Friday, October 31, 2014

Connections to the Salem Witch Trials

Despite the fact that I have hundreds of ancestors in the lineage of my maternal grandmother RUBY BOLTON BROWN  who lived in Essex Co Massachusetts, only a few families actually lived in Salem, and fewer still were involved in any way with the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.

--My great x 8 grandmother REBECCA TOWNE NURSE was the only person in my family tree to be executed as a witch.  Sadly, at age 71, she was confused and unable to speak much during the trial, which fact probably led to her conviction.

--One of the accusers was MERCY LEWIS who was the niece of my great x 8 grandmother MARY LEWIS who married  1st) THOMAS SKILLINGS II.  They were part of a group of very early settlers in Casco Bay, Falmouth, Maine.  Nearly the entire settlement was  wiped out during the Casco Bay Indian Massacre of Aug 11, 1676.  MERCY LEWIS & her two sisters PRISCILLA & ELIZABETH witnessed the massacre, losing their parents, grandparents, several uncles, aunts & cousins.  What few survivors there were escaped to a small island and sent out a note summoning help.  They were rescued and returned to Salem, where the three girls were taken in and raised by Rev GEORGE BURROUGHS.

THOMAS SKILLINGS II & wife MARY LEWIS and one son BENJAMIN SKILLINGS survived the massacre, but THOMAS died in Salem only a few months afterwards. MARY LEWIS SKILLINGS married 2nd) JOTHAM LEWIS (a cousin?) and moved with her young son BENJAMIN to Greenland, Rockingham Co New Hampshire. She married 3rd) to HENRY WILKINS.

Meanwhile back in Salem, MERCY LEWIS was in the employ THOMAS PUTNAM as a servant when she became one of the girls who claimed to be under the spell of witches.  She actually accused Rev GEORGE BURROUGHS, her benefactor, of witchcraft.

After the witch trials, in 1693, MERCY LEWIS left Salem and went to live with her aunt  MARY LEWIS SKILLINGS, then wife of JOTHAM LEWIS,  in Greenland, Rockingham, New Hampshire.

In 1701 Greenland, New Hampshire MERCY LEWIS gave birth to an illegitimate child; CHARLES ALLEN & her aunt MARY LEWIS testified in court on her behalf. CHARLES ALLEN later married MERCY LEWIS, leading to speculation that the child was his.

--WILLIAM BROWN of Salisbury Essex Co Massachusetts was the brother of my great x 8 grandfather DEACON HENRY BROWN.  WILLIAM had married ELIZABETH MURFORD who, according to accounts, was "insane for 30 years".  In 1692, WILLIAM accused a widowed neighbor, SUSANNA NORTH MARTIN of bewitching his wife.  SUSANNA was brought to trial in Salem, and was executed as a witch.  Miraculously, after SUSANNA's execution, WILLIAM's wife ELIZABETH "regained her reason".

Have a Happy Halloween!


© Betty Tartas  2014

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