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
View Image
View Image
View Frames version

 Witness List     Summons (front)   Summons (back) 



List of Witnesses

Lincoln Ss. To Joseph Weston of Canaan, John Barrel Junr of Hancock John & Lucy Lymson of Winslow Isaac Savage 3d of Hallowell Samuel Branch of Vassalborough Abiel Lovejoy & Polley Lovejoy of Vassalborough Amos Pollard Meriam Pollard of Hallowell William Cowen of Vassalborough. Nathaniel Hercy & Benjamin Brown of Hallowell Daniel Stevens & Benjamin Wade of Hallowell


Henry Dearbon esq & Jedediah Jewett of Pitston Simeon Wyman Obadiah Williams esq. of Vassalborough Oliver Wood esq. James Stedman of Vassalborough Ephraim Ballard & Martha Ballard of Hallowell John Andress of Bromswick Benjamin Wade of Hallowell Nathaniel Harsey James Carr of Hallowell Jonathan Blonchard Betsey Blanchard of Pitston Betsey Blanchard Spinster. Greeting.

You are Hereby required in the name of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to appear before the next Supreme Judicial Court to be Holden at Pownalborough in S.d County on the First Tuesday of July next, to Give Evidence relating to a Cause between the Commonwealth is Plaintiff & Joseph North esq. of Hallowell is defendant

Hereof fale not at your Peril, Dated at Norridgewalk this Twelf day of May 1790

Oliver Wood Justice of Peace