The Wretched Execution of George Spencer . . . and a Pig

Trussed PIg

George Spencer was not an attractive man: he was described as bald, one-eyed and pig like. He was also a known to be a godless troublemaker and petty criminal. So, when the pious puritans of New Haven, Connecticut discovered that a local sow had delivered a misshapen, one-eyed, stillborn piglet, it was assumed that George was the father.

During the trial that ensued, George was promised mercy if he confessed his ungodly sins. He was quick to cooperate – he’d seen a man whipped for less. However, when it became clear that it was God’s mercy that would be extended to the penitent George, and not the mercy of the court, he retracted his confession.

In any event, the magistrates were faced with a legal challenge – they required the testimony of second witnesses to establish George’s guilt. Apparently, as things stood, it was George’s word against the sow

They solved this problem by deciding that George’s original confession would stand and that the stillborn piglet – evidence of George’s guilt and God’s displeasure – would be recognised as a second witness.  

Both George and the sow were found guilty, and they were both executed on April 8th, 1642. George became the first non-native American to be executed in Connecticut. He was hanged, and the sow was put to the sword.

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