When I began this blog, it was with the intent of recreating Alice Martin Bishop’s life. I have spent a year now combing primary sources but am nothing more than a self-absorbed family historian. I am eager to hear from all fellow AMB researchers on what they have found especially in context to the following questions:
- Abigail Bishop: What happened to Alice’s eldest daughter? The lineage for her half-sister, Damaris Bishop, has long been established. But I can find no records of Abigail reaching adulthood. Who did she live with as a child because it does not appear Richard Bishop kept her in his home after AMB’s execution?
- Forensic Psychiatry: What can we say about the fact that AMB saw her family die as a four year-old girl and then murdered her four-year old daughter? It’s not the actual coincidence of age that matters as much as the psychic wounds of a four year old girl which may have never left her…thoughts?
3. Other Suspects: Because AMB admitted to the crime for which she also claimed to have no recollection, can we not even consider Richard Bishop as the murderer of his stepdaughter? Did someone in Plymouth have a grudge against the Bishops and somehow got into the house? What about Abigail? What about Rachel Ramsden? What about a stranger? I know the historical record provides no other evidence than Alice as the culprit, but I have, on occasion, wondered.
4. James Bishop, a 4th child? There is a July 7, 1740 will for a Mary Hudson Bishop, widow of James Bishop who some claim is the 4th child of AMB. Is this true or is this the Bishop family of Salem? The troublesome Waterfield history of the Sutton family claims there are two children of the Bishop-Martin union: Damaris born 1645 and James born ca. 1646. I would love to hear from anyone who can verify this …or disprove it.
5. What would AMB’s trial been like today? “In all states, mothers who kill their children are prosecuted under homicide statutes. …courts continue to evaluate postpartum depression defenses and other mental illnesses under the existing insanity defense. The prevailing insanity defense test applied across United States jurisdictions is extremely narrow and makes proving legal insanity exceptionally difficult for even the most severely postpartum psychotic women” The current insanity defense test is considered “too narrow because if confines [it] to a consideration of whether the individual knew the difference between right or wrong and not other aspects of the mental illness that are equally relevant” (Manchester, 718). I don’t think AMB would have fared well under the M’Naghten standard (current test for insanity) because she seems to have immediate remorse for what she did indicating she knew it was wrong. This is not to say she wasn’t severely mentally ill – it just means it might have not mattered in a 21st c court of law.
I am eager to hear from you! ~ thanks, Erin