historic Bostons
In early Boston and the Massachusetts Bay Colony crime and punishment were key aspects of maintaining community solidarity and security. The Puritan churches and the civil government both defined appropriate behavior and took action when rules were broken. This talk describes the relationship between the two institutions and emphasizes the civil role of laws and courts to apply sanctions ranging from minor shaming to corporal punishments, imprisonment, and death.
Learn about the remarkable protections for individuals in the justice system that were first established in Massachusetts. Massachusetts had 25 capital crimes by the mid 17th century, however many were seldom actually punished by death and guilty persons were put to death for many more crimes in England much later in history. Jails (gaols) were little used and Boston had the only one for decades.
Fascinating examples of early colonial crimes and punishments are used to bring the story to life for our audiences. The lecture will locate the sites of stocks, whipping posts, gaols, and gallows in Boston. We will discuss public punishments and the cultural values around them.
About the speaker: Rose A. Doherty is the current President and former Treasurer of the Partnership of the Historic Bostons, Inc. She has been a member of NEHGS since 2005.