This week in 1692

February 23rd, 2015 by admin

“I had rather go to an Ale-house than to any Church. Pray Young People take warning by my shameful end: keep the Sabbath truly. . . . I have had great Oppression upon my Spirit since I was in this prison and I thought I should never repent or confess, until Almighty God softened my hard heart and gave me grace to repent. I beg all good people to joyn in prayers with me, I have great need of your prayers.”

— Thomas Lutherland, convicted of murder, hanging, colonial New Jersey.
Executed February 23, 1692

Lutherland, a carpenter, was hanged for strangling merchant John Clark, then stealing his goods. The undecided jury invoked the “law of the bier”: Lutherland was forced to touch Clark’s rotting corpse. It was believed that a corpse would bleed when touched by  its murderer, and Clark’s did not, but Lutherland broke down on the spot and confessed to his crime anyway. “When I touched the murdered Corpse of John Clark, I was afraid the Blood would have flown  n my face,” he said. It should be noted that another source claims that Lutherland was executed in Pennsylvania; yet another insists he was put to death in 1691.

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