September 8 (August 29, o.s.)

Connecticut: Joseph Bishop appears before the magistrates in Stamford and testifies about an incident he witnessed involving Daniel Westcott’s afflicted servant, Kate Branch.  He says he was at Westcott’s house when Kate had one of her fits, and when she came out of it he asked her how she was, to which she answered that her head ached.  He asked her what she saw, and she said she saw cats.  Westcott’s wife Abigail then asked Kate if she was sure they were cats or if she was imagining them, to which Kate answered that if they were cats they were “no ordinary cats,” since she saw one turn into a woman and then turn back into a cat and do other odd things.  Abigail Westcott continued questioning the girl about what the woman looked like, and when she had quite a bit of detail about the woman, including that she was tall and Dutch and had thick lips, she turned to Bishop and said she knew a woman at Fairfield who had been suspected of witchcraft earlier and had thick lips: Mercy Disborough.

Ebenezer Bishop also testifies before the Stamford magistrates about a different incident at the Westcott household that he witnessed.  He describes Kate calling out “Goody Clawson” several times, then having a fit in which she cried out that she was being pinched on the neck.  When Bishop looked at her neck he saw a red mark “as big as a piece of eight” that later turned black and blue.  After she cried out again he looked at her shoulder, where she was pointing, and saw a similar mark there.  Hannah Knapp testifies that she also witnessed this, and that she saw scratches on Kate’s body as well.

Samuel Holly testifies to the magistrates about yet another incident, when he was at the Westcott place and Kate was lying on the bed.  He says he saw her breasts swell up “like bladders,” move down “into her belly,” and come back up, after which they deflated and her throat rattled as if she were choking.  Daniel Westcott attests to the truth of Holly’s story and adds that when her throat rattled like that he saw her stick out her tongue to a length that he considers “beyond nature,” and that when he put her tongue back in her mouth and looked down her throat he didn’t see any tongue at all, just “a lump of flesh.”  He says this happened multiple times.

Massachusetts: The three people complained against for witchcraft by Moses Tyler and Samuel Martin on August 25 are brought to Salem Town for questioning by the magistrates.  Mary Marston and Mary Barker quickly confess that they signed the Devil’s book and afflicted the three girls named in the complaint and that they attended a meeting of witches in Salem Village, but neither goes any further in accusing others of witchcraft.

Mary Barker’s father William Barker also confesses, and in much more detail.  He admits to having enlisted with the Devil three years earlier in exchange for payment of his debts and the opportunity to live comfortably, a deal he was eager to make because he has a large family but not a lot of money.  He describes a witch meeting in Salem Village in considerable detail, saying that it was led by George Burroughs, who summoned the witches there with a trumpet that could be heard from miles away and that some of the witches who attended wore swords.  These military accoutrements are in keeping with the witches’ plans, which Barker says were to establish the Devil’s kingdom in New England, starting in Salem Village because of the bitter arguments and dissension there between factions supporting and opposing the minister, Samuel Parris (in whose pasture this meeting took place).  Once the witches took over the Village, however, their plan was to next target Salem Town and continue to attack one town after another until they had conquered the whole country.  Once they succeeded in establishing their Satanic regime, all people would be equal and there would be “neither punishment nor shame for sin” and “no day of resurrection or of judgment,” in Barker’s words.  He says that some of the witches present who were in leading positions in the conspiracy told him that there were about 307 witches in the region.  He also mentions that in the spring some witches came from Connecticut (presumably the ones currently under investigation there) to Salem Village to afflict, but says that they have since stopped coming up.

In addition to this elaborate story of a demonic conspiracy threatening New England, Barker names names.  He accuses Elizabeth Johnson and her sister Abigail Faulkner of having enticed him into witchcraft, and the magistrates therefore issue warrants for the arrest of Johnson and two of her children.  (Faulkner is already in jail; she was questioned on August 11 but refused to confess.)

New Mexico: As it is the feast of the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Franciscan missionary priests accompanying the reconquest expedition conduct a mass in the morning and hear the confessions of most of the soldiers in the expedition, including Governor Vargas.  The governor then leaves the campsite at the outpost of Valencia with two squads and the military leaders of the expedition to reconnoiter the Pueblo of Isleta and the nearby abandoned haciendas to see if there are any hostile Indians around.  They don’t see any, but they do find some footprints that seem to be only a few days old extending out from the Pueblo.  The same sorts of footprints appear at the hacienda of Juan Domínguez de Mendoza, where there are some fruit trees.  Vargas concludes from this that some Indians from Isleta recently came out to raid and stopped to pick fruit at the hacienda.  At the end of the day he makes camp in the area of the haciendas.

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Published in: on September 8, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments (2)  

2 Comments

  1. […] William Barker Jr., the fourteen-year-old son of the William Barker who confessed to witchcraft on August 29, is questioned by the Salem magistrates.  He quickly confesses and admits to having been baptized […]

  2. […] initially examined on August 11 but was accused once again by William Barker in his confession on August 29.  This time she confesses and says that she began to bewitch the afflicted persons after they […]


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