Boston: 1697. unbound. 2 pages (front and back), 11.75 x 7.25 inches, Superior Court, Boston, April 27, 1697. Exceedingly rare document signed "Elisha Cooke" -- a legal decision concerning the questionable actions of Charles Lidgett, designated Executor of the Last Will and Testament of Mrs. Elizabeth Saffin and Mr. Peter Lidgett, of Boston. The case involved two of the most powerful families in the Colony (Lidgett and Usher) who through marriage had a virtual monopoly of the American timber trade. The suit is brought forth by John Usher and his wife Elizabeth against her uncle Charles Lidgett, whom she believes "did not act in good faith as Executor of her parents' estate." She requests certain property including: "Half the silver, the silver pots, all wearing apparel, rings, brooches, jewels and ornaments" and "Five-thousand five hundred pounds sterling + four thousand pounds in good feasible Bonds + Four-thousand pounds [good Court money of New England]." On the verso Elisha Cooke finds for the plaintiff, ruling: "John Usher and wife Elizabeth shall recover all petitioned in their complaint." Note: during the Boston Revolt (1689), Governor Edmund Andros was placed under arrest and held prisoner in John Usher's home. Those orders came from Elisha Cooke, who ruled for John Usher in the above case. An important document linking the Saffin-Usher-Lidgett families through their extensive intermarriages and their close political association with Elisha Cooke. Natural folds, one small stain, and tape repairs on the back; still very good condition.
Colonial American jurist, leader of the 1689 Boston Revolt and head of the "popular party." Aligned with several Judges who took prominent roles in the Salem witch trials, including William Stoughton (Governor of Mass.). In 1696 Cooke, along with former witch trial judges Thomas Danworth and Samuel Sewell, presided over the case of Thomas Maule -- one of the most important trials in American history. The issues that surfaced set a precedent that contributed to the First Amendment principle of separation of church and state.