Secor Family Genealogy: Exploring Our Ancestry

Alice Martin Bishop

Just a word of caution, the following exerpt is a bit grizzley. Alice Martin Bishop murdered her daughter from her first marriage, Martha Clarke in Plymouth Colony in 1648 and is among first women executed in the colonies. We are descended from her other daughter, Demarais through Lester Larue's line. Demarais and her father, Richard Bishop, eventually moved to New Jersey after this happened. Richard Bishop was accused of thievery several times in Plymouth. Demarais married William Sutton and they settled in New Jersey. Her father lived with them. We are related to Alice Martin Bishop through Lester Larue's line.

Below is a narrative quoted directly from: Stratton, Eugene Aubrey, FASG. Plymouth Colony: Its History and People 1620-1691. Salt Lake City, UT, USA: Ancestry Incorporated, 1986. (Available in Google Books)

In July 1648 a coroner's jury reported that "coming into the house of the said Richard Bishope, wee saw at the foot of a [p.160] ladder which leadeth into an upper chamber, much blood; and going up all of us into the chamber, wee found a woman child, of about foure yeares of age, lying in her shifte uppon her left cheeke, with her throat cut with divers gashes crose wayes, the wind pipe cut and stuke into the throat downward, and a bloody knife lying by the side of the child, with which knife all of us judge, and the said Allis hath confessed to five of us att one time, that shee murdered the child with the said knife." Rachel Ramsden testified that when she went to Richard Bishop's house on an errand, "the wife of the said Richard Bishope requested her to goe fetch her some buttermilke at Goodwife Winslows, and gave her a ketle for that purpose, and shee went and did it; and before shee went, shee saw the child lyinge abed asleepeĀ…, but when shee came shee found [Alice Bishop] sad and dumpish; shee asked her what blood was that shee saw at the ladders foot; shee pointed unto the chamber, and bid her looke, but shee perseived shee had killed her child, and being afraid, shee refused, and ran and tould her father and mother. Moreover, shee saith the reason that moved her to thinke shee had killed her child was that when shee saw the blood shee looked on the bedd, and the child was not there." The child was Alice (Martin) (Clarke) Bishop's daughter, Martha Clarke, by Alice's first husband, George Clarke. On 1 August 1648 Alice Bishop confessed she had murdered her daughter and said she was sorry for it. And on 4 October 1648 she was sentenced to be hanged, "which accordingly was executed."

Searching the web comes up with quite a few interesting links with more about the trial. Here are two good ones: