22 Sep: The All-Female Jury

Rerun. Witchcraft and infanticide were the charges levelled against young maidservant Judith Catchpole at the General Provincial Court in Patuxent County, Maryland on September 22nd, 1656. Since the case hinged on whether she had been pregnant, an all-female jury was assembled – the first in colonial America.

Seven married women and four single women physically examined her – and found her not guilty of the crimes. Which were pretty obviously B.S.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly uncover the first and only instance of men being excluded from a jury in England; consider the views of the New York judge in the 1920s, who warned of fainting fits and emotional outbursts if women were permitted as potential jurors; and ask whether men or women are more likely to be swayed by sexy witnesses…

Further Reading:

• ‘Judith Catchpole Trial: 1656’ (Encyclopedia.com): https://www.encyclopedia.com/law/law-magazines/judith-catchpole-trial-1656

• ‘OUR JURY SYSTEM AGAIN UNDER FIRE; One Judge Calls Verdicts of “Twelve Good Men And True”’ (New York Times, 1927):


• ‘What is JURY OF MATRONS?’ (The Audiopedia, 2017):

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