May 31 (May 21, o.s.)

Massachusetts: Mary Easty, the sister of accused witches Rebecca Nurse and Sarah Cloyce who was released from jail on May 18 but has since been charged with bewitching the afflicted girl Mercy Lewis, is apprehended and reimprisoned, to be questioned on May 23.

Meanwhile, Sergeant Thomas Putnam and his cousin, Constable John Putnam, file charges against Sarah Proctor, the fifteen-year-old daughter of accused witches John and Elizabeth Proctor who was herself accused by Elizabeth Booth, Mary Warren and Susannah Sheldon the previous day; Sarah Bassett of Lynn, Elizabeth Proctor’s sister-in-law; and Susannah Roote of Beverly, a widow about whom there have long been rumors of impiety.

New Mexico: Joaquín de Hinojosa, president in capite and interim ecclesiastical judge ordinary of New Mexico, sends a petition to Governor Vargas protesting the governor’s refusal on May 17 to grant the religious authorities jurisdiction over all the lands of the Indians along with the transfer of possession of the churches in the province to them. He asks for a copy of his original petition of May 16 and the proceedings resulting from it to send to the fathers superior of his order, the Observant Franciscans. When the governor receives the petition he refuses to grant it and says that if Hinojosa wishes to appeal his decision he should take it up with the viceroy. He further argues that the royal decree on which Hinojosa is basing his argument is irrelevant, since it addresses a different issue in a different place and situation. He says that giving the priests temporal authority over the Indians would be severely detrimental to the interests of the Spanish colonists, who are few and widely scattered among the Indians, whom the priests would be bound to favor in disputes. He also accuses Hinojosa of attempting to usurp royal authority.  He sends his secretary of government and war, Juan Páez Hurtado, to inform Hinojosa of his decision, and orders four government officials to accompany him as witnesses: Francisco de Anaya Almazán, Juan García de Noriega, Juan Lucero de Godoy, and Fernando Durán y Chaves.

Published in: on May 31, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments (2)  

May 30 (May 20, o.s.)

Massachusetts: About dawn, Constable John Putnam and Marshal George Herrick leave Putnam’s house in Salem Village, where Mercy Lewis has been suffering dreadful fits apparently at the hands of Mary Easty, who was freed from jail on May 18, to go to Salem Town and file renewed charges against Easty for bewitching Lewis. They are convinced that only reimprisoning Easty can end Mercy’s fits and save her life. A warrant is swiftly issued for Easty’s rearrest and questioning.

Throughout the day, other afflicted girls are brought to Putnam’s house to see if they can identify the specter(s) tormenting Mercy Lewis. The first to come is Mary Walcott, who confirms Mercy’s charge that it is Mary Easty who is tormenting her for not clearing her name. Ann Putnam and Abigail Williams come next, and claim to see not only Easty but John Willard and Mary Witheridge, who were examined and sent to jail the same day Easty was released, tormenting Mercy. Finally, at night Elizabeth Hubbard comes and also sees Easty’s apparition.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Booth, the newest afflicted girl who accused Daniel Andrew of afflicting her on May 18, has fits which she blames on Sarah Proctor, the fifteen-year-old daughter of the previously accused John and Elizabeth Proctor, currently jailed in Boston.  Mary Walcott also accuses Sarah Proctor of afflicting her.  Susannah Sheldon accuses both Andrew and Proctor of causing her fits.

Published in: on May 30, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments (1)  

May 29 (May 19, o.s.)

Jamaica: The Council meets in Port Royal. Colonel Peter Beckford is given the authority to conduct court martials of the officers of the Port Royal regiment of militia in emergencies and is empowered to repair the Port Royal fortifications for 800 pounds. The possessions of Lord Inchiquin purchased for 90 pounds from Lady Inchiquin for government use are inventoried.

Massachusetts: In the late evening Mercy Lewis, the only one of the afflicted girls who has not retracted her accusations of witchcraft against Mary Easty, who was freed from jail the previous day by order of the Salem magistrates, falls into terrible fits at the home of Constable John Putnam, the cousin of her master Thomas Putnam.  She accuses Easty of afflicting her for not clearing her name the way the other girls did.  Constable Putnam and Marshal George Herrick, upon seeing her fits, conclude that Mercy’s life is endangered by the severity of her fits, and that renewed charges must be filed against Easty.

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May 28 (May 18, o.s.)

Massachusetts: The Salem magistrates, John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin, return from Boston (where they attended the swearing-in of the Governor William Phips) to Salem Village to question John Willard, the accused witch who fled to Nashaway when he was charged on May 10 but was found and brought back on May 17. As is by now usual at examinations of suspected witches, the afflicted persons fall into fits as soon as Willard is brought in. Hathorne begins his questioning by stating that he considers the mere fact of Willard’s flight sufficient proof of his guilt, but that he should nevertheless confess. Willard acknowledges that fleeing was a bad idea, but says that he only did it because he was afraid, and that God will show him to be “white as snow.” Hathorne then confronts Willard not only with the accusations of the afflicted that he has been tormenting them spectrally, but also with evidence that he was responsible for Daniel Wilkins’s death on May 16 along with several other earlier deaths. Willard denies all guilt and attempts to hold forth on theology, but is sharply told that he has not been brought to preach. Benjamin Wilkins, uncle of the deceased Daniel, testifies that aside from his spectral crimes Willard was known to beat his wife so hard that he broke sticks on her. Other witnesses provide more evidence of his physical cruelty.

Several of the afflicted girls are now brought toward Willard to attempt to touch him, but they fall down into fits and are unable to. When Susannah Sheldon is brought to him and falls into fits, Willard is asked to touch her. He grabs her hand but she continues in her fits. When the same test is tried with Mary Warren, however, Willard clasps her arm and she immediately recovers. Willard asks why the test worked this time but not with Susannah, and the spectators say that it is because he took her hand rather than clasping her arm.

After the touch tests Willard is questioned further about his alleged spectral attacks on the afflicted girls, but he continues to assert his innocence in the face of all the evidence against him. Finally, the magistrates ask him to say the Lord’s Prayer. He tries several times, but keeps making mistakes. He laughs nervously at one point and suggests that perhaps he is bewitched as well. The fact that he is unable even after several tries to say the prayer correctly simply serves to seal his guilt in the magistrates’ eyes. Although he continues to insist that he is innocent, he is ordered sent to jail in Boston.

The magistrates also question the five people accused on May 14, whose examinations were originally scheduled for May 17. Since Hathorne and Corwin were still in Boston then, the examinations have been postponed until now. Sarah Buckley’s examination is short and revolves mainly around spectral evidence by the afflicted girls, both in written statements and in accounts of torments at the examination itself. Her specter has been closely associated with that of John Willard in many of the alleged attacks. Mary Witheridge is likewise implicated primarily by spectral evidence both presented formally and alleged contemporaneously. This is enough for both women to be sent to jail. Rebecca Jacobs, whose father-in-law and daughter are already imprisoned and whose husband has fled, is also easily jailed on the basis of spectral evidence from the girls. Elizabeth Hart and Thomas Farrar, both of Lynn, are likewise sent to jail on such evidence.

The magistrates also examine Roger Toothaker, a doctor from Billerica, who has fallen under suspicion on account of his occasionally practicing countermagic and prescribing methods for identifying witches. Evidence of this persuades the magistrates to send him, too, to jail in Boston with the others.

In addition to examining all these people, Hathorne and Corwin also order the release of Mary Easty, the sister of accused witches Rebecca Nurse and Sarah Cloyce who was charged with witchcraft on April 21 and questioned on April 22. Most of the afflicted girls have since retracted their accusations against Easty, and the evidence against her is therefore now quite thin.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Booth, the eighteen-year-old from Salem Village who first began having fits the previous night, continues to be afflicted.  The first three fits she has today are not accompanied by any specters, but in her later fits she sees the apparition of Daniel Andrew, the bricklayer who was first charged with witchcraft on May 14 but fled and has not been found.  Andrew’s specter tells her that though Warren’s apparition the previous night didn’t hurt her, he will if she doesn’t sign his book.  She doesn’t sign, and he is true to his word.

Mexico/New Mexico: The Conde de Galve meets with the Junta of the Royal Treasury to discuss Governor Vargas’s reconquest plan. They look over his letters describing his plans and his accomplishments thus far, along with the comments of the royal prosecutor Noboa on these letters, and, comparing Vargas’s plans with the proclamations issued by the king on the subject in 1683 and 1689, decide that they resemble each other so closely that it must be due to divine providence, which implies that God himself wants Vargas to reconquer New Mexico. The Junta therefore decides to give its blessing to the venture and to grant Vargas the fifty soldiers he asks for, to be drawn from the presidios in Nueva Vizcaya, proportionally from each presidio so as not to deplete any one of them severely. Vargas is given wide discretion in how and where these men are to be delivered to him and what he does with them afterward. The Junta also agrees with Noboa’s suggestion of issuing new dispatches to the former New Mexicans residing in Nueva Vizcaya ordering them to return and assist in the reconquest, offering them substantial rewards if they do so but harsh penalties if they do not. As for the rumors of a mercury mine in the Hopi country, the Junta decides that they can be investigated at leisure from New Mexico after it is reconquered. The viceroy issues a directive to Vargas containing the same information and authorizing him to begin the reconquest.

Published in: on May 28, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments (5)  

May 27 (May 17, o.s.)

Massachusetts: A jury of inquest summoned by Salem Constable John Putnam to investigate the death the previous night of Daniel Wilkins examines the body of the deceased and finds several bruises and puncture wounds on the back. The jury therefore concludes that Wilkins died “an unnatural death” by witchcraft.

Meanwhile, Constable Putnam brings the prime suspect in Wilkins’s death, John Willard, to Salem Village, having found him in Nashaway, far to the west. A warrant for Willard’s arrest was issued on May 10 but he fled to Nashaway and was not found until now. Marshall George Herrick immediately writes to John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin, the Salem magistrates, who are in Boston for the swearing-in of Governor William Phips.

At night, a new girl in Salem Village joins the ranks of the afflicted. Eighteen-year-old Elizabeth Hubbard begins to have fits in which she sees Mary Warren, who confessed to witchcraft on April 19, bring her a book to sign. When she refuses Warren’s specter tells her that if she signs she “will be well,” since Warren herself did and she is well. Warren is of course currently in jail, so her specter’s arguments are dubious at best, and Elizabeth continues to refuse to sign.

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May 26 (May 16, o.s.)

Massachusetts: Sir William Phips, the newly appointed governor of Massachusetts who arrived in Boston on May 14, is sworn in as governor and his commission is read. The other members of the colony’s council who are present are also sworn in, including the Salem magistrates John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin.

Meanwhile, in Salem Village, Mary Walcott and Mercy Lewis come to the Wilkins house and state before a crowd of onlookers that they see John Willard’s apparition, as well as Sarah Buckley’s, pressing on and choking both Bray Wilkins and his grandson Daniel, who dies after sunset.

Published in: on May 26, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments (2)  

May 25 (May 15, o.s.)

Massachusetts: In the evening Ann Putnam, the initial accuser of John Willard on April 23, comes to the Wilkins house as Mercy Lewis did the previous day to see if there are any specters afflicting Bray and Daniel Wilkins. Like Mercy, she sees the specter of John Willard afflicting both, and further says that the apparition tells her that he wants to kill Daniel but isn’t powerful enough to do so just now, so he will go to George Burroughs, the alleged leader of the witches, to get more power.

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May 24 (May 14, o.s.)

Massachusetts: Thomas Putnam and Nathaniel Ingersoll appear before the Salem magistrates, John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin, to file charges against eight people for bewitching Ann Putnam (Thomas Putnam’s daughter), Mercy Lewis, Mary Walcott, Abigail Williams, “and others of Salem Village.” The eight accused people are Daniel Andrew, a bricklayer from Salem Village; George Jacobs Jr., the son of the previously accused George Jacobs Sr.; Rebecca Jacobs, the wife of George Jacobs Jr. and sister of Daniel Andrew; Sarah Buckley of Salem Village, accused by Susannah Sheldon in a statement that she later turned against Dorcas Hoar at Hoar’s examination on May 2; Buckley’s daughter Mary Witheridge; Elizabeth Hart of Lynn; Thomas Farrar, also of Lynn; Elizabeth Colson of Reading, granddaughter of the previously accused Lydia Dustin; and Bethia Carter of Woburn. The magistrates immediately issue warrants for the arrest of all eight ordering them to be brought for questioning to Ingersoll’s tavern in Salem Village at 10 am on May 17.

Farrar, Hart, Buckley, Witheridge and Rebecca Jacobs are quickly found and arrested, but Carter, Colson, Andrew and George Jacobs Jr. have fled and cannot be located. John Parker, the constable of Reading, concludes that Colson is in Boston preparing to flee the colony by ship.

In the evening, the afflicted girl Mercy Lewis comes to the house of the Wilkins family in Salem Village to see if there are any apparitions troubling Bray Wilkins, grandfather-in-law of the accused witch John Willard who was charged on May 10 but fled before he could be arrested and is still at large, and his grandson Daniel Wilkins, who is gravely ill.  Mercy says that she sees the specter of Willard attacking both Bray and Daniel.

Also in the evening, the frigate Nonesuch arrives in Boston harbor bearing the newly appointed governor of Massachusetts, Sir William Phips, and the new charter for the colony restoring to it much of its original autonomy.

Mexico/New Mexico: Governor Pardiñas of Nueva Vizcaya, in response to the viceroy’s request for his opinion and those of the presidio commanders in his province on Governor Vargas’s plans for reconquest of New Mexico, sends along letters and statements from the commanders dated March 15 and 16, April 29, and May 19 and 20. Most of these soldiers, some of whom have experience in New Mexico itself, do not doubt that Vargas can successfully reconquer it, but they all express doubt about whether it can be held without great expense to the royal treasury. They generally suggest that pacifying the Apaches in the El Paso area would be a better use of resources and that, if New Mexico is to be reconquered, securing its frontiers and populating it with Spanish civilians will be essential to keep it. Pardiñas himself concurs with these opinions, although he notes that he has little information about New Mexico.

Published in: on May 24, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments (2)  

May 23 (May 13, o.s.)

Massachusetts: Mary Warren, the former afflicted girl turned confessed witch now in jail in Salem Town, accuses Abigail Soames, a woman from Gloucester living in the house of the Quaker Samuel Gaskill in the Town while she recovers from smallpox, of bewitching her.  Soames is brought to Thomas Beadle’s tavern to be questioned by the Salem magistrates.  Warren is afflicted by terrible fits during Soames’s examination, and is at various points found to have several pins stuck into her body.  When Soames is asked to explain this she suggests that “the Enemy” is hurting Warren.  She then says that she too has been “distracted many a time” and that she herself may be a victim of witchcraft, perhaps at the hands of some people she knows in Gloucester.

Soames is then asked to take Warren by the hand, and as soon as she does Warren’s fits stop.  This experiment is tried three more times, and the result is the same.  When Warren recovers from one of her fits she is asked to touch Soames, but although she tries several times she is unable to, instead falling into fits when she tries.  Soames then takes her hand again and she recovers, just as before, even though her eyes are closed and she only feels “something soft” in her hand that ends her fits. Warren is then asked why she couldn’t touch Soames and she replies that Soames specter came out when she tried and pushed her back.  The magistrates ask Soames if she thinks this is witchcraft or, indeed, if she believes there are witches in the world at all, but she only repeats that “the Enemy or some other wicked person” was harming Warren, and beyond that she knows nothing.  Soames continues to be questioned and given various tests, including touching Warren, and the responses continue to be the same: Warren is afflicted by terrible fits whenever Soames does anything, but immediately recovers when Soames touches her.  Throughout this questioning Soames breaks out into occasional laughter, which perplexes the magistrates.  After they are finished questioning Soames, Warren says she sees the apparitions of John Proctor, Rebecca Nurse and George Burroughs, and that Burroughs bites her.  The bite mark is visible to many in the room.

Mexico/New Mexico: The Conde de Galve orders that copies of all of the letters from Governor Vargas regarding his plans for the reconquest of New Mexico, along with the comments on them of the royal prosecutor Benito de Noboa Salgado, be sent to the Junta of the Treasury, the group of prominent officials with whom he meets occasionally to make important decisions, in preparation for a meeting on the proposal.

Published in: on May 23, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments Off on May 23 (May 13, o.s.)  

May 22 (May 12, o.s.)

Massachusetts: Salem magistrates John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin visit the jail in Salem Town to conduct further questioning of witchcraft suspects they have already examined.  In the wake of the recent confessions of the teenagers Sarah Churchwell and Margaret Jacobs, they are particularly interested in the other two young confessors, Abigail Hobbs and Mary Warren.

The magistrates’ questioning of Hobbs focuses solely on George Burroughs, the minister who was brought from his home in Maine to Salem and questioned on May 9.  Although Hobbs also lived in Maine at one point, and her initial confession on April 19 included an admission that she first met the Devil in the woods there, she did not mention Burroughs, who has been named by several of the afflicted girls as the ringleader of the witches. Now, however, she admits that he directed her to afflict several people in Maine, but she only names one specific victim, a girl named Mary Lawrence, and denies that Burroughs had her stick pins in poppets of his wives or children or the soldiers sent to fight on the frontier under Sir Edmond Andros, all of whom he has been accused of killing through witchcraft.  She does say that Burroughs brought her poppets of the people she did afflict, and that her sticking pins in the poppets resulted in the deaths of the represented people, both boys and girls.  She also says that Burroughs appeared in person (rather than spectrally) both to give her the poppets and to get her to write in his book.  While she disliked Mary Lawrence personally because of some bad things Mary had said about her, she says that Burroughs was “angry with that family” for reasons of his own and that he therefore provided her with a poppet of Mary to stick thorns into.  She also admits to having signed two pacts with the Devil, one for two years and another for four, and thus having been a witch a total of six years, and while she says she knew several other witches in Maine, she claims to not know who they were.  This is a rather frustrating result for the magistrates, who are seeking both to bolster their case against Burroughs and root out any additional witches.

The interrogation of Mary Warren is more useful for at least one of their goals.  They start off more or less where they left off at her initial examination on April 21, which was cut short when she began having severe fits and was rendered unable to answer questions, by asking about the book her master, John Proctor, brought to her to sign.  They ask if she knew what she was doing when she touched it, and she replies that she didn’t then but does now.  She also admits to having stuck pins into poppets to afflict Ann Putnam and Abigail Williams, and that two women from Salem Town, Alice Parker and Ann Pudeator, brought her poppets of Mercy Lewis and Mary Walcott, respectively, to stick pins in.  She also names as witches Rebecca Nurse, Sarah Cloyce, Bridget Bishop, Dorothy Good, and Giles Corey, all of whom have already been charged and jailed.

John Higginson, minister in Salem Town, and John Hale, minister in Beverly, arrive at the jail just in time to see Warren begin to fall into severe fits upon hearing the names of Alice Parker and Ann Pudeator, both of whom seem to be both afflicting her and confessing to a variety of murders, mostly at sea (although Pudeator also confesses to having killed her husband about ten years before).  Parker’s specter also admits to having bewitched Warren’s sister, striking her dumb, and Pudeator’s confesses to having conspired with George Burroughs to bewitch the magistrates’ horses in order to hinder the legal proceedings against the accused witches.  Warren also claims to see the specter of Burroughs himself admitting that he killed his wife “off of Cape Ann” on her way back to Salem from Maine.

Hathorne and Corwin immediately issue warrants for Alice Parker and Ann Pudeator to be arrested and brought in for questioning.  Since both women live in Salem Town, the warrants are executed swiftly, and the magistrates are able to question them without any delay.  On being questioned about Warren’s accusations of having destroying the ship of one Captain Westgate and bewitching Warren’s own sister, Parker denies having had any part in either misfortune.  Warren, still present at the examinations, is insistent that Parker had both rendered her sister dumb and killed her mother after her father failed to mow some grass for her as he had promised.  She also says that Parker’s specter admitted to attending the witches’ sacrament in Samuel Parris’s pasture on March 31 previously described by Abigail Williams and Mercy Lewis.  Marshall George Herrick, who brought her in for questioning, says that she told him when he arrived that “there were threescore witches of the company,” and when Parker is asked to explain this remark she is unable to.  Nicholas Noyes, a minister at Parker’s church in Salem Town, testifies that he has spoken to her in the past, at a time when she was ill, about whether she is a witch.

After concluding their examinations, the magistrates order Pudeator and Parker sent to jail in Boston, along with seven other people currently being held in Salem: George Jacobs, William Hobbs (father of the confessor Abigail Hobbs), Edward Bishop, Bridget Bishop, Mary Black (a slave of Nathaniel Putnam of Salem Village), and Mary English (wife of the Salem Town merchant Philip English, also accused of witchcraft and currently at large).

Mexico/New Mexico: The royal prosecutor, Benito de Noboa Salgado, writes to the Conde de Galve giving his opinions on the letters of Governor Vargas regarding his plans for the reconquest of New Mexico and his troubles getting the former New Mexicans now settled in Nueva Vizcaya to return and assist in the reconquest. Noboa’s opinion on the plans for reconquest is that Vargas should be given the fifty soldiers that he asks for, and that 100 soldiers will be plenty for the expedition, with thirty left in El Paso to guard the settlements there. He suspects that Vargas will have little difficulty reconquering Santa Fe and, having done so, peacefully bringing the Pueblos back under Spanish control, since rebellions never have unanimous support and there are likely substantial factions in the Pueblos that would support the return of the Spanish. As for the settlers in Nueva Vizcaya, Noboa recommends that the viceroy issue new dispatches declaring that those who do not return to New Mexico will be ineligible for appointments to office after the reconquest.

Published in: on May 22, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments Off on May 22 (May 12, o.s.)