Legal History

Lawyer Mines Court Records to Pen 'Naked Quaker'


Contrary to what we now tend to think, bad behavior was common among the Puritans during the 1660s, according to Diane Rapaport. And she should know: Long-ago court records have proven a treasure trove for the Massachusetts lawyer, who has used them to pen not only a more traditional historic tome but a racy account of the spicier details of the Puritans’ daily lives.

Purloined pigs, a disbarred lawyer and at least one naked churchgoer are among the misconduct she discusses in The Naked Quaker: True Crimes and Controversies from the Courts of Colonial New England, reports the Boston Globe.

“There are hundreds of stories from the court records that I could write,” Rapaport says. “Anyone who thinks that the litigation explosion is a modern phenomenon needs to think again. It started back in the 1600s. People had more of a sense of freedom over here to protest and speak out, and they really made use of the courts to do that.”

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