Trial of Thomas Hogg

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New Haven v. Thomas Hogg
Court New Haven Colony Court
Decided 1647
Case history
Related action(s) Trial of George Spencer
Keywords

The trial of Thomas Hogg took place in New Haven Colony in 1647. Hogg was accused of bestiality when a neighbourhood sow gave birth to piglets that allegedly resembled him. Unlike several men and boys convicted of the crime and consequently hanged in the 1640s and ensuing decades, Hogg refused to confess, thus avoiding the death penalty. Called "the most interesting buggery case" ever, it left an enduring mark in the history of capital punishment.

Background[edit]

Thomas Hogg was a servant from New Haven Colony, where the one-eyed George Spencer confessed to sodomy after a sow gave birth to a deformed one-eyed piglet, which led to his execution in early April 1642.[1] Like Spencer, Hogg did not enjoy a good reputation. He was considered a liar and a thief, and his appearance offended his neighbours.[2] Women of various social positions, including a "neager" slavewoman named Lucretia, reported his indecency, as he allowed his "filthy nakedness" (penis and scrotum) to show through his breeches. Hogg, who suffered from a painful inguinal hernia, argued that his indecency was not intentional.[3]

Charges and trial[edit]

Five years after Spencer's execution, Hogg was implicated in "the most interesting buggery case" ever.[4] He was already awaiting trial for theft, dishonesty and indecent exposure when he was brought up on charges of bestiality,[5] after a sow gave birth to two piglets that resembled him.[1] Hogg's mistress, Mrs. Lamberton, found the birth to be a sign from God, and told the authorities that one of the "monsters" had "a faire and white skinne and head, as Thomas Hogg is",[3][4] and the other "a head lik a childs and one eye lik him, the biger on the right side, as if God would describe the party, with the description of the instrument of bestyalie."[3]

Theophilus Eaton, governor of the colony, and his deputy brought Hogg to a barnyard where the crime was supposed to have taken place. They ordered him to scratch the sow under her ear,[3] after which "there appeared a working of lust in the sow, insomuch that she powred out seede before them."[1] Hogg was then ordered to scratch another sow, but she was not stimulated.[1][3][6][7] The governor and deputy governor were frustrated that, despite their experiment and irrefutable proof of his guilt, Hogg denied the charges. Without the confession, the "impudent lyar" could not be hanged[3] because the requirement of two witnesses could not be met.[2][5] Instead, he was convicted of lying and stealing,[5] for which he was severely whipped and incarcerated.[1][3] While imprisoned, Hogg was kept on a "mean diet and hard labor, that his lusts not be fed."[3]

Aftermath[edit]

The situation left a permanent mark on capital punishment jurisprudence.[3] Hogg appears again in court records in 1648, when he was admonished for failing to appear for guard duty.[1][5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Chehardy, Kimberley N. "‘Wickedness Breaks Forth’: The Crime Of Sodomy In Colonial New England". Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Godbeer, Richard (2004). Sexual Revolution in Early America. Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0801878918. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Goodheart, Lawrence B. (2011). "The Solemn Sentence of Death: Capital Punishment in Connecticut". University of Massachusetts Press. ISBN 1558498478. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Jackson, Charles (1996). "The other Americans: sexual variance in the National past". Praeger. ISBN 0275955516. 
  5. ^ a b c d McManus, Edgar J. (2009). Law and Liberty in Early New England: Criminal Justice and Due Process, 1620–1692. University of Massachusetts Press. ISBN 1558497722. 
  6. ^ Friedman, Lawrence (1994). "Crime And Punishment In American History". Basic Books. ISBN 0465024467. 
  7. ^ Beirne, Piers (2009). "Confronting Animal Abuse: Law, Criminology, and Human-Animal Relationships". Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 0742599744. 

External links[edit]