The Official Story
Chapter 10

Rebecca Foster accuses Judge North and two others of rape

The indictment includes the barest hint of what might have happened. Rebecca Foster charged Joseph North with the "intent to ravish" her on August 9. Other court records reveal that she also accused Elijah Davis with attempting to ravish her on August 3, and Joshua Burgess on August 6.

How did Martha hear about Rebecca's charges?

Note the wording of the indictment. It charges North with the " ravish and carnally know" Rebecca Foster. Since by law the punishment for rape was death, justices and grand juries frequently reduced the charge from rape to attempted rape in order to get a conviction.

Only ten men were tried for rape in Massachusetts (Maine was then a district of Massachusetts) in the entire eighteenth century, and none after 1780. Between 1780 and 1797, in all of Massachusetts (including Maine) there were only sixteen indictments and ten convictions for attempted rape.

We don't know much about Elijah Davis and Joshua Burgess, but the official records tell us quite a bit about Joseph North. The official town history, written in the 19th century, includes a summary of his life culled from various records in the archives. We learn about his military career in the American Revolution, his marriage to the cultivated daughter of a Boston man who owned extensive property in Maine, his "remarkable floral taste" (he introduced "almost every flower which would bloom in our climate" into his garden), and his appointment to the Court of Common Pleas in 1788.

What happened to Foster's wife while he was away?
In 1789, Rebecca Foster was accusing this same man, Judge North, of a capital crime.

Table of Contents

The History of Augusta
North, James W.
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Page 178

Joseph North.

and clothes" valued at £40, and "104 oz. plate at 6s. 11d. per oz." A piece of this plate, a tankard, is now in possession of a great grand-daughter, Hannah E. North of Connecticut, and has engraved upon it the united coats of arms of the North and Pitson families with the date 1756, a copy of which appears on a preceding page. Mrs. Benjamin Davis of Augusta, another great grand-daughter, has cartoons of Raphael, and plate looking glasses of great thickness, with beveled edges, in antique frames, which ornamented the walls at Forts Frederic and St. George's during Capt. North's residence in those forts.

    HON. JOSEPH NORTH, Capt. John North's eldest son, was born at St. George's river in 1739, and passed his youth with his father, in the troublesome time of the early French and Indian wars. At the age of eighteen, when his father was appointed to the command of Fort St. George's, he was for a time in charge of the fort at Pemaquid. He seems to have acquired his father's business of a surveyor, and after his death to have removed to Boston, where he married August 28, 1764, Hannah Flagg, daughter of Gershom Flagg of Boston, a Plymouth proprietor. From Boston he went to Lancaster, Mass., where his sons John and Gershom were born. He next removed to Harvard, Mass., whither his father-in-law had preceded him. Here his son Joseph was born in 1771. The next year, 1772, he came to the Kennebec and settled in the plantation of Gardinerstown, on a five acre lot purchased by James Flagg in 1762, upon which Flagg had built house and barn. This was lot number two on McKecknie's plan, on the south side of Cobbosseecontee stream, and had been mortgaged to him by Flagg August 4, 1765,1 whereby he probably acquired title. This lot he afterwards, in 1786, sold to Maj. Seth Gay, and the house in which be lived is the curbed-roof building now standing at the head of Gay's Wharf, known as the "old North mansion," and " old post office," from having been occupied many years by Maj. Gay for a post office. In this building his only daughter Hannah was born June 29, 1774, and his youngest son James in September, 1777. He probably was induced to remove to the Kennebec by the interest he had in right of his wife in the Plymouth Company lands, and James Flagg's house which had fallen into his hands under his mortgage pointed to Cobbossee as his place of settlement.

1Original deed.