September 25 (September 15, o.s.)

Connecticut: The Court of Oyer and Terminer meets in Fairfield for the trials of Mercy Disborough 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 Staples, Mary Harvey, and Hannah Harvey, all of whom were accused along with Disborough and Clawson of afflicting Katharine Branch.  The court doesn’t agree to indict these three, but it does issue a proclamation asking that anyone who has evidence to give against any of them should come to the court and testify.

After this, Martha Henry and Ann Hardy are appointed by the court to make a second examination of the bodies of Clawson and Disborough as a check on the examination conducted by a committee of women the previous day.  They report back that they found nothing on Clawson that wasn’t found during the search conducted on May 28, when she was initially questioned, which found nothing but a wart on her arm.  As for Disborough, they report that the growth found on May 28 is still there but a bit smaller and that there is another small growth not found then.

After the search and report, the presentation of evidence by the prosecutor, James Bennett, begins.  Many of the depositions collected by the various magistrates in the area over the months since the initial examinations of Clawson and Disborough are presented and sworn to by the deponents.  These contain various stories about Kate Branch’s recent fits, suspicious past encounters with the two women, and other incidents relating to the accusations.  All are in support of the prosecution; although some depositions were taken that cast doubt on Kate’s reliability, Bennett has no reason to introduce them.

Massachusetts: The Court of Oyer and Terminer meets in Salem Town.  The grand jury considers the evidence against Sarah Buckley that was not presented the previous day, and issues an indictment against her.  It also hears the similar evidence against her daughter Mary Witheridge, and indicts her as well.

The next case to come before the grand jury is that of Margaret Scott of Rowley.  Scott has long been suspected of witchcraft by her neighbors, and most of the testimony against her comes from them.  The grand jury finds this convincing, and indicts her.  Her trial follows immediately, and results in a quick conviction.

New Mexico: Early in the morning the old man who arrived the previous day at Pecos Pueblo with a message from the governor of that pueblo to Diego de Vargas, governor of New Mexico, leaves with Vargas’s return message saying that he would wait at the pueblo until the governor and his people came there.  While Vargas is waiting for the governor to arrive, one of the local women recently taken prisoner offers to go and deliver the message herself, since the old man would travel slowly and take a long time to deliver it.  She says she will leave her mother and daughter, also prisoners, at the pueblo as guarantees of her intent to return, and further says that the governor is her father and a reasonable man who will be amenable to Vargas’s message.

Vargas accepts the woman’s offer and gives her a rosary.  He sends four of his Indian allies with her as guards, to go as far as she wants them to.

At 11:00 am she returns, saying she went through the nearby mountains but didn’t see anyone from the pueblo and was afraid to go any further, even with the Indian guards.  Vargas therefore orders two of his officers to take a squad of twelve soldiers to escort her as far as she wishes.  They go a considerable distance along the river until they see tracks of the local Indians, at which point the woman asks the soldiers to return to the pueblo so that the Indians will not see them and run away.  They do, and arrive back at Pecos around 5:00 pm.  They report what happened to Vargas.

Soon after the soldiers’ return, the woman returns as well.  She reports that she looked carefully for the Indians but was unable to find them.  Immediately after this, a young man from Pecos arrives at the pueblo and greets Vargas, who receives him kindly and gives him a rosary.  Vargas tells him to transmit the message he has already sent with the three old men whom he met earlier, that the people of Pecos should return and make peace with him, and that they are in no danger.  He shows the young man the prisoners at the pueblo, who are happy and safe.  The young man then leaves, promising to deliver the message.

Later, some of the Indian allies and Spanish soldiers bring to the pueblo three women, two of whom appear to Vargas to be over 100 years old, and Francisco de Anaya Almazán, a young Spanish man who says he has been a captive in Pecos since the revolt of 1680, when his father was killed.

Around the same time, one of the Keres Indians whom Vargas has brought from El Paso as allies asks for permission to go to the mesas around Santa Ana Pueblo, where the people of that pueblo are said to be living after abandoning it, along with the people of the nearby Pueblo of Zia.  Since Vargas knows this man and knows that he has a wife in El Paso, he trusts him and grants him permission to make the journey and inform the Keres pueblos of his good intentions.  He gives him a rosary to wear as a sign that he is on a mission for the Spanish and a letter with a cross on it, along with another rosary, to present to the governor of Santa Ana, Antonio Malacate.  He also sends Malacate the message that he and his people have nothing to fear and should come down and meet him at Santo Domingo Pueblo.

Published in: on September 25, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments (2)  


  1. […] accusations of witchcraft against them should come to the court to testify.  The proclamation of the previous day has not yet resulted in anyone […]

  2. […] Staples, Mary Harvey and Hannah Harvey, in accordance with the proclamations issued by the court on September 15 and 16.  The court finds the testimony trivial and unconvincing, and therefore proclaims that the […]

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