July 8 (June 28, o.s.)

Connecticut: Sergeant Daniel Westcott takes his servant Katharine Branch to the house of Commissioner Jonathan Selleck in Stamford for further questioning. She says that on the preceding Saturday night she was afflicted worse than before by Elizabeth Clawson, who pulled her head back and pulled on her arms. She says this continued for the next night or two, but stopped once Clawson was sent away to Fairfield, since which time only Goody Miller had afflicted her. Sergeant Westcott explains that on Saturday night Kate seemed severely afflicted and kept screaming at Goody Clawson. Her head was bent back, and when he tried to pick her up she was much too heavy for him to lift. John Finch, who was also there, tried to pick up Kate as well but could not either.

When Selleck is done with his questioning he sends Kate away, but she only gets a short distance from his house before she falls down into fits and Selleck’s Indian servant girl runs back to the house to inform him. He sends his son and cousin to bring her back, and she remains in her fits all night, with her head bent back and screaming at Goody Clawson and others. At one point she names those she sees afflicting her as Elizabeth Clawson, Mercy Disborough, Goody Miller, and a woman and a girl whose names she doesn’t know, and tells them that their “portion is hellfire to all eternity” and that the ministers of Stamford (John Bishop) and Norwalk (Thomas Hanford) have told her she must not yield to them. She then begins speaking to the girl, asking if her name is Sarah Staples, and expressing skepticism that it is. She asks for the girl’s real name and promises that she will only tell Sergeant Westcott and Captain Selleck but no one else. The girl seems to admit that her name is Hannah Harvey, but when Kate asks for the woman’s name the girl won’t answer so she asks Goody Crump, the “short old woman” who she had accused very early on of afflicting her, who answers that it is Mary Harvey, Hannah’s mother. Kate then gets angry at Hannah for not answering her questions, and asks her about her father, grandfather and grandmother, learning only that her grandmother is one Goody Staples. She then begins singing songs and reciting various religious texts, and this goes on all night. Several people attempt to cut a lock of her hair but she lashes out violently and they are unable to.

Jamaica: HMS Mordaunt arrives at Port Royal to assist in recovery efforts, particularly the salvaging of sunken armaments from the various fortresses on the peninsula that were damaged or destroyed in the earthquake. The Council meets to discuss plans for recovering trade and resisting attack by the French. They decide to pay William Beeston 1000 pounds for the 200 acres of his land where the new town will be laid out, that ships should be permitted to sail to London and New England, that the surviving crew of the sunken HMS Swan be turned over to the Mordaunt and Guernsey, and that strictly enforcing the laws on piety is the only way to keep God from castigating the island with another disaster. A proclamation is to be made that surviving inhabitants of Port Royal will be given preference in the assignment of lots in the new town on Beeston’s land, and that the slaves of St. Andrew’s Parish are to be made to build it.

Massachusetts: The Court of Oyer and Terminer convenes in Salem for its second session.  The session begins with the prosecutor, Thomas Newton, presenting to the grand jury evidence against Sarah Good, one of the three women initially accused of witchcraft on February 29.  The evidence he presents includes reports from witnesses of past incidents in which Good’s behavior suggested witchcraft on her part, sworn statements by the afflicted persons who have been accusing her of tormenting them for the past few months, and additional accounts of recent spectral activity by Good.  Samuel Parris, the minister in Salem Village whose daughter and niece were the first girls to be afflicted, testifies, giving a full account of the early days of the witchcraft crisis and Good’s role in the events at the time.  While the grand jury is hearing this evidence, Marry Warren, the confessed witch who was once one of the afflicted girls, falls into fits, which Susannah Sheldon, another of the afflicted girls, says are the result of Good’s specter tormenting her.  Sheldon also says that she saw the specter take a saucer from the room and put it outside.

This is sufficient evidence for the grand jury, which issues three indictments against Good for afflicting various victims on March 1 and 2.  A petty jury is immediately brought in to try her.

The trial begins with the afflicted girls, especially Ann Putnam and Mary Walcott, testifying about Good’s spectral attacks on them.  The confessed witches Deliverance Hobbs, Abigail Hobbs, Mary Warren and Tituba then give their testimony.  Deliverance Hobbs testifies that she saw Good at a meeting of witches in Samuel Parris’s pasture presided over by George Burroughs, the Maine clergyman who is currently in jail awaiting trial on witchcraft charges.  Her stepdaughter Abigail testifies that Good prevented her from confessing fully during her examination on April 19.  Mary Warren states that Good asked her to sign her book and enlist in Satan’s service.  Tituba goes into greater detail, accusing Good of afflicting the girls and forcing her to do likewise, taking her riding on a pole, and signing the Devil’s book, saying that she saw Good’s signature in the book herself.  To supplement these accounts by confessors, Newton tells the jury that Good’s daughter, Dorothy, has confessed to witchcraft and implicated her mother as well, although she is too young to testify herself.  He also notes that Good herself stated at one point that Sarah Osborne, who was accused of witchcraft at the same time as Good but died in jail on May 10, was guilty of torturing the girls.  Although Good’s accusation of Osborne was clearly intended to demonstrate her own innocence, Newton argues that since only the afflicted and the witches themselves can see spectral activity, and Good is clearly not herself afflicted, her statement against Osborne reveals that she must (also) be a witch.

The trial having already gone on for quite some time at this point, the court adjourns until the next morning.

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Published in: on July 8, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments (1)  

One Comment

  1. […] morning to magistrate Nathan Gold in Fairfield and describes his examination of Katharine Branch the previous day and how she was stricken with fits after being dismissed and had to be kept overnight at his house. […]


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