Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Have any witches in your family tree?

I have a few, two of whom were convicted during the Salem Witch Trials-- Mary (PERKINS) BRADBURY was my 9th great-grandmother, and Susannah (NORTH) MARTIN was my 10th great-grandmother twice (through her daughters Jane and Abigail).

Mary Bradbury was convicted and sentenced to be executed, but she somehow avoided the gallows and lived another eight years, to die of natural causes in 1700. A popular tradition goes that her husband Thomas, one of the wealthiest and most prominent citizens of Salisbury, bribed the jailer to let her go and they escaped to Maine until the witchcraft hysteria died down.

Susannah was not so lucky; she was hanged on 19 July 1692. One of her main accusers was William BROWN, whose wife Elizabeth (nee MURFORD) was said to have been bewitched by Susannah. In all likelihood, Elizabeth was suffering from some sort of mental illness. William and Elizabeth were my 9th great-grandparents.

I also have ancestors accused of witchcraft who were not from Salem; I will write more about them in a future entry...

Meanwhile, here is a great resource for the Salem Witch Trials:  The Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive And Transcription Project, containing actual court records and letters.