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EAC Places and Events: The Bathsheba Spooner Trial Reenactment in Worcester, MA

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The Massachusetts Superior Court celebrated its 150th anniversary on June 4, 2009 in Worcester, MA by reenacting the trial of Bathsheba Spooner. Everyone in the packed audience would surely agree that the performance was both entertaining and informative. Seeing real people play the parts of the historical actors in this colonial murder drama helped to humanize a sensational event that involved social attitudes and practices that were different from our own.

Bathsheba Spooner

Bathsheba Spooner introduces herself as the spoiled, intelligent daughter of a Tory and a “damned good horse rider.”

The Defendants

The defendants–Ezra Ross, James Buchanan, William Brooks, and Bathsheba Spooner–hear the charges against them.

Maccarty Counsels

Thaddeus Maccarty counsels Bathsheba in prison, but does not find her to be repentant.


Prosecutor Robert Treat Paine enters Joshua’s hat into evidence.


James Buchanan reads his confession

Closing argument

The defending attorney, Levi Lincoln, gives his final argument, claiming that Bathsheba should be acquitted because she was mentally unstable.


The jury foreman reads the verdict: guilty.

Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas, publisher of Worcester’s Massachusetts Spy newspaper, gives a journalistic account of the trial and execution, a copy of which can be had for only 6 shillings.

If you enjoyed this post, you may want to read Murdered by His Wife:

Don’t forget to visit the Early American Crime Bookshop for more early American crime book suggestions.

If you know of any Early American Crime places or events, please let me know. I’ll be happy to consider covering them on this website.

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