Witch Trials – Accusers

Our ancestors, noted below by Bold CAPITALS, played every role in the 17th Century Witch Trials: Accused, Accuser, Witness, Neighbor, Jury and the Law.  Seeing all their stories together, shows that the witch trials weren’t an isolated incident.  Since all the players were family, the message I get is that everyone in their society was responsible for what happened.

1. Victims
2. Accusers
3. Witnesses
4. Supporters and Neighbors
5. Constabulary
6. Jury

It is generally accepted that the Salem trials were one of the defining moments that changed American jurisprudence from the English system of “guilty, ’til proven innocent” to the current American system of “innocent until proven guilty”. In addition, the jury pool in trials was changed from “church-members only” to “all those who have property” in an act which was passed by the General Court on 25 Nov 1692. Finally, these cases caused Americans to take their first steps away from what we now know as “cruel & unusual punishment” when trying to get someone to confess. It had been a staple of the English legal system, but after 1692 even Cotton Mather urged judges to use “Crosse and Swift Questions” rather than physical torture to gain the truth. These were three significant changes to the nascent American legal system. In May of 1693, Governor Phips pardoned the remaining accused of witchcraft.

Accusers

Ann Putnam, age 12, was the primary accuser of many victims including our relatives John and Elizabeth  Proctor,  Frances (Alcock) Hutchins, Rebecca Nurse and Susanah Martin.

Ann is related to our family as well. She was the 2nd great grand daughter of Richard GOULD.   In addition,   Capt. Robert ANDREWS’ son John married Sarah Holyoke. Ann was Sarah’s great niece.  Sarah’s sister Ann married Lieutenant Thomas Putnam (Richard GOULD’s grandson)  on 17 Oct 1643 in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts.  Their son Thomas Putnam, (1652 – 1699) was a principal villains Salem witch trials.   Thomas was the husband to Ann Carr, and father of Ann Putnam, Jr.. Thomas’ brother, Edward, also participated in the witch trials.

Ann Carr Putnam by Kristie Alley

Ann was intelligent, well educated, and had a quick wit. At the time of the outbreak of witchcraft accusations, Ann was 12 years old. She was a close friend of several of the other afflicted girls. Mercy Lewis, 17, was a servant in the Putnam house, and Mary Walcott, 17, who was also afflicted, was perhaps Ann’s best friend. Ann, Mary, and Mercy were among the first villagers outside of the Parris household to be afflicted.

Ann and six other young girls had listened as Tituba, Parris’s Indian servant woman, told tales of voodoo and other supernatural events in her native Barbados. The girls also engaged in fortune telling–concerning, for example, matters such as what trade their sweethearts might have. During one fortune telling episode, Ann reported seeing a specter in the likeness of a coffin. After this incident, Ann, Betty Parris, and Abigail Williams (the niece and home resident of Parris) began to display strange symptoms. They complained of pain, would speak in gibberish, became contorted into strange positions, and would crawl under chairs and tables.

1876 illustration of the courtroom; the central figure is usually identified as Mary Walcott

Common history has painted Ann and her young peers as selfish, vicious fakers who fueled the witchcraft trials out of boredom or spite. This portrait, however, is somewhat flawed as it appears that, in Ann’s case at least, the parents of the afflicted must have had a strong influence with the child, as did the other adult accusers. Initially, Ann was fed names by her parents and minister.

Ann claimed to have been afflicted by sixty-two people. She testified against several in court and offered many affidavits.  Ann’s mother, would also become afflicted at times, and was in court almost as much as her daughter and servant. The mother and daughter Ann were a particularly formidable pair of actors. People from miles around trooped into the courtroom to watch their performances.

Her father was an influential church leader and became an aggressive accuser of witches. The influence of the Putnam’s became evident as the trials went on. Most of the afflicted and the accusers had some kind of a relationship with the Putnam’s. A great number of those accused by the Putnam’s previously had disputes with the family.

A recent handwriting analysis of the depositions of the afflicted girls has shown that some 122 of them were written by Thomas Putnam. While it cannot be known to what degree the accusations made in those depositions were influenced by Putnam it is clear that Putnam had the opportunity to shape the words of the young accusers as he saw fit. Further, the similarity in language across these depositions suggests that some of the language might be that of Thomas Putnam rather than that of the afflicted girls themselves. In the depositions taken by Putnam, the afflicted often claim to be “grievously afflicted” or “grievously tormented” and “beleve in my heart” that so-and-so is a witch. The accused are often referred to as “dreadful witches or wizards” in the depositions taken by Putnam. The frequency with which these phrases can be found in the depositions written by Putnam furthers the theory that they might have been more strongly influenced by Putnam that was previously recognized. Taken in conjunction with Putnam’s letters to the judges and his efforts to secure warrants against many of the suspects, this new evidence further demonstrates the remarkable influence Putnam had on the shape and progression of the trials.

Years later, in 1706, Ann Putnam Jr. stood with head bowed before the village church congregation, and the new minister, the Rev. Joseph Green, read aloud her confession (she was the only one of the afflicted girls to make such a retraction). In this document, which was likely written by Rev. Green, Ann begged forgiveness for her part in the trials,

I desire to be humbled before God for that sad and humbling providence that befell my father’s family in the year about ninety-two; that I, then being in my childhood, should, by such a providence of God, be made an instrument for the accusing of several persons of a grievous crime, whereby their lives were taken away from them, whom, now I have just grounds and good reason to believe they were innocent persons; and that it was a great delusion of Satan that deceived me in that sad time, whereby I justly fear I have been instrumental, with others, though ignorantly and unwittingly, to bring upon myself and this land the guilt of innocent blood; though, what was said or done by me against any person, I can truly and uprightly say, before God and man, I did it not out of any anger, malice, or ill will to any person, for I had no such thing against one of them; but what I did was ignorantly, being deluded by Satan.

And particularly, as I was a chief instrument of accusing Goodwife Nurse and her two sisters, I desire to lie in the dust, and to be humble for it, in that I was a cause, with others, of so sad a calamity to them and their families; for which cause I desire to lie in the dust, and earnestly beg forgiveness of God, and from all those unto whom I have given just cause of sorrow and offense, whose relations were taken away or accused.

When her parents died in 1699, Ann was left to raise her nine siblings aged 7 months to 16 years. Putnam never married.

John DeRich

John FOSTER Sr’s son-in-law, John DeRich, was a principal accuser in the Salem Witch Trials. Perhaps he can be forgiven for lying to save his own life as his mother was imprisoned in Boston, his father had just died and he was only sixteen years old. In fact, he may well have been imprisoned himself after his mother, Mary. He married John Foster’s youngest daughter Martha six years later 25 Oct 1698.

Salem Witch Trial records state that Martha’s husband John De Rich (DeRich, Rich or Derrick) was sixteen when he testified in 1692 meaning that he was born about 1676.  Other records say he was born 25 Jul 1668.  His parents were Micheal De Rich (1645 – 1692) and Mary Bassett (1657 – ).  His maternal grandfather was Lynn Quaker, William Bassett Sr.  John died in 1711

On 23 May 1692 the conspirators filed a complaint against John’s mother, Mary De Rich, Benjamin Proctor, and Sarah Pease. They accused them of ‘sundry acts of witchcraft by them committed on the bodies of Mary Warren, Abigail Williams, Elizabeth Hubbard, whereby great hurt is done them, therefore craves justice.’”

On May 23, 1692 “Lt. Mathaniell Ingersall and Thomas Rayment both of Salem Village yeoman Complained on behalfe of theire Majest’s, against Benjamin procter the son of John Procter of Salem Farmes, and Mary Derich the wife of Michall Derich and daughter of William Basset of Lyn and _____ Pease the wife of Robert Pease of Salem weaver for Sundry acts of Witchcraft by them Committed on the bodys of Mary Warren Abigaile Williams and Eliz Hubbard &c of Salem Village, whereby great hurt is donne them therefore Craves justice.” On the same day a warrant for arrest was issued. “To the Marshall of Essex or dept or Constables in Salem. You are in theire Majest’s names hereby required to apprehend and forthwith bring before us Benjamin procter the son of John Procter of Salem farmes and Mary Derich the wife of mic’l Derich of Salem farmes husbandman, and Sarah pease the wife of Robert Pease of Salem Weaver who all stand charged of having Committed Sundry acts of Witchcraft on the Bodys of Mary Warren Abigail Williams and Eliz. Hubbert of Salem Village whereby great hurt is donne them In order to theire examination Relating the abovesaid premises and hereof you are not to faile Dated Salem May the 23′d. 1692.” Singed by John Hathorne, Johnathan Corwin. George Herrick, Marshall of Essex, appointed John Putnam to be his deputy to serve this warrant.

A separate arrest warrant was made out the same day for Sarah Pease for acts of witchcraft against Mary Warren. “I heave aprehended the parson mensioned within this warrant and heave broghte hir,” signed by Peter Osgood Constable in Salem May the 23: 1692.

They were questioned the same day, though no notes still survive and several prisoners were ordered transferred to Boston.  Mary ESTEY, Susannah Roots, Sarah Basset, Abigail Somes, Mary DeRich, Benjamin Proctor and Mrs., Elizabeth Cary.  and While Mary was in prison in Boston, John’s father Michael died.  Mary was later transferred to Salem jail.  Some genealogies state that Mary died 19 Aug 1692 – Salem, Essex, Mass, but she doesn’t appear in lists of the victims and other genealogies say she died 10 Feb 1701 – Marblehead, Essex, Mass or after 1712.

That summer with his mother in jail and his father dead, John  accused his aunt  Elizabeth Proctor (Our ancestor John PROCTER’s daughter-in-law) and many other victims of the Salem Witch Trials.   His mother Mary Basset DeRich was Elizabeth Basset Procter’s sister.  John at that time was apparently only about 16 years of age and intimidated, but never a member of the original conspirators. In fact, he may well have been imprisoned himself after his mother, Mary.

John’s Testimony Aug 4 1692 Against Elizabeth Procter, John ProctorGeorge Jacobs, Sarah Pease, Alice Parker, Philip English

John Doritch aged 16 years or thereabouts Testifieth and Saith. That John Small and his wife Anne both deceased and formerly of the Towne of Salem doth both appear to this Deponent and told him that they would tare him to peices if he did not goe and Declare to Mr. Harthorne that George Jacobs senior: Did kill them: and likewise that Mary Warren‘s mother did appeare to this Deponent this day with a white man and told him that goodwife Parker [Alice Parker] and Oliver did kill her: and Likewise Core Procter and his wife: Sarah Procter Joseph Procter and John Procter did all afflict this deponent and do continually every day sense he hath began to be afflicted: and would have him this deponent to sett his hand to a Booke but this deponent told them he would not: Likewise Phillip English and his wife Mary doth appear to this deponent and afflict him and all the aboves’d persons Thretten to tare this Deponent in peices if he doth not Signe to a Booke: Likewise Goodwife Pease and Hobs and her daughter Abigail doth Afflict him and thretten the same: and Likewise a woman appeares to this Deponent who lives at Boston at the Uper end of the Towne whose name is Mary: she goes in black clothes hath: but one Eye: with a Crooked Neck and she saith there is none in Boston like her, she did afflict this deponent but saith she will not any more, nor tell him her name. – Jurat all relating to the prisoner at the Barr.

The testimoney of John derich Agged bout 16 yeares testifieth and saith that somtim in May last paste: Gorge Jacobs sin’r Cam to me and bid me goe to my wife and tell her that she muste send me some money: and he bid me that I should not Eate any of his Cheires: and divers times sence he hath bine in prissone he hath afflicted me several ways by pinching and by sraching and bitting and told me that if I would not Sett mi hand to his boocke he would destroye me and lead me in to the water and would have drowned me and natheinnil Wattere tooke me out of the water and the prisoner Knockt me downe with his stafe: the 3 day of this instant Augst: and while I was writting mi testimoney he told me that he did not Care for that writting and told me that he had bin a wizard this fortie yeares
Jurat in Curia

also Sary pese afliceth me at several times she Came to me af the fast day last at Salam She pinched me then and i have not sene har sencs –

The painting above was created by Thompkins H. Matteson in 1855, and is based on the accounts of George Jacobs’ granddaughter.  On the left of the painting is William Stoughton, who was the chief magistrate and went on to be a Governor thrice in Massachusetts. George’s principal accuser was his own granddaughter, who was accusing George in order to save her own life. Jacobs’ daughter-in-law is the woman standing who is being held back. She was thought to be mentally ill. The judge who is leading the accusation is thought to be an ancestor of Nathaniel HawthorneJohn Hathorne, who holds a book and points at George’s granddaughter as if challenging her to substantiate her earlier written statements. George is in the front left with his arms outstretched.  In the foreground are a girl and boy who are having fits allegedly caused by Jacobs’ wizardry. The boy may be John DeRich and the girl may be Jacobs’ servant Sarah Churchill or a principal accuser Ann Putnam, Jr.

John Also Testified Against Giles Corey.

DeRich claimed Corey participated in “the sacriment” at a gathering of witches.

“gils Cory…told me that he wanted som platers for he was gowen to afeast…he took the platers and cared them a way being gown a bout half a oure with them…”. A deposition by Elizabeth Booth stated “there appeared to us a grate number of wicthes as neare as we could tell about fifty thirteen of which we knew:who did Receive the sacriment in our right amongst whicth we saw Giles Cory who brought to us bread and wine urging us to pertake thereof: but because we Refused he did most greviously afflect and torment us: and we beleve in our hearts that Giles Cory is a wizzard…”

Essex County Archives, Salem — Witchcraft Vol. 2, Page 43 )  John DeRich v. Giles Corey and Sarah Pease)

The testomeny of John derech Eaged about sixten years testefieth and sayeth that gils Cory also Came to me and aflicted me this 5 of September as wel be fore as after he al so Came a bout the 20 of oges and told me that he wanted som platers for he was gowen to afeast he told me that he had a good mind to ask my dame but he sayd that she wouled not let him have them so he took the platers and cared them a way being gown a bout half a oure with them then he brot them a gaine gowen a way and sayd no thing

Giles Corey (1611 – 19 Sep 1692) was a prosperous farmer and full member of the church in early colonial America who died under judicial torture during the Salem witch trials. Corey refused to enter a plea, and was crushed to death by stone weights in an attempt to force him to do so. According to the law at the time, a person who refused to plead could not be tried. To avoid persons cheating justice, the legal remedy for refusing to plead was “peine forte et dure“. In this process the prisoner is stripped naked, with a heavy board laid on their body. Then rocks or boulders are laid on the plank of wood. This was the process of being pressed.

After two days, Giles was asked three times to plead innocent or guilty to witchcraft. Each time he replied, “More weight.” More and more rocks were piled on him, and the Sheriff from time to time would stand on the boulders staring down at Corey’s bulging eyes.

Three mouthfuls of bread and water were fed to the old man during his many hours of pain. Finally, Giles Corey cried out “More weight!” and died.  Since Corey refused to plead, he died in full possession of his estate, which would otherwise have been forfeited to the government. It passed on to his two sons-in-law, in accordance to his will.

.

In 1590, Giles CROMWELL’s (1603 – 1673 ) grandmother  Susan Weekes, Lady Cromwell, visited the Throckmortons of Warboys and had an exchange of words with Alice Samuel in which Alice uttered the fatal words “I never did you any harm as yet”. Soon after, Lady Cromwell fell ill and died. Alice was tried on 5 Apr 1593 for the murder by witchcraft of Lady Cromwell. They were found guilty and hanged. Their property was confiscated by Lady Cromwell’s husband, Sir Henry CROMWELL, (Wikipedia) who used the proceeds to pay for an annual sermon against witchcraft to be preached in Huntingdon in perpetuity.

 In 1669, William SARGENT’s (1606 – 1675)  son William Jr formally accused Susannah North MARTIN of witchcraft. In turn, George MARTIN sued Sargent for two counts of slander against Susannah, one for accusing her of being a witch, and another for claiming one of her sons was a bastard and another was her “imp.” Martin withdrew the second count, but the Court upheld the accusation of witchcraft. A higher court later dismissed the witchcraft charges.  Alternatively, William’s son Thomas might have been the one responsible for saying that his son George Martin Jr. was a bastard and that Richard Martin was Goodwife Martin’s imp…”

At first I thought that Abigail (Martin) Safford (1676 – 1768) was our ancestor.  It turns out she married John SAFFORD Jr’s.  first cousin also named John Safford.   Many genealogies combine or mix up these two John Saffords .

Abigail had testified that she was afflicted by 13 different people in the Salem Witch Trials when she was a teeenager. At the grand jury she testified against Samuel Wardwell. She signed three indictments, those of William Barker, Sr., Mary Barker, and Mary (Osgood) Marston.

At the grand jury she testified against Samuel Wardwell. She signed three indictments, those of William Barker, Sr., Mary Barker, and Mary (Osgood) Marston.

Aug 1692 – a month before the arrest of Mary and Hannah, Joseph Tyler and Ephriam Foster filed a complaint against John Jackson, Sr., his son John Jackson, Jr. and John Howard of Rowley of acts of witchcraft against Rose Foster and Martha Sprage of Andover. About the same time, Moses Tyler and Samuel Martin accused Elizabeth Johnson and Abigail Johnson of using witchcraft to afflict Martha Sprage and Abigail Martin, also of Andover.

In 1692, Samuel Martin, 47, husbandman; his wife, Abigail; and children were living in the north part of Andover. Abigail  was pregnant with their seventh child.

8 Jan 1692 – Ralph Farnum II, who was Samuel Martin’s step-brother, died at Andover. John Farnum and Ralph Farnum III, both sons of Ralph II, testified against Martha (Allen) Carrier on June 28 and again on July 30.

25 Aug 1692 –  Samuel Martin and Moses Tyler filed a complaint against Willian Barker, Sr., Mary Barker, and Mary (Osgood) Marston for afflicting Abigail Martin, Jr., Rose Foster, and Martha Sprague. Mary (Osgood) Marston was the daughter of Christopher Osgood. On August 25 at their examinations, Mary Bridges, Jr., Sarah Bridges, Hannah Post, and Susannah Post were charged with afflicting Abigail Martin Jr., Rose Foster, and Martha Sprague.

30 Aug 1692 –  Elizabeth (Dand) Johnson confessed that she afflicted Sarah Phelps and three of Samuel Martin’s children and that her sister Abigail (Dane) Faulkner and Sarah Parker joined with her in afflicting them.

about 31 Aug 1692 – Sarah Wardwell, Sarah Hawkes, Mercy Wardwell, William Barker, Jr., and Mary (Ayer) Parker were complained of for afflicting Abigail Martin Jr., Rose Foster, and Martha Sprague.

7 Sep 1692 – Abigail Martin Jr., and Ralph Farnum III were members of the afflicted circle at the Andover touch test. Abigail (Wheeler) Barker and Mary (Lovett) Tyler were indicted for practicing and exercising witchcraft against Ralph Farnum III on Sep 7.

22 Sep 1692 – Mary (Ayer) Parker, widow of Nathan Parker, was hanged at Salem.  Her daughter Sarah had been imprisoned by August 19. Another daughter, Hannah Parker, had married, in 1682, John Tyler, brother of Moses Tyler. A third daughter, Elizabeth Parker, had married in 1684 John Farnum, who was the brother of the afflicted Ralph Farnum, III.

Abigail Martin and John Bridges v. Samuel Wardwell ( Essex County Archives, Salem — Witchcraft Vol. 2 Page 29 )

the deposetion of Abigell Marten of Andavr Aged about sixteen years this deponant Testifyeth and sayeth that some time last winter: Samuel wordwall being at my fathers house: with John farnom: I heard said John farnon ask: said wordwall his forteen; wh[ich] he did: and told him that: he was in love with a gurll: but should be crost; & should goe to the Sutherd: which said farnom oned to be his thought: said wardwell further: told he had like to be shot with a gon: & should have a foall of from his hors or should have: which: said farnom , after oned that he told Right:

And further I heard him tell Jeams bridges his forten: that he loved a gurll at forteen years ould: which: said bridges: oned to be the truth: but could not imagin how said wordwall knew: for he never: spake of it: John bridges father of said jeams bridges sayeth: he heard Jeam say I wonder how wordwall cold teell so true

Jurat in Curia,
by both
(Reverse) Abiga’l Martin & James Bridges Depo’ Vers Sam’l Wardwell

Many sites and even some books state that Francis WYMAN (1619 – 1699) testified in the Salem Witch Trials that Margaret Scott of Rowley, “came to him and did most grievously torment him by choking, and almost pressing him to death, and he believed in his heart that Margaret Scott was a witch.”  The accuser was actualy Frances Wicom.

Beginning in 1892, Francis Wyman was erroneously thought by Salem historian Winfield Scott Nevins to have sent Salem accused witch victim Margaret Scott to her tragic Salem Gallows Hill death. Nevins was thrown off by the peculiarities of Puritan penmanship to believe that Frances Wycomb of Rowley was one and the same person as Francis Wyman — which she was not.

Benjamin Scott, and Margaret his wife, came from England, time unknown. They first appear in Braintree, soon remove to Cambridge, and in 1651 were in Rowley. He died in 1671, as his will was proved September 26 of that year. They had a daughter Hannah, probably born in England, who married Christopher Webb.   The widow Margaret was hung at Salem, September 22, 1692, “guilty of certain arts called Witchcraft and Sorceries.” She was arrested August 4, 1692, had a preliminary examination August 5, was sentenced September 19, and executed September 22.

Margaret Scott fits the stereotype of the classic witch identified and feared for years by her neighbors in Rowley, Massachusetts (a small town to the north of Salem). Margaret had difficulty raising children, something widely believed to be common for witches. Her husband died in 1671, leaving only a small estate that had to support Margaret for years. Margaret, who was thus forced to beg, exposed herself to witchcraft suspicions because of what the historian Robin Briggs has termed the “refusal guilt syndrome.” This phenomenon occurred when a beggar’s requests were refused, causing feelings of guilt and aggression on the refuser’s part. The refuser projected this aggression on the beggar and grew suspicious of her.

It also appears that when Margaret Scott was formally accused, it occurred at the hands of Rowley’s most distinguished citizens. Formal charges were filed only after the daughter of Captain Daniel Wicom became afflicted. The Wicoms also worked with another prominent Rowley family, the Nelsons, to act against Margaret Scott. The Wicoms and Nelsons helped produce witnesses, and one of the Nelsons sat on the grand jury that indicted her.

Frances Wicom testified that Margaret Scott’s specter tormented her on many occasions. Several factors may have led Frances to testify to such a terrible experience, including her home environment and its relationship with Indian conflicts. She undoubtedly would have heard first-hand accounts of bloody conflicts with Indians from her father, a captain in the militia. New evidence shows that a direct correlation can be found between anxiety over Indian wars being fought in Maine and witchcraft accusations.

Another girl tormented by Margaret Scott’s specter was Mary Daniel. Records show that Mary Daniel probably was a servant in the household of the minister of Rowley, Edward Payson. If Mary Daniel, who received baptism in 1691, worked for Mr. Payson, her religious surroundings could well have had an effect on her actions. Recent converts to Puritanism felt inadequate and unworthy and at times displaced their worries through possession and other violent experiences.

The third girl to be tormented spectrally was Sarah Coleman. Sarah was born in Rowley but lived most of her life in the neighboring town of Newbury. Her testimony shows the widespread belief surrounding Margaret Scott’s reputation.

Both the Nelsons and Wicoms also provided maleficium evidence—a witch’s harming of one’s property, health, or family—against Margaret Scott. Both testimonies show evidence of the refusal guilt syndrome.

However, what sealed Margaret Scott’s fate was the timing of her trial and its relation to the witchcraft crisis. Evidence from the girls in Rowley coincided chronologically with important events in the Salem trials. Frances Wicom initially experienced spectral torment in 1692, “quickly after the first Court at Salem.” Frances also testified that Scott’s afflictions of her stopped on the day of Scott’s examination, August 5. Mary Daniel deposed on August 4 that Margaret Scott afflicted her on the day of Scott’s arrest. The third afflicted girl, Sarah Coleman, testified that the specter of Margaret Scott started to afflict her on August 15, which fell ten days after the trial of George Burroughs and Scott’s own examination. Additionally, the fifteenth was only four days before the executions of Burroughs and other accused witches who were not “usual suspects” and thus brought considerable attention to the Salem proceedings.

By the time that Margaret Scott appeared in front of the court, critics of the proceedings had become more vocal, expressing concern over the wide use of spectral evidence in the Salem trials. The court probably took the opportunity to prosecute Margaret Scott to help its own reputation. Margaret Scott’s case involved not only spectral evidence but also a fair amount of testimony about maleficium. Scott exhibited many characteristics that were believed common among witches in New England. The spectral testimony given by the afflicted girls further bolstered the accusers’ case. To the judges at Salem, Margaret Scott was a perfect candidate to highlight the court’s effectiveness. By executing Scott, the magistrates at Salem could silence critics of the trials by executing a “real witch” suspected of being associated with the devil for many years.

Richard GOULD’s grand daughter Mary Gould Reddington accused her ex-brother-in-law’s second wife of witchcraft.

After Priscilla Gould Wildes’ death and his remarriage to Sarah Averill, John Wild was no longer a member of the Gould family.   Mary Gould Reddington, started spreading rumors as early as 1686 that Sarah practiced witchcraft.    During this period, the husband was totally responsible for anything and everything his wife did. Therefore, John Wild threatened to sue John Reddington for liable as a result of Mary’s gossiping if her accusations were not retracted. John Reddington begged him not to as he would surely lose everything. John Reddington assured John Wild that no further rumors regarding Sarah and witchcraft would come from Mary. The damage, however was already done.

Sarah (Averill) Wildes (wiki) (1627 – July 19, 1692)   was executed for witchcraft during the Salem witch trials. She was one of seven children born to William Averell. She married English immigrant John Wildes (born 1616) and had a son, Ephraim. Ephraim held the positions of town treasurer and constable during the period of the conspiracy. Constable Ephraim Wildes was ordered by the Marshall, George Herrick, to arrest Deliverance Hobbs. Hobbs, whether through coercion or not, made a jailhouse confession and implicated Sarah Wildes as a witch. Perhaps  she made the accusation for spite of her arrest by Ephraim. She also accused several of John’s children. This opened the door for the power hungry leaders of Salem church to target John and descimate his family. The official complaint was made, of course, by Thomas Putnam.

As this thing quickly blossomed with further jailhouse confessions with the hope of saving themselves, most of John Wild’s children were accused and it was by order of Marshall Herrick that Constable Ephraim Wild arrest them. Ephraim was probably not terribly popular at family barbecues from then on.

The Marshall had some pity on Ephraim, however, and spared him from arresting his own mother. The Marshall did that job himself. John’s daughter Sarah and her husband Edward Bishop were arrested but Edward’s son paid off Sheriff Corwin to enable their escape from the jail to Rehoboth.

All Priscilla’s living children were accused of witchcraft and arrested by their half brother Ephriam the town constable.

Family enmity had deep roots.  In 1686, John Wildes had turned in his brother-in-law, John Gould, son of Zaccheus, and grandson of Richard GOULD  as a traitor  for seditious speech  against Edmund Andros.   John Gould eventually apoligized and was released with a 50 pound fine.  (See  Richard GOULD’s page for John Gould’s story)

The 1689 Boston revolt three years later was a popular uprising on April 18, 1689, against the rule of Sir Edmund Andros, the governor of the Dominion of New England. A well-organized “mob” of provincial militia and citizens formed in the city and arrested dominion officials.  Leaders of the formerMassachusetts Bay Colony then reclaimed control of the government. In other colonies, members of governments displaced by the dominion were returned to power..

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13 Responses to Witch Trials – Accusers

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  10. ibsteve2u says:

    These things are quite some work to put together, so I appreciate your taking the time to do it. The personal touch of familial relationship that binds American and regional history together casts a light…a gradation…that would otherwise be lost as time rolls relentlessly on.

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