September 22, 1755

1755 September 22 (Monday).  In the Morning Mr. Jeduthun Baldwin here — he came last Night — is going to Crown Point — and takes leave accordingly.  N.B. He tells me the Negro Man and Negro Woman who murder’d Captain Codman[1] of Charlestown, were Executed last Thursday, at Cambridge.[2]  The Man was hang’d, and was afterwards to be hang’d in Irons on Charlestown Neck: the Woman was burnt to Death, a frightfull Spectacle![3]  May all hear and fear!  especially to be punish’d Eternally in the Flames of Hell!  May my own Soul be suitably affected with the Thought![4]  Our Parish met to Day to grant my Support, as they call it.  I sent in a Memorial, that considering the Troubles [of] the present Time (by the War) I was willing to take up with what they did for me, as to sallery and Wood, last Year, if they would do it chearfully — but that I could not, with less.  In Return they Sent me a Committee (Mr. Grow and Ephraim Bruce) with their vote in the following words viz. “(thirdly) Voted and granted to the Reverend Mr. Parkman our Minister for his Support for the Current Year the Sum of thirty two Pounds Lawfull Money including his Firewood.” Sign’d by Thomas Forbush Moderator.  This I did not well understand.  The Committee Said the Precinct meant to make my whole sallery and Support to be in old Tenor £460.  I told em I did not know what my Sallery was, if there [was] needed so much support to make it up that Sum.  They said I had better go to the Precinct or write to them.  I chose this latter — and accordingly wrote to them desiring them to let me know what they Suppos’d I meant by Support for I conceiv’d my Sallery was 55£ Lawfull Money.  The Committee carry’d my writing to the people.  I remark’d also to the Committee that this was not So much as they did last Year for there was here no Subscription for the wood.  They went, but the meeting broke up without doing any thing further — either an answer to me — or about the Wood.

[1]John Codman.

[2]Aug. 19, 1755, “Phillis, a Negro woman, and Mark, a Negro Man, Servants to the late Capt. Codman . . . were found Guilty of poisoning their Master.”  The woman was sentenced to be “burnt to Death,” the man to be hanged.  The Boston Weekly News-Letter, Aug. 21, Sept. 18, 1755.  A Boston broadside of 1755 called attention to the “untimely end” of these miscreants.

[3][Additional note: Abner C. Goodell, Jr., The Trial and Execution, for Petit Treason, of Mark and Phillis, Slaves of Capt. John Codman, Who Murdered Their Master at Charlestown, Mass., in 1755; for which the Man Was Hanged and Gibbeted, and the Woman Was Burned to Death, Including also, some Account of Other Punishments by Burning in Massachusetts (Cambridge, Mass., 1883.]

[4]Chief Justice Stephen Sewall (Harvard 1760) handed down the death sentence to two slaves, Phyllis and her husband, who were convicted of poisoning their master.  Phyllis was to be burnt to death.  SHG cites the Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society 20:142.  This may be the case to which Parkman referred, July 4 and September 22, 1755.  SHG, 6:561-67.