1672: Thomas Rood, the only incest execution in America

On this date in 1672, Thomas Rood (or Rhood, or Roode, or even Rude) achieved in Norwich, Conn., the distinction of being the only person executed in the future United States of America for incest.

The native of Glastonbury, England got in a bad way for, in the words of the indictment,

not haveing the feare of God before thine eyes thou hast committed that abominable sin of incest haveing carnall copulation with Sarah Rhood thy reputed daughter for which according to the law of God & the law of this colony thou deservest to dye …

Actually, the laws of the colony said nothing about incest, requiring the Hartford Court of Assistants to ask around the local clergy whether this sort of thing should be a hanging offense.

Hey, what do you think they’re going to say? Antonin Scalia would call this originalism.

Thomas Rhood thou art to goe from here to the place from whence thou camest & in due time to be carryed from thence to the place of execution & there to be hanged by the neck till thou art dead & then cut down & buried.

Of course, it takes two to make the beast with two backs; daughter/lover Sarah was in some fear for her neck as well, until the court took

notice of a great appearance of force layd up upon her spirit by her father overaweing & Tiranical abuse of his parentall authority besides his bodily striveings which not onely at first brought her into the snare but allso in after yeilding to his Temptation.

Having seemingly found her to be a rape victim, the court extended leniency.

[T]he sentence of the court is that shee be severly whipt on the naked body once at Hartford & once at Norwich that others may heare & fear & do no more such abominable wickednesse.

17th century texts from this pdf on a site selling an 820-page genealogy of the Rood lineage in America … to which the randy old man contributed to the tune of at least nine children.

On this day..

8 thoughts on “1672: Thomas Rood, the only incest execution in America

    • Ha me too! I was looking up to see how long the family has been in America and saw this article about his execution. Small world

      • He’s my 8th great grandfather. I was glad and sad to find this person, but upset about the incest.

  1. So today I found out that Thomas was my ancestor, my 4th great grandmother is Olive & I am decensant from her daughter Persia Hutchins.

  2. I used to be good friends with an elderly couple named Larry (whose given name was Laurel, not Lawrence) and Katy Rood. I attended Larry’s funeral, but I lost contact with Katy after her family took her in (in another city), and she lost her CompuServe e-mail account. My fifth great-grandmother was Olive Rood, granddaughter of George Rood, the product of this incest. She married John Hutchins, and I am descended from their son, Asa.

    Sarah Rood was put into the custody of a man named George Bushnell after Thomas’s execution, and I assume that’s why she named her son George.

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