Accusation of adultery

In 1654 Susanna was accused of having committed adultery with William Goodwin. Her first husband, Thomas Hooker had been dead for some 7 years when Walter Gray made his accusation. Apparently his motive was revenge for some real or imagined injuries to himself. the implication in some of the references to this incident is that Gray had been arrested for trying to ‘force his intentions’ on Susannah’s maid servant.

Susannah sued gray for libel and won her case.

Whether Walter Gray was ‘encouraged’ to confess is not known. But one of the 2 presiding judges was Rev. Samuel Stone, a long-time protégé of the Reverend Thomas Hooker. Stone was not above extracting confessions from accused witches by tortuous means..

Gray’s punishment was not mild: publicly whipped 3 times, made to stand in the pillory and fined.

It is commonly believed that Susannah Hooker married Goodwin. all that is know for certain is that goodwin was a close friend of the hookers and he did marry a woman from hartford whose name was susannah.

The Particular Court of the Colony of Connecticut, came into existence soon after the settlement of the Colony, although both the exact date and the method of its establishment are unknown. It was primarily, as its name indicates, a tribunal for the settlement of differences and the establishment of just rights between particular persons, in distinction from the General Court, which dealt with matters pertaining to the rights and benefit of all the inhabitants of the Colony.

The case:

The Names of those to whome Walter Gray hath related the false report concerning Mr Goodwine & Mra Hooker Dan: Pratt: Will Cornhill: John Michel Mra Hookers maid & her Sister Walter Confesseth yt he hath done Mr Goodwine & Mrs Hooker wrong in that false & Slanderous report hee hauing said yt Mr Goodwine & shee being togeather late in the night in her parlour yt Mr Goodwine stood Between her & did the same Act with her which a man doth with his wife these things Walter now plainly & freely confesseth to be utterly false, Walter also confesseth that though he was pvoked to raise this false report concerning Mr Goodwin & Mra Hooker by some conceaued Iniuries which hee apprehended to be soe yet these imagined iniuries were not a suffitient ground for him to raise up those false & scandelous reports concerning psons inocent in regard of this accusations yf Walter hath spoken the same things & false reports to any others not yet mentioned he Professeth himselfe ready to Confesse to them & Every one of them at any time that the report he hath giuen concerning the Euill carriages of the psons forenamed is utterly false

Gray’s Confession:

To the honorable Court att Hartford the petition of me Walter Gray is that whereas I haue most uniustly & sinfully Raised & Published a most grievious & false report uppon Mr Goodwine & my Mls home I confess for their Relation to me and Good Cownsell that I haue had from them I had Just caws to honor and respect yet not withstanding I most humbly & freely of my owne minde & Contience doe Confess [that I haue most falsely] slandered them in that pticular Charge [61] of saying that they ware uncleane togeather or any thing that way tending & here I doe pfess as before this worshipfull Court & all here present & also before any that shall desire to know that I haue most falsely slandred them both in the thing itt selfe & in all the circumstances of it, & therefore I doe most humbly intreat this Court to let my true Confession be taken as the hole & full truth of the matter & as I shall beg of god power against my sins & this Sinn so allso I doe most humbly intreat this Court to Loock uppon me as a greate obiect of your pitty as I think ever was psented before yor worships & most humbly Beg yor worships to pitty mee & grant me what marcy you can with Justice & so hoping to finde so shall rest yor poore & sinfull prisoner Walter Gray X Decemb the 9: 54 This writing was writ by me Will Edwards from Walter Grays one mouth & by his most Earnest Request & very freely to my Aphention Will Edwards

The Court’s ruling:

is adiudged to be publiquely Corrected to Morrow morning & in the meane time to goe to prison

Walter Gray for his gross abuse & euill in Slaundering Mr Will Goodwyn & Mra Hooker in Charging them with the A.ct of Adultery which (as by his petition to this Court & another writing before it taken by Mr Webster & Mr Stone from his owne mouth appeares) hee hath Confessed to be alltogeather false in all the Circumstance^ of it whereby the pretious & unspotted profession of the gospel by them is not onely wronged, but the good names of those worthy & godly persons greatly blemished this Court adiudges him to be whipt this day publiquely & the next Lecture day in Hartford if the season of the weather permitt be whipt againe, as also stand in the pillory, & finde sureties for his good Behauior.

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