In early seventeenth-century Massachusetts, Essex County was home to growing populations of Puritans. These purportedly straight-laced, God-fearing men and women had ventured to the New World to purify their church from within and used drastic measures, including hangings, to achieve that goal. But the purification—and Puritan doctrine itself—was actually surprisingly unpopular. A number of sinful, impious and deadly individuals broke the Puritan mold in other ways, too. They have long been forgotten—until now. Local historian Tom Juergens shines new light on the Puritan era with a collection of poignant—and sordid—stories that reveal ugly truths behind whippings, brandings, mutilations and state-sponsored executions.
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