In March 1778, Joshua Spooner, a wealthy gentleman farmer in Brookfield, Massachusetts, was beaten to death and his body stuffed down his own well. Four people were prosecuted for the crime: two British soldiers, a young Continental soldier named Ezra Ross, and Spooner’s wife, Bathsheba, who was charged with instigating the murder. She was thirty- two years old and five months pregnant with Ezra Ross’s son.
Beautiful, intelligent, high-spirited, and witty, Bathsheba Spooner was the mother of three young children and in her own words felt “an utter aversion” for her husband, who was known to be an abusive drunk. As daughter of the state’s most feared and despised Loyalist, Bathsheba Spooner bore the brunt of the political, cultural, and gender prejudices of her vehemently patriotic state. When she sought a stay of execution to deliver her baby the Massachusetts Council rejected her petition. Bathsheba’s story is a triumph of heart and spirit that endures to this day.