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 180


General William North.

elegant hospitality. In the latter part of her life she became blind; and the world she had cheered was shrouded from her vision."1 She lived many years after the loss of her sight, continuing an active correspondence with many friends by the hand of an amanuensis. She died February 10, 181.9, aged seventy-eight years.

   GEN. WILLIAM NORTH, son of Capt. John and Elizabeth North, was born in Fort Frederic, Pemaquid, in 1755. After his father's death his mother removed with him to Boston, where he was educated and placed with a merchant with whom he remained until the port was closed by the British in the fall of 1774. In the next year he volunteered to accompany Arnold in his expedition to Quebec, but was prevented by sickness from proceeding. He early entered the Revolutionary army; was commissioned May 9, 1776, by the "major part of the council " of Massachusetts Bay, second lieutenant in Capt. Gill's company of Col. Craft's regiment, of train artillery, and continued in the service through the war. He was commissioned by Congress captain in Col. Jackson's regiment of infantry from May 10, 1777, and major in the second regiment of the United States army from October 20, 1780; and was appointed inspector of the troops remaining in service in 1784.

   "In 1779 he was appointed aide-de-camp to Steuben, and soon became his favorite. He aided the Baron in introducing his system of discipline into the Continental army. Major North was with the army in Virginia, and was present with Baron Steuben at the surrender of the British army, commanded by Lord Cornwallis, in October, 1781." When the war was over " North retired to private life, but afterwards was induced to accept public employment; was several times elected to the legislature of New York, was speaker of the assembly, and for a short period one of the senators of New York in the Congress of the United States.2 During our troubles with France, in the presidency of the elder Adams, Major North was appointed Adjutant General of the army which was raised on that occasion, with the rank of Brigadier General."

   "He has filled," 'says the memoir of the Cincinnati,' of which he was a member, " a distinguished place in the history of his country, not only in the war of Independence but in our subsequent annals. He was a gentleman by birth, education and early

1 Judge Weston's Reminiscences.   2 Appointed by Gov. Jay in 1798.