December 30 (December 20, o.s.)

Massachusetts: Responding to the series of disastrous events that have befallen the colony in the past year, including the witchcraft crisis, the council calls for a public fast day on December 29 to repent for whatever sins may have brought such suffering as punishment to the people of Massachusetts.

Published in: on December 30, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments Off on December 30 (December 20, o.s.)  

December 26 (December 16, o.s.)

Massachusetts: The assembly authorizes a meeting of the new Supreme Court of Judicature on January 3 to deal with the large backlog of witchcraft cases left over from the dissolved Court of Oyer and Terminer.  This is the last action of the assembly before it ends its fall session.

Published in: on December 26, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments Off on December 26 (December 16, o.s.)  

December 24 (December 14, o.s.)

Massachusetts: The assembly passes the witchcraft bill introduced on December 12.

Published in: on December 24, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments Off on December 24 (December 14, o.s.)  

December 22 (December 12, o.s.)

Jamaica: The Council meets in Port Royal.  The councilors order that supplies and slaves be provided to the militia in the windward (eastern) part of the island to assist in suppressing a slave rebellion, and that all militia colonels are to be warned to take care to prevent similar uprisings in their districts.  Captain Michael Hollingsworth is to be arrested and tried at the next general court.  Military supplies at Port Royal are to be inventoried, HMS Mordaunt is to be supplied, and preparations are to be made to entertain the new governor for a week upon his arrival.

Massachusetts: A bill putting forth a new law on witchcraft, a quite pressing issue in the colony at the moment, is introduced in the assembly.  The proposed statute is nearly identical to the prevailing law in England, which was passed in 1604 and which stipulates the death penalty for occult practices resulting in death or bodily injury.  It differs from the English law, however, in omitting the section preserving rights of inheritance for heirs of executed witches, a change made to protect George Corwin, the Essex County sheriff, who has already seized most of the estates of the witches executed during the current crisis.

New Mexico: Roque Madrid, whom governor Vargas left on December 13 with most of the reconquest expedition’s livestock and orders to proceed at a leisurely pace to El Paso so as to minimize further losses, arrives at El Paso around noon.  Although he was careful not to put too much stress on the animals, he couldn’t help but lose a few of them given their condition.  Vargas is understanding and grateful that as many animals were saved as possible.

Published in: on December 22, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments (1)  

December 20 (December 10, o.s.)

Massachusetts: Samuel Ray of Salem posts a bond of fifty pounds for the release from jail of Dorothy Good, whose mother Sarah Good was executed for witchcraft on July 19 and who has herself confessed to being a witch, pending trial by the new Supreme Court of Judicature.

New Mexico: Governor Vargas and his troops arrive at El Paso around 11:00 am.  All the civil and ecclesiastical authorities come to greet him, as do most of the citizens.  His first act upon arriving is to go to the church of Our Lady of Guadalupe to give thanks to the Virgin Mary for her assistance in making his expedition so successful.  He then goes to the plaza, dismounts, and asks his lieutenant governor, Luis Granillo, about the recent trouble with the Apaches.  Granillo reports that they raided twice and took twenty horses and some cattle, but aside from that things had been quiet for the whole four months Vargas was on campaign.  Vargas is relieved to hear this.

Published in: on December 20, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments Off on December 20 (December 10, o.s.)  

December 17 (December 7, o.s.)

Massachusetts: The council appoints judges to the new Superior Court of Judicature set up as part of the new judicial system approved by the assembly on November 25.  Lieutenant Governor William Stoughton is appointed chief justice, the same position he held in the now-discredited Court of Oyer and Terminer which handled the witchcraft cases now under the purview of the new court.  John Richards, Waitstill Winthrop, and Samuel Sewall, also former members of the Court of Oyer and Terminer, are appointed as members of the new court as well, along with Thomas Danforth, a prominent critic of the old court and its handling of the witchcraft cases.

Published in: on December 17, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments Off on December 17 (December 7, o.s.)  

December 5 (November 25, o.s.)

Massachusetts: The assembly, after a long period of debate and disagreement, finally approves a bill setting up a new judicial system for the colony.  At the top of the system is the Superior Court of Judicature, which now assumes responsibility for the witchcraft cases formerly handled by the Court of Oyer and Terminer which was dissolved on October 29.

New Mexico: Governor Vargas and his troops awake at their campsite after a harsh, stormy night to find that, while the snow has stopped, the cold winds continue.  Vargas nevertheless orders his men to break camp and continue their march.  Their route takes them further down the canyon they are in and over some hills and mesas.  When they get to the top of one mesa they can see the Sandia and Manzano mountains off in the distance ahead of them.  The way down from that mesa is very steep and rocky, but they make it and reach a broad plain at the bottom.  At this point it is becoming late and Vargas orders a halt to camp for the night at a place where there is no water.  He is a little irritated at the promises made by his Zuni guide, Agustín, about the number and quality of water holes along the shortcut he is taking them through, and figures he should have brought some water along.  There’s nothing he can do about it now, though.

Published in: on December 5, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments (1)  

November 24 (November 14, o.s.)

Massachusetts: A teenaged girl named Mary Herrick appears before John Hale, minister in Beverly, and Joseph Gerrish, minister in Wenham, and informs them that she has been afflicted by fits for the past two months.  She says that the apparitions that appeared to her were those of Hale’s wife and Mary Easty, who was executed for witchcraft on September 22.  Although both specters appeared to Herrick, only Mrs. Hale’s actually afflicted her; Easty’s specter appeared, rather, to tell her that she was innocent of witchcraft and had been wrongly convicted and executed, and that she should go to the ministers and tell them about this, at which point she would be free of afflictions.  She doubted the truth of what she saw at first, but has now come to believe that the whole witchcraft affair is “all a delusion of the Devil” and that both Easty and Mrs. Hale are innocent.  Nonetheless, the mention of his own wife as a possible witch is quite shocking to John Hale, hitherto a strong supporter of the witchcraft trials, and he begins to question his stance on the matter.

Mexico/New Mexico: The viceroy meets with his top officials in a general junta to consider the reports from New Mexico examined by the royal prosecutor on November 21.  The officials agree to congratulate Governor Diego de Vargas on his successful reconquest of the province and grant him complete freedom of action regarding what to do next.  He is authorized to request up to 12,000 pesos from the treasuries of the nearest cities to aid in his efforts, and may also request additional soldiers from the garrisons of the same cities if necessary.

Once this decision is made, the viceroy sends a dispatch to Vargas notifying him of the decision.  He includes a more personal letter in which he says that he considers the reconquest the most admirable and praiseworthy action accomplished during his term of office so far.  He sends an order which Vargas or his representatives can show to other officials in case they are reluctant to fulfill Vargas’s requests.  He also sends letter to the Franciscan Commissary General in Mexico City requesting that Father Francisco de Vargas be appointed head of the missionary effort in the reconquered territories, as suggested by Governor Vargas.

Meanwhile, the viceroy receives a letter from Diego Trujillo, minister provincial of Franciscans in New Mexico, requesting the appointment of twenty priests to minister to the newly reconquered pueblos.

New Mexico: In the morning Governor Vargas orders his officers to assemble all their men, along with the pack animals and supplies, and prepare them to march to Oraibi, the furthest of the Hopi pueblos and the only one that has not yet been pacified.  They tell him, however, that there’s no way the expedition’s horses and mules can make a journey that long and difficult, especially after the grueling march of November 22, which wore some of the horses out so much that on the return journey they couldn’t even carry their riders, who were forced to ride on the haunches of their comrades’ horses (which was hardly easy on those horses either).  Since there is no water either at Oraibi or on the way there, the officers explain that it is very possible that all the animals will die if the trip is undertaken.  Miguel, the leader of Awatovi Pueblo, agrees with the officers’ assesment of the risk and tells Vargas so.

Given the situation, Vargas decides that he has accomplished enough on this journey, having pacified all the Hopi pueblos except Oraibi and obtained a sample of the local material called almagre that is rumored to contain mercury.  He therefore postpones the pacification of Oraibi until a later date when the king or the viceroy orders it.  He orders his men to prepare instead to return to Zuni, and to head for the first water hole on the way there.  He goes to Miguel and explains his decision, then takes his leave of him and the people of Awatovi, who bid him farewell with much emotion.

The expedition departs from their campsite near Awatovi and arrives at the waterhole of Magdalena around 10:00 pm.  They camp there for the night.

Published in: on November 24, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments (1)  

November 18 (November 8, o.s.)

Massachusetts: James Stevens of Gloucester appears before Thomas Wade and Daniel Eppes, Justices of the Peace in Ipswich, and testifies that he saw Mary Fitch, while she was ill and bedridden, said she saw a woman on her bed and felt that she was being “squeezed to pieces,” but he saw nothing.  Stevens was one of the three men who filed a complaint against three Gloucester women on November 5 for afflicting Fitch.

New Mexico: Governor Vargas and his men leave their campsite at the water hole of Los Chupaderos and march as far as the water hole of Magdalena, arriving after dark.  At Magdalena they find two Hopis from Awatovi Pueblo named Salvador and Sebastián.  The latter says he is the son of Miguel, the literate leader of Awatovi to whom Vargas sent a letter on November 12 explaining his mission.  He says his father waited at Magdalena all day for the Spanish to arrive, but left around sunset after concluding that they weren’t going to show up, charging him and Salvador with remaining there to greet Vargas and his men whenever they did show up.  Vargas is happy to hear this as he makes camp for the night.

Published in: on November 18, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments (1)  

November 15 (November 5, o.s.)

Massachusetts: James Stevens, William Stevens, and Nathaniel Coit of Gloucester appear before Thomas Wade, Justice of the Peace in Ipswich, and file a complaint against Esther Elwell, Abigail Roe, and Rebecca Dike for bewitching Mrs. Mary Fitch.  Wade promptly issues a warrant for the arrest of the three women, and they are brought to jail in Ipswich to await questioning.

New Mexico: After ensuring that the 25 men under Rafael Téllez Girón take the expedition’s exhausted livestock to Halona as indicated in his orders of the previous day, Governor Vargas sets off with his remaining 63 men for Hopi.  They march all day and camp in the woods without water, since the next watering hole is still very far away.

Published in: on November 15, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments (1)