Examination of John Stoddard

July 25, 1678

The examination of John Stoddard aged about sixteen years    

This day the said Stoddard came to my house and informed that his father- in-law, John Sampson, and his own mother were gone over the river and left him to keep the house and look after his younger brother called John Sampson, a child upward of a year old, and said that he, being with his other brother of about six or seven years of age a little distant from the dwelling house, saw two Indians go into the house and presently run out again.  As soon as they were gone he said he went into the house and found his youngest brother knocked on the head with a hatchet and lay dead on the floor with which complaint he came to me. Immediately I dispatched away the constable and some others, to make enquiry in to the case, who went to the house and found the child sore wounded, but not dead, which they brought away with them.   Meanwhile, I kept John Stoddard in durance and examined him concerning the fact and, finding his relation not to agree,

carried him up to his wounded brother who was then at the house of Major Palmes where I charged him with committing the fact himself.  He at last confessed it and the bloody hatchet being produced, he owned that was the instrument and in what manner he had acted.  And being demanded the reason of his so doing so, the child cried and that he had no love neither for the child or the father of it.  Upon which suspecting that possibly he might be the author of that horrid murder committed upon the person of Thomas Bolleswife and children,1it being Evident the Said Boy was there about the very time of the murder.   I took him with me up to Mr. Bradstreet, desiring his advice, council and assistance in the examination of him, where, after some time spent with him and cunning evasions, he did confess the fact which was thus circumstanced.

That he came to the house of Thomas Bolles, a little after sunset, and desired he might lodge there that night because it was late and also asked for some drink but the woman, the wife of said Bolles, bid him be gone and that he should not lodge there and thrust him out of doors over the threshold and as he sayeth gave him a blow with her hand and shut the door.  But he sayeth he drew the latch and came in again and took up an axe that stood within the house and struck the woman a blow on the head as she sat in the chair or stool with her child in her lap, who sudden fell to the ground and then he struck her again and killed her next he struck the girl two blows on the head near the door who fell over the threshold then he struck the boy on the head and killed him and also cut him in the face with a glance of the axe.  We enquired farther what manner of ax it was that he killed the people with.  He gave us a description thereof and, the axes being produced with two more, he presently owned the right ax wherewith he had done the murder and gave also true information in what manner and posture he left the dead as it appeared to those who saw them that night the fact was done.   Being farther examined the next day before Major Palmes, Captain Avery and Mr. Bradstreet and myself, he owned all the particulars.

Above written and this is a true declaration of the said John Stoddard , taken by me

Daniel Wetherell, Commissioner

            Endorsement:  John Stoddard’s case about murder/October 1678

                                    John Stoddard’s case October 3, 1678

            Cataloguing:  109a-b, 121-122

            Miscellaneous:   Ir

  • 1. The children referred to are Mary and Joseph Bolles.