Sunday, 11 March 2012

Witches of Connecticut


Read Part One

Continuing on with the witch trials of Connecticut, I'll start part two with Goody Mary Bassett. Little remains in the records other than she had confessed and was executed in 1651. Some say she named another witch.

In 1653, Goodwife Elizabeth Knapp was thought to have been a woman of good character. The village of Fairfield was suspicious about her being a witch and this led to gossip. Soon, she was indicted and thrown into prison. She was tried and sentenced to hang.

The same day of sentencing, neighbors descended upon Elizabeth in order for her to confess to her crimes and name any other witches in their midst. Elizabeth remained strong and refused to "render evil for evil." She resisted falsely naming others of the crime and appealed to her persecutors "neuer, neuer poore creature was tempted as I am tempted, pray, pray for me."

On the gallows, Elizabeth broke. She climbed down from the ladder and asked to speak to the Deputy Governor of Massachusetts and Connecticut in private. She named "Mary Staplies" as a witch, and in view of the villagers, she was hanged. When her body was still, she was "cut downe." Her body was stripped and searched for witch's marks.

Among the women searching her body was Mary Staples. They found some "teates" on Elizabeth's body and Mary claimed, "...if they were the markes of a witch, then she was one..." Of course, that brought further suspicion on Mary. She was luckier than Elizabeth. She didn't hang for her remarks and her husband filed a suit for slander. Another suit accusation was brought against Mary in 1692. This time her daughter and granddaughter were included in the charges. Again, she was acquitted.

Nicholas Bayley and his wife were under suspicion of being witches in 1655. Among their deeds were lying. She was said to have told a "filthy speech." They were acquitted and banished from the colony. William Meaker was accused of bewitching a neighbors pigs. There were a couple of other minor cases, including another husband and wife accusation, before the infamous Hartford trials. I'll continue with the Connecticut witch trials in my next blog.

Kim Murphy

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