At Early American Crime, Anthony Vaver just traced the short, unsuccessful criminal career of William Linsey, hanged in Worcester on 25 Oct 1770. Vaver wrote:
In September 1768, Linsey broke into the shop of Thomas Legatt of Leominster and took a great quantity of items, including fabrics, hats, gloves, cakes, biscuits, chocolate, razors, ink pots, two spelling books, two primers, and a Bible. This burglary turned out to be the second time Linsey targeted Legatt’s shop. . . .Working for the man he’d robbed might have been someone’s plan for Linsey to pay back his victim and rehabilitate himself. If so, it didn’t work.
The Superior Court ordered him to stand in the pillory, to be whipped twenty times, and to be branded—all of which were carried out on the same day. Amazingly, not long after his punishment Linsey went to live and work with Legatt for a month, where he was careful to behave himself before moving on to continue his crime spree.
Near the bottom of this article is a clipping from the Boston News-Letter reporting Linsey’s scheduled execution. Even in death, the young man was totally overshadowed by two events in Boston:
- The militia observed the anniversary of George III’s accession by firing off their cannon, including the brass field-pieces later called the “Hancock” and “Adams.” Such annual ceremonies were a way for the townsmen to show off their patriotism and ability to defend themselves.
- Capt. Thomas Preston was on trial for murder, the first of three unusually long, closely-watched trials following the Boston Massacre.