Excuse the mess!

The dustbunnies have had the run of the place far too long, so
Two Bubbles is undergoing a long overdue makeover. Hence, the
posts on the Gatchells' journey from Weymouth to Massachusetts
and their lives there will sink from view into Older Posts,
so if you've a mind to read them again, a synopsis with
links to all of them is about halfway down the righthand
column under "On the 8th day, God created Marblehead".

Apologies for any confusion.

Black Sheep Sunday: The Great Corwin Burglary

>> Thursday, January 21, 2010

To encourage members to write about nefarious ancestors, GeneaBloggers sponsors something called "Black Sheep Sunday".

Two categories that can qualify an ancestor for black sheep status are armed robbery and involvement in the witchcraft trials.

In early 1684, the Gatchells were involved in the Great Corwin Burglary, which wasn't an armed robbery, but considering the column inches devoted to it in histories of Salem, one would think so.

It also qualifies as "involvement in witchcraft trials" on a technicality. The Corwin who was robbed was the father of witch trials judge Jonathan Corwin and grandfather of namesake Essex County Sheriff George Corwin, who arrested the accused and served as executioner of those found guilty.

According to Sidney Perley's History of Salem, Massachusetts, Vol III, pp 184-, Elizabeth Godsoe, a servant in the home of the elder George Corwin, told her husband and some of his associates that Capt. Corwin, a wealthy Salem sea captain, kept large amounts of money in a closet to which she had a key, and also in the cellar.

The husband, William, in turn told his friend John Collier about the money, after which Collier hounded Godsoe about stealing it.

On the night of 6 March 1683/84, a party consisting of William Godsoe, John Collier, Nathaniel Pickman, and David, a negro belonging to John English, went to Capt. Corwin's home at 214 Essex St, and by use of a borrowed ladder, stole several bags of English, New England, and Spanish coins worth a total value of £500.

The miscreants were soon discovered and went to trial the following June. In all, sixteen people were charged in connection with "burglary in breaking open a dwelling house in the night-time":
the Godsoes, Pickman, and Collier,
David, "Mr. Pilgrim's negro" who was leaving for Barbadoes when the theft was discovered,
Jane and William Lord, Sr. (possibly Eliz. Godsoe's parents),
Reuben and Abigail Guppy,
Deborah Winter,
Richard Harris,
Thomas Russell,
John and Wibra Gatchell,
their son Thomas Gatchell,
and Bethiah Gatchell, most likely Thomas's wife.

I don't know what the Gatchells' connection to these people was before the burglary, but am guessing from accounts of it that Thomas Gatchell and Nathaniel Pickman were friends.

William and Elizabeth Godsoe were sentenced to be branded with a "B" on the forehead, whipped 39 times or pay £10. They left Salem and were never heard from again.

As accessories, John Guppy, John Gatchell and son Thomas, Nath'l Pickman, and John Collier each were ordered to pay treble damages, be severely whipped 39 times or pay £10.

Capt. Corwin died five months after the trial, the excitement of it possibly hastening his death.

3 comments:

Meg May 31, 2009 at 10:06 PM  

I just wrote a long comment which disappeared into the ether. To quickly recap - a wonderful story, amazing you could find all this info, turn it into fiction and have your own "Frenchman's Creek."

Had a friend who was related to Goody Nurse.

Was covered in goosebumps when I heard on the news that the last of the Titanic survivors has died.

JamaGenie May 31, 2009 at 10:59 PM  

Sorry about the long comment disappearing. Would loved to have read it. But the info here is not "fiction" per se. I took a bit of poetic license to set the stage in the first post, when John, Samuel and Wibera were about to leave England. The rest is fact.

I had goosebumps too about the last Titanic survivor, but mostly because, as a 9 week old baby, she survived at all! Did you catch that had the ship not sunk, she would've grown up in Kansas? Instead, she always regretted that the family (minus the father) returned to England. I *cannot* consider that a bad thing at all!

Heather Matthews June 29, 2011 at 3:22 PM  

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