July 31 (July 21, o.s.)

Massachusetts: Ann Foster of Andover, who confessed to witchcraft beginning on July 15, is brought before the Salem magistrates again to address discrepancies between her story and that of her daughter, Mary Lacey, who confessed herself the previous day.  She irons over the differences as best she can.  Mary Lacey, under renewed questioning herself, does the same, and also says she saw Elizabeth Howe and Rebecca Nurse, both of whom were hanged for witchcraft on July 19, being baptized by Satan at Newbury Falls about two years before.

After she and her mother are taken away Mary Lacey Jr., her eighteen-year-old daughter, is brought before the magistrates by the sheriff of Andover to answer her own witchcraft charges.  When she is first brought in the judges accuse her straightforwardly of afflicting Ballard’s wife and others, including the confessed witch Mary Warren, who is right there and suffering from fits.  Lacey denies knowing anything about this, but when the justices ask her to put her hand on Warren’s arm she does and Warren instantly recovers, a well-established sign of guilt.  With continued questioning Lacey quickly changes her attitude; she readily confesses guilt, but insists that her mother made her a witch and that she has only been one for a week or so.  As the questions continue, her story shifts subtly, and she begins to pour out confessions in response to the leading questions of the magistrates.  She admits to having afflicted various people with poppets and pins at the request of the Devil, and to having participated in various witchly activities with her mother and grandmother, Martha Carrier, and Carrier’s eighteen-year-old son Richard.

Martha Carrier’s other son, sixteen-year-old Andrew, is a servant in the household of one James Holt, and Lacey says that Holt beats him so he and his brother have been afflicting Holt’s son in revenge with her help.  She also gives further details about the witch meeting in Salem Village that was a major focus of her mother’s and grandmother’s confessions.  She says she and Richard Carrier were there too, and that the whole group rode there on two poles.  When asked why, if she was there in person, no one else has admitted to seeing her, she says that the Devil sometimes produces a mist to hide witches from others’ sight.  She also says that the Devil cannot appear in the form of people without their consent to hurt others, a common defense of witchcraft suspects which was supported by several of the prominent ministers in the colony in a statement on June 15.

When the magistrates are finished with their questioning, Mary Warren, who has been shouting in the background throughout the proceedings and calling for the Carrier brothers to be brought in, comes up to Lacey and takes her by the hand without suffering any ill effects.  Lacey asks for her forgiveness for afflicting her, which Warren grants, and the two begin to cry together in a heartfelt and touching display of contrition and forgiveness that lasts until Lacey’s mother is brought in for further questioning.

Upon seeing her mother, the younger Lacey asks “Oh mother, why did you give me to the Devil twice or thrice over?” to which her mother responds that she is “sorry at the heart for it” and that it was the Devil who made her do it.  Her daughter then tearfully urges her to repent (which she has of course already done).

Ann Foster is then brought in again as well.  Her granddaughter turns to her and says “Oh grandmother, why did you give me to the Devil?  Why did you persuade me?  Oh grandmother, do you not deny it?  You have been a very bad woman in your time, I must needs say.”  The justices are impressed with the teenager’s contrition and accusatory stance, and pronounce themselves satisfied that she is likely to be “snatched out of the snare of the Devil because there seems to be something of repentance” in her confession.  They are less pleased with her grandmother’s confession, however, mostly because of its conflicts with the others, and they pressure her to confess more fully.  She cooperates to some extent, but blames most of the deaths attributed to her on Martha Carrier instead, though she admits to knowing about them.  When asked to explain the discrepancies between what she says now and her initial confession, she says the Devil kept her from telling the truth at first.  With subsequent questioning she seeks to align her story more closely with those of her daughter and granddaughter.

After receiving all this testimony, the magistrates issue an arrest warrant for Andrew and Richard Carrier.  John Ballard, the constable in Andover, immediately arrests them and brings them to Thomas Beadle’s tavern in Salem Town to await questioning.

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Published in: on July 31, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments (1)  

One Comment

  1. […] the release of Mary Lacey Jr., who has been held in the jail since she confessed to witchcraft on July 21 but has not yet been tried.  Faulkner and Barker are to keep Lacey in their care until she is […]


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