Bathsheba Spooner: A Revolutionary Murder Conspiracy

Princeton, late nineteenth century. Town where Timothy Ruggles had been granted hundreds of acres, by George III. Much of the land was then sold to Joshua Spooner. One plan afoot was for Ezra Ross to poison him there.

Green family mansion, Worcester. Replaced the original 1754 home of Mary Green, Bathsheba Spooner's sister; Bathsheba visited the home often. 

Cushing State Park, Scituate, Massachusetts. Located by home of the presiding judge at the Spooner trial, William Cushing, later US Supreme Court justice. 

The Oaks, Lincoln Street, Worcester. One of only three Worcester properties surviving from Bathsheba's years that she would have passed often. Begun by Loyalist justice Timothy Paine in 1774, he was forced to abandon its construction, returning to the village once renouncing his allegiance to the king, completing the home in 1778. It contains a table at which John Adams likely dined, and, possibly, the rifle which fired the first shot at Lexington in April of 1775. The home stands about a quarter mile from where the estate of Bathsheba's sister Mary was located.

Union Station, Washington Square, Worcester. Likely location of gallows July 2, 1778 when Spooner and her three accomplices  were hanged. Bathsheba's body was interred two miles away at Green Hill; Ezra Ross' remains were brought back to Cape Ann, and the British POWs were probably buried beneath the gallows; only Buchanan had a residence this side of the Atlantic, and that was in distant Montreal.

 

Green Hill Park in Worcester, resting place of Bathsheba and her unborn son. This photo shows a scene about five hundred feet south of her likely burial site.

Memorial marker for Timothy Ruggles in his adopted town of Hardwick, Ma. One of the most popular public figures by the 1760's, his Loyalist views brought his eventual downfall--and likely helped to set the stage for the family's darkest chapter.

The American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, founded by Revolutionary publisher Isaiah Thomas. 

Thomas moved his printing press from Boston to Worcester three days before the Battle of Concord, in which he fought. As well known a printer as Ben Franklin, he closely followed the developments of the Spooner murder saga, his reports serving as the chief source of information throughout the colonies about the tragedy. 

Exploring the Revolutionary Era and its Most Infamous Crime

As a lifelong student of the American Revolution and the role of its most important New England inland town, Worcester, I would like to explore the general (and specific) ambient of Bathsheba Spooner's world in the late 1770's.

Worcester Radicals Capture the Attention of British General Gage in Boston

"In Worcester, they keep no Terms, openly threaten Resistance by Arms, preparing them, casting Ball, and providing Powder, and threaten to attack any Troops who dare to oppose them."

--letter to Lord Dartmouth, August 27, 1774

funeral sermon for Joshua Spooner, preached March 6, 1778, five days following his murder instigated by wife, Bathsheba

"...The virtuous friends of the murderers, as well as of the murdered, deserve our compassion, and our prayers. The innocent children, so suddenly, so awfully, bereft of their father, yea, I may say of their mother, too, demand our pity; and ought never to be reproached with the infamy of their mother, much less the tragical death of their father..."

--Nathan Fiske, from funeral sermon

The entrance to Brookfield Cemetery, resting place of murder victim Joshua Spooner