September 24 (September 14, o.s.)

Connecticut: A special Court of Oyer and Terminer is convened at Stamford with Governor Robert Treat as its chief justice.  The court appoints Lieutenant James Bennett as prosecutor for the witchcraft cases against Elizabeth Clawson and Mercy Disborough, with Mr. Eliphalet Hill to assist him.  Bennett presents the evidence against Clawson and Disborough to the grand jury, which finds it convincing and issues indictments.  Both women plead not guilty and agree to a trial by jury.

The court appoints a committee of women to search the bodies of the Clawson and Disborough for signs of witchcraft.  After the search, the committee reports finding suspicious growths near the genitals of both women, a dark red one on Clawson and a smaller pale one on Disborough, but they stop short of saying that these are definitely witches’ teats, only confirming that they are “more than is common to women.”

Massachusetts: The Court of Oyer and Terminer meets in Salem Town.  The grand jury hears further evidence against Samuel Wardwell, who confessed to witchcraft on September 1 but retracted his confession on September 13.  In addition to the confession, the evidence includes statements by various afflicted persons and other confessors implicating Wardwell in spectral torments.  The grand jury accepts this evidence along with the retracted confession, and issues two indictments against Wardwell.  His trial by the petty jury follows immediately, with the same evidence presented against him along with testimony by other witnesses indicating that he has a history of fortune-telling, and he is easily convicted.

After Wardwell’s trial, the grand jury considers the case of Mary Lacey Sr.  Since, like her mother, Ann Foster, she confessed, the grand jury has no trouble indicting her on the basis of her confession and the spectral evidence of afflicted persons.  Her trial and that of her mother follow.  Both result in guilty verdicts.

The grand jury next considers the case of Wilmot Reed of Marblehead.  The evidence against her mainly consists of testimony from the afflicted girls of Salem Village about her afflicting them, along with testimony by Ambrose Gale, Charity Pitman and Sarah Dodd of Marblehead about an incident about five years earlier when a Mrs. Sims suspected Reed’s servant Martha Lawrence of having stolen some linen from her.  When she confronted Reed about it and threatened to go to Salem and get a warrant from John Hathorne, one of the magistrates, Reed angrily said that she wished Sims might never urinate or defecate again.  Soon afterward, the witnesses allege, Sims was striken with “the dry belly-ache,” which lasted for the remainder of her stay in Massachusetts.  This evidence is convincing to the grand jury, which readily issues two indictments against Reed.  At her trial, immediately afterward, the same evidence is presented and the petty jury finds it convincing as well, finding her guilty.

The grand jury next hears evidence against Sarah Buckley, who was initially questioned on May 18.  Mary Walcott, one of the afflicted girls of Salem Village, testifies that on the day of her examination Buckley tormented her, Abigail Williams, Mercy Lewis and Ann Putnam.  Elizabeth Hubbard testifies that Buckley never afflicted her, but that she did see her afflict Mary Walcott and Ann Putnam.  There is more evidence against Buckley, but as it is getting late the court adjourns for the day to continue the next day.

New Mexico: Some of Governor Vargas’s Indian allies come to his campsite at Pecos Pueblo after reconnoitering the area.  They bring with them three prisoners, women from Pecos.  All three of the women greet the governor by saying “Praise be the blessed sacrament” in perfect Spanish.  One of them is nursing a child and tells the governor that they left the pueblo when the Spanish arrived because their men did and they were afraid to stay behind alone.  Vargas tells them through an interpreter that they are in no danger and may return to their houses.  They are pleased to hear this.

Later, around 6:00 pm, an old Indian man arrives at Pecos.  Through the interpreters Vargas asks where he has been, to which he replies that he was hiding in the fields around the pueblo.  Vargas says that the people of the pueblo shouldn’t have left, since they are in no danger from him, and the man replies that the older people didn’t want to leave but the younger people made them.  He says he brings a message from the governor of the pueblo that he his in the process of gathering his people and that he will bring them to the pueblo when they are all together.  Since the old man is very tired, Vargas lets him spend the night at the pueblo, and asks him to leave early in the morning to tell the governor of Pecos that Vargas is waiting for him at the pueblo.  He gives the man a rosary as a gesture of peace and speaks to him kindly to allay any fears he may have.

Published in: on September 24, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments (2)  


  1. […] and Elizabeth Clawson on witchcraft charges.  The grand jury that indicted Disborough and Clawson the previous day states that, based on the evidence against them, it also finds sufficient evidence to indict Mary […]

  2. […] Governor Robert Treat, the chief justice of the Court of Oyer and Terminer convened in Fairfield on September 14 to try the witchcraft suspects Elizabeth Clawson and Mercy Disborough, reports to the Council on […]

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