Skip to content

Tag Archives: Pillory

Places and Events: Old Jails in Maine

I had to duck my head as I passed through the low doorway that led into the dungeon of the Old Gaol in York, ME. The sole electric lamp trying to replicate what the lighting would have been like in the jail cell in the 1700s and the musty smell resulting from a lack of […]

Crime Poems: “That Notorious Cheat”

Crime Poems: “That Notorious Cheat” In June 1761, Jeremiah Dexter of Walpole, MA was caught trying to pass counterfeit dollars of his own making. As punishment, Dexter was forced on September 10 to stand in the pillory for one hour and pay a fine of 20 pounds. Among the crowd who showed up that day […]

Crime Poems: “Cot-er’s Speech from the Pillory”

In 1768, James Cotter was convicted of making and passing several counterfeit coins. On Friday, April 22, 1768 in front of a crowd in Boston, he “stood one Hour in the Pillory, and was whip’d 20 Stripes at the public Whipping post” as part of his punishment. The following “Speech” was published by an anonymous […]

Crime Poems: Samuel Cooke’s Forged Notes

In March 1765, Samuel Cooke, a yeoman from Westfield, MA, pleaded guilty to forging two promissory notes for considerable sums of money. His scheme was exposed when he tried to redeem the fake notes by sending them to an attorney in Boston. As punishment, Cooke was sentenced to stand in the pillory for one hour […]

Crime Poems: The Three Counterfeiters

In September 1766, Richard Hodges and John Newingham Clark were convicted by the Superior Court in Boston of breaking into a shop and stealing fifty pounds worth of goods. As punishment, they were each fined twenty pounds, ordered to pay triple damages, imprisoned for six months, and bound for good behavior for twelve months. After […]

Early American Criminals: Owen Syllavan’s Bunker

After one week, hunger finally drove Owen Syllavan out of his hiding place in the Connecticut woods and forced him to seek refuge with an acquaintance. Syllavan cut open a plank in the floor of his friend’s house, dug a large cavity that went under the hearth of the fireplace, and rigged a vent so […]

The American Malefactor’s Dictionary: air and exercise

air and exercise – 1. a short term of imprisonment, hence “two stretches of air and exercise” means two years in prison; 2. working in the stone quarry at Blackwell’s Island or at Sing Sing. In England, air and exercise originally referred to someone being whipped at the cart’s tail or, as it was more […]

Transported Convicts in the New World: Committing Crime in America

Note: This post is part of a series on Convict Transportation to the American colonies. On July 15, 1751 the New-York Gazette, or Weekly Post-Boy reported that Onesiphorus Lucas was executed in Annapolis in a follow-up to a newspaper story that appeared two weeks earlier about how Lucas was found guilty of burglary and sentenced […]