In February 1704, a Boston laborer named Thomas Lea found himself surrounded by townspeople as he lay on his deathbed. These spectators had gathered hoping to hear a much anticipated confession of the crimes they believed Lea had committed fifteen years earlier during the Dominion of New England. In Suffolk County, many townspeople had long maintained that Lea and others had used the confusion and chaos generated by the unsettling political and legal transformations introduced to New England during the 1680s to surreptitiously gain legal title to the estate of a prosperous Braintree, Massachusetts, landowner named William Penn. Standing by Lea's bedside, one witness, who believed Lea had perjured himself at the 1689 probate administration of Penn's estate, demanded: “Thomas can you as you are going out of the World answer at the Tribunal of God to the Will of Mr Penns, which you have sworn to[?]” “Was Mr Penn living or Dead when this Will was Made?” In the presence of assembled witnesses, Lea acknowledged, “he was dead.” Other townspeople pressed Lea to reveal the role he played in what many believed had been a murder for inheritance scheme. They reminded Lea that Penn's corpse had been found covered “in blood, in his own dung” with “a hole in his back, that you might turn your two fingers into it” and, even more disturbing, “one of his [Penn's] stones in his codd [scrotum] was broken all to pieces.” Averting the onlookers' gaze, Lea “turned his head aside the other way, saying what I did I was hired to do.” For these witnesses, the death-bed confession confirmed the rumors of Lea's crimes and strengthened their belief that a wave of corruption introduced in the 1680s had sabotaged New England's distinctive Puritan jurisprudence. Indeed, townspeople had labored for years to overturn the 1689 probate of Penn's estate in an effort forestall the crown's efforts to bring New England into political and legal conformity with the dictates of the growing English empire.