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.
4. Supporters and Neighbors
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.
This is the longest chain on the list, but it still fits my criteria for family member. Edward BROWN’s (1574 – 1610) daughter Anne married Adam Hawkes 1630 in Charlestown, Suffolk, Mass.
After Mary died, Adam married, second, Sarah Hooper in June, 1670 when he was 64 and she was just 19. Sarah was born Dec. 7, 1650, in that part of Reading which is now Wakefield. She was the oldest living child of 11 born to William and Elizabeth Hooper, a weaver, who had come in the James from London in 1635 at the age of 18.
The following year a daughter, Sarah, was born to Adam and Sarah, on Jun. 1, 1671. Less than a year later Adam died at age 67, on Mar. 13, 1671/72. He left an estate valued at over 817 pounds, including 554 acres of land.
Sarah married a second time 9 Jan 1672/73, to Samuel Wardwell, son of Thomas and Elizabeth Wardwell. They had six children. Samuel was accused of practicing witchcraft and was executed due to his retracting a “forced” confession. He was hanged on Sep. 22, 1692 at Gallows Hill, along with seven others, and according to tradition the last ever to be hanged for witchcraft in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Samuel Wardwell was born 16 May 1643 to a modest Quaker family in Boston. He studied carpentry and moved to Andover, Massachusetts in 1672 to find work. There he married his second wife, Sarah Hawkes, a wealthy widow with whom he had seven children. In 1692, he was accused of witchcraft and brought to trial in Salem. The fact he was found guilty is not surprising, as his father Thomas who been a follower of John Wheelwright and Ann Hutchinson. Samuel had dabbled in fortune telling as a young man, had family members who were disliked in Andover, and had married a woman whom many did not think he was worthy of marrying. During his court examination, he confessed to being a witch by submitting a long and detailed story of his indiscretions in order to save his life. His conscience and personal courage led him to recant the story and claim innocence, knowing the risk involved. He was hanged on September 22, 1692.
The “state” confiscated his property which left his family destitute. Sara herself was accused of witchcraft. Her minor children were taken from here and placed in custody of friends and relatives. Her oldest daughter and mother-in-law were also accused and acquitted of witchcraft. Eventually she was released. However the impoverished and miserable conditions she endured in a prison dungeon must have contributed to an early death. Samuel’s son, too young at the time, later sued and won some compensation for the family’s ordeals.
Humphrey BRADSTREET’s son John (1631 – 1660) probably suffered from mental illness. John Winthrop mentioned in his journal that John Bradstreet was accused of bewitching a dog. The dog was hung as a witch. John was whipped. He was tried in Ipswich on July 28,1652, on a charge of “familiarity with the devil.” John said that he had read a magic book and heard a voice telling him.
Go make a bridge of sand over the sea; go make a ladder of sand up to heaven, and go to God and come down no more.
The court found that he had told a lie. This was his second conviction. He was sentenced to be whipped or to pay a fine of twenty schillings. He died, childless, in 1660 when he was only 29 years old. Shortly after his death, his widow Hannah married William Waters on June 4, 1660.
In 1659, Winifred (Henchman) HOLMAN (1600 – 1672) the widow of William Holman of Cambridge, was accused of witchcraft, because of her charitable desire to cure the sick with mental and spiritual suggestions, and by the ” blessings of God “. After her husband’s death, Winifred earned an meager living by caring for the sick. One account said she bathe and massaged her patients, used herbs and spices and invoked the blessings of the Lord. She was only narrowly acquitted.
Ironically, the witchcraft litigants both lived in what is today part of Harvard University. The Holmans lived on the Northeasterly corner of Garden and Linnean streets, and opposite them, on Sparks and Garden streets, resided the family of John Gibson, consisting of his wife Rebecca, son John and daughter Rebbecca Stearnes.
Just what was the real cause of enmity, between the two families, does not appear from the records. Rebecca, the daughter of John and Rebecca Gibson, was born about the year 1635, and was the same age as Abraham, the son of Winifred Holman. The evidence showed that if ” Abraham ware aboute she [Rebecca] was well “. It is quite within the realms of possibility, that an intended marriage between Abraham Holman and Rebecca Gibson, had been interrupted by their parents, and the lady induced to become the second wife of Charles Stearns on the 22 June 1654. Before 1657, Mrs. Stearns was afflicted with hallucinations, and became violently vindictive towards the mother and sister of Abraham Holman, making charges of witchcraft against them.
One day, Mary Holman asked why whe didn’t get some help and she answered that she had “used means by physicians and could have no help.” Mary suggested her mother could cure her “with the blessing of God.” Gibson was upset that Winifred and her daughter Mary had practiced their magical healing skills on his daughter and filed a complaint with the Constable of Cambridge.
The Gibsons, — weighed down with the sickness and distress of their daughter Rebecca, and unable to resist her repeated assertions that Winifred and her daughter Mary Holman, were the real authors of all their misery, — entered, in the year 1659, a serious complaint against them as witches, and had Mr. Thomas Danforth issue warrants for their arrest.
Anthony MORSE’s brother William Morse (1614-1683) 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.
In 1679, 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. 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?]
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.
Our family connection has twists and turns, but since Sarah Good was the first victim of the Salem Witch trials and one of the most famous, I’ve included her story. William BEAMSLEY’s (1605 – 1658) daughter Ann married Jan 1649/50 in Boston, Mass. to Ezekiel Woodward. After Ann died, Ezekiel married 20 Dec 1672 at Age: 48 to Mrs. Elizabeth Soldart. Ezekiel died 29 Jan 1699 in Wenham, Essex, Mass.
Elizabeth [Knight or Jerningham?] was born 1619 in Somerleyton, Suffolk, England She married abt 1650 to John Solart (c.1622 Wherstead, Suffolk, England – 24 May 1672 in Wenham, Mass.) Elizabeth died 3 Dec 1678 in Wenham, Essex, Mass.
Children of Elizabeth and John
i. Alice Woodward 1649 – 1685; m. 1670 to William Yarrington
ii. Sarah Solart b. 14 Jul 1653; d. 19 Jul 1692 in Salem, Essex, Mass.; m1. Daniel Poole; m2. 1690 Age: 37 Salem, Essex, Mass to William Good
Sarah Good (wiki) was the first person accused of witchcraft in 1692.
Sarah’s father John Solart was a well off innkeeper, but his estate was tied up in litigation that left Good virtually nothing. Her first marriage was to a poor indentured servant named Daniel Poole who died in debt in 1686. Her second marriage to William Good was doomed from the outset because the couple had to pay for the debts of first husband Poole. The Goods were homeless, renting rooms in other people’s houses, and they had two young children. William worked as a laborer around Salem Village in exchange for food and lodging, but it became increasingly difficult for the family to find a place to stay as Sarah’s reputation for and being socially unpleasant spread throughout the town. The family was regarded as a nuisance to the town, and by 1692 they were virtually beggars.
She was accused because of economical and political biases from the families of the accusers. Sarah, who was homeless, was described by the people of Salem as being filthy, bad-tempered, and strangely detached from the rest of the village. She was often associated with the death of residents’ livestock and would wander door to door, asking for charity. If the resident refused, Good would walk away muttering under her breath. Although she maintained at the trial that she was only saying the Ten Commandments, those who turned her away would later claim she was chanting curses in revenge. Also, when asked to say the Commandments at her trial, she could not recite a single one.
Sarah was accused of witchcraft on February 25, 1692, when Abigail Williams and Betty Parris, related to the Reverend Parris, claimed to be bewitched under her hand. The young girls appeared to have been bitten, pinched, and otherwise abused. They would have fits in which their bodies would appear to involuntarily convulse, their eyes rolling into the back of their heads and their mouths hanging open. When Reverend Samuel Parris asked “Who torments you?” the girls eventually shouted out the names of three townspeople: Tituba, Sarah Osborne, and Sarah Good.
On March 1, 1692, Good was tried for witchcraft. When she was brought in, the accusers immediately began to rock back and forth and moan, seemingly in response to Good’s presence. Later on in the trial, one of the accusers fell into a fit. When it had stopped, she claimed Good had attacked her with a knife; she even produced a portion of it, stating the weapon had been broken during the alleged assault. However, upon hearing this statement, a young townsman stood and told the court the piece had broken off his own knife the day before, and that the girl had witnessed it. He then revealed the other half, proving his story. After hearing this, the judge simply scolded the girl for exaggerating what he believed to be the truth.
Others who testified in Good’s trial claimed to have seen her flying through the sky on a stick, presumably to get to her “witch meetings.” Even her husband testified against her, stating he had seen the Devil’s mark on her body, right below her shoulder. He also told the court he had reason to believe she was either presently a witch, or would soon become one. Dorcas Good, Sarah’s four year old daughter, was later forced to testify against her, claiming that she was a witch and she had seen her mother consorting with the devil. Sarah was pregnant at the time of her arrest and gave birth to Mercy Good in her cell in Ipswich Jail. Mercy died shortly after birth most likely due to malnutrition, lack of medical care, and unsanitary conditions.
Although both Good and Sarah Osborne denied the allegations against them, Tituba admitted to being the “Devil’s servant.” She stated that a tall man dressed all in black came to them, demanding they sign their names in a great book. Although initially refusing, Tituba said, she eventually wrote her name, after Good and Osborne forced her to. There were 6 other names in the book as well but Tituba said, they were not visible to her. She also said that Good had ordered her cat to attack Elizabeth Hubbard, causing the scratches and bite marks on the girl’s body. She spoke of seeing Good with black and yellow birds surrounding her, and that Good had also sent these animals to harm the girls. When the girls began to have another fit, Tituba claimed she could see a yellow bird in Good’s right hand. The young accusers agreed.
When Good was allowed the chance to defend herself in front of the 12 jurors in the Salem Village meeting house, she argued her innocence, proclaiming Tituba and Osborne as the real witches. In the end, however, Sarah Good was convicted of witchcraft and sentenced to death. Later, Dorcas Good was also accused of witchcraft. Mary Walcott and Ann Putnam Jr. claimed she was deranged, and repeatedly bit them as if she were an animal. Dorcas, who was incorrectly called “Dorothy Good” while on trial, received a brief hearing in which the accusers repeatedly complained of bites on their arms. She was then convicted and sent to jail, becoming at age five the youngest person to be jailed during the Salem Witch Trials. Two days later, she was visited by Salem officials. She claimed she owned a snake—given to her by her mother—that talked to her and sucked blood from her finger. The officials took this to mean it was her “familiar,” which is defined as a witch’s spiritual servant. Dorothy was released from jail several months later, and evidently suffered from psychological issues for the remainder of her life.
On July 19, 1692, Sarah Good was hanged along with four other women convicted of witchcraft. While the other four quietly awaited execution, Good firmly proclaimed her innocence. Reverend Nicholas Noyes was persistent, but unsuccessful, in his attempts to force Good to confess.
Epilogue – While the other women quietly awaited their fate, Sarah Good remained defiant to the end. When Reverend Noyes urged her to confess and repent on the scaffold, she replied, “You are a liar. I am no more witch than you are a wizard. If you take my life away, God will give you blood to drink.” That assured everyone she was a witch. Twenty-five years later Rev. Noyes died of a hemmorrhage and in fact drank his own blood as he died; many in Salem remembered Sarah Good.
Frances (Alcock) HUTCHINS (1612 – 1694) was arrested 18 Aug 1692 for witchcraft as a result of a witchcraft complaint filed by Timothy Swan, Ann Putnam, Jr., and Mary Walcott. The charge was not pressed because her son Samuel and Joseph Kingsberry (1665 – ~1695) posted 200 pounds bond to satisfy the accusers and gain her release on 21 Dec 1692. No trial records were found.
Warrant for Arrest of Frances Hutchins and Ruth Wilford
“Essex/ To the Constable of Haverhill
Complaint being made to me this day, by Timothy Swan of Andover: & Mary Wallcott & Anna Putnam of Salem Village, Against Mrs: frances Hutchins & Ruth Willford, of Haverhill that the s’d frances Hutchins & Ruth Willford, hath sorely afflicted them, the s’d Timothy Swan Mary Walcott & Anna Putnam in their bodies, by witchcraft Severall times Contrary to the Peace of o’r: Sovereigne Lord & Lady King William & Queen Mary, of England &c: & to their Majests Law in that Case provided: & s’d Timothy Swan having according to Law, given sufficient bond, to Prosecute s’d Complaint, before Their Majests: justices of Peace att Salem the 19th: or 20th Instant. These therefore require you in their Majests. names to Apprehend & sease the bodies of the afores’d frances Hutchins & Ruth Willford, upon sight hereof, & them safely Convey to [to] Salem afores’d, to their Majests: justices of the Peace there, to be examined & proceeded with according to law: for which this shall be yo’r warrant: Given under my hand & seal this eighteenth day of August Anno Domini 1692: In the 4th year of their Majests. Reigne. &c
Justice of Peace
(Reverse) according to this warrant I have seesed and brought don mrs frances huchins: but sought with Diligenc for Ruth Wilford and she cannot be found
August 19: 1692
by Me Wilum Strlin Constbl for haverihill”
(Note: Ruth Wilford was taken into custody on August 20, 1692.)
Francis HUTCHINS’ son-in-law Thomas Ayres (Ayer) was born about 1630 in England. His parents were John Ayers and Hannah Evered. Thomas died 9 Nov 1686 in Haverhill, Essex, Mass.
Thomas’ sister Mary (Ayer) Parker of Andover, Mass., was executed Sep 22, 1692, with several others, for witchcraft in the Salem witch trials. She was 55 years old and a widow. Mary’s husband, Nathan, died in 1685. Her daughter, Sarah Parker, was also accused.
In Sep 1692, Mary Ayer Parker of Andover came to trial in Salem Massachusetts, suspected of witchcraft. During her examination she was asked, “How long have ye been in the snare of the devil?” She responded, “I know nothing of it.” Many people confessed under the pressure of the court of Oyer and Terminer, but she asserted they had the wrong woman. “There is another woman of the same name in Andover,” she proclaimed. At the time, no one paid much attention. Mary Ayer Parker was convicted and hanged by the end of the month. [See Francis HUTCHINS page for more details]
Susannah (North) MARTIN (1621 – 1692) (Wikipedia) was executed for witchcraft on 19 Jul 1692 in Salem, Essex, Mass.
In 1669, Susannah was first formally accused of witchcraft by William Sargent Jr., son of our ancestor William SARGENT. 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. The jury in the case found for the defendant, but the Court “concurred not with the jury.” A higher court later dismissed the witchcraft charges.
Another version of the story
In 1669 Susanna was required to post 100 pounds bond to appear in court on a charge of witchcraft, a capital offense. At the same time George Martin sued William Sargent, Jr. for slander for saying that “…said Martyn’s wife had a child at Capt. Wiggins and was wringing its neck in Capt. Wiggins’ stable, when a man entered, and she took him by the collar and told him she would be the death of him if he told”; he sued William Sargent “…for saying his wife was a witch and he would call her a witch.” George also sued Thomas Sargent “…for saying that his son George Marttin was a bastard and that Richard Marttin was Goodwife Marttin’s imp,” (a witch’s familiar.)
Charges were dropped against Thomas Sargent, William Sargent, Jr.. was found guilty of accusing Susanna of ” fornication and infanticide” and George was awarded (in what appears to be a public insult) the amount of “a white wampam peague (colonial currency) or the eighth part of a penny damage” by the magistrates. William Sargent was acquitted of witchcraft slander, although, “the Court did not agree.” The records of Susanna’s first trial for witchcraft have not survived, but as she was around for another 23 years, we might assume that she was acquitted.
In October, 1669 George MARTIN was sued by Christopher Bartlett because Susanna had called him a liar and a thief. The verdict was against George and Susanna but they had other problems to deal with. At that same court session, their son Richard was “ presented by the grand jury at the Salisbury Court, 1669, for abusing his father and throwing him down, taking away his clothes and holding up an axe against him.” The court found him guilty and sentenced Richard to be “whipped ten stripes.”
George died in 1686, leaving Susannah an impoverished widow by the time of the second accusation of witchcraft in 1692. Inhabitants of nearby Salem Village, Massachusetts had named Susannah a witch and stated she had attempted to recruit them into witchcraft. Susannah was tried for these charges, during which process she proved by all accounts to be pious and quoted the Bible freely, something a witch was said incapable of doing. Cotton Mather countered Susannah’s defence by stating in effect that the Devil’s servants were capable of putting on a show of perfect innocence and Godliness.
Our ancestor Orlando BAGLEY Jr. was the arresting Amesbury constable. See his page for images of the original summons, examination and death warrant. Susannah was found guilty, and was hanged on July 19, 1692 in Salem.
Some interesting excerpts from the transcript of Susannah’s trial are below: (spelling, punctuation, capitalization as original)
“To the Marshall of the County of Essex or his lawful Deputies or to the Constable of Amesbury: You are in their Majesties names hereby required forthwith or as soon as may be to apprehend and bring Susanna Mertin of Amesbury in y county of Esses Widdow at y house of Lt. Nathaniel Ingersolls in Salem village in order to her examination Relating to high suspicion of sundry acts of Witchcraft donne or committed by her upon y bodies of Mary Walcot, Abigail Williams, Ann Putnam, and Mercy Lewis of Salem village or farms whereby great hurt and damage hath been donne to y bodies of said persons…. etc”
At the preliminary trial for the crime of “Witchcraft and sorcery” Susanna pled not guilty. The original court record book has been lost, but the local Puritan minister, Cotton Mather, recorded the testimony. Susanna and the others accused were not allowed to have council.
“As soon as she came in, Marcy had fits”
Magistrate: Do you know this woman?
Abigail Williams saith it is goody Martin, she hath hurt me often.
Others by fits were hindered from speaking.
Marcy Lewis pointed at her and fell into a little fit.
Ann Putnam threw her glove in a fit at her.
……………. Susanna laughed …………….
Magistrate: What! Do you laugh at it?
Martin: Well I may at such folly.
Mag: Is this folly? The hurt of persons?
Martin: I never hurt man or woman or child.
Marcy: She hath hurt me a great many times and pulls me down.
Then Martin laughed again.
Probably the worst indignity that Susanna was twice forced to submit to was the physical examination for evidence of a “witch’s tit or physical proturberance which might give milk to a familiar.” No such deformity was found in Susanna but it was noted that “in the morning her nipples were found to be full as if the milk would come,” but by late afternoon “her breasts were slack, as if milk had already been given to someone or something.” This was an indication that she had been visited by a witch’s familiar, and was clear evidence of guilt.
The demise of Rebecca Nurse, Susannah Martin, Elizabeth Howe, Sarah Good, and Sarah Wildes July 19, 1692
In the 19th century, poet John Greenleaf Whittier composed “The Witch’s Daughter” about Martin.
- “Let Goody Martin rest in peace, I never knew her harm a fly,And witch or not – God knows – not I?I know who swore her life away;And as God lives, I’d not condemnAn Indian dog on word of them.”
Robert PEASE – The Former (1630 – 1717) Both Robert and his wife Sarah (Sedwick) PEASE (1630 – 1704) suffered imprisonment in 1692 when they were suspected of witchcraft. His wife was living in 1704 and he was living in 1713 when he was dismissed from the church in Salem to aid in forming the first church at what is now Peabody, MA.
Sarah was caught up in 1692 in the hysteria we know as The Salem Witch Trials. She was accused and imprisoned but never tried, having been released after the hysteria died down. A lthough testimony was brought against her again on August 5th, Sarah Pease escaped the condemnation of the judges, who sentenced 15 people to the gallows in September. By the late fall of that year the tide of hysteria had abated, and sympathy was turning from the “victims” to the accused. Sarah survived the winter and was released in May of 1693, after suffering a year in jail.
John PROCTOR’s oldest son John Proctor Jr. (1632 – 1692) (Wikipedia) was a farmer in 17th Century Massachusetts. He married three women in his life, the first two in which were divorced. The last one he married was Elizabeth (Bassett) Proctor gave birth to three children, of which the third was not yet baptized when she was arrested. During the Salem Witch Trials he was accused of witchcraft,convicted and brought to prison. Weeks later, he was bidden to confess to witchcraft and sign a document to prove it. After signing the document, Proctor wanted to keep the document from being nailed above the door of the Court of Oyer and Terminer.
Although Abigail Williams was John Proctor’s chief accuser, he was also named by Mary Walcott, who stated he tried to choke her and his former servant Mary Warren on April 21. Mary Warren told magistrates that Proctor had beaten her for putting up a prayer bill before forcing her to touch the Devil’s Book. Further allegations of an increasingly salacious nature followed.
John Proctor continued to challenge the veracity of spectral evidence and the validity of the Court of Oyer and Terminer which led to a petition signed by 32 neighbors in his favor. The signatories stated that Proctor had lived a ‘Christian life in his family and was ever ready to help such as stood in need.’
John and Elizabeth Proctor were tried on August 5, 1692. They were both found guilty and sentenced to hang. Still maintaining his innocence, Proctor prepared his will but left his wife with nothing. Some assume that he did this as he assumed his wife would be executed as well. Proctor was executed on August 19, 1692, along with George Burroughs, John Willard, George Jacobs, Sr., Rebecca Nurse (Daughter of our ancestor )and Martha Corey.
Elizabeth, who was then pregnant, was given a reprieve until she gave birth.
In January 1693, while still in jail, Elizabeth (Bassett) Proctor gave birth to a son, John Proctor III. Elizabeth and John III remained in jail until May 1693, when a general release freed all of those prisoners who remained jailed. Unfortunately, even though the general belief of the people was that innocent people had been wrongly convicted, Elizabeth had in fact been convicted and was considered guilty. In the eyes of the law she was considered a “dead woman” and could not claim any of her husband’s estate. Elizabeth petitioned the court for a reversal of attainder to restore her legal rights. No action was taken for seven years.
June 1696 – Elizabeth filed an appeal to contest her husband’s will. At the time John wrote his will, he had assumed that Elizabeth would be executed and had left her nothing. On September 22, 1696 Elizabeth married again to Daniel Richards.
July 1703 – Several more people filed petitions before any action was taken on Elizabeth’s appeal for reversal of attainder. The Massachusetts House of Representatives finally passed a bill disallowing spectral evidence. However, they only gave reversal of attainder for those who had filed petitions. This primarily applied to Elizabeth Proctor.
1705 – Another petition was filed requesting a more equitable settlement for those wrongly accused. In 1709, the General Court received a request to take action on this proposal. In May 1709, 22 people who had been convicted of witchcraft, or whose parents had been convicted of witchcraft, presented the government with a petition in which they demanded both a reversal of attainder and compensation for financial losses.
17 Oct 1711 – The General Shop passed a bill reversing the judgment against the 104 people listed in the 1709 petition. There were still an additional 7 people who had been convicted, but had not signed the petition. There was no reversal of attainder for them.
11 Dec 1711 – Monetary compensation was finally awarded to the 22 people in the 1709 petition. The sum of ₤578 and 12 shillings was authorized to be divided among the survivors and relatives of those accused. Most of the accounts were settled within a year. The award to the Proctor family for Elizabeth was $1500, much more money from the Massachusetts General Court than most families of accused witches.
In 1992, the Danvers Tercentennial Committee persuaded the Massachusetts House of Representatives to issue a resolution honoring those who had died. After much convincing and hard work by Salem school teacher Paula Keene, Representatives J. Michael Ruane and Paul Tirone and a few others, the names of all those not previously listed were added to this resolution. When it was finally signed on October 31, 2001 by Governor Jane Swift, more than 300 years later, all were finally proclaimed innocent.
The Crucible by Arthur Miller, a fictionalized version of the trials casts John Proctor as one of the main characters in the play. Proctor is portrayed as being in his thirties and Abigail Williams is 17 and a half years old, while the real John Proctor and Abigail Williams were respectively about sixty and eleven years old at the time of the witch trials. In the play, they had an affair, as a result of which Abigail accused Elizabeth Proctor of witchcraft. In reality, Elizabeth Proctor was initially named by Ann Putnam on March 6, alleging that Proctor’s spectre attacked the girl. She was accused by Abigail on March 14 and further accusations were made by Mercy Lewis. Miller has Mary Warren accuse Proctor of afflicting her but this followed his initial accusation by Abigail in early April 1692. There is no historical evidence to suggest that Abigail even knew John Proctor before she accused him of witchcraft.
In the 1996 film based on the play, Proctor was played by Daniel Day-Lewis.
Elizabeth (Bassett) Proctor (Wikipedia) – (born 1652 in Lynn, Massachusetts) was accused of witchcraft in the Salem Witch Trials. She was the third wife of John Proctor, who went on to remarry after her husband John Proctors death. Part of her life was fictitiously dramatized as part of Arthur Miller‘s play The Crucible and later adaptations.
John PERKINS (1583 – 1654) is the only triple ancestor in our family tree, we descend from his son John and daughters Elizabeth and Lydia. His daughter Mary Perkins Bradbury (3 Sep 1615 – 20 Dec 1700) was tried, convicted and sentenced to hang as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692.
In 1636 Mary married Thomas Bradbury of Salisbury, Massachusetts, considered one of its most distinguished citizens.
When she was in her late 70s Mary was accused of witchcraft at the Salem witch trials. Her accusers made some fascinating claims, such as, she would turn into a blue boar and chase around the yard and, she sold a ship’s captain 2 tubs of butter, but one of the tubs was bewitched. In the notorious witch trials of 1692, Mary Bradbury was indicted for (among other charges):
“Certaine Detestable arts called Witchcraft & Sorceries Wickedly Mallitiously and felloniously hath used practiced and Exercised At and in the Township of Andivor in the County of Essex aforesaid in upon & against one Timothy Swann of Andivor In the County aforesaid Husbandman — by which said Wicked Acts the said Timothy Swann upon the 26th day of July Aforesaid and divers other days & times both before and after was and is Tortured Afflicted Consumed Pined Wasted and Tormented…“
Witnesses testified that she assumed animal forms; her most unusual metamorphosis was said to have been that of a blue boar.
Another allegation was that she cast spells upon ships.
Here is her testimony, transcribed from the original court records.
“The answer of Mary Bradbury to the charge of witchcraft or familiarity with the Devil.
“I do plead not guilty. – I am wholly innocent of such wickedness through the goodness of God that hath kept me hitherto. I am the servant of Jesus Christ and have given myself up to him as my only Lord and Saviour, and to the diligent attendance upon him in al holy ordinances, in utter contempt and defiance of the Devil & all his works as horrid and detestable; and have endeavored accordingly to frame my life & conversation according to the rules of his holy word, and in faith and practice resolve, by the help and assistance of God, to continue to my life’s end. For the truth of what I say as to matter of practice, I humbly refer myself to my brethren and neighbors that know me, and to the searcher of all hearts for the truth & uprightness of my heart therein, human frailties & unavoidable infirmaties expected, of which I bitterly complain every day.Mary Bradbury.”
Over a hundred of her neighbors and townspeople testified on her behalf, but to no avail and she was found guilty of practicing magic and sentenced to be executed.
Through the ongoing efforts of her friends, her execution was delayed. After the witch frenzy had passed, she was released. By some accounts she was allowed to escape. Others claim she bribed her jailer.
Another account claims that her husband bribed the jailer and took her away to Maine in a horse and cart. They returned to Massachusetts after the witch hysteria had died down.
Mary Bradbury died of natural causes in her own bed in 1700.
In 1711, the governor and council of Massachusetts authorized payment of £578.12s to the claimants representing twenty-three persons condemned at Salem, and the heirs of Mary Bradbury received £20. A petition to reverse the attainder of twenty-two of the thirty-one citizens convicted and condemned as a result of the trials was passed by the Massachusetts General Court in 1711, and in 1957 The Commonwealth of Massachusetts reversed the stigma placed on all those not covered by earlier orders.
Three of William TOWNE’s (1599 -1673) daughters were accused during the Salem Witch Trials. Sarah Cloyes was spirited out of prison, but Rebecca Nurse and Mary ESTEY were hung.
In 1692 [at age 53] Sarah was imprisoned and accused of witchcraft after listening to a sermon by Rev Parris in which he maligned her sisters. She left in a huff and slammed the church door (or some say the wind took it and slammed it) She was spirited out of prison in the fall of 1692 by friends who visited her in prison. She was hidden by friends in Topsfield until the spring of 1693 when she joined her family in hiding in Framingham MA. The family lived in caves in Framingham for several months until local officials agreed not to punish them.
She pressed charges for her unlawful arrest and the killing of her sisters. She received three gold sovereigns for each of them. The 1985 PBS American Playhouse movie, Three Sovereigns For Sister Sarah is about this event. Vanessa Redgrave plays Sarah. Kim Hunter plays Mary ESTEY.
Rebecca is a central character in Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible as well as many other dramatic treatments of the Salem Witch Trials
Francis Nurse was often asked to be an unofficial judge to help settle matters around the village. In 1672, Francis served as Salem’s Constable. It was later written that Rebecca had “acquired a reputation for exemplary piety that was virtually unchallenged in the community,” making her one of the first “unlikely” persons to be accused of witchcraft.
The Nurse family had been involved in a number of acrimonious land disputes with the Putnam family. On March 23, 1692, a warrant was issued for Rebecca’s arrest based upon accusations made by Edward and John Putnam. Upon hearing of the accusations the frail 70 year old Nurse, often described as an invalid, said, “I am innocent as the child unborn, but surely, what sin hath God found out in me unrepented of, that He should lay such an affliction on me in my old age.”
There was a public outcry over the accusations made against Rebecca, as she was considered to be of very pious character. Thirty-nine of the most prominent members of the community signed a petition on Nurse’s behalf. At age 71, she was one of the oldest accused. Her ordeal is often credited as the impetus for a shift in public opinion about the validity of the witch trials.
Rebecca Nurse is brought in chains to the meeting house where the Rev. Nicholas Noyes pronounces her excommunication before the congregation (From John Musick’s Book)
Rebecca’s trial began on June 30, 1692. By dint of her respectability, some testified on her behalf including her family members. However the young Ann Putnam and her siblings would break into fits and claim Nurse was tormenting them. In response to their outbursts Nurse stated, “I have got nobody to look to but God.” Many of the other afflicted girls were hesitant to accuse Nurse.
In the end, the jury ruled Nurse not guilty. Due to public outcry and renewed fits and spasms by the girls, the magistrate asked that the verdict be reconsidered. At issue was the statement of another prisoner “[she] was one of us” to which Nurse did not reply, probably because of her loss of hearing. The jury took this as a sign of guilt and changed their verdict, sentencing Nurse to death on July 19 1692.
Many people labeled Nurse “the woman of self dignity”, due to her dignified behavior on the gallows. As was the custom, after hanging Nurse’s body was buried in a shallow grave near the gallows, along with other convicted witches, who were considered unfit for a Christian burial. Nurse’s family secretly returned after dark and dug up her body which they interred properly on their family homestead. In July 1885, her descendants erected a tall granite memorial over her grave in what is now called the Rebecca Nurse Homestead cemetery in Danvers (formerly Salem Village), Massachusetts.
Rebecca’s accuser, Ann Putnam, Jr., publicly apologized to the Nurse family for accusing innocent people. In 1711, the government compensated her family for Nurse’s wrongful death. The Nurse family homestead fell into the hands of Putnam family descendent, Phineas Putnam in 1784. The Putnam family maintained control of the property until 1908. Today, it is a tourist attraction that includes the original house and cemetery, on 27 of the original 300 acres..
Mary (Towne) ESTEY (1634 – 1692) (Wikipedia) was tried and condemned to death on September 9 1692. She was hanged on September 22, along with Martha Corey, Ann Pudeator, Alice Parker, Mary Parker, Wilmot Redd, Margaret Scott, and Samuel Wardwell were the last On the gallows she prayed for an end to the witch hunt.
Like her sister Rebecca, Mary was a pious and respected member of Salem, and her accusation came as a surprise. During the examination on April 22, 1692, when Estey clasped her hands together, Mercy Lewis, one of the afflicted, imitated the gesture and claimed to be unable to release her hands until Estey released her own. Again, when Mary inclined her head, the afflicted girls accused her of trying to break their necks. Mercy claimed that Estey’s specter had climbed into her bed and laid her hand upon her breasts. When asked by magistrates John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin how far she had complied with Satan, she replied, “Sir, I never complyed but prayed against him all my dayes, I have no complyance with Satan, in this….I am clear of this sin.”
This statue depicts Rebecca Towne Nurse, Mary Towne Esty, and Sarah Towne Cloyse, wearing shackles, being under arrest for witchcraft. The statue is located in the Salem Wax Museum of Witches and Seafarers, Salem.
For reasons unknown, Estey was released from prison after two months, and discharged on May 18. However, on May 20, Mercy Lewis claimed that Estey’s specter was afflicting her, and was supported by the other girls. A second warrant was issued that night for Estey’s arrest. She was taken from her bed and returned to the prison; Lewis’s fits ceased after Mary was chained. Estey was tried and condemned to death on September 9. The following is Mary’s petition to the judges:
The humbl petition of mary Eastick unto his Excellencyes S’r W’m Phipps to the honour’d Judge and Bench now Sitting in Judicature in Salem and the Reverend ministers humbly sheweth
That whereas your poor and humble petitioner being condemned to die Doe humbly begg of you to take it into your Judicious and pious considerations that your Poor and humble petitioner knowing my own Innocencye Blised be the Lord for it and seeing plainly the wiles and subtility of my accusers by my Selfe can not but Judge charitably of others that are going the same way of my selfe if the Lord stepps not mightily in i was confined a whole month upon the same account that I am condemned now for and then cleared by the afflicted persons as some of your honours know and in two dayes time I was cryed out upon by them and have been confined and now am condemned to die the Lord above knows my Innocence then and Likewise does now as att the great day will be know to men and Angells—I Petition to your honours not for my own life for I know I must die and my appointed time is sett but the Lord he knowes it is that if it be possible no more Innocent blood may be shed which undoubtidly cannot be Avoyded In the way and course you goe in I question not but your honours does to the uttmost of your Powers in the discovery and detecting of witchcraft and witches and would not be gulty of Innocent blood for the world but by my own Innocency I know you are in this great work if it be his blessed you that no more Innocent blood be shed I would humbly begg of you that your honors would be plesed to examine theis Afflicted Persons strictly and keep them apart some time and Likewise to try some of these confesing wichis I being confident there is severall of them has belyed themselves and others as will appeare if not in this wor[l]d I am sure in the world to come whither I am now agoing and I Question not but youle see and alteration of thes things they my selfe and others having made a League with the Divel we cannot confesse I know and the Lord knowes as will shortly appeare they belye me and so I Question not but they doe others the Lord above who is the Searcher of all hearts knows that as I shall answer att the Tribunall seat that I know not the least thinge of witchcraft therfore I cannot I dare not belye my own soule I beg your honers not to deny this my humble petition from a poor dying Innocent person and I Question not but the Lord will give a blesing to yor endevers.
Robert Calef, in More Wonders of the Invisible World, described Estey’s parting words to her family “as serious, religious, distinct, and affectionate as could be expressed, drawing tears from the eyes of almost all present.”
In November, after Estey had been put to death, Mary Herrick gave testimony about Estey. Herrick testified that she was visited by Estey who told her she had been put to death wrongfully and was innocent of witchcraft, and that she had come to vindicate her cause. Estey’s family was compensated with 20 pounds from the government in 1711 for her wrongful execution. Her husband Isaac lived until June 11, 1712.
Mary Towne ESTEY was the last person to be hanged in the Salem Witch Trials
The Accused Witches of Gloucester
Gloucester, Essex, Mass
Salem, Essex, Mass
Not all of the accused witches of the Salem Witch Trials actually lived in Salem. A number of the accused also came from nearby towns such as Salisbury, Ipswich, Andover, Topsfield and Gloucester.
Andover and Gloucester had more accused witches than any other towns outside of Salem. A total of nine Gloucester women were accused of witchcraft during the hysteria of 1692: Esther Elwell, Margaret PRINCE, Elizabeth Dicer, Joan Penney, Phoebe Day, Mary Rowe (Margaret’s daughter), Rachel Vinson, Abigail Rowe (Margaret’s granddaughter) and Rebecca Dike.
Not much is known about these cases since many of the records have been lost, but we do know three of the groups of Gloucester residents accused of witchcraft in 1692 were closely connected. Much like the accused of Salem, the accused women of Gloucester were also either prominent, wealthy citizens or trouble-makers or relatives of other accused witches.
These accusations all involved people of high social and economic status. The Gloucester accusations involved no singling out of poor, marginal women. All of the recorded estates of these families were valued at more than two hundred pounds. They all had comparatively large holdings of land and held many town offices. The cases seem to have been based on fear and suspicion among the upper class against a backdrop of paranoia throughout the county.
1. Margaret Prince and Elizabeth Dicer were accused of bewitching Eleanor Babson
2. Phoebe Day, Mary Rowe, and Rachel Vinson were accused sometime in the fall of 1692. There is no record of their accusation or examination extant, but their names were on a petition to the governor and council signed by a group of prisoners held at Ipswich jail.
3. Joan Penney
4. A warrant for the arrest of another group of women, Esther Elwell, Abigail Rowe, and Rebecca Dike, was issued on November 3, 1692, for afflicting Mrs. Mary Fitch.
1. Margaret Prince and Elizabeth Dicer
In September of 1692, Gloucester resident Ebenezer Babson asked some of the afflicted Salem village girls to visit his mother, Eleanor, who was complaining of spectral visions of Indians and French soldiers. Upon visiting Eleanor, the girls accused Margaret Prince and Elizabeth Dicer of bewitching her.
Margaret Prince was the grandmother of Abigail Rowe and mother of Mary Prince Rowe. She was known for being troublesome and having a sharp tongue.
Elizabeth Dicer had been fined thirteen times in the past for calling Mary English’s mother a “black-mouthed witch and a thief.”
2. Mary Prince Row, Phoebe Day and Rachel Vinsion
Around the same time, four more women were accused: Mary Rowe, Phoebe Day and Rachel Vinson, although it is not known who accused them,
Rachel Vinson was the widow of William Vinson who’s first wife had also been accused of witchcraft along with Ruth Dutch.
Phoebe Day’s maiden name was Wilds and she was related to Sarah Wilds, of Topsfield, who was hanged for witchcraft on July 19, 1692 in Salem
Mary Prince Rowe was the mother of Abigail Rowe and daughter of Margaret Prince. She was held at a jail in Ipswich, along with Elizabeth Dicer and Joan Penney. Their names appear on an undated petition asking to be released on bail until their trial.
Petition to release Gloucester women including Mary Prince Rowe held in Ipswich jail and accused of witchcraft
3. Joan Penney
Joan Penney, who was accused by Zebulon Hill, a former Gloucester resident who had recently moved to Salem town.
Joan Penney had numerous squabbles with neighbors over land and had also been brought to court a number of times for such crimes as wearing a silk scarf and “breach of sabbath” after she carried bushels of corn on her way to church.
4. Rebecca Dike, Esther Elwell and Abigail Rowe.
Shortly after, in October or November, James Stevens, a deacon of the local church and lieutenant in the militia, sent for the afflicted girls of Salem village to name the witch he believed was bewitching his sister Mary Fitch, wife of John Fitch. The girls named Rebecca Dike, Esther Elwell and Abigail Rowe.
Esther Elwell (Elwell’s witchcraft case was featured on an episode of the popular NBC genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are? after actress Sarah Jessica Parker discovered she is descended from Elwell); her maiden name was Dutch and she was from a prominent family that lived at the Harbor in an area known as Dutch’s Slough. She married a wealthy man named Samuel Elwell in 1658 in Gloucester. Her mother, Ruth Dutch, had also once been accused of witchcraft, although it is not known when. A Gloucester woman named Mary Fitch had recently fallen ill with an unexplained sickness. Lieutenant James Stevens sent for the “afflicted girls” of Salem Village to find out who had bewitched her. Soon after, a 17-year-old Elizabeth Hubbard accused Elwell and the other women, or at least their “spectres” of “pressing, squeezing and choking of Mary Fitch.”
After Fitch died, Stevens filed a complaint with the magistrates. A warrant for the three was issued November 5. James Stevens, the complainant, was an important figure in town, a deacon of the church, and a lieutenant in the militia. He married Susannah Eveleth, daughter of Sylvester Eveleth, in 1656.
Rebecca Dike: her maiden name was Dolliver and she married a man named Richard Dike who held a large amount of land in Gloucester. Rebecca was neighbors with the in-laws of the Stevens family, the Eveleths, and had many problems with them.
Abigail Rowe was the 15-year-old daughter of Hugh and Mary Prince Rowe of Little Good Harbor. . The fact that she was only fifteen years old in 1692 shows the peculiarity of her case. While it was certainly not unheard of for children to be accused of witchcraft, they were generally accused along with other family members. Seeing a teenaged girl accused along with two adult women is quite unusual, but she was not the only woman in her family accused of witchcraft. The family had a large amount of land in the Little Good Harbor area. Abigail’s mother and her grandmother, Margaret PRINCE, were also accused
Hugh Rowe and his older brother John received equal portions of their father John’s estate of £205 16s. 10d. Five years later, Hugh and John entered into an agreement witnessed by Robert Elwell, who owned land near theirs. In 1685, Hugh Rowe received three parcels of land from his “father-in-law” William Vinson, likely the father of his first wife, Rachel Langton. Hugh and Rachel Rowe’s daughters married sons of Anthony Day. Another of Anthony Day’s sons, Timothy, married Phoebe Wilds, one of the women mentioned in the Ipswich petition.
Thus Hugh and Mary Rowe lived near Robert Elwell and had a close relationship to William Vinson and the Day family. Mary was also the daughter of Margaret Prince. All of the Gloucester women whose accusations are known only from the Ipswich petition were connected to the Rowe family. This provides clear evidence that there was a connection between their accusations and the accusation against Esther Elwell, Rebecca Dike, and Abigail Rowe. The likely cause of the accusations was animosity between different members of the town elite, which spiraled out of control in the context of the witchcraft panic and other tensions facing Massachusetts at the time.
Fortunately for the accused, it appears that these cases never went to trial because the use of spectral evidence was banned in October of 1692, giving prosecutors little evidence to go on, and the special court set up to hear the Salem Witchcraft cases was disbanded. In November, public officials set up the Superior Court of Judicature to hear the remaining witchcraft cases but between January and May of 1693, most of the accused were released due to a lack of evidence or tried and found not guilty.
Cornelius BROWN Sr (1632 – 1701) married his third wife Mary Dustin on 26 Nov 1698 . Mary Dustin was born 8 Nov 1650 in Reading, Mass. Her parents were Josiah Dustin and Lydia [__?__]. She first married 7 Sep 1676 to Adam Colson (d. 1 Mar 1687) had Josiah, b. 6 Mar. 1673, d. in few mos.; Elizabeth 9 Oct. 1676; Lydia, 31 Mar. 1680; and David, 26 Apr. 1682; and d. 1 Mar. 1687. Mary was accused of being a witch in the Salem Witch Trials.
Mary’s mother, Lydia Dustin, a resident of Reading (Redding), Massachusetts, was arrested on April 30, 1692 on the same day as George Burroughs, Susannah Martin, Dorcas Hoar, Sarah Morey, and Philip English. Lydia Dustin was examined on May 2 by magistrates Jonathan Corwin and John Hathorne, on the same day as Sarah Morey, Susannah Martin, and Dorcas Hoar were examined. She was then sent to Boston’s jail.
Mary’s unmarried sister Sarah Dustin was the next in the family accused and arrested, followed by Mary’s daughter, Elizabeth Colson [16 years old in 1692], who eluded capture until after the third warrant was issued (sources differ on whether she was ever captured). Then Mary Colson was also accused; she was examined but not indicted.
Mary Beth Norton states in “In the Devil’s Snare” that “In Malden, Mistress Mary Swayne Marshall, sister of a militia major, declared that on April 8 the specter of Elizabeth Colson of Reading, the teenage granddaughter of a woman long believed to be a witch [Lydia Duston], had knocked her down, ‘Strikeing of me deafe and Dumm Tortering my body in most parts; Chokenig [sic]of me quite dead for Some time.’ Colson, she declared, had bruised her head, wrung her neck, and even dislocated her shoulder.”
Both Lydia and Sarah were found not guilty by the Superior Court of Judicature, Court of Assize and General Gaol Delivery in January or February, 1693, after the initial trials had been suspended when criticized for their use of spectral evidence. However, they could not be released until they paid jail fees. Lydia Dustin died still in jail on March 10, 1693. She is thus usually included on lists of those who died as part of the Salem witchcraft accusations and trials. Lydia’s husband, Josiah (1623 – 1671), had been one of the founders — and leading land owners — of Reading, Massachusetts.
5 Sep 1692 – Examination of Mary Colson
Mary Coulston examined before said Justices for the Maj’ties Sept. 5. 1692 Jno. Hathorn Esq’re Mary Coultson: you are here acused for afflicting Mrs Mary Marshall by witchcraft Mrs Marshall with others fell Down at her Coming into the Court. s’d Coultson helped Mrs Marshall up by a touch of her hand: but s’d Coultson s’d she never hurt s’d Marshall in her life: Mrs Marshall was asked how long Coultson had afflicted her: she s’d: at times: she had afflicted her ever since her Mother Dastin [Mary’s mother Lydia Dustin] had been in Prison and that she did it in vindication of her mother:
These 3: Tayler: Lilly & Coultson came to me & s’d [through] Mr. Pearpoint song that Psalm: god will be a husband to the widdow: but he would be none to me they sayd: they told me also if I had served their god my husband had bin alive yet: but s’d Coulston was bid to look on the afflicted persons: and s’d some of the afflicted was bid to look on her: and Eliz Booth: & George Booths wife & Allice Booth with others: was struck Down with her look & afflicted & helpted up & was well by a touch of Coultsons hand: they were asked when they were well agayn who hurt: them & s’d it was Coultson it was told Coultson it was evident that she acted witchcraft now before them: & it was like to apear that she had a hand in W’m Hoopers Death & in Ed Marshals Death: And she s’d if she should Confes she should be by her selfe: examined before Jno. Hawthorn Esq’re: & others their Majests: Justice.
this is the substance of what Mary Coultson s’d at her examination,
I und’r written: being appointed by Authority: to take the within examination: Doe testifie upon oath taken in Court that this is a true Coppy of the Substance of it to: the best of my knowledge Janu’ry 5: 1692/3