Tuesday, 14 May 2013

First American Executed For Bestiality (1642)

Thomas Granger worked as a servant for Love Brewster in the Plymouth colony in Duxbury, Massachusetts. In 1642, at about 16 or 17 years of age, Granger was accused of violating statutes based in Biblical law, specifically Leviticus 20:15—“And if a man lie with a beast, he shall surely be put to death: and ye shall slay the beast.” The Massachusetts area was experiencing something of a bestiality panic at the time, so was Granger a pervert, or was this just a prank that got out of hand due to hysteria? Either way, he lost his life.

Granger was caught performing lewd acts with a mare (the chronicler, William Bradford, governor of the colony, protected the delicate sensibilities of future generations by refusing to detail the acts in question). When confronted, Granger at first denied the accusation. However, it wasn’t long before he not only confessed to the magistrates to having done the deed with the mare numerous times, he also named a cow, 2 goats, 5 sheep, 2 calves, and a turkey as the objects of his past attentions.

The confession was enough to earn him the death penalty from a jury. A parade of sheep was brought into the courtroom so Granger could identify which ones he’d abused. All the animals he’d named were killed while he watched. The law required no part of the “unclean” animals be used, so a pit was dug and the carcasses buried. Following the slaughter, Granger was executed for committing “sodomy”—one of the death penalty crimes on the books. He became the youngest person in America to be hanged under these statutes.

Despite his age, Granger was survived by a wife and two children.

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