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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 Witness List     Summons (front)   Summons (back) 


Summons of Witnesses (front)

ss. } To (Daniel Long Esq. Isaac Savag,
Joseph Weston
John Barrel
Daniel Pollard yeoman Daniel Savag Gent.

Benjamin Brown
yeoman all
of Hallowell
in said county

} You are hereby required, in the Name of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, to make your Appearance before the Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court, to be holden at Pownalborough within and for the County of Lincoln on the first Tuesday of July Instn to give Evidence of what you know relating to an Action then and there to be heard and tried, betwixt the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Plaintiff & Joseph North Esq.(Defendant)
    Hereof fail not, as you will answer your Default under the Pains and Penalty in the Law in that Behalf made and provided.
      Dated at Pownalborough the tenth Day of July
       in the Year of our L O R D, 1790
  -- Cha.s Cushing Clerk