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The Case of the Piglet’s Paternity

Trials from the New Haven Colony, 1639–1663

In the middle of the seventeenth century, judges in the short-lived New Haven Colony presided over a remarkable series of trials ranging from murder and bestiality, to drunken sailors, frisky couples, faulty shoes, and shipwrecks. The cases were reported in an unusually vivid manner, allowing readers to witness the twists and turns of fortune as the participants battled with life and liberty at stake. When the records were eventually published in the 1850s, they were both difficult to read and heavily edited to delete sexual matters. Rendered here in modernized English and with insightful commentary by eminent Judge Jon C. Blue, the New Haven trials allow readers to immerse themselves in the exciting legal battles of America’s earliest days.

The Case of the Piglet’s Paternity assembles thirty-three of the most significant and intriguing trials of the period. As a book that examines a distinctive judicial system from a modern legal perspective, it is sure to be of interest to readers in law and legal history. For less litigious readers, Blue offers a worm’s eye view of the full spectrum of early colonial society—political leaders and religious dissidents, farmhands and apprentices, women and children.


“This collection provides incomparable insight into an early colonial legal system thoroughly influenced by Biblical interpretations in a manner sure to appeal to legal historians and casual readers alike. Judge Blue’s self-professed goal is to ‘make these historic treasures accessible to the general public.’ He aptly accomplishes this, and in the process, ‘enable[s] these endlessly interesting cases to come to life again.’” —Harvard Law Review

“Judge Jon Blue’s The Case of the Piglet’s Paternity introduces its readers to the inner workings of New Haven Colony’s court system and the trials and tribulations experienced by a wide range of New Haven colonists … retelling and documenting the events of thirty-three New Haven trials … Judge Blue’s intention was to bring these episodes from colonial New Haven’s history to a twenty-first-century audience, and this book more than fulfills that goal.”—Abby Chandler, New England Quarterly

“Two interests animate the book. First, Blue seeks to render the trials readable and to restore cases that were excised from printed accounts. Second, he offers commentary on the trials from the perspective of a seasoned lawyer and judge. The enjoyable and instructive manner in which he accomplishes both tasks makes the book worth reading by professional scholars and amateur New England historians.”—Mary Sarah Bilder, The Journal of American History

“[Judge Blue]'s The Case of the Piglet’s Paternity is a must-read for anyone interested in colonial New England, Connecticut, and legal history. The book was a 2015 selection in the Driftless Connecticut Series for an outstanding book on a Connecticut topic or by a CT author, a well-deserved honor.”—Diane Rappaport, National Genealogical Society Quarterly

“[T]he author [Blue] has written not just a legal history, a modern record of the past, but has written an engaging and intelligent microhistory of this time period and colony that nonlegal scholars can understand”—Martínez Michelle, Journal of American Culture

“‘We have to pinch ourselves that this really happened and that it happened here in New Haven’, veteran Superior Court Judge Jon C. Blue said about the little-known case, which he chronicles in his first published book, The Case of the Piglet's Paternity: Trials from the New Haven Colony, 1639-1663. Blue gives the public its first detailed look at … little known trials from Connecticut’s earliest days, proceedings captured in writings that were stored away for centuries.”—Alaine Griffin, Hartford Courant

“Jon C. Blue has produced an instructive interpretation of thirty-three fascinating cases from the General Court, the highest judicial authority in the New Haven Colony. Blue has modernized spelling and included several sexually oriented cases that were redacted in deference to Victorian sensibilities … Judge Blue has put together a very readable anthology with judicious comments.” —Lawrence B. Goodheart, Connecticut History Review

“Author and eminent Judge Jon C. Blue examines a distinctive judicial system from a modern legal perspective and offers a worm’s-eye view of early colonial society.”—Connecticut Explored

“This book, gracefully written and accessible to lay as well as professional readers…commands the reader’s attention throughout…. Those with an interest in history and the evolution of the law and litigation will find much to chew on here.” —Robert H. Edmunds Jr., The Judges' Journal

“Those who have their finger on the pulse of contemporary legal battles that enthrall, excite, and bewilder, that evoke our most saturnine curiosity, would find themselves fully captivated, indeed transfixed, by Judge Jon Blue’s recounting of trials from the seventeenth-century New Haven colony.”—Audrey Kerr, Sixteenth Century Journal


"Only a trial judge could have written this book—and only a trial judge with a love of history. Jon Blue has chronicled the legal life of the New Haven Colony during the years from 1638 to 1665, when the Colony was absorbed into the Connecticut Colony. The cast of characters is fascinating, including privateers, Indians, and Quakers, among others . . . hardly the monotonic collection you might expect of 17th century New England. And the legal issues they generated are amazing varied, including the usual (witchcraft) and the unusual (bestiality). This was also an unexpectedly sexually-charged populace. Judge Blue brings these forgotten decades to life with a judicial twinkle in his eye and a graceful, engaging writing style."—Eugene R. Fidell, Senior Research Scholar in Law and Florence Rogatz Visiting Lecturer in Law, Yale Law School

"Judge Blue has done a favor to anyone interested in the origins of trial by law in colonial New England. The records of the court in New Haven Colony in the mid-seventeenth century were published (in part) more than one hundred and fifty years ago, but they are neither widely known nor properly understood. This volume brings some of the most interesting cases back to life in a lively and well-informed manner. If you have ever wondered why a man might have been judicially murdered on the charge of fathering a deformed piglet, this is the book for you, and Judge Blue is the right guide!"—Stanley N. Katz, professor, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University

"I was fascinated by the fact that these cases had essentially been lost to history. That Mr. Blue has brought them to the surface is significant, not only for historical posterity, but as an important examination of the legal system that existed in Colonial America."—Regina von Gootkin, author of Controversial Court Cases in Connecticut

"This very well written book makes legal proceedings intelligible to the lay reader by using fascinating stories to explore how courts resolve disputes and how a body of law is developed from cases and controversies. The analysis by Judge Blue is well reasoned and accessible. He is a brilliant jurist and his understanding of the significance of the cases is beyond doubt."—Mark Dubois, president, Connecticut Bar Association

9780819575371 : the-case-of-the-piglet-s-paternity-blue
308 Pages
$22.95 USD
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Paperback / softback
308 Pages
$14.95 USD
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Electronic book text
308 Pages
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