The Otsego Herald for Feb. 8, 1819, compiled, with comments:
An interesting Boston case
The following sketch of a trial which ... excited an unusual degree of interest in the public mind, is handed to us by a friend.
On Tuesday, the 5th (February), in the Supreme Court now sitting in Boston, came on the trial of Eben. Pearson against Elijah P. Goodrich for a malicious prosecution. ...
Major Goodrich pretended to have been attacked by three ruffians ... on the evening of the 19th of December 1816, in the town of Newbury, while travelling from Bangor to Boston. — That he discharged his pistol at one of the robbers, and at the same moment, in warding off the robber’s pistol, received (its) charge ... through his left hand.
That he ... received a blow upon his head — that he was then dragged into the adjoining field (and) was there beat and bruised, and choaked and kicked and robbed of his watch and money, amounting to about seventeen hundred dollars and ... left in a state of insensibility.
Mr Pearson keeps a public inn about one mile from the place where the robbery was pretended to have been committed. Maj. Goodrich came to the inn about ten the same evening, and on entering the door seized Pearson’s son by the throat and exclaimed, “You are the damned robber.” He complained of being very much bruised and to be very faint.
Surgeons were immediately called in but could discover no irregularity or feebleness of pulse, nor any marks of violence about him except the wound on his hand and a few slight punctures in one of his arms.
Two persons by the name of Kenniston, and one by the name of Jackman, have been tried for this alleged robbery, and acquitted. Mr. Pearson’s house has been searched and his person arrested by Maj. Goodrich for this pretended robbery.
This action was brought by Mr. Pearson against Major Goodrich to recover damages for the injury which he has sustained in his character and reputation by reason of these arrests. After a very full investigation of the cause, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Mr. Pearson, and two thousand dollars damages, the whole amount claimed by the Plaintiff. ...
On this occasion we witnessed a degree of ingenuity, a chain of close logical reasoning, and a force of eloquence seldom exhibited in this or any other court. — Boston Weekly Messenger.
COMMENT: A much longer description of the affair, in Euphemia Vale Blake’s “History of Newburyport” (1854), page 212, concluded that Major Goodrich was indeed “but the synonyme for treachery, imposture, and swindler. The man had thus robbed and mutilated himself ... and for months managed to deceive and impose upon the public. ... He soon removed himself from this part of the country.”
Yesterday morning, about three o’clock, the Southern Mail was robbed about one mile this side of Bridgetown (New Jersey) about 19 miles from this city (Philadelphia).
Three men, with masks, suddenly presented themselves in the road, and called out to the driver to stop, which he complied with on their presenting pistols. — They then ... robbed the passengers of a gold watch and some small change; and opening the mail, took out a number of letters. ... Sixty-one single (one sheet) letters from New Orleans are missing, and all those from Philadelphia, except those on which the postage was paid, are gone. ...
By their dialect two of those robbers are foreigners. ... It is believed that these robbers have not be successful in obtaining the most valuable part of the mail. ... What is very singular, is this fact, that among the letters found, were two large bundles of bank notes from Washington...the seals of the envelopes remained untouched. ... Mail robbers are punished with death.
Philadelphia, Jan. 28, 1819. The sum of one million of dollars has been set apart by the legislature of South Carolina, as a fund for internal improvement. Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars to be expended annually for four successive years, in clearing out rivers, constructing roads, canals, &c.
The Coroner was called on Tuesday morning to hold an inquest over the body of Mary Curry, at No. 219 William street. The jury returned “a verdict of Murder, she having come to her end by reason of violent blows inflicted on her head by her husband, Hugh Curry.”
We understand that the husband charged with the murder, and a woman living in his house, charged as an accomplice, were both committed to prison in the course of the day. This, we are told, is the third murder which has been committed in this city under the most atrocious circumstances, within the last three weeks. — Commercial Advertiser.
COMMENT: According to the trial report, Hugh Curry had, on Jan. 15, 1819, thrown an earthen teapot at his wife, “thereby giving her one mortal blow over and upon one eye, by means of which she languished until the 26th of the same month, and then died. ...
“The prisoner, his wife, and one Mary Farrel, lived together in a miserable hovel, at 219 William and their was but one bed in the room for the three. ... The prisoner and his wife were in the habit of beastly intoxication, and frequently quarreled, especially about Mary Farrel. In the winter the prisoner had shut his wife out of the house all night.
“On going into the room...witnesses saw a black earthen teapot, with the handle and spout off, lying on the floor.”
“The jury found the prisoner guilty (of manslaughter) ... and he was sentenced to the state prison fourteen years.”