June 23 (June 13, o.s.)

Connecticut: Daniel Westcott takes his servant Katherine Branch, whose fits have temporarily stopped, to the house of commissioner Jonathan Selleck in Stamford. Selleck questions her about her afflictions, and asks her if she had ever heard anyone say the names of the women she has accused of witchcraft before. She replies that she had never heard the names until they themselves told her when they began afflicting her. She also says that while Elizabeth Clawson and Mercy Disborough have mostly stopped afflicting her since they were apprehended, there are other witches who appear to her, including a mother and daughter whose names she doesn’t know but who live in Fairfield, a woman from New York named Mary Glover, a “Goody Abison” from Boston, and a “Goody Miller.” The last two she says have been taking her master’s child out of bed and leaving it on the floor. Selleck asks if she is willing to testify under oath about all this, and she says she is.

Massachusetts: The council, meeting in Boston, sends a request to the ministers of the colony asking for their opinions on the witchcraft crisis in Salem. Four of the judges on the Court of Oyer and Terminer assembled to try the suspected witches are present at the meeting, and the decision to ask the advice of the clergy is spurred in part by murmurs of discontent with their handling of the trials that are starting to be heard in various places.

New Mexico: Joaquín de Hinojosa, the interim president of the Franciscan mission in the province who has been embroiled in a dispute over jurisdiction with Governor Vargas for weeks, begins an investigation of the conduct of the priests under his supervision in order to bolster his case against the governor. He has his apostolic notary issue a letter patent ordering five prominent Spanish officials in the provincial government to come to their local churches to answer questions about whether the local priest has been conscientious about carrying out his duties and keeping the church in proper condition. The five officials are Luis Granillo, Francisco de Anaya Almazán, Sebastián González Bas, Francisco Lucero de Godoy, and Cristóbal de Tapia. They are commanded to keep the investigation secret on pain of excommunication.

Granillo, the lieutenant governor, refuses to participate, but the other men dutifully report to their respective churches after being contacted at home by the father missionary, Francisco Corvera, whom Hinojosa has entrusted with carrying out the investigation. Anaya, after coming to the church in his hometown of San Lorenzo and answering the questions about the priest, Antonio de Acevedo, goes to the governor and tells him about the investigation, blatantly violating the terms of the letter patent. The governor is furious that Hinojosa is conducting this investigation behind his back, and decides that, if such an investigation is to be conducted, he should conduct it himself, and only at the express order of the viceroy. He considers Hinojosa’s conduct a usurpation of royal authority. He therefore sends for his secretary of government and war, Juan Páez Hurtado, with orders to track down Corvera and order him to cease the investigation. As witnesses, he summons three of the officials targeted by Hinojosa, Anaya, González and Lucero, along with another official, Lorenzo Madrid. All are residents of San Lorenzo.

Once Páez and the four witnesses have assembled at the governor’s palace, they proceed to the church of San Lorenzo, accompanied by Governor Vargas and Lieutenant Governor Granillo. When they arrive, the governor first goes alone to the cell of Father Acevedo, soon followed by the lieutenant governor while the witnesses remain outside. After a few words with Acevedo, Vargas orders Páez and the witnesses to come in. Once they are all present, the governor tells Acevedo that he has heard about the investigation being conducted by Corvera and says that he considers this an interference with royal jurisdiction. He further says that he sees no need for such an investigation in the case of Acevedo himself, and praises the priest immensely, saying that he considers him easily qualified not only for the highest positions in the Franciscan Order but for the most prestigious bishoprics in New Spain and even the papal throne.

Acevedo modestly thanks the governor, who then asks if Corvera is in one of the cells at the church. The priest responds that he has gone to the nearby pueblos of Ysleta and Senecú, presumably to continue his investigation, but he doesn’t know which one he is at right now. Vargas therefore orders Páez and the witnesses to go to the pueblos and find Corvera.

As it turns out, Corvera is at Senecú, interviewing the native governor, Lucas Bachalo, through an interpreter named Juan Esteban. Páez and the witnesses arrive around 6:00 pm at the residence of the local priest, José de Espínola Almonacid and find him talking to Corvera. Páez asks Espínola if he can inform Corvera of the governor’s orders. Espínola readily grants permission. Páez then reads the governor’s order to Corvera, who responds that as a subject of the king of Spain he will obey the king and his local representative, the governor, but that as a priest and a member of the Franciscan Order he much obey his superior, Father Hinojosa. Páez writes down this reply as part of his account of the day’s events and has the witnesses sign the paper to verify the accuracy of the account.

As he leaves the pueblo, Corvera turns to Anaya and tells him that he is excommunicated and should seek absolution.

Published in: on June 23, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments (5)  


  1. […] 15, o.s.) Massachusetts: The ministers asked for their opinions on the witchcraft crisis on June 13 submit their answer to the council.  They praise the efforts of the judges to root out witchcraft, […]

  2. […] of the court, but which was upheld by the ministers the council consulted about the trials on June 13 in their June 15 reply.  Nonetheless, the jury convicts both Proctors, although Elizabeth is able […]

  3. […] Around 9:30 am Francisco de Anaya Almazán, the provincial official who reported to Governor Vargas the previous day about the investigation being conducted by the local Franciscans, receives a message from Joaquín […]

  4. […] official who was summoned to testify in the investigation of the conduct of local priests on June 23 but then violated the terms of the summons by informing the governor of the investigation and was […]

  5. […] with ecclesiastical jurisdiction when he order a stop to the investigation of priests on June 23. Vargas replies that he was not interfering with ecclesiastical jurisdiction and that his […]

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: