The Plymouth Colony Court heard a case brought against Edward Michell and Edward Preston for “lewd & sodomitical practices tending to sodomy.”
The earliest known conviction for lesbian activity in North America occurs on this day when Sarah White Norman (ca. 1623-1654) is charged with “Lewd behaviour with each other upon a bed” with Mary Vincent Hammon (1633-1705) in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Since Mary was younger than 16 years old, she was only admonished, but Sarah, probably 10 years older, stood trial. Originally, Richard Berry (1626-1681), a neighbor, accused the two women and one man, Teage Joanes, of sodomy and other unclean practices. Later Berry said he had borne false witness against Joanes but he did not withdraw what he said against Sarah White Norman. Much later, the same Berry and other men, including Joanes, were prosecuted for homosexuality and ordered to “part their uncivil living together”.
The New Haven, CT law is the first in the American colonies to make same-sex acts between women punishable by the death penalty. The code quotes Romans 1:26 “if any woman change the natural use into that which is against nature” as the basis for the law.