August 12 (August 2, o.s.)

Massachusetts: The Court of Oyer and Terminer convenes in Salem Town for its third session.  Thomas Newton resigned as prosecutor after the second session, so the prosecution is now in the hands of Anthony Checkley, a trained English lawyer and longtime resident of Boston.

The first action of the court is to conduct the trial of Martha Carrier, who was indicted by the grand jury on July 1, during the court’s second session.  Carrier has since been implicated by all of the recent confessions of suspects from Andover, so Checkley has plenty of evidence with which to proceed.  He follows the standard sequence of evidence established by Newton at the earlier trials, beginning with testimony from the afflicted persons, combined with statements by their adult male supporters, principally Thomas Putnam and his cousin John.  As has also become standard, this testimony is accompanied by periodic outbursts and fits by the afflicted, which they blame on Carrier.

The core of the case against Carrier is the testimony of the confessors, who are called next.  The testimony by Ann Foster and her daughter and granddaughter is particularly damning, as they give detailed accounts of seeing Carrier at gatherings of witches.  Although Carrier’s sons Richard and Andrew also confessed and implicated her, Checkley decides he has plenty of evidence from confessors already and declines to call them to testify.

There is also a considerable amount of evidence from neighbors of Carrier about past activities of hers suggesting witchcraft, but by the time the court gets to them the trial has already gone on all day, so Checkley only calls one of these witnesses, John Roger of Billerica, who testifies concerning an argument he had with Carrier about seven years earlier that was soon followed by the death of one of his pigs and the disappearance of another, along with some trouble getting milk from one of his cows.  The court then adjourns for the day, to hear the rest of the evidence against Carrier and whatever defense she has the next day.

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

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  1. […] third session.  The proceedings begin with the continuation of the trial of Martha Carrier from the previous day.  Prosecutor Anthony Checkley calls his remaining witnesses, mainly neighbors of Carrier from […]

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