The Official Story

Indictment for an Assault

In July of 1790, we find in the records of the Supreme Judicial Court that Joseph North plead "not guilty" when charged with the "intent to ravish and carnally know" Rebecca Foster. She was the wife of the Reverend Mr. Isaac Foster, minister of Hallowell's Congregational Church. And North was the local judge.

The case was heard at the imposing, three-story Pownalboro Courthouse, located south of Hallowell on the Kennebec River. All that remains in the court record is the verdict, the formal indictment, the witness list, and the expense reports detailing the costs of transportation, sherriff's fees, and serving writs. None of the testimony survives.

How did it come to pass that Judge North was tried for the rape of the minister's wife? To figure this out, you can explore the official town, court, and church records to piece together the story of the Reverend Mr. Isaac Foster's move to Hallowell, his relation to the townspeople, and Judge North's role in Reverend Foster's feud with the town's clerk, Henry Sewall.

What did Martha have to say about this?

It all began with the hiring of Mr. Foster, four years before the trial of Judge North...

Table of Contents

Foster v. North
Supreme Judicial Court
July 1790
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 Witnesses' Expenses   Judges' Expenses   Jurors' Expenses 


Judges' Expense Report

Brought over   12•15•10
Henry Dearborn 20
Miles 5 Days
} 0•18•4
Joseph Wesson
100 miles 5 Days
} 1•11•8
John Burnell Same   1•11•8
Entry & Writs to Lincn. Witness   0•18•8
Copy of Bill &c   0•3•0
taxs &c   0•3•6
Sheriff, Bar fee &c   0•3•8
Deduct Bill   --•6•0
Exd. Att. Chas. Cushing Clerk
August Term at Boston 1790
It appearing to the Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court that the Costs against Joseph North Esqr. who was Indicted for a Trespass -- Tried & Acquitted amount to the sum of £ 18•0•4 agreeable to the Bill taxed above within. Ordered by the Court that the Sheriff of ye County of Lincoln pay said sum out of the fines he may have in his hands unto the persons to whom they are due according to Law in such case provided.

Att. Chas. Cushing Clerk