"We Ascribe This Horrible Deed More to Principle Than to Depravity" Merritt, Timothy. A Discourse on the Horrid Murder of Capt. James Purrinton's Family, Of Augusta, Delivered in Bowdoinham, July 20, 1806. Augusta, [ME]: Printed...by Peter Edes, 1806. 23 pp. Octavo (9" x 5-3/4"). Stab-stitched pamphlet in plain wrappers, recently resewn, edges untrimmed. Wrappers separated (but secured by thread), lightly soiled and edgeworn, handlettered title to front wrapper. Moderate toning and foxing to interior, corners lacking, occasional faint dampstaining, tears to gutters of first two leaves with loss to text on p. 4. $950. * Only edition. In despair over a failed harvest on his Maine farm and with his plans to commit suicide discovered by his brother, Purrinton (or Purrington) brutally slaughtered his wife and children before killing himself. Of his eight children, one would survive. Purrinton was a religious man and a strong believer in the doctrine of universal salvation, and it was speculated that he believed killing his family would relieve them of their suffering since their souls would be saved. Our sermon seeks to comfort the community while correcting flaws in Purrinton's theology, particularly universal salvation, to which Merritt attributes other similar murders. It is rare. OCLC locates 4 copies (Syracuse University, American Antiquarian Society, Harvard, Princeton Theological Seminary). Not in McDade, which lists 3 other accounts of the murders.
Book number 74570