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Browsing: Legal Papers of John Adams, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-05-01-02-0008-0005-0004

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1768-04

Adams' Assignment of Errors1

Plymouth Superior Court, Plymouth, April 1768

In the Case of Jane Dotey vs. Manuel Essane heard and adjudged at the Court of General Sessions of the Peace held at Plymouth within and for the County of Plymouth on the <first> second Tuesday of December being the Eighth day of said Month in the Year of our { 324 } Lord 1767, the Errors assigned by said Manual, on the Certiorari are as follow viz.
1st. It does not appear by the Record of the Judgment or Sentence of said Court of General Sessions of the Peace in said Case that Manual Essane was ever accused by the said Jane, to be the Father of the Bastard Child born of her Body, in September last, before the said Child was born.
2d. It does not appear by the Record of said Judgment or Sentence, nor by any other Record of any Proceedings in the Case, that the said Jane, continued constant in her Accusation, of the said Manual to be the Father of said Bastard Child.
3d. It does not appear by said Record of said Sentence, or Judgment, that said Jane was ever examined upon oath while she was pregnant with said Bastard Child, nor that she was put upon the Discovery of the Truth in the Time of her Travail, all of which by Law ought to have appeared.
4. The said Court have, by their Sentence aforesaid, ordered the said Manual, “that he pay the sum of Three Pounds it being the one half of the Charge of her lying in &c. for the first Month, and allso that he pay the sum of Twenty one shillings, it being for Keeping said Child to the Eleventh Day of December,” in which the said Court have exceeded their Jurisdiction they not having Authority by Law to make such an order, and if they had such Authority, in this Case the order is uncertain, insensible and void, the said Court not having ordered the said Manual to pay the aforesaid Sums to any Person whatever in certain.
5. The said Court has ordered the said Manual to enter into Recognizance with two sureties, &c. which the said Manual was then and still is by Law incapable of doing as he then was and still is an Infant under the Age of Twenty one Years
6. The said Court have by the sentence aforesaid ordered the said Manual, that he recognize in the sum of Forty Pounds with two sureties to Secure and Save harmless the Towns of Plymouth, Duxborough and Marshfield from all Charges and Damages that may arise by said Child which the said Court had no Authority by Law to do, for it does not appear by said sentence, or any Record in said Case, that said Bastard Child was born in any of those Towns, and if it did, it would still be certain that said <Town> Child could not be born in more than one of said Towns, and therefore in that Case, said Manual could be obliged only to give security to Save that Town harmless where said Bastard Child was born.
{ 325 }
Where fore the said Manual prays that the aforesaid order, Sentence, Judgment, and Proceedings of the said Court of Sessions may be quashed.
[signed] John Adams for said Manual
1. In JA's hand. SF 142245.

Docno: ADMS-05-01-02-0008-0005-0005

Author: UNKNOWN
Date: 1768-05

Reasons for the Judgement1

Plymouth Superior Court, May 1768

Order'd that the aforesaid Judgment and proceedings of the Court of General Sessions of the peace be quash'd—1st. Because it doth not appear in the Record aforesaid where the Child aforesaid was born.
2. It appears by the Record aforesaid that the aforesaid Judgment was founded on the Oath of the said Jane and on that only.
3. The said Manuel is ordered to recognize in £40 with Sureties to save the Towns of Plymouth Duxborough and Marshfield from all Charge and Damages that may arise by the said Child. Whereas the said Court of General Sessions of the peace, if the said Manuel has been duely adjudged the reputed Father of the Child abovesaid could only have ordered the said Manuel to give Security to save the Town or Place where the Child was born from Charge for its maintenance.
[signed] S. Winthrop Cler.
1. SF 142245, in the hand of Samuel Winthrop, Clerk of the Superior Court. This is evidently the document referred to in the court's decision: “After a due inspection of the Record of the order complained of, and a full hearing of the Parties upon the Errors assigned: Judgement that the Order of the Court of Sessions be quashed for the Reasons on file on the back of the Writ.” Min. Bk. 82, SCJ Plymouth, May 1768, N–12; SCJ Rec. 1767–1768, fol. 189. The reasons actually appear on the verso of the notification to Jane Dotey, cited in note 5 above.

Docno: ADMS-05-01-02-0008-0006-0001

Editorial Note

This was a proceeding at the Middlesex General Sessions for September 1768, in which Lydia Gage accused Josiah Headley of being the father of her bastard child. Adams' docket for this term shows that he took Headley's case and that he “rec'd £1 4s. at one Time and 12s. more at another.”1 { 326 } Adams did not note the result, however, and, although some of the files of the case have survived, the records of the Middlesex Sessions for this term cannot be located. His minutes of the trial are printed here as an example of the testimony and argument in such a case. James Putnam appeared for Lydia.
In the files of the Middlesex Sessions, there remain five depositions in this case, none of them given by the witnesses in Adams' minutes.2 The depositions contain conflicting testimony as to whether Headley or Zachaus Parkes had offered Lydia £300 to accuse the other. The deponents also reported that she had at various times accused Parkes, Headley, and one Simeon Hagar, and that before Colonel Jones, presumably a Justice of the Peace,3 she had accused an unknown transient. It also appeared that she had earlier had an illegitimate daughter by Parkes, which was now being “kept” by the latter's brother Ephraim. According to one witness, she at one point threatened to accuse Ephraim because he was going to “put out” her first child, then stated that she had been forced to accuse someone other than Zachaus Parkes, lest Ephraim turn the child out.4 The pattern of instability suggested in these depositions and in the testimony in Adams' minutes is borne out by the fact that an order of the General Court dated 25 February 1762 had given Theophilus Mansfield of Weston (a deponent here) power to sell the real estate of his ward, Lydia Gage of Lincoln, a non compos mentis.5
1. JA, Docket, Concord Inferior Court, Sept. 1768. Adams Papers. The two were also bound over on the charge of fornication. See recognizances in Files, Middlesex Court of General Sessions, 1768. Office of the Clerk, Middlesex County Superior Court, East Cambridge, Mass. The child was a son born 30 March 1768 and named Josiah, doubtless in honor of the putative father. Vital Records of Lincoln 38 (Boston, 1908).
2. See Files, Middlesex Court of General Sessions, 1768. The depositions are those of James Adams, Lydia Farrar, Moses Underwood, Sarah Mansfield, and Theophilus Mansfield.
3. Both Elisha and John Jones were Justices of the Peace and of the Quorum in Middlesex County. See Whitmore, Mass. Civil List 138.
4. Deposition of Sarah Mansfield. Ephraim Parkes' testimony to the contrary appears in JA's minutes.
5. The order empowered Mansfield to sell real estate for his ward's support. See Order of 25 Feb. 1762, c. 390, 17 A&R 166. Mansfield's deposition in the Middlesex Files (note 2 above) seems to favor Headley.
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/