Martha Ballard's Story

"Shocking Indeed"

On the first day of October in 1789, Martha Ballard heard that Rebecca Foster, the wife of the Reverend Mr. Isaac Foster, had accused Hallowell's local judge, Joseph North, of rape.

What was happening in Hallowell?

A tantalizing set of entries in Martha Ballard's diary allow you to glimpse the unfolding of the religious controversy that convulsed the town, eventually putting Martha in the very uncomfortable position of being asked to testify against one of her husband's employers as the prime witness in Rebecca Foster's rape case.

These entries allow you a more personal glimpse, as well -- of Martha's religious temper, her inner turmoil, and her true opinion of the case.

Our story begins with the arrival of the new minister...

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Martha Ballard's Diary

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October 1, 1789 (Thursday)

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Clear Except Some Showers. we had Company this afternn. mrs Hanh North, mrs Chevers & a mrs Weston from Cohors. mr Savage here, informs that mrs Foster has Sworn a Rape on a number of men among whome is Judge North. Shocking indeed I have been at home.