Thomas Granger

GRANGER Biographical Info

Thomas GRANGER, Sr. was born in England. In the Parish Records for Eastwell, Kent under "1620 Marriages" we find "Thomas Granger and Grace Hasse were married the twenty f[i]rst of Sept[ember]." According to these same Parish Records, "Grace Hasse the daughter of Steven Hasse bapti[z]ed the fifteenth day of April" in 1599. Nothing else is known about Grace's father, Steven, or the name of her mother.

Thomas and his family emigrated from Eastwell, Kent, departing from England from Sandwich on August 23, 1637 on the Hercules. The passenger list included Thomas Granger and Grace Granger, "servants" (listed together), and another Thomas Granger, "servant" (listed separately), none with any indication of relationship. Later events reveal that the second Thomas was "Jr.," son of Thomas and Grace, and that they also brought a younger son, John, and a daughter, Elizabeth, both apparently too young to be listed as servants.

Thomas died in Scituate, Massachusetts late in 1642 or early 1643, as administration on his estate was granted January 3, 1642/3 to Timothy Hatherly and Edward Eddenden "in the behalf of his wife and children" to pay debts. By this court order, Hatherly became responsible for managing the estate of the deceased Thomas Granger, the affairs of the widow Grace Granger, and the care of her two minor children, John and Elizabeth.

Thomas's widow, Grace died sometime after November 24, 1648, the date on which she wrote her will. The will names her minor son John who shall have her house when he becomes of age, and daughter Elizabeth. It was witnessed by Timothy Hatherly, John ___ (his mark) and Richard Beare (his mark).

Thomas GrangerDancing Skeleton

© 1997, Sam Behling

There are, perhaps, some ancestors whose skeletons should not be let out of the closet. However, most of us have the occasional "black sheep" in our tree, and because their activities were recorded in court records, we genealogists should at least be grateful for that, even if we often don't want to claim the ancestor. Thomas Granger, my ninth great uncle, was not only a "black sheep", he apparently fooled around with them, too, in a perverse manner which resulted in his unfortunate demise at the age of about 16 or 17.

Bestiality is no longer punishable by death, though it is still a crime in this country and offenders are fined and/or jailed for the offense. Nowadays the subject still raises the moral indignation of religious persons and animal-rights activists, while the rest of us are either embarrassed, or fall over in gales of laughter. I admit to a bout of uncontrollable belly-laughing myself when I learned about the turkey. ("He did it with a WHAT?!?")

At the same time, it is sobering to remember that the laws of those early 17th century days considered the crime so horrible, the only punishment meted out was death. Thomas Granger was a young man, in the prime of life, who, because of his teenage prank, would never marry or have children. It is also tragic to hear of the innocent animals who were likewise put to death for their unwilling participation in the event because Scriptural interpretation dictated that they were "unclean", and henceforth not fit for either work, food or clothing. This was a very drastic measure taken, as farm animals were extremely valuable and scarce in the early days of Plymouth Colony.

Thomas Granger was born about 1625/1626, probably in England, the oldest child and son of Thomas Granger, Sr. and Grace Hasse. There were two other children, a son John who apparently never married, and daughter Elizabeth, who married John Booth of Scituate. Thomas was executed on September 8, 1642.

William Bradford's account of the case appears in his history, Of Plimouth Plantation 1620-1647 and is quoted here verbatim:

A Horrible Case of Bestiality

And after the time of the writing of these things befell a very sad accident of the like foul nature in this government, this very year, which I shall now relate. There was a youth whose name was Thomas Granger. He was servant to an honest man of Duxbury [note: Love Brewster, son of Pilgrim William Brewster], being about 16 or 17 years of age. (His father and mother lived at the same time at Scituate.) He was this year detected of buggery, and indicted for the same, with a mare, a cow, two goats, five sheep, two calves and a turkey. Horrible it is to mention, but the truth of the history requires it. He was first discovered by one that accidentally saw his lewd practice towards the mare. (I forbear particulars.) Being upon it examined and committed, in the end he not only confessed the fact with that beast at that time, but sundry times before and at several times with all the rest of the forenamed in his indictment. And this his free confession was not only in private to the magistrates (though at first he strived to deny it) but to sundry, both ministers and others; and afterwards, upon his indictment, to the whole Court and jury; and confirmed it at his execution.

And whereas some of the sheep could not so well be known by his description of them, others with them were brought before him and he declared which were they and which were not. And accordingy he was cast by the jury and condemned, and after executed about the 8th of September, 1642. A very sad spectacle it was. For first the mare and then the cow and the rest of the lesser cattle were killed before his face, according to the law, Leviticus xx.15; and then he himself was executed. The cattle were all cast into a great and large pit that was digged of purpose for them, and no use made of any part of them.

Upon the examination of this person and also of a former that had made some sodomitical attempts upon another, it being demanded of them how they came first to the knowledge and practice of such wickedness, the one confessed he had long used it in old England; and this youth last spoken of said he was taught it by another that had heard of such things from some in England when he was there, and they kept cattle together. By which it appears how one wicked person may infect many, and what care all ought to have what servants they bring into their families.


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