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 back 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 what 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!