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Gay History – June 23, 1629: Five “Beastly Sodomiticall Boys” Busted By Puritan Preacher On Way To Salem, M.A.

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June 23, 1629

The Rev. Francis Higginson, a preacher with a Puritan bent in the Church of England, left his parish and, in 1628, accepted an offer to join the Massachusetts Bay Company. In 1629, the Company was granted a Royal Charter to establish a “plantation” in New England, and Higginson and several of his Puritan followers were given permission to establish a colony. Higginson obtained six ships, each armed with cannons to protect against pirates.

The fleet set sail on May 1, 1629, with 350 Puritan settlers, 115 head of cattle, 41 goats and, apparently, five “beastly Sodomiticall boys.”

An entry in his diary for June 23, 1629, reads:

Tewsday the wind n:E: a fayre gale. This day we examined 5 beastly Sodomiticall boyes, which confessed their wickedness not to bee named. The fact was so fowl we reserved them to bee punished by the governor when we came to New England, who afterward sent them backe to the company to bee punished in old England, as the crime deserved.

According to the laws of England at that time the crime deserved death by hanging. But it was never documented ehat happened to those “beastly boyes” after they arrived back in not so jolly olde England.

As for Higginson  his fleet was greeted in Salem, Massachusetts by a small group of settlers, led by John Endecott. In Salem there were five houses besides Endecott’s. They had no trained minister, however, so Higginson and Samuel Skelton began conducting services immediately. Higginson drew up a confession of faith

The following winter, in the general sickness that ravaged the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  Higginson was attacked by a severe fever, which disabled him, and finally caused his death.

Now that’s 17th. CENTURY KARMA!

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is one of America's best known LGBT historians, He is also a a accredited journalist and the owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced on such notable media venues as BBC News, CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The Daily Wall Street Journal, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story. Back2Stonewall has been recently added to the Library of Congress' LGBTQ+ Studies Web Archive. Mr. Kohler is available for comment, interviews and lectures on LGBT History. Contact: Will@Back2Stonewall.com

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2 thoughts on “Gay History – June 23, 1629: Five “Beastly Sodomiticall Boys” Busted By Puritan Preacher On Way To Salem, M.A.”

  1. Difficult to say exactly what the sodomitical boys actually did. Could have been a circle jerk or frottage. I doubt very much it was buggery (known in the Colonies as cornholing). Maybe there’s no record of the case because as soon as the ship docked the kids were cut loose.

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