With modern-day science, we are fully aware that even if two animals of different species mate, there is no chance that they would produce an offspring. In 1642 a beastiality case was filed against a New Haven colonist, but was the verdict just?
George Spencer was brought to court under the suspicion of unnatural relations with a sow after she had given birth to a hairless and deformed piglet. He was coerced to confess, and both he and the sow were executed.
Who Was George Spencer?
George Spencer was an ordinary man who had trouble keeping a job due to his appearance. He was bald and had one fake eye.
He used to live in Boston. While he was there, he was accused of receiving stolen good, and was punished by flogging. He then moved to the New Haven Colony in hopes of starting over.
Spencer was branded to be a habitual trouble maker because he was open about his lack of faith. He never prayed and would only read the bible when he was forced to do so by his master. (Source: Slate)
Why Did People Think George Spencer is the Father of the Deformed Piglet?
In 1641, George Spencer started working for Henry Browning. Browning sold livestock for a living. In the winter, he sold a sow to Jake Wakeman. The sow was due to give birth on February of that year.
When the sow finally gave birth, one piglet came out deformed. The piglet was described as:
It had no hair on the whole body, the skin was very tender, and of a reddish white color like a child’s. The head was most strange. It had but one eye in the middle of the face, and that large and open, like some blemished eye of a man. Over the 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 not much unlike a child’s. The neck and ears had also such resemblance.Jake Wakeman
Because of these specific deformities which were quite similar to Spencer’s, Browning and Wakeman accused him of bestiality. (Source: Slate)
How Did the Courts Reach a Verdict?
Spencer was later on tricked into confessing. He was told that if he were to confess, mercy would be given upon him. Even without any substantial evidence of any sexual relations with the sow in question, he was found guilty.
By April 8, 1642 Spencer and the sow were scheduled to be executed in the Gallows of New Haven. He was made to watch as they killed the sow with a sword, and was hanged soon after. (Source: The Oak Daily)
Was George Spencer Wrongfully Executed?
With a better understanding of science, we know that humans can have sex with animals but these relationships can never yield in the production of offsprings. That being said, it is biologically impossible that George Spencer would be the father of the deformed piglet.