For over 200 years, couples who lived together in Massachusetts were felons. From 1784 until 1987, cohabitation was a crime. In the original law, couples who shared bed and board without marriage could be sentenced to stand at the gallows for one hour with a noose around the neck. Then they could receive up to 39 lashes each.
After the Colonial era, punishments under Chapter 272: Section 16 Open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior carried serious but less physical punishments up to three years in state prison or two years in jail or a fine of up to $300. Cohabitation remained in this class
Lewd and lascivious cohabitation. That A.B. and C.D., not being married to each other, did during one month next before the finding of this indictment (or such time as the evidence requires), lewdly and lasciviously associate and cohabit together. This was the same set of penalties for such behavior as running a brothel.
The repeal of the cohabitation here was an overdue decision. More follows in future posts on the effects here and elsewhere.