That Fellow Dessy A whole page of the court transcript was given over to the a felo de se consideration, which seemed curious. Why labor over whether it was a suicide or an accident? Who cares, really? Well, as it turns out, everybody cared in those days. Taking your own life was a mortal sin. That meant you could not be buried in the churchyard, which I remembered reading somewhere. But there was more to it. The suicide was to have a stake driven through his heart, I guess so that, like a vampire, he couldn’t f loat off to heaven. And he was to be buried outside the village, at night, at a
crossroads, in an unmarked grave. But here’s where it gets serious. All the property of a suicide was to be confiscated and, in England, forfeited to the Crown. (In colonial Maryland, the winnings presumably went to the Lord Proprietor.) This made the a felo de se determination really important, and not just to the court, but to the de-
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Tidewater Times July 2013