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FC 059 Witches, Rakes, and Rogues with D. Brenton Simons

This week on Fieldstone Common our featured guest is D. Brenton Simons, author of the book Witches, Rakes, and Rogues: True Stories of Scam, Scandal, Murder, and Mayhem in Boston, 1630-1775.


Witches, Rakes, and Rogues with D. Brenton Simons on Fieldstone Common
D. Brenton Simons

D. Brenton Simons, is the President and CEO of the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston, Massachusetts.

Currently piloting a groundbreaking $50 million capital campaign, Brenton Simons has led the Society to major growth in its national services and scope and to its pivotal role in the popular expansion of the genealogical field in America.

A staff member since 1993 and President and CEO since 2005, he has developed several of the organization’s most popular services, including its website, member magazine, and special publications imprint. In addition, he is the author of several books, including Boston Beheld: Antique Town and Country Views and Witches, Rakes, and Rogues, winner of the 2006 Award of Merit from the Association for State and Local History.

Most recently he produced, with Atlantic Media, a short film on the society, “A Farseeing Vision,” recipient of the 2011 Silver Telly Award. His genealogical articles have appeared in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, The American Genealogist, The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine and elsewhere. A graduate of Boston University, he is a member of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, the American Antiquarian Society, the Club of Odd Volumes, the Society of the Cincinnati, and is a fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Book Summary

Witches, Rakes, and Rogues with D. Brenton Simons on Fieldstone CommonBostonians of the colonial period may have been Puritans, but they were anything but pure. Witches, Rakes, and Rogues demonstrates that from the city’s founding until the Revolution, Boston’s narrow, twisting streets were crawling with witches, murderers, con men, swindlers, and blackguards.

By digging deep into the city’s records, Simons reveals a veritable rogues’ gallery, and even uncovering the truth – in “Murder by Arsenic: The Ill-fated Greenleaf Children” – about Boston’s first documented serial murder. Other true tales include “The Turbulent Passions of Ann Hibbins,” “The Diabolical Possession of Martha Robinson,” “The Extortion Plot Against Two Gentlemen of Substance,” and stories of bigamists, thieves, miscreants and black sheep.

Book Info

Title: Witches, Rakes, and Rogues: True Stories of Scam, Scandal, Murder, and Mayhem in Boston, 1630-1775

Publisher: The New England Historic Genealogical Society (2006)

Hardcover; 260 pages with end notes, bibliography, index and some BxW photos and illustrations.

Witches, Rakes, and Rogues is available for purchase from Amazon.com, The New England Historic Genealogical Society and other booksellers.

The Interview

Toward the beginning of the interview Brenton Simons read a passage describing the attempted murder of Cotton Mather by a granade thrown through a window.

Later on he read a first hand description by Samuel Breck of people being punished at the whipping post and the pillory and the horrible things the public threw at the criminal.

In the middle of the interview Brenton made reference to a book. It was Legal Executions in New England: A Comprehensive Reference, 1623-1960 by Daniel Allen Hearn.

Prize Winners

Two copies of Witches, Rakes, and Rogues were given out to the Fieldstone Common audience courtesy of the the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

The winners are:

  • Col. John Heavey Jr. of Kansas
  • Celia Lewis of British Columbia, Canada

Congratulations to our winners and thanks to the New England Historic Genealogical Society for their generosity in donating the books!

Make sure you qualify to win the giveaway next week by signing up for the Bonus List! Once you sign up your are in the running each week!

News & Announcements

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