Anthony MORSE Sr. (bef. 1578 – 1621) was Alex’s 11th Great Grandfather, one of 4,096 in this generation of the Shaw line through his granddaughter Anne. He was also Alex’s 12th Great Grandfather, in the Shaw line through his granddaughter Hannah.
Anthony Morse was born before 1578 in Marlboro, Wiltshire, England. His parents were William MORSE and [__?__]. He married Christian [__?__] in 1605 in Marlboro, Wiltshire, England. Anthony died 21 Nov 1621 in Marlborough, Wiltshire, England.
Christian [__?__] was born in 1580 in Marlboro, Wiltshire, England. She may have been Anthony’s second wife. After Anthony died, she married 21 Nov 1621 to Thomas Quarrington. Christian died in 1630 in Marlbourough, Wiltshire, England.
Children of Anthony and Christian:
|1.||Elinor Morse||1605 in St Peters Marlboro, Wiltshire, England||Thomas Simbrey
31 May 1624
|2.||Anthony MORSE||6 May 1607, Marlborough, Wiltshire, England.||Ann COX
2 May 1629 Marlborough, Wiltshire, England
|12 Oct 1686 at Newbury, Essex, Mass.|
St Peters Marlboro, Wiltshire, England
|17 Oct 1630
Marlboro, Wiltshire, England
|4.||William Morse||12 May 1614
Marlboro, Wiltshire, England
|29 Nov 1683
Newbury, Essex, Mass.
|5.||Philip Morse||17 May 1618||6 Mar 1618/19
Buried St Peters
|6.||Philip Morse||21 Mar 1621
Marlboro, Wiltshire, England
|14 Dec 1630
Marlboro, Wiltshire, England
Will of Anthony’s father William Morse the elder of Radbourn Cheney, yeoman, will dated August 25, 1578, proved at London October 16, 1578.
To the poor of Radbourn Cheney 13 shillings 4 pence; to the reparation of the Cathedral church of Salisbury 6 pence; to the reparation of Radbourn church 12 pence; to son John, sheep and cattle; to son William and his heirs the house now in his occupancy called Edwards House, with lands in Heydon-Weeke, Moredon and Pyton and cattle and sheep; to son Roger one third of his farm in Weeke and Goulding, oxen, sheep etc. to son Anthony, 10 pounds; his young roan mare and sufficient meat and drink for him and his horse until he is twenty one years of age and afterwards during his life, at the charge of his son Roger and if Anthony should not be satisfied with his finding then son Roger to pay him 40 shillings a year during his life; to son Anthony his third bed with all the things belonging to it; to James Wake 3 pounds 6 shillings, 8 pence; to William Morse, a little boy, 20 shillings when he becomes twenty one years of age; to son Edmund, his house and lands in Redbourne for 41 years, paying unto the heir of the testator 40 shillings at the usual feast days; to Thomas Weston and Christian his wife the house and lands where he now dwells; if his son William dies without male heirs, then his son Roger is to succeed, next his son Edward, whom he appoints executor and his brother Thomas Morse, Nicholas and Henry Cusse supervisors.,
Anthony Morse Sr. of Marlborough, yeoman; will dated February 27, 1620/21 proved at London June 2, 1621. Gives for the reparation of St. Peter’s church in Marlborough 10 shillings; to his present wife, Christian; son Anthony; to his four children now living each 30 pounds when 18 years of age; mentions his child yet unborn; to Mr Hearne 10 shillings to preach at his funeral; appoints his wife executrix.
4. William Morse
William’s first wife Elizabeth Prideaux was born 1609 in Soldon, Devon, England. Her parents were Humphry Prideaux and Honor Fortescue. Elizabeth died Dec 1663
Newbury Witch Trial
William Morse was a key figure in the only recorded case of supposed witchcraft in Newbury that was ever subjected to a full legal investigation. The principal sufferer was William’s wife Elizabeth who resided with him in a house at the head of Market St. [later actually in Newburyport] across from St. Paul’s Church for which William had received in the lot in 1645.
William was then 65 years of age, a very worthy, but credulous and unsuspecting man who consequently was very easy prey to the taunting antics of a very roguish grandson who lived with them. Not suspecting any deception, the good man readily attributed all his troubles and strange afflictions to the supernatural instead of carefully analyzing the actions of those around him. With a belief in witchcraft almost universal at the time, it afforded a ready solution to anything strange and mysterious.
The only person to have suspected the boy as the author of the mischief was a seaman Caleb Powell who visited the house frequently enough to suspect that the Morse’s troubles had human, rather than supernatural, origins. Caleb informed Goodman Morse that he believed he could readily find and the source of the trouble and solve it. To add credibility to his claims, he hinted that in his many travels he had gained an extensive knowledge of astrology and astronomy. That claim, however innocently intended, led to Caleb being accused of dealing in the black arts himself–he was tried and narrowly escaped with his own life.
3 Dec 1679 – ‘Caleb Powell being complained of for suspicion of working with the devill to the molesting of YVilliam Morse and his family, was by warrant directed to the constable, brought in by him, the accusations and testimonies were read and the complaint respited till the Monday following.
8 Dec 1679 – Caleb Powell appeared according to order and farther testimony produced against him by William Morse, which being read and considered, it was determined that the said William Morse should present the case against Caleb Powell at the county court to be held at Ipswich the last Tuesday in March following and in order hereunto William Morse acknowledgeth himself indebted to the treasurer of the county of Essex the full summe of twenty pounds.
[The condition of this obligation is that the sayd William Morse shall prosecute his complaint against Caleb Powell at that time. Caleb Powell was delivered as a prisoner to the constable till he find security of twenty pounds for the answering of the sayd complaint, or else he was to be cast into prison.]
Anthony Morse gave the following testimony about the strange goings-on at his brother’s house on Dec 8, 1679:
“I Anthony Mors ocationlly being att my brother Morse’s hous, my brother showed me a pece of a brick which had several tims come down the chimne. I sitting in the cornar towck the pece of brik in my hand. Within a littel spas of tiem the pece of brik was gon from me I know not by what meanes. Quickly aftar, the pece of brik came down the chimne. Also in the chimny corar I saw a hamar on the ground. Their being no person near the hamar it was soddenly gone; by what means I know not, but within a littel spas after, the hamar came down the chimny and within a littell spas of tiem aftar that, came a pece of woud, about a fute loung, and within a littell after that came down a fiar brand, the fiar being out.”
William Morse was also asked to give testimony on the same day and reported instances of being in bed and hearing stones and sticks being thrown against the roof or house with great violence, finding a large hog in the house after midnight, and many strange objects being dropped down the chimney. Items in the barn were mysteriously overturned or out-of-place, shoes unexpectedly seemed to fly through the air as if thrown, and doors unexpectedly would open or close.
The handwritten testimony concludes with the telling statement:
“A mate of of a ship coming often to me [ie: Caleb Powell] said he much grefed for me and said the boye [William’s grandson] was the cause of all my truble and my wife was much Ronged, and was no wich, and if I would let him have the boye but one day, he would warrant me no more truble. I being persuaded to it, he Com the nex day at the brek of day, and the boy was with him untel night and I had not any truble since.” When Caleb was finally acquitted, the judges looked for some other person guilty “of being instigated by the devil” for accomplishing such pranks, and for some reason selected Elizabeth Morse , William’s wife, as the culprit. [Elizabeth often served as a town midwife, and perhaps had incurred some male or professional’ jealousies?]
5 Dec 1679 – The testimony of William Mors and his wife, which they both saw one last Thursday night my wife and I being in bed we heard a great noies against the ruf with stekes and stones throwing against the hous with great vialanse whereupon I myselfe arose and my wife and saw not anny body, but was forsed to retunie into the house againe, the stones being thrown so vilantly aganst us we gooing to bed againe and the same noies in the hus we Lock the dore againe fast and about midnight we heard a grete nayes of A hoge in the house and I arcs and found a grete hoge in the huse and the dore being shut. I opened the dore the hoge running vilently out. The next morning a Stek of Lenkes hanging in the Chemney fast I saw Com Down vilintly and not anny body ner to them and Jumped up upon A Chaire before the fire ; I hanged them up again and they Com down again into the fire. The next day I had an Aule in the window, which was taken away I know not how and Com Dune the chimney. I take the same ale and put into a Cubard and fasened the Dore.
The same ale Com Down 3 or 4 times. We had a basket in the Chamber Com Doun the Chemney. I tooke it up myselfe and laide it before me, it was Sudinly taken away I know not how and Com dune the Chimney againe. I then took a brick and put into it and said it shold cary that away, if it ded goo up againe. It was taken away I know not how and Com dune the Chemney and the brick a Letel after it. One Saturday next Corn stekes on Light fire dune Chimney and stones, and then my ‘awls taken away from me 4 times as I used them and Com Douen the Chemney 4 times. My nailes in a cover of A ferkin Com douen the Chemney againe. The dore being Locked I heard a hoge in the house I let alone until day and found it to bee one of my owne, willing to goo out. The next day being Sabath Stekes and stones were thrown viliantly [down] the Chemney. One Munday next Mr. Richeson and annother saw many things. I sent my boy to se if nothing was amis in my barne. I not being abel to tey my Catel up to ni^htes but stel being untied with many other strange thinges, the frame being thrown Downe upon the boy : We all run out to help him in.
‘ When we Com in we saw a Coten whele turned with the Leges upward and many thinges set up on it as a Stale and a Spade Lick the form of a ship. Potes hanging over the fire Dashing one against the other I being forsed to unhang them. We saw A andiron dance up and dune many times and into a Pot and out againe up atop of a tabal, the pot turning over and Speling all in it. saw a tube turn over with the hop fling of it. I sending my boy to fech my toles, which I doe mak Ropes with, so soone as the dore being opened thay Com viliantly Doune of themselves. Againe a tub of bred Com dune from a Shelufe and turned over. My wife went to make the bed the Clothes Ded fly of many times of themselves, and a Chest open and Shut and Dores fli together. My wife going into the Seler thinges tumbling dune and the dore fling together vialintly. I being at prayer my hed being Cufred with A Cloth A Chaire did often times bow to me and then Strike me on the side. My wife Corn out of the other rome A wege of Iron being thrown at her, and A spade, but [did] not rech her, and A stone, which hurt her much, I seting by the fire with my wife and to more neighbours with us A stone Struk against the Lampe and struk it out many times, and a shoo, which we saw in Chamber before Com doune the Chemney the Dore being shut and struk me A blow one the hed, which ded much hurte. A mate of A ship Coming often to me and said he much grefed for me and said the boye was the case of all my truble and my wife was much Ronged, and was no wich, and if I would let him have the boye but one day he would warrant me no more truble. I being persuaded to it he Com the nex day at the brek of day, and the boy was with him untel night and I had not any truble since}
The preceding testimony is in the handwriting of William Morse.
At the March term at Ipswich court the following additional testimony was produced in the case of Caleb Powell, taken February twenty-seventh, 1680.
27 Feb 1680 – Ipswich Court Testimony
Sarah Hale aged thirty-three and Joseph Mirick testify that Joseph Moores hath often said in their hearing that if there were any wizards, he was sure Caleb Powell was one.’ [This Joseph Moores was the boatswain of the ship, of which Caleb Powell was mate, and Joseph Dole, captain.]
Mary Tucker aged about twenty – She remembereth that Caleb Powell came into their house and sayd to this purpose that he coming to William Morse his house and the old man being at prayer he thought not fit to go in. but looked in at the window and he sayd he had broken the inchantment. for he saw the boy play tricks while he was at prayer and mentioned some and among the rest that he saw him to fling the sliooe at the old man’s head}
The court, after reading all the testimony that could be produced against Caleb Powell, came to the following conclusion.
Upon hearing the complaint brought to this court against Caleb Powell for suspicion of working by the devill to the molesting of the family of William Morse of Newbury, though this court cannot find any evident ground of proceeding farther against the sayd Powell, yett we determine that “he hath given such ground of suspicion of his so dealing that we cannot so acquit him but that he justly deserves to beare his owne shame and the costs of prosecution of the complaint.’ It is referred to Mr. Woodbridge to hear and determine the charges.’
The court at this time must have been men of profound wisdom and accurate discrimination, as they appear to have determined, first, that he was just guilty enough to pay the expense of imprisonment, secondly, that he ought ‘ to bear his owne shame,’ and, thirdly, that they had no reason to believe that he was guilty at all. This somewhat resembles the case, which is not found in the books, where A. sues B. for breaking a borrowed kettle. The defence was, ‘ first we never had the kettle, secondly, it was broken when we borrowed it, and thirdly, it was whole when we returned it.’
The people, however, were not so lenient as the judges. If Caleb Powell was innocent, some other person must be guilty of ‘ being instigated by the divil,’ for, in their opinion, no agency merely human could produce effects so strange and unaccountable. They accordingly selected Elizabeth Morse, the wife of William Morse, as the guilty person.
At a Court of Assistants held at Boston on May 20, 1680, Elizabeth Morse was indicted as “having familiarity with the Divil contrary to the peace of our sovereign lord the King” and the laws of God. In spite of her protesting her complete innocense, she was found guilty and sentenced by the governor on May 27th as follows:
“Elizabeth MORSE, you are to goe from hence to the place from when you came and thence to the place of execution and there to be hanged by the neck, till you be dead, and the Lord have mercy on your soul.”
Then, for an unexplained reason, Elizabeth was granted a reprieve on June 1, 1680 by Governor Bradstreet. The deputies of the local court did not agree with the decision, however, and complained in Nov 1680 to have the case reopened. Testimony was again heard in the general court through May 1681.
William sent several petitions pleading his wife’s innocence and attempting to answer the hysterical allegations of 17 Newbury residents who submitted testimony in writing offering their reasons why they had concluded that Goody Morse must be a witch and should be hung according to old Mosaic law. Reading the list of “reasons” today quickly strikes the 20th century mind as a dredging up of every petty annoyance, every grudge or neighborhood misunderstanding the townspeople could think of from sick cows to being snubbed in public.
It was owing to the firmness of Gov. Bradstreet in his initial decision that the life of Elizabeth Morse was saved and the town of Newbury prevented from offering the first victim in Essex County to the witchcraft hysteria. Later town records and other contemporary sources fail to record what happened to the “vile and roguish” grandson whose attempts to torment his elderly grandparents nearly resulted in his grandmother’s untimely death.
The execution was never carried out and, after a year in jail in Boston, Elizabeth was sent home to live with her husband – with a catch: She was forbidden to travel more than 16 rods (264 feet) from her property unless she was accompanied by a pastor or a deacon..
Here’s more detail on William’s petitions:
The case of Elizabeth Morse, who had been reprieved by the governor, was again brought before the general court, to whom William Morse, her husband, sent two petitions, the one on May fourteenth, in the elegant handwriting of William Chandler of Newbury, the other on May eighteenth, in the handwriting of major Robert Pike of Salisbury, who was the next year chosen one of the assistants.
His first petition is as follows.
To the honored generall court now sitting in Boston.
The humble petition of William Mors in behalfe of his wife, Elizabeth Mors your distressed Prisoner, humbly begging this that you would be pleased to give your petitioner leave to present to your consideration what may clere up the truth in those evidences wch hath bin presented and what is otherwise as first.
1. To Joseph Bayley his testimony. Wee are ignorant of any such thing. Had it bin then spoken of, we might have cleared ourselves. He might have observed some other as my wife, it being a frequent thing for Catle to be at a stand.
2. To Jonathan Haines. As to his Catle, or himselfe, not making good work at such a time, when Catlft are haggled out, to place it on such account) yt his neglect in not bringing us a bow of mault was the cause, which had it bin spoken of wee might have given full satisfaction.
3. To Caleb Moody. As to what befell him in and about his not seeing my wife, yt his cow making no hast to hir calfe, wch wee are ignorant of, it being so long since, and being in church communion with us, should have spoken of it like a Christian and yn proceeded so as wee might have given an answer in less time yn tenn yeares. Wee are ignorant yt he had a shepe so dyed. And his wife knowne to be a pretious godly woman, yt. hath oftne spoken to hir husband not to be so uncharitable and have and doe carry it like a Christian with a due respect in hir carridge towards my wife all along.
4. To John Mighill. About ye loss of his catle was yt he came one day to worke, and would have had him come another day to finish it because ye raine came in so upon us, and his not coming, judges my wife was angry and yrfore had such loss, wch wee never knew of. This being twelve yeares agoe did amaze us now to here of it.
5. To Zachariah Davis. To sensure my wife now for not bringing quills aboute sixteen yeares agoe yt his loss of calfes was for that, when his father being in communion with us did profess it to us yt he judged it a hand of God and was farr from blaming us but rather troubled his sonn should so judge.
6. To Joshua Richardson loosing a shepe and his taking it forth off our yard, my wife should say you might have asked leave, and whether overdriving it or what, now to bring it in I hope will be considered.
7. To John March Test. He heard John Wells his wife say she saw imp of God into said Morss howse. She being prosecuted would not owne it and was adjudged to pay damages, and now this is brought in.
8. To James Browne Test, yt one day George Wheeler going forth, my wife should say for a trifle she knew he should not come in againe, which my wife knowes not of it, nor doth some of ye owners ever remember such a thing as to judge or charge it on hir, but now is broughi forth sixteen yeares after when his wife said to goody Hale yt said Browne was mistaken. Hir husband did come home well that voyage; and that James Browne should say to Robert Bedell yt yt Powell, whom wee sued did put in these words and not himselfe in the test and yt said Browne did oune to his unkle Mr. Nicholas Noyes yt he could not sware to such a test ; and did refuse to doe it before Mr. John Woodbridge, and Mr. Woodbridge did admire he had sworne to it. And for his seeing my wife amongst troopers. What condition he might be in wee leave it to consideration. Wee are ignorant of such a thing till now brought in so many yeares agoe as he saith.
9. To good wife Ordway. Hir child being long ill, my wife coming in and looking on it, pitting of it, did feare it would dy, and when it dyed Israeli Webster our next neighbour heard not a word of it, nor spoken of by others, nor any of ye family, but hir conceite, and now brought in.
10. As for William Chandler’s test, aboute his wife’s long sickness and my wife’s visiting hir, she through hir weakness acted uncivilly and yet now to bring in against my wife, when for so many yeares being in full communion with us never dealt with us aboute any such thing, but had as loving converse with him as Christians ought, and knew no otherwise till now.
11. To widow Goodwin hir having hir child sick, gave forth yt it was bewitched by my wife, as she thought ; wee hearing of it dealt with hir aboute it, and she brake forth in teares, craving forgiveness, and said it was others put hir upon it to say as she did, but now urged by Powell to say as she now saith.
12. To John Chase so saying yt he saw my wife in the night coming in at a little hole, and ye like, when he himselfe hath said he did not know but he was in a dreame, and yt unto several persons he hath so said, though now as he test., when my wife disowns any such thing.
13. To John Glading yt saw halfe of my wife about two a clocke in ye day time, if so might then have spoken, and not reserved for so long a time, which she utterly denies it, nor know of any such thing, where she should be at yt time as to clere hir selfe.
14. To William Fanning should say my boy said the devill was at his howse. Upon Fanning’s saying to the boy ye devill was at their howse, and he would have me chide ye boy, which I tould said Fanning ye boy might be instructed to know ye devill was every where though not as at our howse, and should not in time of affliction upbraid him to our griefe.
15. To Jonathan Woodman [son of Edward WOODMAN], seeing a catt, and so forth, he struck at it, and it vanisht away and I sending for doctor Dole to see a bruise my wife had by the fall of a peece reching downe some bacan in our chimly, which was many days before this time, as doctor Dole affirms it was no green wound, though neglected to send for said Dole till then.
16. To Benjamin Lowle [Benjamin LOWELL], about my boy’s ketching a pidgin ; my boy desired of me to see to ketch a pidgin, by throwing a stone, or ye like, and he brought a pidgin, which I affirm was wounded, though alive.
17. To good wife Miricke about a letter. My wife telling her somewhat of ye letter, which she judges could not be and my wife hearing of it there was a discourse and so forth aboute this love letter, might speake something about it by guess, and not by any such way as she judged, and many have spoken, guessing at things, which might be.
As to our troubles in ye howse it hath bin dreddfull, and afflictive and to say it ceased upon hir departure, when it ceased before for a time and after she was gone there was trouble againe.
As to rumors of some great wickedness committed in ye house, which should cause ye divill so to trouble us, our conscience is clere of ye knowledge of any such thing more than our common frailtyes and I reverence the holy sourainty of God in laying such affliction on us. and that God’s servants may be so afflicted in this manner as hath bin knowne. And that Mr. Wilson of Ipswich, where she hath bin twenty-eight weekes, did declare to me yt my wife’s conversation was christian-like as far as he observed. Thus praying for you in this and all other your conceraes, am your distressed servant.
Newbury May fourteenth 1681.’
From the preceding petition of William Morse, and his attempted answers to the accusations and charges brought against his wife Elizabeth, and sent to the general court, it appears that seventeen persons had given in their testimony in writing, stating their reasons why they verily believed goody Morse was really a witch, and ought to be hung,’ Of these testimonies only one is to be found on the files of the general court. If this one is a fair specimen of the whole, the loss of the remainder is not greatly to be regretted, except as a specimen of the logic of that day, and of the manner in which some of our ancestors stated their premises, and drew thence their most profound conclusions. Zechariah Davis thus testifies verbatim and literatim.
When I lived at Salisbury, William Morses’ wife asked of me whether I could let her have a small passell of winges and I told her I woode, so she would have me bring them over for her the next time I came over, but I came over and did not think of the winges, but met goody Morse, she asked me whether I had brought over her winges and I tel her no I did not thinke of it, so I came 3 ore 4 times and had them in my minde a litel before I came over but stil forget them at my coming away so meting with her every time that I came over without them aftar I had promised her the winges, soe she tel me she wonder at it that my memory should be soe bad, but when I came home I went to the barne and there was 3 cafes in a pen. One of them fel a danceing and roreing and was in such a condition as I never saw on cafe in before, but being almost night the cattle came home and we put him to his dam and he sucke and was well 3 or 4 dayes, and on of them was my brothers then come over to Nubery, but we did not thinke to send the winges, but when he came home and went to the barne this cafe fel a danceing and roreing so wee put him to the cowe, but he would not sucke but rane a roreinge away soe wee gate him againe with much adoe and put him into the barne and we heard him roer severall times in the night and in the morning I went to the barne and there he was seting upon his taile like a doge, and I never see no cafe set aftar that manner before and so he remained in these fits while he died.’
Taken on oath June seventh, 1679.
From the date of the preceding testimony, it is evident it was used in the county court prior to the transfer of the case to the state tribunals. On the eighteenth of May, William Morse presented the following petition.
To the honored governor, deputy governor, magistrates and deputies now assembled in court May the eighteenth 1681.
‘The most humble petition and request of William Morse in behalf of his wif (now a condemned prisoner) to this honored court is that they would be pleased so far to hearken to the cry of your poor prisoner, who am a condemned person, upon the charge of witchcraft and for a wich, to which charge your poor prisoner have pleaded not guilty, and by the mercy of God and the goodness of the honored governor, I am reprieved and brought to this honored court, at the foot of which tribunal I now stand humbly prayinp your justis in hearing of my case and to determine therein as the Lord shall direct. I do not understand law, nor do I know how to lay my case before you as I ought, for want of which I humbly beg of your honors that my request may not be rejected, but may find acceptance with you it being no more but your sentence upon my triall whether I shall live or dy, to which I shall humbly submit unto the Lord and you.
William Morse in behalf of his wife
For reasons, which do not appear on the records, the deputies had changed their minds, and, instead of being dissatisfied with her respite, were willing to grant another hearing of the case. This the magistrates opposed. In the court record it is thus stated :
The deputyes judge meet to grant the petitioner a hearing the next sixth day and that warrants goe forth to all persons concerned, from this court then to appear in order to her further triall our honored magistrates hereto consenting.
WM. TORREY, Cleric.
May twenty-fourth; 1681.
Not consented to by the magistrates.
EDWARD RAWSON, Secretary.’
The following additional testimony, taken from the county files, is here presented, as necessary to a full understanding of the whole case. It is in the handwriting of John Woodbridge, esquire, and was undoubtedly copied by him from the original, written by William Morse ” himself, and should have been inserted in 1679. The curious reader will be much amused in comparing this, and the preceding testimony of William Morse, with the report of the same case, made by Increase Mather in his ‘ Remarkables,’ and especially that made by Cotton Mather, in volume second, pages 391 and 392′ of the Magnalia. In that “wonderful” book, the latter gentleman perverts and amplifies the testimony to a “prodigious and nefandous” extent.
The testimony of William Morse, which saith together with his wife aged both about sixty-five yeeres, that Thursday night being the twenty-seventh day of November, we heard a great noyes without round the house of knocking the boards of the house and, as we conceived, throwing of stones at the house, whereupon myselfe and wife lookt eut and saw no body and the boy all this time with us, but we had stones and sticks thrown at us that we were forced to retire into the house againe, afterwards we went to bed and the boy with us and then the like noyes was upon the roof of the house.
The same night about midnight the doore being lockt when we went to bed, we heard a great hog in the house grunt and make a noyes, as we thought willing to gett out, an cT that we might not be disturbed in our sleep I rose to let him out, and I found a hog in the house and the doore unlockt. The doore was firmly lockt when we went to bed.
The next morning a stick of links hanging in the chimney, they were thrown out of their place, and we hanged them up againe and they were thrown downe againe and come into the fire.
The night following I had a great awle lying in the window, the which awle we saw fall downe out of the chimney into the ashes by the fire.
After this I bid the boy put the same awle into the cupboard, which we saw done and the doore shut to. this same awle came presently downe the chimney againe in our sight, and I took it up myselfe. Againe the same night we saw a little Indian baskett, that was in the loft before, came downe the chimney againe and I took the same baskett. put a piece of brick in it, and the baskett with the brick was gone, and came downe againe the third time with the brick in it and went up againe the fourth time and came downe againe without the brick, and the brick came downe a little after.
The next day being Saturday, stones, sticks and pieces of bricks came downe so that we could not quietly eat our breakfast, and sticks of fire also came downe at the same time.
That same day in the afternoon my thread four times taken away and came downe the chimney againe ; my awle and a gimlett wanting, came downe the chimney. Againe my leather taken away came downe the chimney. Againe my nailes being in the cover of a ferkin taken away, came downe the chimney.
The next day being Sunday many stones and sticks and pieces of bricks came down the chimneye. On Monday Mr. Richardson [the minister] and my brother being there, the frame of my cow house they saw very firme, I sent my boy to skare the fowles from my hogs’ meat. He went to the cow house and it fell downe, my boy crying with the hurt of the fall. In the afternoone the potts hanging over the fire, did dash so vehemently one against the other, we sett downe one that they might not dash to pieces. I saw the andiron leap in to the pott and dance, and leap out, and againe leap in and dance, and leap out againe, and leap on a table and there abide, and my wife saw the andiron on the table. Also I saw the pott turn itselfe over and throw down all the water. Againe we saw a tray with wool leap up and downe and throw the wool out and saw no body meddle with it. Againe a tub his hoop fly off, of itselfe and the tub turne over and no body neere it Againe the woolen wheele upside downe and stood upon its end and a spade sett on it. Stephen Greenleaf [son of Edmund GREENLEAF], saw it and myselfe and wife. Againe my rope tooles fell downe in the ground before my boy could take them being sent for them and the same thing of nailes tumbled downe from the loft into the ground and no body neere. Againe my wife and the boy making the bed, the chest did open and shutt, the bed clothes would not be made to ly on the bed, but fly off againe.
Thomas Rogers and George HARDY Jr. being at William Morse his house affirme that the earth in the chimney corner moved and scattered on them, that Thomas Rogers was hit with somewhat, Hardy, with an iron ladle, as is supposed. Somewhat hitt William Morse a great blow, but it was so swift that they could not tell what it was but looking downe after they heard the noyes they saw a shoe. The boy was in the corner at first, afterward in the house.
Mr. Richardson on Saturday testifyeth that a board flew against his chaire and he heard a noyes in another roome, which he supposed in all reason to be diabolicall.
John Dole saw a large fire stick of candle wood to fall downe, a stone, a fire brand, and these things he saw not whence they came, till they fell downe by him.
Elizabeth Titcomb aifirmeth that Powell sayd that he could find out the witch by his learning, if he had another scholar with him.
John Emerson aifirmeth that Powell sayd he was brought up under Norwood and it was judged by the people there that Norwood studied the black art.’
In another paper entitled * a farther testimony of William Morse and his wife,’ he states that ; we saw a keeler of bread turn over a chair did often bow to me and rise up againe the chamber door did violently fly together and the bed did move to and fro and not any body neer them.’
He also states that the cellar door did violently fly down and a drum rolled over it his ‘ barn door was unpinned four times, and going to shut the doore, the boy being with me, the pin (as I did judge) coming downe out of the aire did fall down neer to me.’
Againe Caleb Powell came in as before and seeing our spirits very low by the sense of our great afflictions, began to bemoane our condition and sayd that he was troubled for our affliction, and sayd that he eyed the boy, and drawed neere to us with great compassion, poore old man, poore old woman, this boy is the occasion of your griefe, for he does these things and hath caused his good old grandmother to be counted a witch. Then sayd I, how can all these things be done by him ? Then sayd he although he may not have done all. yet most of them, for this boy is a young rogue, a vile rogue. I have watched him and see him do things as to come up and downe.
Caleb Powell also said he had understanding in Astrology and Astronomy and knew the working of spirits, some in one country and some in another, and looking on the boy said you young rogue to begin so soone. Goodman Morse, if you be willing to let mee have the boy, I will undertake you’ shall be freed from any trouble of this kind while he is with me. I was very unwilling at the first, and my wife, but by often urging me to, and when he told me whither and in what employment and company he should goe, I did consent to it and we have been freed from any trouble of this kind ever since that promise made on Monday night last till this time being Friday afternoone.’
After enumerating a great variety of marvellous exploits, such as ‘ hearing a great noyes in the other roome,’ ‘ his chaire would not stand still but ready to throw me backward,’ * my cap almost taken off my head three times,’ i a great blow in my poll,’ ‘ the catt thrown at my wife and thrown at us five times, the lamp standing by us on a chest, was beaten downe,’ and so forth, he thus conludes :
Againe a great noyes a great while very dreadful. Againe in the morning a great stone being six pounds weight did remove from place to place. We saw it. Two spoones throwed off the table and presently the table throwed downe, and being minded to write, my ink home was hid from me, which I found covered with a rag and my pen quite gone. I made a new pen and while I was writing, one eare of corne hitt me in the face and fire sticks and stones and throwed at me, and my pen brought to me. While I was writing with my new pen, my ink-home taken away. Againe my specticles thrown from the table, and throwne almost into the fire by me, my wife and the boy. Againe my booke of all my accounts throwne into the fire and had been burnt presently, if I had not taken it up. Againe boards taken of a tub and sett upright by themselves, and my paper, do what I could, I could hardly keep it, while T was writing this relation. Presently before I could dry my writing, a monmouth hat rubbed along it. but I held it so fast that it did blot but some of it. My wife and I being much afraid that I should not preserve it for the publick use, we did think best to lay it in the bible and it lay safe that night. Againe the next [night] I would lay it there againe, but in the morning it was not to be found, the bag hanged downe empty, but after was found in a box alone. Againe while I was writing this morning I was forced to forbeare
writing any more, I was so disturbed with so many things constantly thrown at me.
This relation taken December eighth, 1679.’
On the court records I find nothing more concerning Elizabeth Morse. The following extracts are from an essay on witchcraft, by the reverend John Hale, of Beverly, and published in the year 1697
She [Elizabeth Morse] being reprieved was carried to her own home and her husband (who was esteemed a sincere and understanding Christian by those that knew him) desired some neighbour ministers, of whom I was one, to discourse his wife, which we did, and her discourse was very Christian, and still pleaded her innocence as to that, which was laid to her charge. We did not esteem it prudence for us to pass any definitive sentence upon one under her circumstances, yet we inclined to the more charitable side. In her last sickness she was in much trouble and darkness of spirit, which occasioned a judicious friend to examine her strictly, whether she had been guilty of witchcraft, but she said no, but the ground of her trouble was some impatient and passionate speeches and actions of her while in prison upon the account of her suffering ‘wrongfully, whereby she had provoked the Lord by putting contempt upon his word. And in fine she sought her pardon and comfort from God in Christ and dyed so far as I understand, praying to. and resting upon, God in Christ for salvation.’
It was owing, we believe, to the firmness of governor Bradstreet, that the life of Elizabeth Morse was saved, and the town of Newbury thus prevented from offering the first victim, in Essex county, to that lamentable spirit of delusion, which twelve years after left so dark a stain on its annals.
A sketch of the history of Newbury, Newburyport, and West Newbury, from 1635 to 1845 (1845) By Coffin, Joshua, 1792-1864; Bartlett, Joseph, 1686-1754