1641: One-eyed man hanged for fathering deformed piglet

In 1641 the people of New Haven, Connecticut, heard news that a monstrous piglet with human-like features had been delivered by a sow owned by Mrs Wakeman. Shocked local elders, convinced that the stillborn piglet had been conceived through an act of bestiality, asked locals to view it:

“The monster was come to the full growth as other pigs, but brought forth dead. It had no hair on the whole body, the skin was very tender and of a white colour, like a child’s; the head was most strange, it had one eye, in the bottom of the forehead, which was like a child’s… a thing of flesh grew forth and hung down, it was hollow and like a man’s instrument of generation. A nose, mouth and chin deformed but no much unlike a child’s, the neck and ears also had such a resemblance…”

Several were of the view that George Spencer, a local man with one glass eye, was responsible for the deformed piglet:

“A strange impression was also upon many that saw the monster (guided by the near resemblance of the eye) that one George Spencer… had been an actor in unnatural and abominable filthiness with the sow.”

New Haven leaders ordered the arrest of Spencer, who had often been in trouble and was probably simple-minded. At first, he admitted to “forcing himself” on the sow, though this confession was later retracted. Spencer was put on trial for living a life of “profane, atheistical carriage”. Witnesses testified that Spencer was deceitful, had bad manners, sometimes mocked religious holy days and often failed to pray. He was found guilty of bestiality with the pig, despite a lack of witnesses. George Spencer was hanged in April 1642.

Source: Records of the Colony and Plantation of New Haven, 1641. Content on this page is © Alpha History 2016. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.