1789 · Boston
Autograph Document Signed, Boston, September 7, 1789. 1 p., 6 x 7 in.
Robert Treat Paine seeks the prosecution of James Ferrel for stealing a satin waistcoat. Paine served as attorney general of Massachusetts from 1777 to 1790. The Supreme Judicial Court for the Commonwealth also served as a circuit court. In this case, Attorney General Paine prosecutes James Ferrel for stealing a satin waistcoat worth £3 from Francis Wenham, the master of the Elizabeth, which had arrived at Boston from Jamaica in July 1789.
Although Ferrel's fate is not recorded in local newspapers, others convicted of theft received sentences consisting of fines of triple the value of the article stolen, public whipping, public confinement on the gallows, and confinement to hard labor for several years.
A few months later, in January 1790, Governor John Hancock appointed Paine as an Associate Justice of Massachusetts' Supreme Judicial Court.
Robert Treat Paine (1731-1814) was born in Boston. At the age of 14, he entered Harvard College, from which he graduated in 1749. He then taught at the Boston Latin School. He began the study of law in 1755 and was admitted to the bar in 1757. He served in the Massachusetts General Court from 1773 to 1774, in the Provincial Congress from 1774 to 1775, and represented Massachusetts at the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1776. There, he signed both the Olive Branch petition and the Declaration of Independence. He served as Massachusetts attorney general from 1777 to 1790 and as justice of the state supreme court from 1790 to 1804.
Old folding creases
At the Supreme Judicial Court begun and holden at Boston within and for the County of Suffolk on the last Tuesday of August in the year of our Lord Seventeen hundred and Eighty nine
Be it remembered that on the seventh day of September in the year of our Lord Seventeen hundred and Eighty nine Robert Treat Paine Esq Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts comes into the same Court and gives the said Court to understand and be informed that since the dismission of the Grand Jury for the said Term Viz. on the fourth day of September aforesaid James Ferrel resident at said Boston Mariner on the same day at Boston within the County of Suffolk aforesaid with force and arms feloniously did break up and enter a certain vessel viz a ship called the Elizabeth in the Possession and under the Care of Francis Wenham Master of the same and one Sattin figured Wastcoat of the value of three pounds of the goods and Chattels of the said Francis Wenham in the same ship feloniously did steal take and carry away to the damage of the said Francis Wenham against the peace of the Commonwealth aforesaid and Law of the Same in such case made and provided. Wherefore (the said James Farrel consenting to the filing this Information against him) the said Attorney General prays the advisement of the said Court on the premises and that the said James Ferrel may be dealt with as to Law and Justice appertains.
R T Paine
[Docketing:] Information vs James Ferrel / Ship breaking & Theft (Inventory #: 24332.02)