In June 1654, four men from East Hampton on Long Island were hauled before town leaders and charged with staging a masturbation contest. Accused of public self-pleasuring were two married men, Daniel Fairfield and Fulke Davis, Fulke’s young son John Davis and another teenager, John Hand Jnr. It is not known whether they were caught ‘in the act’ or informed upon after the event.
The nature of their contest is also unrecorded, as is the winner, if there was one. Whatever the details, the incident caused considerable public outrage in staid East Hampton. The punishments, however, were light – at least in comparison to what they might have been. Fulke Davis, as the oldest and supposedly wisest of the quartet, received the harshest penalty. John Hand Jnr. was not punished at all, perhaps on account of his age:
“After extended examination and serious debate and consultation with their Saybrook neighbours, the townsmen , not deeming the offence worthy of the loss of life or limb, determine that Fulke Davis shall be placed in the pillar and receive corporal punishment; and John Davis and Daniel Fairfield shall be publicly whipped, which was done and witnessed…”
According to genealogical records, Fulke Davis had a history of rubbing his neighbours up the wrong way. His name appears in at least three different legal and property disputes. In the 1660s Fulke and his wife were chased out of East Hampton, allegedly for “molesting men” and “practising witchcraft” respectively. Fulke died in Jamaica, New York, around 1687.