J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Thursday, February 04, 2010

“This Day is to be Executed at Worcester…”

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. . . .

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.
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.

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: Preston, unlike Linsey, was acquitted.


Heather Wilkinson Rojo said...

I've enjoyed all your blogs, and this posting about William Linsey was interesting. Tuesday's posting at "Early American Crime" was also about William Linsey, so it was interesting to compare both blogs.

J. L. Bell said...

This was just a comment on Anthony Vaver’s Tuesday posting, with a little observation about one detail.