June 9 (May 30, o.s.)

Connecticut: Mercy Disborough, being held in the Fairfield County jail in the town of Fairfield on suspicion of witchcraft, is ducked into water at her own request to determine her guilt or innocence. She floats, a sign of guilt.

Massachusetts: Philip English, the Salem merchant who fled after being charged with witchcraft on April 30, is found at the home of a friend in Boston where he has been in hiding.

Meanwhile, William Stoughton, chief justice of the Court of Oyer and Terminer convened to try the witchcraft cases, and Samuel Sewall, another member of the court, issue a call for jurors to hear the trials.  They need eighteen men for the grand jury and another forty to form smaller juries for individual trials.

Mexico: The viceroy’s efforts to impose order in Mexico City after the rioting of the previous evening begin to take effect. The militiamen assembled from the merchant community by Luis Sánchez de Tagle overnight muster on the plaza and are in place by 4:00 am. For the most part they confine themselves to building firebreaks to contain the flames from the public buildings that are still burning after being ignited by the rioters, although one group, under the command of Francisco de la Cueva, finds five suspected looters near the plaza shortly before dawn and apprehends them. All of the five, two of whom are Indian, one mestizo, one black, and one Spanish, are carrying bundles of clothing, and one of the Indians has a hammer. Later, around 8:30 am, Cueva’s soldiers hear that there is some stolen clothing being hidden in a house on the Calle de Aguila, so they go to the house in question, break down the door, and search for the illicit goods. They find them hidden under a bed and arrest an Indian they find on the roof.

Later in the day, the guild of tailors contributes additional militia members, and the viceroy issues a general call to arms, ordering all citizens to join temporary militia companies under the command of the Conde de Santiago.

The viceroy also issues other decrees to maintain order in the city, including one ordering that no more than four Indians could walk the streets as a group. Although people of many racial categories, as indicated by the group captured by Cueva’s men, were involved in the chaos of the night before, Indians are widely considered to have been the main instigators of the riot as well as the majority of the looters, so this measure is intended to both prevent further disturbances and make suspected looters easier to catch. Another decree forbids the purchase of goods from anyone not already known to be an established merchant, under penalty of two years exile to the Philippines for Spaniards or two hundred lashes and two years forced labor in a textile workshop for those of other racial backgrounds.

These draconian measures leave the looters in a dangerous situation, in possession of goods they can neither sell nor keep without the risk of arrest and severe punishment. Many try to give them to relatives for safekeeping, but often without much success since even those who were not involved in the rioting are concerned about being suspected by the authorities. This fear is particularly strong among Indians, who are being particularly blamed both by the Spanish elite and by other lower-income racial groups, who frequently cooperate with the authorities to recover stolen goods from Indian neighbors.

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Published in: on June 9, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments (2)  

2 Comments

  1. […] is examined by a special court in Fairfield and asked why she had insisted on being ducked on May 30, to which she replies that it was to establish her innocence. She is also asked if she said at some […]

  2. […] of witchcraft on May 28, along with the merchant Philip English, who was captured in Boston on May 30 after hiding for several weeks, are brought to the Salem Village meetinghouse to be questioned. The […]


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