by Will Kohler
1640 – Bishop John Atherton Hanged for Buggery: The good bishop of Waterford and Lismore in the Church of Ireland was one of the loudest proponents for a new law making homosexuality a capital crime. He then became the second person to be hanged under that statute. His his steward, tithe proctor and cohort, John Chidle, was also condemned to death. – WHOOPSIE!
1642 – The Essex County Court in Salem, Massachusettes recorded the following: “Elizabeth Johnson, servant to Mr. Jos. Yonge, to be severely whipped and find 5 li. (pounds) for unseemly practices betwixt her and another maid; for stubbornness to her mistress answering rudely and unmannerly, and also for stopping her ears with her hands when the Word of God was read…” This brief mention of “unseemly practices” is believed to be the first recorded legal prosecution of lesbians in America