Well, here are some more items about the Salem Witch Trials. I found a couple more of my ancestral families who were involved in the trials. The Hutchinsons and Conants were also involved, although not nearly to the extent that the Putnams were. Also, I have less information about them so I can’t tie them in as closely as I did the Putnams.
Most of the Hutchinsons were involved as witnesses against one or more of the accused and sometimes in support of one of the accused.
Gen 1 Joseph Hutchinson, Sr, my 8th great grandfather was involved as a witness against some of the accused.
Gen 2. Joseph Hutchinson, Jr, my 7th great grandfather and his 2nd wife Lydia were involved as witnesses against and in support.
Gen 2. John Hutchinson, my 7th great grand uncle was involved as a witness against.
Gen 2. Benjamin Hutchinson, my 7th great grand uncle and his wife Jane were involved as witnesses in support of one of the accused.
Col. Elisha Hutchinson was involved by going into Maine, taking into custody and returning to Salem for trial the ex-minister of the Salem church, George Burroughs. I cannot at this time prove whether the Colonel was related to me but have a strong feeling he was probably a cousin.
There were only two Conants involved, neither as witnesses.
John Conant, my 1st cousin 8x removed, was the constable of Beverly, MA and was involved by taking several of the accused into custody and delivering them to Salem for trial.
Josiah Conant, also of Beverly, was involved as a witness to bail bonds for several under age accused when residents posted bonds to prevent them from having to stay in jail until their trials. I cannot find a relationship between him and my family, but again feel he was probably a cousin.
The Salem Witch Trials only lasted about a year but it obviously was a very unsettling year for the residents of the Salem area and nearby towns. It was a time when neighbor turned against neighbor and accusations of witchcraft flew everywhere. I can’t understand how some of the people (who proclaimed to be and were considered devout) could in clear conscience claim to have seen and experienced some of the things recorded in the court records! As detailed in my earlier post, some of the fighting arose because of congregational feuds and property disputes.
Thomas Putnam and others were instrumental in having the First Church of Salem minister George Burroughs removed and replaced by Samuel Parris. Samuel Parris’ daughter Elizabeth became one of the “afflicted girls” who made the majority of the accusations. George Burroughs soon moved to Maine but was taken into custody by the army (Col. Elisha Hutchinson) and returned to Salem for trial. He was found guilty – almost every one of the accusers testified against him – and he was hanged.
The one person who had many witnesses testify in her behalf was Rebecca Nurse. Although the girls testified that Rebecca was a witch and had afflicted them, Rebecca was found not guilty by the jury. The many citizens who had testified that they knew Rebecca and she could not be a witch seemed to have carried the day. However, the judges in the case told the jury they would not accept that finding and made the jury discuss her case a second time. The jury then returned a verdict of guilty and not long after, Rebecca Nurse was hanged!
I guess considering all of the individuals involved it’s to be expected that some would be on one side and some on the other. It’s not too pleasant to consider that an ancestor might have caused imprisonment and death of individuals based on such questionable motives as property disputes and congregational feuds! But, we’re not responsible for the actions of our ancestors and, hopefully in some cases, they don’t determine our actions.