September 27 (September 17, o.s.)

Massachusetts: The Court of Oyer and Terminer meets in Salem Town.  The grand jury hears evidence in the case of Abigail Faulkner of Andover, who confessed to witchcraft on August 30 after insisting on her innocence at her initial examination on August 11.  In addition to her confession, the evidence against her includes the statements of various afflicted persons from both Andover and Salem Village accusing her of attacking them spectrally.  Given the confession, the grand jury has no trouble issuing indictments against her, and her trial follows immediately.

The evidence against Faulkner at trial includes not only her own confession and the testimony of the afflicted, but the statements of other confessors as well implicating her in their crimes.  The trial jury finds this convincing, and she is convicted and sentenced to death.  She pleads for a reprieve given that she is pregnant, and the judges agree to postpone her execution.

The next piece of business before the court is the trial of Giles Corey, whose wife Martha was tried and convicted on September 8 and who was himself indicted by the grand jury the next day.  Corey is called up for his trial and pleads not guilty.  However, when the judges ask him if he will agree to trial by God and his country, meaning by a jury, he refuses to answer.  This puts him at risk of being pressed to death, the traditional penalty under English law for refusing to consent to a trial, but he has noticed that everyone who has been tried has been convicted and sentenced to death, so he sees no point in going through with the process if the result is inevitable.  The judges are concerned about the implications for the court of a stunt like this, however, and they try to convince him to change his mind and stand trial, but he is steadfast in his refusal, and the court reluctantly orders him taken back to prison and laid on his back with weights on top of him.  The weight is to be increased each day until he either agrees to stand trial or dies.  This is done, and the court then adjourns.

New Mexico: Governor Vargas, frustrated that the people of Pecos Pueblo still have not returned to his campsite there to make peace with him despite his having sent several messages to them guaranteeing their safety, decides to return to Santa Fe.  First he orders his secretary of government and war, Alfonso Rael de Aguilar, to count the prisoners taken over the course of the occupation of Pecos.  There are 28, mostly women and children.  Vargas orders that they be set free and their houses and fields be returned to them.  He leaves them with a large cross and a piece of paper with a cross drawn on it, and orders them to tell the others, if and when they return, to come to him wherever he is so that they may make peace with him and return to Christian obedience.  He then sets off for Santa Fe, carefully leaving everything at Pecos undisturbed, even the kivas.  He takes with him eight captives, Spanish people and allied Indians captured during the Pueblo Revolt in 1680 and found by his men while they searched the surrounding mountains for the people of Pecos.  He arrives at his campsite in Santa Fe around 3:00 pm.

Published in: on September 27, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. […] 28 (September 18, o.s.) Massachusetts: Giles Corey, who refused the previous day to agree to be tried for witchcraft by the Court of Oyer and Terminer in Salem Town, continues to […]

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