Buggery case: Mathew Giles; New Hampshire, July 4, 1663

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"Buggered her servant boy"

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The New Hampshire Court, sitting in Dover, gave its verdict in one of the earliest cases involving a certifiably false charge of male-male "buggery." Evidently, this charge followed out of an acrimonious squabble between a wife and husband.[1]

On an earlier occasion, the record indicates, "The wife of Mathew Giles" (her first name is never stated) had been bound in bond of twenty pounds "to be of good behavior" and had agreed if not able to pay it that she would submit to "this Court's Censure." The record says that her promise of "good behavior”

this Court finds to be often broken Since that time by her Cursing & Swearing & abusing her husband . . , in saying he had buggered her Servant boy, & Laen [laid] with her daughter . . . in law, & saying her daughter was her husband's whore, & that she did hope to see her husband hanged ere long & wished she might be damned in hell if she did not."

The legal record continues:

This court having Considered the heinousness of these crimes, Sentence her to be forthwith whipped to the number of 20 stripes, & to be Imprisoned during the Court's pleasure, Provided that in case of dangerous sickness or any other Exegent [exigency] as shall be Judged by Captain Wiggin, Captain Waldren & Captain Pendleton she may have such enlargement & Liberty as they shall see meet, & [the] fees [of the] Court [shall be paid by her].

Wm. Penney Servant boy to Mathew Giles for accusing his master of buggering him, & afterwards says his dame had hired him so to say, & confessed in Court that it was not true that his master had done any such thing to him, Sentence him to be whipped to the number of 10 stripes forthwith.

It appearing to this Court that Mathew Giles hath not carried himself so towards his wife as was meet for him to do but hath used uncomly & Provoking speeches . . . in saying he had taken his daughter as his wife which is provoking. This court sentence him to have an admonition, which was forthwith Performed: & fees [of the] Court [to be paid by Giles].

Jno Meader, Constable, is allowed 5 s[hillings] for Whipping Goodwife Giles & her servant boy[;] to be allowed by the treasurer of Dover.

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  1. Jonathan Ned Katz, Gay/Lesbian Almanac (NY: Harper & Row, 1983), p. 104-5, citing Otis G. Hammond, ed., New Hampshire Court Records, 1640-1692; Court Papers, 1652-1668 (Concord, N. H.: State of New Hampshire, 1943), pp. 182-83; discussed by Kohler, Search, pp. 153-54. The preceeding entry suggests the Giles case was heard on July 4.
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