Sunday, 22 July 2012

Witches of New York

New York is another state that few people associate with witch trials. As far as anyone can tell, the trials in New York were spared executions. Elizabeth Garlick and her husband settled on Easthampton, Long Island in 1657. The area was considered part of New York, but within a few months became part of Connecticut. From the start, stories surrounded Elizabeth about her practice of witchcraft. During Goodwife Howell's illness, she called out, "A witch! A witch! Now are you come to torture me..." When her father asked her what she had seen, she replied a "black thing" at the end of her bed, and Elizabeth was "double-tongued," used pins, and stood "ready to tear her to pieces." A few days later, Goody Howell was dead.

At Goody Davis's house, she had dressed her children in clean linen. Elizabeth came in and said how pretty one of the children looked. As soon as she had uttered the words, she said, "The child is not well..." Within five days, the child died.

Another woman's breast milk dried up, and her child sickened soon after. A couple of people also had livestock die.

Elizabeth was sent to Connecticut for trial. The court felt that she deserved to die, but in the end, she was acquitted.

In 1660, Mary Wright of Oyster Bay was suspected of witchcraft. She was sent to Massachusetts for trial. She wasn't convicted of witchcraft, but was found guilty for being a Quaker and banished.

In 1665, Ralph Hall and his wife were accused at Brookhaven. They were indicted after George Woods and an infant child got sick and died. No witnesses appeared in court to give testimony. They were acquitted and released.

In 1670, Katharine Harrison, already mentioned in witches of Connecticut, had been banished from that colony, and she settled in Westchester. Complaints immediately came in from surrounding neighbors that she was a witch. The constable gave her an order to leave, but Katharine refused. Because of her otherwise good behavior, she was allowed to stay.

Compared to many other colonies of the 17th century, New York seems to have been tame regarding general accusations of people being witches and subsequent trials.

Kim Murphy


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Kim Murphy said...

I'm glad that you enjoyed it.