Legal Case: New Haven, March 23, 1653

"much wickedness in a filthy corrupting way"

The court records of the town of New Haven reported the sentencing of six young males, and a servant, John Clarke, who was returned to his master for punishment.(1)

Upon a complaint made to the Governor of sundrie youths in the Town that had committed much wickedness in a filthy corrupting way one with another, they were called before the Governor and Magistrates.... [Those charged were] Benjamin Bunill, Joshua Bradly, Joseph Benham, William Trobridg, Thomas Tuttill & Thomas Kimberly. They were examined in a private way, and their examinations taken in writing, which were of such a filthy nature as is not fit to be made known in a public way: after which the Court were called together, and the youths before them. Their examinations were read and, upon their several confessions, the Court . . . sentenced the youths above named to be whipped publicly. And whereas John Clarke, servant to Jeremiah Whitnell, was questioned and charged by one of them for some filthy carriage, he denied it, and another of the company in some measure cleared him from that the other charged him with, whereupon he was not sentenced to be corrected publicly, but the Court left it with his master to give him that correction in the family which he should see meet [proper], warning John Clarke that if ever any such carriage came forth against him hereafter, the Court would call these miscarriages charged upon him to mind again.



  1. Jonathan Ned Katz, Gay/Lesbian Almanac (NY: Harper & Row, 1983), p.100, citing Franklin Bowditch Dexter, ed., New Haven Town Records, 1649-1684 (New Haven: New Haven Historical Society, 1917), pp. 178-79.