Connecticut Witch Trials 101 Part 4: The Hartford Witch-Hunt of 1662-1665 – Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast
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This is Part 4 of Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast’s Connecticut Witch Trials 101 series. In this episode, we look at The Hartford Witch-Hunt of 1662-1665, also popularly labeled The Hartford Witch Panic. This hunt took place while Governor John Winthrop Jr. was away in England obtaining the colonial charter. Afflicted girls Elizabeth Kelly and Ann Cole named witches. Podcast Cohosts, Josh Hutchinson and Sarah Jack continue the Connecticut Witch Trial History story with only fact backed, trustworthy research and sources. You will hear about the common theories, and which facts are in the primary source records. The lives of these historic individuals have been examined and we share what is known about them, from the historical record. How do we know what we know? We connect past witch trials to today’s witchcraft fear with a discussion answering our advocacy questions: Why do we witch hunt? How do we witch hunt? How do we stop hunting witches?
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[00:00:00] [00:00:20] Josh Hutchinson: Welcome to Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast. I'm Josh Hutchinson. [00:00:25] Sarah Jack: And I'm Sarah Jack. [00:00:27] Josh Hutchinson: This is part four of our Connecticut Witch Trials 101 series. [00:00:31] Sarah Jack: In this episode, we discuss the Hartford Witch-Hunt of 1662 to 1665, commonly referred to as the Hartford Witch Panic. [00:00:40] Josh Hutchinson: During this witch-hunt, 14 people were accused of witchcraft. [00:00:44] Sarah Jack: 4 married couples, 5 women, and 1 man. [00:00:50] Josh Hutchinson: It's notable that Governor John Winthrop Jr. was away negotiating a colonial charter with King Charles II at the onset of the witch-hunt. [00:01:00] Sarah Jack: However, his replacement, Deputy Governor Major John Mason, is not listed in the court records associated with these cases. [00:01:08] Josh Hutchinson: There is no indication that he served as a magistrate on any of the witch trials. [00:01:14] Sarah Jack: His greatest contribution was his lack of action to stop the witch-hunt. [00:01:19] Josh Hutchinson: Under his watch, four convicted of witchcraft were executed. [00:01:23] Sarah Jack: Colonial officials listed on the records include magistrates Mr. Allen, Samuel Wyllys, Captain John Talcott, Lieutenant John Allen, Daniel Clark, Mr. Treat, and Mr. Walcott. [00:01:35] Josh Hutchinson: Physician Bray Rossiter, assisted by Mr. William Pitkins. [00:01:40] Sarah Jack: Grand jurors were William Wadsworth, Thomas Wells, Benjamin Newberry, Joseph Fitch, William Pitkins, James Steel, William Heyden, John Bissell, Samuel Wells, John Kilburn, Anthony Howkins, and Benedict Alvard. [00:01:55] Josh Hutchinson: And trial jurors were Edward Griswold, Lieutenant Walter Filer, Ensign Olmsted, Samuel Boreman, Gregory Winterton, John Cowles, Samuel Marshall, Samuel Hale, Nathaniel Willett, John Hart, John Wadsworth, Robert Webster, and John Gilbert. [00:02:18] Sarah Jack: And ministers Samuel Stone, Samuel Hooker, Joseph Haynes, and John Whiting were witnesses to this possession of Ann Cole. [00:02:27] [00:02:36] Josh Hutchinson: We interrupt your regularly scheduled podcast with a special report. [00:02:41] Sarah Jack: We have wonderful news. [00:02:43] Josh Hutchinson: House Joint Resolution 34 Resolution Concerning Certain Witchcraft convictions in colonial Connecticut has been passed by the Connecticut House of Representatives. [00:02:53] Sarah Jack: The measure to absolve those accused of witchcraft passed by a margin of 121 to 30. Hooray. [00:03:04] Josh Hutchinson: HJ 34 now moves on to the Senate for a vote. [00:03:08] Sarah Jack: Please continue to write to Connecticut senators. [00:03:12] Josh Hutchinson: We can't assume the measure will pass the Senate. [00:03:15] Sarah Jack: And we want to make sure it does. [00:03:17] Josh Hutchinson: We will keep you posted on further developments. [00:03:20] Sarah Jack: Thank you everyone who's contributed to this effort. [00:03:23] Josh Hutchinson: Keep up the good work. [00:03:25] [00:03:37] Josh Hutchinson: The two chief accusers were the allegedly bewitched Elizabeth Kelly and the allegedly possessed Ann Cole. [00:03:45] Sarah Jack: Elizabeth Kelly was the eight-year-old daughter of John and Bethia Kelly of Hartford. [00:03:51] Josh Hutchinson: Her father turned 59 the year the trouble started. [00:03:55] Sarah Jack: Her mother was about 23. [00:03:57] Josh Hutchinson: Some speculate that John Kelly was an alcoholic. [00:04:00] Sarah Jack: However, this is based upon a single conviction for drunkenness in June of 1661. [00:04:06] Josh Hutchinson: Bethia Kelly was a daughter of Samuel Wakeman, who died when she was a toddler. [00:04:13] Sarah Jack: Wakeman left behind 40 pounds for his oldest child, a son, and 20 pounds each for his three daughters. [00:04:20] Josh Hutchinson: Two years after Wakeman's death, his widow married Nathaniel Willett. [00:04:25] Sarah Jack: Though Bethia Wakeman Kelly was due her 20 pounds upon her 18th birthday, she had not yet received it as of the events in the story. [00:04:33] Josh Hutchinson: John Kelly was not a landowner and was valued at 14 pounds, 11 shillings, and nine pence upon his death. [00:04:42] Sarah Jack: Elizabeth Kelly's aunt, Hannah Wakeman Hackleton, was abandoned by her husband Francis, a debtor whose estate was claimed by Samuel Marshfield, son of Goody Marshfield, who'd been accused of witchcraft up the Connecticut River in Springfield, Massachusetts. [00:04:57] Josh Hutchinson: Hannah later faced legal challenges and was herself accused of being a witch in New York in 1673. [00:05:05] Sarah Jack: We'll have more on that later. But first, the story of Elizabeth Kelly's afflictions. [00:05:09] Josh Hutchinson: On Sunday, March 23rd, 1662, Elizabeth Kelly awoke in good health, as usual. [00:05:18] Sarah Jack: She spent the morning with her grandmother. [00:05:20] Josh Hutchinson: But came home before noon, accompanied by the wife of William Ayres. [00:05:26] Sarah Jack: The visitor ate broth straight from a hot pot and encouraged the girl to do the same. [00:05:30] Josh Hutchinson: Her parents protested. [00:05:32] Sarah Jack: But she ate the hot broth anyway. [00:05:35] Josh Hutchinson: After eating the hot broth, Elizabeth complained of pain in her belly. [00:05:40] Sarah Jack: Her father medicated her with what he described as a small dose of the powder of angelica root. [00:05:46] Josh Hutchinson: Does that mean he was a healer? [00:05:49] Sarah Jack: No, it doesn't mean he was a healer. Families kept medicinal herbs the way we keep certain curatives in our medicine cabinets. [00:05:56] Josh Hutchinson: The daughter reportedly felt well after she received the herb. [00:06:01] Sarah Jack: And the family went to afternoon meeting together. [00:06:05] Josh Hutchinson: All was well when the lights went out. [00:06:07] Sarah Jack: But three hours later the girl awoke. [00:06:11] Josh Hutchinson: According to her father, she cried out, "father, father, help me. Goodwife Ayers is upon me. She chokes me. She kneels on my belly. She will break my bowels. She pinches me. She'll make me black and blue. Oh, father, will you not help me?" [00:06:28] She does seem to experience having a vision of a witch being upon her during her sleep, and people who've reported being hagridden describe seeing just such a sight of a witch on them, and they're unable to move, but they feel pain, and the witch hurts them. [00:06:57] Sarah Jack: What did her dad do after this complaint? [00:07:00] Josh Hutchinson: He told her to lie back down and be quiet so she wouldn't wake her mother. [00:07:04] Sarah Jack: The girl did as she was told. [00:07:06] Josh Hutchinson: But then she woke up and screamed even louder about Goodwife Ayers afflicting her. [00:07:11] Sarah Jack: This time, Dad carried Elizabeth away and put her in her mother's bed. [00:07:16] Josh Hutchinson: The young girl continued complaining about Goody Ayers torturing her. [00:07:20] Sarah Jack: She said, "Goody Ayers torments me. She pricks me with pins. She will kill me." [00:07:26] Josh Hutchinson: "Oh, father, set on the great furnace and scald her, get the broad ax and cut off her head." [00:07:33] Sarah Jack: "If you cannot get a broad ax, get the narrow ax and chop off her head." [00:07:37] Josh Hutchinson: The parents, quote, "used what physical helps we could obtain and that without delay." [00:07:45] Sarah Jack: Meaning they likely gave her additional medicinals. [00:07:48] Josh Hutchinson: Unfortunately, none of these physical helps worked for the girl, and she continued to suffer the next day. [00:07:55] Sarah Jack: Bethia Kelly reported that she was at home with the wives of Thomas Whaples and Nathaniel Greensmith on Tuesday when Goodwife Ayers came to visit Elizabeth. [00:08:04] Josh Hutchinson: While Ayers was there, the girl slept peacefully and seemed to be okay. [00:08:09] Sarah Jack: But that night Elizabeth told her parents Goodwife Ayers had promised to give her fine lace, if she stopped accusing her of witchcraft. [00:08:16] Josh Hutchinson: She encouraged her father to complain to the magistrates about Goodwife Ayers. [00:08:21] Sarah Jack: Her condition continued to be poor Wednesday, [00:08:25] Josh Hutchinson: At some point, she told her parents, "Goodwife Ayers chokes me." [00:08:30] Sarah Jack: Then she was speechless. [00:08:33] Josh Hutchinson: Later that night, she passed away. [00:08:35] Sarah Jack: Was she bewitched to death? [00:08:37] Josh Hutchinson: Or is there a simpler explanation for her passing? [00:08:41] Sarah Jack: Her symptoms matched those of poisoning. [00:08:44] Josh Hutchinson: It is possible that she was, indeed, poisoned, but likely not deliberately. [00:08:50] Sarah Jack: Remember the angelica root? [00:08:52] Josh Hutchinson: Her father gave her some to calm her stomach. [00:08:55] Sarah Jack: But angelica can easily be mistaken for other plants. [00:08:59] Josh Hutchinson: Poisonous plants. [00:09:01] Sarah Jack: Including Hemlock. [00:09:03] Josh Hutchinson: Do you think John Kelly had obtained the powdered root of the wrong plant? [00:09:08] Sarah Jack: It's plausible. [00:09:10] Josh Hutchinson: I agree. The symptoms of hemlock poisoning follow the same pattern described by her parents. [00:09:17] Sarah Jack: According to the National Capital Poison Center, hemlock poisoning in humans, quote, " affects the nervous system and causes tremors, paralysis, and breathing difficulties. Muscle damage and kidney failure may occur in severe cases." [00:09:31] Josh Hutchinson: The Cleveland Clinic says symptoms include restlessness or confusion, muscle weakness, muscle paralysis, and muscle death. [00:09:40] Sarah Jack: The muscular paralysis can lead to the loss of speech. [00:09:44] Josh Hutchinson: This is followed by respiratory failure. [00:09:47] Sarah Jack: And then death due to a shortage of oxygen. [00:09:51] Josh Hutchinson: While it would be impossible to diagnose Elizabeth Kelly 361 years after the fact, it does at least seem plausible she may have been poisoned accidentally. [00:10:02] Sarah Jack: What we do know is that the story didn't end there. [00:10:05] Josh Hutchinson: Not by a long shot. [00:10:07] Sarah Jack: Following the death of Elizabeth Kelly, her parents invited the neighbors to come and view the body. [00:10:13] Josh Hutchinson: They were asked to take notes of what they saw. [00:10:16] Sarah Jack: After he laid his daughter's body on the form, John Kelly asked Goodwife Ayers to wipe a little something from the girl's mouth. [00:10:24] Josh Hutchinson: Next, Goodman Kelly asked Goodwife Ayers to roll up Elizabeth's sleeve. [00:10:29] Sarah Jack: However, the sleeve was too tight. [00:10:32] Josh Hutchinson: John Kelly tore both of the girls' sleeves and showed the assembled crowd the backs of her arms. [00:10:39] Sarah Jack: Witnesses later stated the arms were black and blue from elbow to shoulder. [00:10:43] Josh Hutchinson: They described seeing the appearance of bruising or the marks of a beating. [00:10:48] Sarah Jack: Now the body was rolled onto its right side, then onto the belly. [00:10:53] Josh Hutchinson: A noxious odor came from the body, driving some witnesses out of the room. [00:10:58] Sarah Jack: The body was placed in a coffin, and John called everyone back to the room. [00:11:02] Josh Hutchinson: He asked the witnesses to look upon the child's face. [00:11:06] Sarah Jack: A large red spot had appeared on the right cheek. [00:11:09] Josh Hutchinson: Which happened to be near where Goodwife Ayers stood. [00:11:13] Sarah Jack: At this time, it was believed that the body of a murder victim would react to the touch of the murderer. [00:11:18] Josh Hutchinson: And here a large spot indicated that Ayers was the culprit. [00:11:22] Sarah Jack: Just as the Kellys stated Elizabeth had told them. [00:11:25] Josh Hutchinson: Now, magistrate Samuel Wyllys ordered an autopsy to be performed by physician Bray Rossiter, with help from Mr. William Pitkins. [00:11:35] Sarah Jack: Rossiter wrote out his findings. [00:11:37] Josh Hutchinson: Rossiter and Pitkins swore to the truth of the document before the magistrates on March 31st. [00:11:45] Sarah Jack: According to Rossiter, he found six particulars preternatural. [00:11:49] Josh Hutchinson: The body was limber. [00:11:51] Sarah Jack: The skin inside the abdomen was dark blue, yet no sign of illness was found in the bowels. [00:11:57] Josh Hutchinson: Blood had pooled in the throat but was not coagulated. [00:12:01] Sarah Jack: Blood had pooled in the back of the arm. [00:12:04] Josh Hutchinson: The gallbladder was broken. [00:12:06] Sarah Jack: The throat was constricted, and a large pea could not be pushed through the opening. [00:12:11] Josh Hutchinson: Modern historians believe Rossiter mistook signs of decomposition for signs of the preternatural. [00:12:18] Sarah Jack: Because the autopsy report does not specify the date the body was examined, it is impossible to know how badly the body would've decomposed. [00:12:26] Josh Hutchinson: The body had been decaying since the 26th. [00:12:29] Sarah Jack: This autopsy report has been used in more recent times to diagnose Elizabeth Kelly with diseases including bronchopneumonia and diptheria epiglottitis. [00:12:38] Josh Hutchinson: At this point, it's unclear to us what actually caused the death of Elizabeth Kelly. The one thing that we do know is that it wasn't caused by witchcraft. [00:12:53] The hemlock theory came about because Sarah and I were researching the uses of angelica root and discovered that it is commonly confused for hemlock and other related plants that are toxic to humans and animals. It's a working theory. We think it's plausible, but there's no real solid evidence. Even though people have tried to diagnose Elizabeth Kelly years after the fact, it's really difficult to say based on Bray Rossiter's autopsy report, what actually happened. [00:13:38] When Rebecca Greensmith testified against her husband, she alleged several other individuals as a witch, including Goodwife Ayers, whom she claimed was at a party with her in the woods drinking sack. [00:13:50] Sarah Jack: In this testimony, she named her husband, Nathaniel Greensmith, Goodwife Seager, Goodwife Sanford, Goodwife Ayers, James Wakeley, Peter Grant's wife, Henry Palmer's wife, and Judith Varlet. [00:14:01] Josh Hutchinson: William and Goodwife Ayers were arrested for witchcraft in 1662. [00:14:06] Sarah Jack: They fled Hartford when they were accused. [00:14:09] Josh Hutchinson: Around the same time that Elizabeth Kelly fell ill, a young woman in Hartford began behaving rather strangely. [00:14:18] Sarah Jack: The supposedly possessed Ann Cole, the other accuser of the Hartford Witch-Hunt, was probably unmarried, living with her godly father's family, John Cole. It is suggested that she may be in her early twenties. [00:14:29] Josh Hutchinson: David D. Hall states that the origins of the Hartford witch-hunt can be traced back to her when she began to suffer diabolical possession. [00:14:37] Sarah Jack: The story of Cole's afflictions came from minister correspondence, one such letter after the fact, at least 20 years. [00:14:45] Josh Hutchinson: It was a letter from minister John Whiting to minister Increase Mather in Boston. [00:14:51] Sarah Jack: In that letter, Whiting admits he has lost the notes he took during his observations of Ann, but gave details anyways, two decades later. [00:15:00] Josh Hutchinson: Because he had lost his Ann Cole notes, he was expecting Increase to get reports from others that he had beckoned to share reports. We have no additional reports today. [00:15:11] Sarah Jack: The other minister interrogators leading the investigation of this hunt included the elder minister Samuel Stone of Hartford, the young Sam Hooker of Farmington, the young Joseph Haynes, a Presbyterian of Hartford, and the young John Whiting of Hartford. [00:15:26] Josh Hutchinson: These ministers were not all Congregationalists. Haynes was a Presbyterian minister. [00:15:33] Sarah Jack: Ann Cole said to have spoken about a company of familiars of the evil one. Although we don't know their names, it is told that she named them. The names must have been lost with the notes. [00:15:44] Josh Hutchinson: Ann is reported to have said that it was the intention of the familiars and the evil one to stop her from getting married. [00:15:52] Sarah Jack: To ruin her name. [00:15:53] Josh Hutchinson: And to afflict her body. [00:15:56] Sarah Jack: Ann's verbal behavior was troubling to the ministers. She muttered unintelligibly, which we know from several other trials is viewed suspiciously. [00:16:04] Josh Hutchinson: In this case, it was the accuser muttering and not the accused. Muttering at this time was dangerous, could easily get you accused of speaking curses. [00:16:20] Sarah Jack: Also to the ministers' dismay, Ann spoke about the witches with a Dutch tone. [00:16:25] Josh Hutchinson: Reverend Stone described the accent as troubling. He said Ann had not been exposed to the Dutch dialect in a way that she should be able to imitate it. [00:16:35] Sarah Jack: Stone claimed this was unusual, even though he was aware that Ann gave details with a Dutch tone regarding an unnamed, afflicted girl who is the neighbor of some Dutch. [00:16:46] Josh Hutchinson: Samuel Stone would likely have known the unnamed girl and would've known that Ann was also familiar with her, and therefore the Dutch accent of her neighbor. He was contriving with artifice to make a case. [00:17:02] Sarah Jack: The ministers prevaricated that the Dutch tone indicated that the possessing demonic voice within Ann was confirming the accused people were witches. [00:17:11] Josh Hutchinson: Also, it is reported that several times Ann had violent bodily motions and caused interruptions in church. [00:17:20] Sarah Jack: Affliction in church were done by Ann and two other afflicted women. [00:17:24] Josh Hutchinson: The behavior was so upsetting a godly woman is reported to a fainted. [00:17:31] Sarah Jack: In her fits, Ann named her tormentors as Elizabeth Seager and Rebecca Greensmith. [00:17:36] Josh Hutchinson: Ann Cole lived next to Rebecca Greensmith, who was specifically characterized negatively by Reverend Whiting as considerably aged. She was widowed twice, married to Abraham Elson and then Jarvis Mudge. [00:17:54] The accused witch Elizabeth Seager insisted that Minister Haynes' account of Ann's accusations against her was a great deal of hodgepodge. [00:18:04] Sarah Jack: Ministers Haynes and waiting took notes from interviewing Ann and confronted Rebecca Greensmith while she was in jail on the charges Ann Cole had reported to them. Rebecca confirmed with a detailed narrative. [00:18:16] Josh Hutchinson: Later, after the minister interrogation that led to her confession, Rebecca told an unnamed jail visitor essentially that after so much pressure from Whiting, she could have torn him to pieces, that she had to yield from the pressure. [00:18:32] Sarah Jack: She basically says the quote, but then she says something about she had to confess. She was compelled to confess. [00:18:42] Josh Hutchinson: " When Mr. Haines began to read, she could have torn him in pieces and was as much resolved as might be to deny her guilt, as she had done before, yet after he had read a while, she was as if her flesh had been pulled from her bones. Such was her expression, and so could not deny any longer." [00:19:03] Sarah Jack: Whiting confirms to Increase Mather in his 1682 letter that Ann went on to live so successfully, because the witches had been executed or had fled. [00:19:13] Josh Hutchinson: According to Whiting, Ann went on to marry, was a godly church woman, and had children of her own. Whatever was really responsible for the afflictions of Elizabeth Kelly and Ann Cole, testimony soon poured in. [00:19:28] Sarah Jack: Joseph Marsh testified that he was present when Goody Ayers promised Elizabeth Kelly a hoary lace in exchange for the girl's silence. [00:19:36] Josh Hutchinson: Samuel Burr and his mother testified that Goody Ayers had once told them about a time when she met the devil while she lived in London. [00:19:45] Sarah Jack: Robert Stern claimed he had seen Elizabeth Singer and three other women in the woods dancing around a kettle with, quote, "two black creatures like two Indians but taller." [00:19:57] Josh Hutchinson: He claimed to see Rebecca Greensmith among the women, who he knew by their habit or clothes. [00:20:04] Goodwife Greensmith allegedly cried out, "look who is yonder," and the four women ran away up a hill. [00:20:12] Sarah Jack: The mysterious black, quote, "things" approached Stern, but he left to go home. [00:20:17] Josh Hutchinson: Maria Screech testified that Goodwife Steadman had told her that Mr. John Blackleach had bewitched Screech's sow, as he had done several of her own. [00:20:29] Sarah Jack: Hanna Robbins testified that her father believed Goody Palmer was responsible for his wife's death. [00:20:35] Josh Hutchinson: She also stated that her sister Mary had complained of witches during her fatal illness. [00:20:41] Sarah Jack: According to Hanna, Katherine Harrison and Goody Palmer were both present during her mother's final illness. [00:20:48] Josh Hutchinson: John Robbins warned Palmer away several times, but she continued to, quote, "thrust herself into the company." [00:20:56] Sarah Jack: Alice Wakeley, wife of James Wakeley, testified that Mrs. Robbin's body was very stiff during her sickness but became very limber once she passed. [00:21:05] Josh Hutchinson: Andrew Sanford was indicted on June 6th, 1662. [00:21:10] Sarah Jack: The jury would not agree on a verdict. Some thought he was guilty, others only suspected he was. [00:21:17] Josh Hutchinson: Andrew was released. [00:21:20] Sarah Jack: His wife, Mary, was indicted on June 13th, 1662. [00:21:24] Josh Hutchinson: She was to suffer a different fate than her husband. [00:21:28] Sarah Jack: The jury found her guilty as charged. [00:21:30] Josh Hutchinson: She was likely hanged within days of the verdict. [00:21:34] Sarah Jack: Rebecca and Nathaniel Greensmith were both indicted on December 30th, 1662. [00:21:39] Josh Hutchinson: Both were found guilty. [00:21:42] Sarah Jack: Rebecca had confessed. [00:21:44] Josh Hutchinson: And she had delated Nathaniel. [00:21:47] Sarah Jack: Rebecca and Nathaniel were probably hanged together in January 1663. [00:21:53] Josh Hutchinson: The same court ordered the treasurer to take the estate of William Ayers. [00:21:57] Sarah Jack: William Ayers had fled the colony. [00:22:01] Josh Hutchinson: The court gave Ayers' son, John Ayers, to James Ensign to serve as apprentice until he reached the age of 21. [00:22:10] Sarah Jack: John had to grow up without his parents from the age of about eight or nine. [00:22:15] Josh Hutchinson: He was released from servitude on March 3rd, 1675. [00:22:20] Sarah Jack: Next, the court convened on January 6th, 1663 to hear the cases against Mary Barnes and Elizabeth Seager. [00:22:27] Josh Hutchinson: Mary Barnes pleaded not guilty. [00:22:30] Sarah Jack: The jury convicted her. [00:22:33] Josh Hutchinson: Elizabeth Seager also pleaded not guilty. [00:22:36] Sarah Jack: She was acquitted. [00:22:38] Josh Hutchinson: The jurors who believed her to be guilty submitted a written statement on January 12th, 1663, explaining why they would've convicted her. [00:22:48] Sarah Jack: She had been acquainted with people who had recently been accused of witchcraft. [00:22:52] Josh Hutchinson: Including Mary Sanford and Goodwife Ayers. [00:22:56] Sarah Jack: One of whom had been executed, the other had escaped. [00:22:59] Josh Hutchinson: Seager had learned to knit from one of these other women. [00:23:04] Sarah Jack: Magistrate John Allen pressed Seager on this knitting issue. [00:23:08] Josh Hutchinson: And Seager eventually admitted she knew the woman better than she'd been leading them to believe. [00:23:14] Sarah Jack: Elizabeth Seager claimed she hated Goodwife Ayers. [00:23:17] Josh Hutchinson: But the jury wasn't buying it. [00:23:19] Sarah Jack: At one point, Goodwife Seager said, "they seek my innocent blood." [00:23:24] Josh Hutchinson: John Allen asked, "who?" [00:23:26] Sarah Jack: Seager said, quote, "everybody." [00:23:30] Josh Hutchinson: When she was told she might be tried by swimming, she replied, "the devil that caused me to come here can keep me up." [00:23:37] Sarah Jack: The majority of jurors did not believe accusations of flying had been proved legally. [00:23:42] The same court of January 6th, 1663 decided to sequester escapee James Wakely's estate but allow his wife Alice to maintain the use of the property for the time being. [00:23:52] Josh Hutchinson: Mary Barnes was hanged on January 25th, 1663. [00:23:58] Sarah Jack: She was the last person hanged for witchcraft in Connecticut. [00:24:01] Josh Hutchinson: On March 5th, 1663, the quarterly court held in Hartford awarded jailer Daniel Garrett 21 shillings for keeping Mary Barnes for three weeks. [00:24:12] Sarah Jack: Thomas Barnes was charged for this expense. [00:24:15] Josh Hutchinson: Garrett earned six shillings a week plus unspecified fees for keeping the Greensmiths. [00:24:21] Sarah Jack: The length of their imprisonment is not disclosed in the document. [00:24:25] Josh Hutchinson: However, it is possible they and Mary Barnes remained jailed until the 25th of January. [00:24:32] Sarah Jack: The March 5 court ordered the continuation of the sequestration of James Wakely's estate. [00:24:37] Josh Hutchinson: Of the six people tried for witchcraft during the Hartford witch-hunt, four were convicted and two were narrowly acquitted. [00:24:46] Sarah Jack: The hunt entered a new phase following the January 1663 executions, [00:24:51] Josh Hutchinson: Accusers were no longer actively naming witches. [00:24:55] Sarah Jack: However the witch-hunt did not entirely die off. [00:24:59] Josh Hutchinson: And Elizabeth Seager's tribulations were far from over. [00:25:03] Sarah Jack: She was indicted for three crimes. [00:25:06] Josh Hutchinson: Witchcraft, blasphemy, and adultery. [00:25:10] Sarah Jack: She pleaded not guilty. [00:25:12] Josh Hutchinson: The court acquitted her on the witchcraft and blasphemy charges, but convicted her of adultery on July 2nd, 1663. [00:25:21] Sarah Jack: And John M. Taylor says that she got everything that was coming to her in the courts. [00:25:28] Josh Hutchinson: And Moyer says Mary Barnes may have been charged with adultery. That might be what the arrest warrant was issued for in 1649. And it does seem like many of these women had a scandalous, according to their neighbors, past and that there was at least gossip and rumor about their moral turpitude. [00:25:55] Sarah Jack: Elizabeth was tried again for witchcraft on June 26th, 1665. [00:26:01] Josh Hutchinson: This time she was convicted. [00:26:03] Sarah Jack: Mrs. Miggat testified that Elizabeth Seager attempted to recruit her to be a witch. [00:26:09] Josh Hutchinson: Seager allegedly said, quote, "God was naught. God was naught. It was very good to be a witch." [00:26:16] Sarah Jack: And ,"she should not need fear going to hell, for she should not burn in the fire." [00:26:21] Josh Hutchinson: Miggat also claimed Seager once muttered something unintelligible, which caused Miggat to flee in terror. [00:26:29] Sarah Jack: Mrs. Miggat further stated that, quote, "a little before the flood this spring, Goodwife Seager came into their house, on a moon shining night, and took her by the hand and struck her on the face that she was in bed with her husband, whom she could not wake. And then Goodwife Seager went away, and Mrs. Miggat went to the door, but darst not look out after her. [00:26:49] Josh Hutchinson: Daniel and Margaret Garrett testified that Goodwife Seager had told them she had sent Satan to tell people she was not a witch. [00:26:58] Sarah Jack: Goodwife Garrett said she asked Seager why she had "made use of Satan to tell them, why did she not beseech God to tell them she was no witch?" [00:27:06] Josh Hutchinson: Seager replied that Satan knew she was no witch. [00:27:10] Sarah Jack: Edward Stebbins, Stephen Hart, Sr., and Josiah Willard testified that Goodwife had used scripture to justify her sending Satan. [00:27:17] Josh Hutchinson: She had cited Acts chapter 19, verses 13 through 16. [00:27:22] Sarah Jack: Acts 19:13, King James Bible, "then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus saying, 'we adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.'" [00:27:36] Josh Hutchinson: Verse 14, "and there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew and chief of the priests, which did so." [00:27:45] Sarah Jack: Verse 15, quote, "and the evil spirit answered and said, 'Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are ye?'" [00:27:51] Josh Hutchinson: Verse 16, " and the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them and overcame them and prevailed against them so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded." [00:28:03] Sarah Jack: Seager was saying she had commanded Satan with the authority of Jesus' name to tell her neighbors that he did not know her. [00:28:10] Josh Hutchinson: He knew she was not one of his own. [00:28:13] Sarah Jack: According to Goodwife Garrett, William Edwards told Elizabeth Seager that she flew. [00:28:18] Josh Hutchinson: She "replied that Edwards made her fly." [00:28:22] Sarah Jack: Goodwife Garrett then told Seager, "you own you did fly." [00:28:25] Josh Hutchinson: Goodwife Seager replied, "if I did fly, William Edward made me fly." [00:28:30] Sarah Jack: Goodman Garrett confirmed his wife's testimony. [00:28:35] Josh Hutchinson: Goodwife Garrett then told a story about a good cheese gone bad. [00:28:40] Sarah Jack: She said she had once made a most excellent cheese, at a time when Goodwife Seager was husking corn in the Garrett barn. [00:28:48] Josh Hutchinson: Garrett asked her husband to bring her the special cheese. [00:28:51] Sarah Jack: When she got the cheese, one side was filled with maggots. [00:28:55] Josh Hutchinson: Garrett cut off the bad part and threw it in the fire. [00:28:59] Sarah Jack: At that moment, Elizabeth Seager cried out in pain so loudly that Garrett heard her from the house. [00:29:05] Josh Hutchinson: Seager then came into the home crying of pain. [00:29:09] Sarah Jack: She sat wringing her body and crying out, "what do I ail? What do I ail?" [00:29:14] Josh Hutchinson: Goodman Garrett again confirmed his wife's testimony. [00:29:18] Sarah Jack: This is another instance of the folk belief that witches reacted when objects they'd bewitched were burned. [00:29:24] Josh Hutchinson: Goodwife Watson said that when she told Elizabeth Seager that Ann Cole's mother wanted to see her, Seager replied that she knew Ann was crying out against her. [00:29:35] Sarah Jack: Seager said, "they missed their mark. They aimed at me. Why do they not lay hold of others as well as me? Why do they lay hold of the chief actor herself?" [00:29:44] Josh Hutchinson: Watson replied, "if you know others to be chief, why do you not discover them?" [00:29:49] Sarah Jack: Seager said she would in due time. [00:29:52] Josh Hutchinson: On July 8th, 1665, governor John Winthrop Jr. met with magistrates to discuss the cases of Hannah Wakeman Hackleton and Elizabeth Seager, who had both been convicted of felonies and faced the death penalty. [00:30:07] Sarah Jack: "The Governor declared that it was his desire that the matter might be respited to a further consideration for advice in those matters that were to him so obscure and ambiguous and the issue is deferred." [00:30:18] Josh Hutchinson: On May 18th, 1666, Elizabeth Seager was finally released from imprisonment. [00:30:24] Sarah Jack: At a special session, the Court of Assistants declared that the jury's guilty verdict did, quote, "not legally answer the indictment." [00:30:31] Josh Hutchinson: In addition to the trials of six witchcraft suspects, eight other individuals were caught up in the web of accusations. [00:30:40] Sarah Jack: Some moved before being arrested, others managed to escape, and one couple may have sued their accusers to escape prosecution. [00:30:48] Josh Hutchinson: According to Increase Mather, who wrote of the incident in his 1684 book, An Essay for the Recording of Illustrious Providences, a man and woman named by Ann Cole were forced to undergo the swimming test. [00:31:02] Sarah Jack: The two had their hands and feet bound and were thrown in the water. [00:31:07] Josh Hutchinson: Rather than sink, as an innocent person would do, each of these victims floated "after the manner of a buoy, part under, part above the water." [00:31:17] Sarah Jack: A witness volunteered to be the Guinea pig in an experiment to see if an innocent person would also float like a buoy. [00:31:24] Josh Hutchinson: After being "gently laid on the water, he immediately sunk right down." [00:31:30] Sarah Jack: Mather went on to write that the swimming test was not admitted as legal evidence. [00:31:35] Josh Hutchinson: And they were not, quote, "proceeded against on any other account." [00:31:40] Sarah Jack: Mather ends by saying the couple, quote, "very fairly, took their flight, not having been seen in that part of the world since." [00:31:47] Josh Hutchinson: This last comment leads to theories that the mystery couple was the Ayers, who escaped. [00:31:53] Sarah Jack: The other couples involved were the Sanfords, Greensmiths, and Blackleaches, and none of them took flight. [00:32:00] Josh Hutchinson: No recorded indictments exist to show that the Blackleaches were ever proceeded against. However, they did not need to flee in order to escape trial. [00:32:10] Sarah Jack: Mr. John Blackleach was a prominent figure in the community [00:32:14] Josh Hutchinson: When John died in 1683, his estate was valued at 374 pounds. [00:32:20] Sarah Jack: And he had likely already given portions to his adult children. [00:32:24] Josh Hutchinson: Judith Varlet, a Dutch woman, was another person arrested for witchcraft in 1662. [00:32:30] Sarah Jack: She was released when Connecticut officials received a letter from her brother-in-law, who happened to be New Netherlands Governor Peter Stuyvesant. [00:32:38] Josh Hutchinson: Judith moved to New Netherlands after she was freed. [00:32:42] Sarah Jack: Later she married Nicholas Bayard and lived on High Street in Manhattan. [00:32:46] Josh Hutchinson: Another accused person, James Wakeley, escaped to Rhode Island. [00:32:52] Sarah Jack: He left behind his wife Alice and his children. [00:32:55] Josh Hutchinson: His estate was sequestered, but his wife was allowed to continue to use it. [00:33:00] Sarah Jack: He came back to Connecticut in 1665. [00:33:03] Josh Hutchinson: But was met by renewed allegations of witchcraft. [00:33:07] Sarah Jack: He turned around and returned to Rhode Island. [00:33:10] Josh Hutchinson: As we mentioned last week, Henry Palmer and his wife also fled the Hartford Witch-Hunt. [00:33:16] Sarah Jack: They likely settled in Rhode Island, where Henry Palmer successfully sued Stephen Sebeere for calling his wife a witch in 1673. [00:33:24] Josh Hutchinson: No indictment is known to have been issued in the case of Peter Grant's wife. [00:33:28] There's more to the Ann Cole story. In April 1664, her family was visited by great tragedy, and old friends paid her a visit, according to Increase Mather, in his book, An Essay for the Recording of Illustrious Providences, Wherein an Account is Given of Many Remarkable and Very Memorable Events, Which Have Happened this Last Age, Especially in New England. [00:34:05] Mather writes: [00:34:08] " On the 28th of April A.D. 1664, a company of the neighbors being met together at the house of Henry Conliff in Northampton in New England to spend a few hours in Christian conferences and in prayer, there happened a storm of thunder and rain. And as the good man of the house was at prayer, there came a ball of lightning in at the roof of the house, which set the thatch on fire, grated on the timber, pierced through the chamber floor. No breach being made on the boards. Only one of the joices somewhat raised. [00:34:45] Matthew Cole, who was son-in-law to the sad Conliff, was struck stone dead as he was leaning over table and joining with the rest in prayer. He did not stir nor groan after he was smitten, but continued standing as before, bearing upon the table. There was no visible impression on his body or clothes. Only the sole of one of his shoes was rent from the upper leather. [00:35:12] There were about 12 persons in the room. None else received any harm. Only one woman who is still living was struck upon the head, which occasioned some deafness ever since. The fire on the house was quenched by the seasonable help of neighbors." [00:35:30] And Mather also writes, " for I am informed that when Matthew Cole was killed with the lightning at Northampton, the demon which disturbed his sister Ann Cole, forty miles distant in Hartford, spoke of it, intimating their concurrence in that terrible accident." [00:35:51] Sarah Jack: And so ends the story of the Hartford witch-hunt. [00:35:53] Here's Mary With a Minute With Mary. [00:35:57] Mary Bingham: Goody Bassett. [00:36:00] Goody is short for goodwife. This term referred to a married woman of middle to lower class in colonial times, and it was often how women were referred to in the court records. Goody Bassett was one of those women. The only reason historians know of her existence is because Goody was most likely hanged for a crime she did not commit, witchcraft. [00:36:25] Historians only know that fact based on one surviving colonial court record, which stated, and I quote, "the governor, Mr. Cullick, and Mr. Clarke are desired to go down to Stratford to keep court upon the trial of Goody Bassett for her life." End quote. That's it. One court record. Nothing else exists, of which we know. [00:36:50] I understand the patriarchal society of the time. However, my heart today remains baffled that the court clerk did not identify Goody by her given name. She was a unique person who lived and breathed and led a meaningful life. Goody was loved by her family. She was a wife and a daughter to people who cared about her. [00:37:14] Guess what? There are people who still care about Goody. We are the army of activists, historians, and descendants, and politicians who are working tirelessly to overturn the convictions of Goody and all of those falsely convicted of witchcraft in colonial Connecticut. We care. My goal and the goal of my colleagues, Sarah Jack, Joshua Hutchinson, Beth Caruso, Tony Griego, State Representative Jane Garibay and State Senator Dr. Saud Anwar, is to find out Goody Bassett's given name to her at birth so that she can one day be identified as a person in her own right. Not only that, but we plan to identify all of the Goodys who have yet to be properly identified with their given names. [00:38:07] Thank you. [00:38:09] Sarah Jack: Thank you, Mary [00:38:12] Josh Hutchinson: And now here's Sarah with End Witch Hunts News. [00:38:17] Sarah Jack: End Witch Hunts News. [00:38:19] Actual witch Hunts are occurring weekly. Witch hunts are still targeted blame and punishment toward vulnerable people for misunderstood circumstances. Here's a headline from Ghana, Mother of Seven and Elderly Man Lynched on Witchcraft Suspicion in Zakpalsi. It does not get easier to tell you about these individuals and what happens to them. It's horrific. Here's the report. [00:38:43] "On Sunday, May 7th, 2023, in the farming community of Zakpalsi located in the Mion District of the Northern Region, Ghana, two individuals were allegedly lynched on suspicion of practicing witchcraft. The victims were identified as Imoro Safura, a middle-aged mother of seven believed to be in her forties, and Mbaa Chirfo, a man in his early sixties. [00:39:04] According to reports from sources within the Zakpalsi community, Imoro Safura sought refuge at at the forecourt of the Zakpalsi Chief palace, but she was chased down and lynched there. Mbaa Chirfo, on the other hand, was killed at his residence. The community members accused both individuals of allegedly causing sickness for a woman by employing the services of a soothsayer. In response to the accusations, the youth of the community organized themselves and launched an attack on the two victims, leading to their tragic deaths. It is worth noting that both of the victims denied the allegations." [00:39:40] What were you doing on Sunday, May 7th? I was meeting with Dr. Leo Igwe for the first time in person. He is visiting the United States and doing talks on humanism, religious freedom, and witch hunts. He happened to kick it off in Denver, where I am. That was a great surprise. It was an exciting moment for me to get to meet Leo face-to-face and connect with him about all that is going on in our world around witch phobia. Next week, co-host Josh Hutchinson, myself, and Dr. Igwe will be visiting witch trial historical sites in the Salem and Hartford area. [00:40:08] Leo will be giving talks about his work with alleged witch victims like Imoro and Mbaa. When he is on the ground in Nigeria, he intercedes on their behalf with support from NGOs and Advocacy for Alleged Witches. He negotiates for local government services and safety through the authorities, if the victim is lucky enough to reach protection. Imoro was not. Did you catch that she fled to the community leader and was still lynched there by the angry youth? [00:40:33] Dr. Leo personally checks on attack victims, goes to them, connects with them, and makes sure they know that they are not alone. He does this for the survivors. Just a glance at the weekly news reveals that many are murdered and do not get a chance to start over or to meet Leo. You can have the opportunity to meet this great advocate. Please come see us May 16th through the 18th at one of his talks. [00:40:53] Power structures around religion, familial status, age, gender, and falsely-attributed causes of misfortune universally contribute to circumstances like these and fuel witch hunts past and present. You can learn more about the past and modern stories of the people harmed by this merciless conduct in any of our expert-filled episodes. Join us every week to hear the latest important conversation. The accusation details from witch trial primary sources are jaw dropping. The news of current attack victims across the globe is jaw dropping. We ask, why do we hunt witches? How do we hunt witches? How do we stop hunting witches? Messaging that clarifies how power structures around religion, familial status, age, gender, and falsely-attributed causes of misfortune universally contribute to the circumstances of witch hunts past and present. [00:41:40] Share the attack news. Share a podcast episode. Read a book. Write a post or blog. Write to a politician or diplomat. Donate money to the organizations that are creating projects that intervene in the modern communities where witch Hunts thrive. You can financially support the production of the podcast. [00:41:56] This is the month that the Salem, Massachusetts area and Hartford and Farmington, Connecticut are getting a rare and important visit from Dr. Leo Igwe, director of the Advocacy for Alleged Witches nonprofit organization. It is an incredible honor for Josh and myself to organize a week of speaking engagements during his speaking tour in the United States and to accompany him as he speaks in places of historical significance to early American colony witch trial history. You can follow Dr. Leo Igwe on Twitter @leoigwe to see how he is advocating on the ground in the victim communities in real time as these individuals are experiencing being accused and hunted. [00:42:30] The first event at the Salem Witch Museum is virtual, but Dr. Igwe will be with us in Salem touring the historic sites guided by a local seasoned in the history, Mary Bingham. Tuesday, May 16th, 2023 is your chance to experience a very special evening of in-person conversation with Leo at the Rebecca Nurse Homestead in Danvers. Please see the Facebook event for details. Isn't this a great week? Make sure you mark your calendars. [00:42:53] Next, you can enjoy an in-person speaking event with Dr. Igwe at Central Connecticut State University on Wednesday, May 17th at 6:00 PM. While in the Hartford area, Leo will be touring known witch trial historic sites with author Beth Caruso. On Thursday afternoon, May 18th at 4:00 PM, Leo will be presenting at the Stanley-Whitman House living history center in Farmington, Connecticut. Look for Facebook events for all of these occasions posted by our social media. Come hear Leo. Invite your friends and family. See you there. [00:43:21] Get involved. Visit endwitchhunts.org. To support us, purchase books from our bookshop, merch from our zazzle shop, or make a financial contribution to our organization. Our links are in the show description. [00:43:32] Josh Hutchinson: Thank you, Sarah. [00:43:35] Sarah Jack: You're welcome. [00:43:36] Josh Hutchinson: And thank you for listening to Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast. [00:43:41] Sarah Jack: Join us again next week. [00:43:43] Josh Hutchinson: Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. [00:43:46] Sarah Jack: Visit us at thoushaltnotsuffer.com. [00:43:49] Josh Hutchinson: Remember to tell your friends, family, acquaintances, neighbors, and anyone you meet about the show. [00:43:56] Sarah Jack: Please support our efforts to End Witch Hunts. Visit endwitchhunts.org to learn how. [00:44:02] Josh Hutchinson: Have a great today and a beautiful tomorrow. [00:44:05]