Sat, Apr 01|
Bathsheba Spooner: A Revolutionary Murder Conspiracy
Time & Location
Apr 01, 2023, 11:30 AM
East Bridgewater, 32 Union St, East Bridgewater, MA 02333, USA
About the event
“Meticulously researched, elegantly told.” —Jonathan Cohn, Senior National Correspondent, HUFFINGTON POST What possessed a woman from the elite of eighteenth-century New England society to conspire with American and British soldiers to murder her husband at the midpoint of the American Revolution? The story of Bathsheba Spooner has alternately fascinated and baffled residents of Worcester County for centuries. Beyond central Massachusetts, the tale is largely unknown. Many, when first hearing of the scandal, assume it to be the stuff of legend. It was, in fact, the most sensational “true crime” tragedy of the American 1700’s. The episode’s ingredients included a cold, possibly abusive husband, a handsome, directionless teenager, a pair of roughened British prisoners-of-war, and readily available cash set aflame by social and political isolation, wartime uncertainty and social upheaval. Add to this mixture a haughty, impetuous and (possibly insane) beautiful woman, and what resulted was a brutal homicide whose notoriety was only heightened by the distraction of New Englanders war-weary and economically stressed. The crime was familiar to observers and participants whose names still represent for us the best in Revolutionary Massachusetts: a signer of the Declaration (Robert Treat Paine), Governor John Hancock, Thomas Jefferson’s attorney general (Levi Lincoln), Justice Jedediah Foster (shared creator of the Massachusetts constitution, which inspired the national document), one of the colonies’ most famed printers (Isaiah Thomas) and, even, obliquely, Abigail Adams. Timothy Ruggles, father of the crime’s instigator who, had he chosen to side with local Patriots ratherthan become an infamous spokesman for the King, would likely be as famous today as Paul Revere or Samuel Adams. It is tempting to speculate if the crime could have happened had his loyalties been with the Revolutionaries. Early American marriage and divorce, its political and military background, the social strata, its legal and retributive approach to justice---these contexts serve to frame an amateurly-conceived crime whose circumstances were uniquely suited to provoke a scandal which in its time was as gripping as that of Lizzie Borden’s over a century later.
Abouth the author:
Andrew Noone is an an independent scholar, beginning this book’s journey after a dinner guest reminded him that Bathsheba Spooner and unborn son were buried in the park opposite his family’s new home. At the time, no serious, in-depth work had ever appeared on the topic. One did appear, five years later, but he continued his own avenue of research.
Following his musicology degree from Syracuse University, he was awarded a Florence Fellowship in Renaissance Art History through the same school, spending seven months in that city after a semester in New York.
Prior to his current teaching position as music specialist with the Worcester Public Schools, he taught dozens of college courses, many in art history and music, throughout eastern/central Massachusetts, but primarily ESL at Clark University, where he received a graduate certificate in TESOL.
Later, he completed three years of study in the Keepers of the Republic program (in American history) hosted by the American Antiquarian Society. He has published with Worldwide Books and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
His earliest dream memory is of standing at the base of the Pilgrim monument in Miles Standish Park in Duxbury, Massachusetts, with a black-robed Pilgrim nearby. His lifelong love of early American history continues, especially through the lens of eighteenth-century Worcester, the little village which played an outsized role during the American Revolution.
Previously a member of the Worcester Historical Commission, he is currently a docent for Preservation Worcester.
When not preparing classes or writing, he enjoys painting watercolors, learning guitar, playing piano, language study, and hiking.
He and his wife live on Green Hill Park, resting place of Bathsheba Spooner and her unborn son. He has two adult children.
This event is free for PCGI members. There is a suggested donation of $5 for non-members.