Bathsheba (Ruggles) Spooner

Ancestry of
Bathsheba (Ruggles) Spooner

First woman executed for murder in U.S. by non-British government


    Bathsheba Ruggles

    View famous kin of Bathsheba Ruggles

    • 1st Generation
    • Ahnentafel No:
    • Birth Date:
    • 13 Feb 1745/1746 
    • Birth Location:
    • Sandwich, Barnstable, Massachusetts 
    • Christening Date:
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    • Christening Location:
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    • Death Date:
    • 2 Jul 1778 
    • Death Location:
    • Worcester, Worcester Co., Massachusetts 
    • Burial Date:
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    • Burial Location:
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    • Notes: 
    • The Murder of Joshua Spooner

      Bathsheba (Ruggles) Spooner has the honor of being the first woman executed in the newly created United States. She was the daughter of a prominent lawyer who was banished from Massachusetts during the American Revolution due to his loyalist leanings. Bathsheba had an arranged marriage to a wealthy farmer named Joshua Spooner.

      Bathsheba's marriage was an unhappy one and she eventually enlisted the help of her lover and two British soldiers, who were escaped prisoners of war, to kill her husband. One night during the Spring of 1778, one of the soldiers beat Joshua Spooner to death and they shoved his body down the well. Bathsheba and the three men were all convicted of the murder and sentenced to death.

      Bathsheba's execution was somewhat controversial at the time. A petition was started to delay her execution because she claimed to be pregnant. The execution proceeded anyway and a post-mortem examination revealed that she was in fact about 5 months pregnant when she was executed. One has to wonder whether her speedy execution was influenced by father's known loyalist sentiment or the fact that one of those who signed her death warrant was a step-brother of Joshua Spooner.

  • Marriages for Bathsheba Ruggles


    • Spouse:
    • Joshua Spooner
    • Marriage Date:
    • from 15 Jan 1766 to Jul 1766
    • Marriage Location:
    • Hardwick, Worcester, Massachusetts

Scroll down to see sources.

  • Sources for Bathsheba Ruggles

    • 2 Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 (Online Datebase), New England Historic Genealogical Society (2001-2008), Sandwich, Vol. 1, p. 125, Birth record for Bathsheba Ruggles.
    • 3 Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 (Online Datebase), New England Historic Genealogical Society (2001-2008), Brookfield, Vol. 1, p. 532, Death record for spouse Joshua Spooner.
    • 4 Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 (Online Datebase), New England Historic Genealogical Society (2001-2008), Hardwick, Vol. 1, p. 235, Marriage intention for Joshua Spooner and Bathsheba Ruggles.
    • 5 New England Historical and Genealogical Register, (New England Historic and Genealogical Society), 1964, Vol. 118, p. 212.
    • 6 New England Historical and Genealogical Register, (New England Historic and Genealogical Society), 1861, Vol. 15, p. 109.