17th-Century Scandal! One-Eyed Man Hanged for Fathering an Ugly Pig
George Spencer has gone down in history for being the second person executed in Connecticut, USA. His crime? Allegedly fathering an ugly piglet.Records paint an unflattering image of George Spencer.
Records paint an unflattering image of George Spencer. He was described as an “ugly, balding servant with a glass eye” which apparently both disturbed and drew in the gaze of his neighbors. It’s said that his personality wasn’t great - the word “cantankerous” has been applied - and it didn’t help his case that George also had a reputation as a “habitual troublemaker” for past brushes with the law, including a flogging in Boston after receiving stolen goods. Finally, the Puritan community of New Haven Colony frowned upon George’s disdain for religion – he was an atheist.
George Spencer was the man everyone looked at when a sow owned by a planter named John Wakeman gave birth to a stillborn “prodigious monster.” The piglet was vividly described in records:
“It had no hair on the whole body, the skin was very tender, and of a reddish white color like a child’s. The head was most strange. It had but one eye in the middle of the face, and that large and open, like some blemished eye of a man. Over the eye, in the bottom of the forehead, which was like a child’s, a thing of flesh grew forth and hung down. It was hollow and like a man’s instrument of generation. A nose, mouth, and chin deformed, but not much unlike a child’s. The neck and ears had also such resemblance.”
On April 8, 1642, George Spencer was hanged. (Lars Hammar/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
After examining the piglet, people were quick to claim that it had such a resemblance to George Spencer that it must have been his offspring - which was a popular way to perform paternity tests in those days. George was formerly a servant to Henry Browning, the man who sold the sow to Wakeman, and he was presumed guilty of bestiality which resulted in the creation of the deformed piglet.
In an odd turn of events, George Spencer confessed to the crime then recanted, not once, but twice! Witnesses were called, and they told the court that George had confessed his crime to them. The magistrates found both George Spencer and the sow guilty of bestiality and sentenced them to death.
On April 8, 1642, George Spencer was hanged and the sow who birthed the unfortunate piglet was also killed by being run through with a sword.
Top Image: George Spencer was hanged in 1642 for allegedly fathering an ugly pig. Source: Jo / Adobe Stock
By Alicia McDermott