Richard Crosby the fortune teller

Richard Crosby was a thorn in the side of the Chester County courts for years. In the summer of 1687 he was found drunk and unruly. Philip Denning testified that he was disordered by drink and very abusive. William Goforth said that while he was drunk Crosby challenged the Swedes or English or any other man at cudgels, wrestling or any other such violent exercise, and furthermore did strike him upon the head and did trip up his heels twice. Johannes Friend heard Crosby say that the Swedes were rogues and did take part with the Indians against the English. Before the jury went out Crosby submitted himself to the court and was fined 5s.

He appeared regularly in lawsuits between 1689 and 1693.

Late in 1696 he was in serious trouble again. At the house of James Cooper in Darby, Crosby called the magistrates knaves and rogues, adding that they “bought and sold us”. He called many of the people beggarly dogs and fools. He boasted that he and his son “knew more of the mathematical arts than any of us”. He claimed that he could tell fortunes and who had stolen goods and where they were. He said James Cooper’s kinswoman Sarah Cooper had drunk herself blind. The foreman of the grand jury said that this was gross abuse of the living and dead, some of whom bore “no small figure in this province.”

At the next court session even more testimony emerged. Crosby had called Justice Blunston a pitiful sorrowful fellow who “sold us and now was going to redeem us again”. This abuse of a magistrate was taken seriously and Crosby was fined for his words. But the grand jury had a new crime to present. Crosby had ranted, at the house of Joseph Wood, that the grand jury were all perjured rogues, and that if the sheriff came to get the fine from him “he would be the death of him”. For this Crosby was found guilty. But he was not finished. He menaced the justices and called them all felons and threatened to “make Pennsylvania shake again before he had done”. After all that he was committed to prison for a year.  (It hardly seems necessary to add that Crosby was not a Quaker.)

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