340 years ago today…

Thomas Cornell was hanged in colonial Rhode Island for the murder of his elderly mother, Rebecca. It was a rather bizarre homicide case and Thomas was probably innocent. In fact, it’s debatable whether or not it was a murder at all. Thomas was convicted, essentially, because he was an unfilial son.

But Rebecca’s firey death was certainly very strange. One thing I remember from the book I read about it was that she was wearing a dress with cotton and wool parts, and the woolen parts burned but the cotton parts were left relatively intact. This makes no sense; cotton is highly flammable, much more so than wool. Shrug. Anyhoo, Thomas’s execution was commemorated by me on Executed Today two years ago.

(The family were the ancestors of the person who founded Cornell University, which, incidentally, rejected me for admission back in 2003. Which is just as well, because I found a very nice college to go to, and I had a friend who went to Cornell and hated every second of it. Up yours, Cornell!)

3 thoughts on “340 years ago today…

  1. Justin May 23, 2013 / 11:15 pm

    I had to look up the term ‘unfilial’ as it’s not a term that comes up a lot in conversation… or in much of the literature I read.

    un•fil•i•al (ən-ˈfi-lē-əl)


    not fulfilling the customary obligation of a child to a parent.

    I’m surprised my mother hasn’t used it when she wants to know why I don’t visit as much as I should.

  2. Princess Shantae May 24, 2013 / 7:35 am

    Here’s my idea about the wool burning. Wool is greasy when it comes off the sheep, it has lanolin in it. Nowadays our wool is proccessed so it isn’t oily but back in the old days there weren’t any special chemicals to use on it so probably a lot of lanolin stayed in the wool. Oily things burn easily. Maybe oily wool would?

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