The Case of the Stolen Turnips

cheryl lassiter

By Cheryl Lassiter, History Matters column

(Reposted from the Hampton Union, original print publication April 28, 2015.)

In the late fall of 1670, Hampton planter John Fuller discovered that someone had pilfered about twenty bushels of his unharvested turnip crop. John Hancock, Fuller’s partner in the patch, swore that if he could prove who did it, the “taker of them” would be prosecuted.

The taker, as it turned out, was a prominent citizen named Nathaniel Weare. To his friends John and Martha Cass he had admitted that he “did take about a bushel and a half” after “accidentally” stumbling upon Fuller’s turnip patch. And if the ground hadn’t been so darned hard, he “might have took a few more.” As he said, he took them because they were so “remote in the woods,” and with the frost and all, he thought they would be “lost.”

John Cass asked if he…

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