Chronology xix 1625 The first known death sentence related to sodomy is carried out in the Ameri- can colonies when Richard Cornish, master of the ship Ambrose, is hanged in Virginia Colony. He was convicted of forcibly sodomizing his indentured servant, William Cowse, ship steward. Cowse was referred to as a “rascally boy” and two other men claimed that Cornish was wrongfully accused. The two men were severely punished for their support of Cornish. 1629 Thomas/Thomasina Hall is proclaimed by the governor to be both “a man and a woman” and ordered to wear articles of clothing appropriate for each sex. Rev. Francis Higginson discovers “5 beastly Sodomiticall boyes [sic], which confessed their wickedness not to be named” on a ship bound for New England. The incident is reported to the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony who sends the boys back to England for punishment. At that time, males over 14 years of age could be hanged for sodomy. It is not known what happened to the boys. 1632 Maryland adopts English common law in its charter. Sodomy as an “unnatural” and “perverted” sexual practice will remain in force for the next 161 years. 1639 Charter granted by King Charles I specifies that the laws of Connecticut au- thorities are to be consistent with the common law of England. As such, sod- omy is a capital offense and applies only to males. 1641 The Massachusetts Bay Colony includes sodomy as a capital crime in its newly adopted code of laws. It defines sodomy as “man lying with mankind as he lies with a woman”—wording taken directly from Leviticus 20:13. 1646 “Jan Creoli, a negro” in New Netherland (New York) is executed by choking for engaging in sodomy. According to the records, sodomy was “condemned of God” yet there is no record of the specific criminal statute the sentence is based. He is choked to death and the body “burned to ashes.” Ten-year-old Manuel Congo, whom Creoli allegedly sodomized, is flogged in public. William Plaine of Builford Connecticut is executed for sodomy because he masturbated a number of the town’s young men. 1647 Rhode Island makes sodomy a capital offense. The sodomy section of the law is entitled “Touching Whoremongers” and reads like a Christian sermon. 1648 Elizabeth Johnson is the first woman known to be prosecuted for sexual rela- tions with another woman, in Massachusetts Bay Colony. 1649 Sarah Norman and Mary Hammond, two married women, are charged with lewd behavior. The charges are dropped against Hammond, who is younger. Norman receives a warning that her punishment will be greater if there are any subsequent charges. 1656 The New Haven Colony, which would later merge into Connecticut, becomes the first state in what would become the United States to specifically outlaw sex between two women. 1660 In the third sodomy case in New York, Jan Quisthout van der Linde (or Lin- den) is accused of sodomy with a servant. After being convicted, he is tied
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