June 7 (May 28, o.s.)

Connecticut: Elizabeth Clawson and Mercy Disborough are brought before the court in Stamford and examined in connection with Katharine Branch’s accusations of witchcraft against them. Both firmly and unequivocally deny any involvement in or knowledge of the girl’s afflictions, though Clawson, who is examined first, admits that there was “a dissension” between her and Daniel Westcott eight or nine years before. A committee of five women is assigned to inspect her body for a witch’s teat, generally thought to be an unusual growth or excrescence somewhere on her body. After their inspection they unanimously report that they found nothing on her except a wart on one of her arms.

When Disborough is examined she asserts that she has never seen or even heard of Katharine Branch before. The same committee that inspected Clawson, with the addition of two more women, is assigned to inspect Disborough. They report back that they found “a teat or like one in her privy parts.” They claim it is “at least an inch long” and “not common in other women” and they can give no natural explanation for it.

While Disborough is being examined, Katharine Branch is brought into the meetinghouse. She is having fits when first brought in, but she comes to her senses for long enough to say that she hears Mercy Disborough. When Disborough turns to look at her she immediately falls back into fits. She later comes out of them again, asks where Mercy is, and when she sees her says “’tis she, I’m sure ’tis she” and falls into fits once more.

The court notes that since Clawson and Disborough have been in custody Katharine has not claimed to see them in her visions, though she still sees Goody Hipshot, who asks her where her mates are, to which Katharine replies that they have been caught and she will soon be too.

The committee of women that examined Disborough is then ordered to inspect both women again, which they do. The results are the same as in the previous inspections.

Jamaica: The Council meets in Port Royal and receives news that the French have landed on the north side of the island. The councilors order that the Port Royal militia regiment be called up and an embargo placed on all shipping. A proclamation is issued saying that all booty taken by ships fighting the French shall be divided among the men of those ships, and that every man wounded in the fighting will receive two slaves in addition. The Council of War meets afterward and sends fifty men to St. George’s Parish and another fifty to St. Mary’s Parish.

Massachusetts: John Walcott, father of the afflicted girl Mary Walcott, and Joseph Houlton file charges with the Salem magistrates against eleven people for bewitching Mary and others.  The accused are Martha Carrier of Andover, Elizabeth Fosdick of Malden, Wilmot Reed of Marblehead, Sarah Rice of Reading, Elizabeth Howe of Topsfield, Captain John Alden of Boston, Captain John Floyd of Boston, William Proctor of Salem Village, Mary Toothaker and her daughter of Billerica, and Arthur Abbott, who lives near the place where the boundaries of Ipswich, Topsfield and Wenham come together.  Fosdick, Reed, and Rice were first accused by Ann Putnam, Mary Walcott and Mercy Lewis on May 26 in the presence of Marshal George Herrick and Constable Joseph Neale.  Mary Toothaker is the wife of Roger Toothaker, a doctor who has already been arrested on witchcraft charges and was interrogated on May 18.  He is now in jail in Boston.  Martha Carrier is Mary Toothaker’s sister.  Elizabeth Howe has been suspected of witchcraft for many years, and was even rejected when she applied for membership in the Ipswich church.  (Though she lives in Topsfield, the property is very close to the border with Ipswich.)  Captain Floyd, an experienced militia leader in the war on the northern frontier, has been the target of considerable criticism for his judgment and conduct in that war.  Among the criticisms has been his lateness in reaching York when it was attacked on January 25, which effectively left the town defenseless.  He is now home in Boston on leave.  Captain Alden, a prominent merchant and sailor with extensive ties to the frontier, has also been criticized for his conduct in the war and there are widespread suspicions about his loyalty to the colony, given his trading connections with the French and Indians.   William Proctor is the son of the accused witches John and Elizabeth Proctor, in jail in Boston.

The magistrates, John Hathorne and Jonathan Putnam, issue warrants for the arrest of the accused people and order them to be brought in for questioning on May 31.

Mexico: Mindful of the shortage of grain the day before, people in Mexico City crowd into the grain exchange and jostle for position to ensure that they will be able to buy some maize before supplies run out, as is certain to happen at some point. Tensions among the populace, particularly in the poorer areas of the city inhabited primarily by Indians, rise to an even higher level as low supplies and high prices for both maize and wheat continue. Many attribute the severity of the problems to the viceroy and his circle of officials and cronies, who are widely suspected of hoarding grain themselves to take advantage of the high prices.

As a result of this tension, there are problems at the grain exchange when supplies run out and the vendors close the doors. Scuffles break out between nervous vendors and desperate customers, causing some injuries, most notably (and, to the assembled crowd, outrageously) to a pregnant Indian woman who suffers a miscarriage as a result. When the viceroy hears about the troubles at the exchange, he orders the royal prosecutor Juan de Escalante y Mendoza and the district magistrate Juan Núñez de Villavicencio to be present at the exchange the following day to watch over the distribution of grain and keep things from getting out of hand.

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Published in: on June 7, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments (4)  

4 Comments

  1. […] in the morning to oversee the distribution of maize and prevent the sort of problems that occurred the previous day when the exchange closed early when supplies were exhausted. Escalante tries to impose some order […]

  2. […] 10 (May 31, o.s.) Massachusetts: Most of the people accused of witchcraft on May 28, along with the merchant Philip English, who was captured in Boston on May 30 after hiding for […]

  3. […] Elizabeth Howe of Topsfield, an old woman long suspected of witchcraft and formally accused on May 28, is presented to the grand jury of the Court of Oyer and Terminer in Salem. Most of the evidence […]

  4. […] Thomas Newton, against Martha Carrier of Andover. Carrier was first accused of witchcraft on May 28 and examined on May 31. The grand jury finds Newton’s evidence convincing and issues […]


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