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Connecticut Witch Trials 101 Part 6: 1692 and Beyond

Connecticut Witch Trials 101 Part 6: 1692 and Beyond Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast

This is Part 6, the final installment of Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast’s Connecticut Witch Trials 101 series. This episode completes the overview of Connecticut's known witch trial victims with only fact backed, trustworthy research and sources. Take advantage of the expansive bibliography, and do some educational reading. Dig into the research with us. This Connecticut witch trial history introduction series has been created with thoughtful inquiry and consideration of historian expertise, historic record and available archived material. Next you will be ready for Connecticut Witch Trials 201, but hold up, first we have more 101 series’ coming your way this summer and fall: Salem Witch Trials 101, Modern Witch Hunts 101, and 18th-21st Century Witch Hunts 101. All of our series and episodes work to teach the world regarding witch hunts: 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? Support Us! Shop Our Book ShopConnecticut Witch Trials 101 BibliographyResolution Concerning Certain Witchcraft Convictions in Colonial ConnecticutPurchase a Witch Trial White Rose Memorial ButtonSupport Us! Sign up as a Super Listener!End Witch Hunts Movement Thou Shalt Not Suffer Podcast Book StoreSupport Us! Buy Witch Trial Merch!Support Us! Buy Podcast Merch!Join us on Discord to share your ideas and feedback.Fact Sheet for Connecticut Witch Trial HistoryWebsiteTwitterFacebookInstagramBuzzsproutSupport the show

Show Notes

This is Part 6, the final installment of Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast’s Connecticut Witch Trials 101 series. This episode completes the overview of Connecticut’s known witch trial victims with only fact backed, trustworthy research and sources. Take advantage of the expansive bibliography and do some educational reading. Dig into the research with us. This Connecticut witch trial history introduction series has been created with thoughtful inquiry and consideration of historian expertise, historic record and available archived material. Next you will be ready for Connecticut Witch Trials 201, but hold up, first we have more 101 series’ coming your way this summer and fall: Salem Witch Trials 101, Modern Witch Hunts 101, and 18th-21st Century Witch Hunts 101. All of our series and episodes work to teach the world regarding witch hunts: 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? 

Support Us! Shop Our Book Shop
Connecticut Witch Trials 101 Bibliography
Resolution Concerning Certain Witchcraft Convictions in Colonial Connecticut
Purchase a Witch Trial White Rose Memorial Button
Support Us! Sign up as a Super Listener!
End Witch Hunts Movement
Thou Shalt Not Suffer Podcast Book Store
Support Us! Buy Witch Trial Merch!
Support Us! Buy Podcast Merch!
Join us on Discord to share your ideas and feedback.
Fact Sheet for Connecticut Witch Trial History


[00:00:20] Josh Hutchinson: Welcome to Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast. I'm Josh Hutchinson.
[00:00:26] Sarah Jack: And I'm Sarah Jack.
[00:00:28] Josh Hutchinson: This is the sixth and final episode of our Connecticut Witch Trials 101 series. We'll cover witch hunting in Connecticut from 1692 onward.
[00:00:38] Sarah Jack: We begin with the story of the other New England witch-hunt of 1692.
[00:00:43] Josh Hutchinson: The Stamford-Fairfield Witch-Hunt of 1692 began with the alleged possession or affliction of Katharine Branch, a servant in the household of Lt. Daniel Westcott.
[00:00:55] Sarah Jack: On May 27th, Lt. Westcott complained to the authorities that his servant had been bewitched for more than five weeks.
[00:01:03] Josh Hutchinson: Contrary to popular belief, the 17th century colonists did not jump to conclusions when a person presented symptoms of affliction.
[00:01:13] Sarah Jack: In Salem, Samuel Parris's daughter and niece were afflicted for about six weeks before the first complaints were filed against any suspected of witchcraft. In fact, the girls were afflicted for a month or more before witchcraft was blamed as the cause of their maladies.
[00:01:26] Josh Hutchinson: In the Stamford-Fairfield witch hunt, several neighbors were indeed skeptical of Katharine's fits. Rather than rush to judgment, some conducted experiments, as we'll talk about later.
[00:01:39] Sarah Jack: Author Godbeer says Stamford people did not assume blindly, but tried experiments to determine.
[00:01:45] Josh Hutchinson: Richard Godbeer says, "what matters is understanding what people believed and thought was going on and what shaped their behavior."
[00:01:54] Sarah Jack: After five weeks of dealing with an afflicted servant, Daniel Westcott was convinced that she was being afflicted by witches, so he complained to Major Nathan Gold, Captain John Burr, Captain Jonathan Selleck, and Lieutenant Jonathan Bell.
[00:02:09] Josh Hutchinson: He described the affliction of his servant to them.
[00:02:14] Sarah Jack: Katharine's fits started in April of 1692 while she was gathering herbs.
[00:02:20] Josh Hutchinson: Quote, "she was seized with a pinching and pricking at her breast. She being come home fell acrying, was asked the reason, gave no answer, but wept and immediately fell down on the floor with her hands clasped."
[00:02:35] Sarah Jack: This condition lasted two days.
[00:02:38] Josh Hutchinson: Then Katharine said she saw a cat.
[00:02:41] Sarah Jack: She was asked what the cat said.
[00:02:43] Josh Hutchinson: I really seriously wonder here, why did they ask what the cat said?
[00:02:50] Sarah Jack: You mean like how they assumed it was talking to her.
[00:02:54] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah. Why would you assume that the cat was talking? Because she said she saw a cat. And your first question is, what did it say? Not what color was this cat? How big was it? Where was it? We didn't see a cat.
[00:03:08] Sarah Jack: They knew their witch lore.
[00:03:11] Josh Hutchinson: I guess, but it still seems strange to ask that question.
[00:03:16] Sarah Jack: It was a leading question, which could have planted ideas in Katharine's mind.
[00:03:21] Josh Hutchinson: A theme to remember. At any rate, Katharine said that the cat had promised her fine things and that, quote, "she should go where there were fine folks."
[00:03:34] Sarah Jack: Her fits continued.
[00:03:36] Josh Hutchinson: She was asked about the cat again, only now there were multiple cats.
[00:03:41] Sarah Jack: When they spoke, they told her they would kill her.
[00:03:44] Josh Hutchinson: She saw a table of meats in a room with 10 sitting and was invited to eat.
[00:03:50] Sarah Jack: I have to just stop and say, I think a lot of us think our cats are thinking those words. We just can't hear it. So I can see how if someone is in hysterics at all, them imagining a cat saying it would kill them, it's not that far of a leap.
[00:04:11] Josh Hutchinson: No, people probably have that dream all the time.
[00:04:16] Sarah Jack: 13 days passed, and she was still afflicted.
[00:04:20] Josh Hutchinson: At one point she had 40 fits in one night, and for the first time she blamed witchcraft.
[00:04:28] Sarah Jack: She cried out, "a witch. A witch."
[00:04:31] Josh Hutchinson: And said that she felt a hand.
[00:04:34] Sarah Jack: The next week she saw, quote, "a woman stand in the house having an silk hood and a blue apron."
[00:04:41] Josh Hutchinson: The evening after that, quote, "she meet an old woman at the doors with two firebrands in her forehand. The woman had two homespun coats, one tucked up around her, the other down."
[00:04:56] Sarah Jack: The following day, she named Goody Clawson.
[00:04:59] Josh Hutchinson: And then she saw Clawson often for a week.
[00:05:03] Sarah Jack: "She said in her fits, 'Goody Clawson, let's have a turn at heels over head,' withall saying, 'shall you go first or shall I?' Said she, 'if I go first, you shall after.' And with that, she turned over two or three times, heels over head."
[00:05:17] Josh Hutchinson: Sometime later, she saw, quote, "a short old woman and lame, calling her Hook Back, Crump Back, having on a homespun coat and waistcoat and a black cap."
[00:05:29] Sarah Jack: Quote, "her master being gone a deputy to the court of election at Hartford," she named Mercy Woodbridge, then changed it to Holbridge, who lived in Campo.
[00:05:39] Josh Hutchinson: At some point she saw a, quote, "a black woman, thick lips, and of a middle stature, neither old nor young who had on an old large Samar, a dirty shift, and a dirty cap."
[00:05:54] Sarah Jack: Quote, she cried out in her fit, "Mercy, why do you meddle with me? I never did you any wrong. What's that to me, if my master did?"
[00:06:03] Josh Hutchinson: Quote, "The woman told her that he had wronged her in giving in evidence against her."
[00:06:08] Sarah Jack: Quote, "sometimes for several days together, she'd be almost wholly dumb. At other times, singing, laughing, eating, riding."
[00:06:18] Josh Hutchinson: This is another thing that reminds me of Salem. There the afflicted persons would at times be well and, at other times, be in their fits.
[00:06:31] Sarah Jack: Katharine supposedly levitated, "she was carried up against the planches."
[00:06:37] Josh Hutchinson: The next night, Wescott, quote, "saw her move on the floor upon her back without stirring hand or foot to make that motion."
[00:06:47] Sarah Jack: Katharine was examined by the court on May 27th, 1692.
[00:06:52] Josh Hutchinson: She named Goody Clawson, Goody Hipshod, and Mercy Holbridge Disborough.
[00:06:59] Sarah Jack: She said, quote, "she went thither [to Compo] on foot by day, and that Mercy was her pilot thither and back again."
[00:07:08] Josh Hutchinson: On May 28th, Elizabeth Clawson was examined at a court in Stamford.
[00:07:13] Sarah Jack: She did, quote, "absolutely and peremptorily deny herself to be any such person."
[00:07:19] Josh Hutchinson: She did admit to quarreling with Daniel Westcott eight or nine years before.
[00:07:24] Sarah Jack: Elizabeth was searched by five women.
[00:07:27] Josh Hutchinson: Mary Ambler, Sarah Finch, Betha Wood, Sarah Trehearn, and Martha Holmes.
[00:07:35] Sarah Jack: Nothing unusual was found.
[00:07:37] Josh Hutchinson: Mercy Disborough was also examined at a court in Stamford on May 28th.
[00:07:43] Sarah Jack: Mercy, quote, "denied herself to be any such person or that she any ways knew or was privy to any means whereby the girl was so afflicted."
[00:07:51] Josh Hutchinson: She averred that she never saw or knew of the girl before now.
[00:07:57] Sarah Jack: Disborough's body was searched by seven women, Mary Ambler, Sarah Finch, Bethia Wood, Sarah Trehearn, Widow Hardy, Martha Holmes, and Elizabeth Clemence.
[00:08:08] Josh Hutchinson: Quote, "they found a teat or like one in her privy parts at least an inch long, which is not common in other women."
[00:08:18] Sarah Jack: Back in court, Katharine Branch is lying on the floor, looked at Disborough and said, quote, "'tis she, I am sure tis she' and presently fell into a like paroxysm or fit as she usually is troubled with."
[00:08:31] Josh Hutchinson: Clawson and Disborough were searched again, and the jury of women returned the same findings. Clawson was clean, Disborough had a teat.
[00:08:41] Sarah Jack: On June 2nd, a special court was held in Fairfield.
[00:08:45] Josh Hutchinson: Mercy Disborough asked, quote, "to be tried by being cast into the water" to, quote, "vindicate her innocency."
[00:08:53] Sarah Jack: Mercy Disborough was water tested on a Monday.
[00:08:57] Josh Hutchinson: And she said, quote, "do you think that I would be such a fool as to be hanged alone?"
[00:09:03] Sarah Jack: On June 4th, 80 neighbors signed a petition defending Elizabeth Clawson.
[00:09:09] Josh Hutchinson: Quote, "since we have known our said neighbor, Goodwife Clawson, we have not known her to be of a contentious frame nor given to use threatening words or to act maliciously towards her neighbors, but hath been civil and orderly towards others in her conversation and not to be a busybody in other men's concerns."
[00:09:29] Sarah Jack: At court on June 6th, Mercy was examined.
[00:09:32] Josh Hutchinson: And witness Thomas Bennett said, quote, " Mercy Disborough told him that she would make him as bare as bird's tale."
[00:09:41] Sarah Jack: Elizabeth Bennett said, "Mercy Disborough did say that it would be so pressed, heaped and running over to her," after some difference that was about a sow of Benjamin Ramsey's."
[00:09:51] Josh Hutchinson: This was apparently a reference to Luke 6:38. In the King James version, this verse reads, "give and it shall be given unto you. Good measure, pressed down, and shaken together and running over shall men give into your bosom, for with the same measure that you mete withall, it shall be measured to you again."
[00:10:14] Sarah Jack: Elizabeth definitely felt like she was getting told what goes around comes around.
[00:10:19] Josh Hutchinson: She definitely saw it as a threat that you're gonna get what you give and so expect payback.
[00:10:30] Sarah Jack: Thomas Bennett lost two calves. Within two weeks of this loss, he lost 30 lambs. Later he lost two more calves.
[00:10:39] Josh Hutchinson: Henry Gray said, quote, "Mercy Disborough said she could not abide that said Henry Gray ever since he bought a parcel of apples of her mother, Mrs. Jones." And Elizabeth Bennett Senior and Elizabeth Bennett Jr. both confirmed this.
[00:10:55] Sarah Jack: Quote, "about a year ago or something more than that, he had a calf very strangely taken and acted things that are very unwonted. It roared very strangely for the space of near six or seven hours."
[00:11:06] Josh Hutchinson: Also, a lamb acted in a very strange manner and died.
[00:11:10] Sarah Jack: Two or three months ago, he tried to bargain with the Disboroughs for a calf, but they couldn't agree to a price. Mercy was supposedly pissed. Quote, "Disborough's wife was very angry and many hard words passed."
[00:11:23] Josh Hutchinson: Also two months ago, he lost a cow.
[00:11:26] Sarah Jack: A heifer was ill, so he cut off part of the poor cow's ear and then whipped her with his cart whip. When she ran, he continued to whip her until she was well.
[00:11:35] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah, WTF is up with these people and the way they treat animals?
[00:11:42] Quote, "the calf he had of said Disborough looked like a new calf. The hammer strokes and crosses was plain to be seen in the calf from the time he had it until a short time before he carried it home, and then in about a quarter of an hour, the calf changed its looks and seemed to be an old calf that had been used about 20 years and that sundry nails appeared, which he could not see before." It was some kind of something made out of a calf skin that they called an old calf and would've had hammer strokes and stitches in it.
[00:12:25] Sarah Jack: So Henry was at his brother Jacob's house, and Mercy was there. She said, quote, "that because he would not have the cattle, she had said that it should cost him two cows, which he told her he could prove she had said."
[00:12:39] Josh Hutchinson: That same day, and Gray believes at the very same time, one of Thomas Bennett's cows was taken strangely, and Bennett used his cart whip to torture that animal until it acted well again.
[00:12:55] Sarah Jack: And the same day, Gray got home, and his wife told him that she had to call for the cart whip to whip a strangely affected calf, but it got well before the whip came. 
[00:13:04] Josh Hutchinson: Ann Godfrey went with young Thomas Bennett's wife to Disborrough's house and, quote, "told Mercy Disborrough that Henry Gray's wife said she had bewitched her husband's oxen and made them jump over the fence and made the beer jump out of the barrel."
[00:13:22] Sarah Jack: Quote, "Mercy answered that there was a woman came to her and reviled her and asked her what she was doing. She told her she was praying to her God, and then she asked her who was her God? Also, she told her that her God was the devil. And Mercy said she bade the woman to go home and pray to her God. And she went home, but she knew not whether she did pray or not."
[00:13:42] Josh Hutchinson: Ann couldn't sleep one night.
[00:13:44] Sarah Jack: Quote, "she heard a noise about the house and also heard a noise like as though a beast were knocked with an ax. And in the morning there was a heifer of theirs lay dead near the door."
[00:13:54] Josh Hutchinson: Another time, Ann had a sick sow, and Mercy came by. Ann told her folks wanted to subject her to the water test, but she wouldn't need any water test if she didn't unbewitch Ann's sow, which soon got better.
[00:14:10] Sarah Jack: John Grumman Sr., about five years ago, his child was ill. Young Thomas Bennett threatened Mercy Disborough and told her to unbewitch the child. She approached it, the child, and stroked it and said, quote, "God forbade that she should hurt the child. And soon after the child was well."
[00:14:28] Josh Hutchinson: Thomas Bennett Jr. said he had threatened to tear Mercy's heart out.
[00:14:33] Sarah Jack: Eleazer Slauson said, quote, "he lived near neighbor to Goodwife Clawson many years and did always observe her to be a person for peace and to counsel for peace. And when she hath had provocation from her neighbors, would answer and say, 'we must live in peace for we are neighbors.'"
[00:14:50] Josh Hutchinson: And Clement Buxton confirmed this testimony.
[00:14:53] Sarah Jack: Joseph Stirg and Benjamin Dunning heard Mercy Disborough, quote, "say if she were hanged, she would not be hanged alone. He told her, she implicitly owned herself a witch."
[00:15:04] Josh Hutchinson: Thomas Haliberch the jailkeeper said Mercy Disborough told him and others that she had been tormented all night. Haliberch told her it was the devil. She agreed and, quote, "said that it told her that her soul was damned for yesterday's work."
[00:15:23] Sarah Jack: Mercy later owned this account in court and said, quote, "she believed that there was divination in all her troubles."
[00:15:29] Josh Hutchinson: Joseph Bulkley confirmed Haliberch's testimony.
[00:15:34] Sarah Jack: Samuel Smith, Sr. also confirmed Haliberch's testimony.
[00:15:38] Josh Hutchinson: Joseph Wakeman said, quote, "he heard Mercy Disborough say that she trusted in the Lord Jesus, and if he deceive her, she would not have others to trust in him."
[00:15:50] Sarah Jack: Daniel Westcott, June 7th, 1692, said he went to Elizabeth Clawson's house on June 6th and talked to her about her actions and asked if she would be ducked. She said she'd do it, if Stamford minister John Bishop and the authority said it was reliable.
[00:16:05] Josh Hutchinson: Later that night, Katharine Branch had her worst fits yet.
[00:16:10] Sarah Jack: That night, Daniel's child climbed out of bed.
[00:16:13] Josh Hutchinson: When Daniel returned the child to bed, he lay beside Katharine Branch, quote, "to hold in her fits, which being straining, lolling out her tongue, and jumping up and down, and she took hold of my hands, and immediately something whipped me across my face like a cord that I both felt and heard the stroke, and it smarted for some time after."
[00:16:36] Sarah Jack: On June 13th, Katharine Branch testified to Jonathan Selleck in Stamford.
[00:16:41] Josh Hutchinson: She claimed she'd never heard the names of the people she had accused until, quote, "they themselves told her, which appeared to her."
[00:16:49] Sarah Jack: Quote, "there is a girl and a woman, which the said Kate calls the girl's mother appear to her and they say they live in Fairfield, but their names she cannot tell and that also there is two more appears to her, the one from New York called Mary Glover, as she told the said Kate, and the other name Goody Abison from Boston, as the abovesaid girl told Kate her name."
[00:17:09] Josh Hutchinson: IRL, Goody Glover of Boston had been hanged in 1688, and a Mrs. Mary Obinson was named on October 10th, 1692 by the afflicted girls of Salem. Obinson was not arrested.
[00:17:24] Sarah Jack: Katharine named Goody Miller, who was formerly called Goody Hipshod or Goody Crump. 
[00:17:30] Josh Hutchinson: Katharine claimed that Goody Miller and Mrs. Abison, as she called her, were the ones who actually took Daniel Westcott's child out of the bed and laid it on the floor, and Miller again took the kid out of bed last night.
[00:17:45] Sarah Jack: On June 28th, Katharine testified to Jonathan Selleck in Stamford. Last Saturday. Elizabeth Clawson appeared to her and afflicted her worse than usual, held her head back, pulled her arms, and pressed upon her. Clawson afflicted her again, quote, for a night or two following.
[00:18:01] Josh Hutchinson: Since Clawson was jailed in Fairfield, only Goody Miller appeared and afflicted Kate.
[00:18:07] Sarah Jack: Daniel Westcott backed her up, saying, quote, "that on said Saturday night, his maid Kate was extremely afflicted, making a terrible screeching noise, crying out, 'Goody Clawson, Goody Clawson, why will you kill me? Why will you torment me so?' Her head being bent backwards down to her back, I went to lift her up. She was so extreme heavy that she seemed to me to be three times heavier than that at other times, and said maid said, often, 'get off of me,' two or three times. In said fit, said Kate shook and the bedstead so terribly hard. It much a frightened us."
[00:18:40] Josh Hutchinson: John Finch was a witness that Saturday night, quote, "and tried to lift said Kate and found her so extreme heavy that he never found nor felt any the like.
[00:18:50] Sarah Jack: After the interview, Kate walked 40 or 50 rods from Selleck's house and fell down and, quote, "looked black in the face."
[00:18:58] Josh Hutchinson: Jonathan's son, John Selleck, and cousin, David Selleck, brought her back to the house.
[00:19:05] Sarah Jack: Quote, "In coming out of that fit, fell a screeching crying out, 'you kill me, Goody Clawson, you kill me.'"
[00:19:11] Josh Hutchinson: Kate had terrible fits all night and sometimes spoke to apparitions.
[00:19:16] Sarah Jack: She said, quote, "I will not yield to you for your witches, and your portion is hellfire to all eternity."
[00:19:22] Josh Hutchinson: She said, quote, "Goody Clawson, why do you torment me so? I never did you any harm, neither in word nor action,' saying, 'why are you all come now to afflict me?'"
[00:19:33] Sarah Jack: She named Goody Clawson, Mercy Disborough, Goody Miller, a woman, and a girl, quote, "whom she called Sarah."
[00:19:40] Josh Hutchinson: She said, "is Sarah Staples your right name? I'm afraid you tell me a lie. Hannah Harvey, is that your name? What is the woman's name that comes with Hannah Harvey? Mary Harvey, the mother of Hannah Harvey?"
[00:19:55] Sarah Jack: More cats appeared to Kate.
[00:19:58] Josh Hutchinson: Also a creature, quote, "with a great head and wings and no body and all black appeared."
[00:20:07] Sarah Jack: She asked Hannah Harvey if it was her father.
[00:20:09] Josh Hutchinson: She named Goody Staples, grandmother of Hannah Harvey, mother of Mary Harvey.
[00:20:15] Sarah Jack: "She fell into a fit, singing songs and then tunes, as Kate said, gigs for them to dance by each taking their turns."
[00:20:24] Josh Hutchinson: Quote, "then said Kate rehearsed a great many verses which are in some primers, and also the dialogue between Christ the young man and the devil, the Lord's Prayer, all the commandments and catechism, the creed, etc., and several such good things."
[00:20:40] Sarah Jack: Quote, "some persons attempted to cut off a lock of the said Kate's hair when she was in her fits but could not do it, for, although she knew not what was said and done by them and let them come never so privately behind her to do it, yet she would at once turn about and prevent it. At last, David Waterbury took her in his arms to hold her by force that a lock of her hair might be cut, but though at other times a weak and light girl, yet she was then so strong and so extreme heavy that he could not deal with her, nor her hair could not be cut."
[00:21:10] Josh Hutchinson: On June 29th, quote, "Katharine Branch coming into her senses about nine of the o'clock in the morning, being questioned what she saw and who afflicted her the night past, saith that going homeward she was met by Goody Miller riding upon a black cat."
[00:21:26] Sarah Jack: Jonathan Selleck sent letter to Nathan Gold Magistrate dated June 29th, 1692.
[00:21:32] Josh Hutchinson: He told Gold that his son, John Selleck, would fill him in on the details of the wild night with Kate.
[00:21:38] Sarah Jack: And he related a story about trying to have Goody Miller arrested in Bedford, New York, where she was under the protection of her two brothers, Mr. Theale and Mr. Ambler who was there. Quote, Mr. Pell and Justice Theale would not do anything," even though Kate was taken there and identified Goody Miller.
[00:21:55] Josh Hutchinson: Quote, "Abraham Andler told Daniel Wescott he knew what would become of her if she was sent down to us here. He not being willing to do it."
[00:22:05] Sarah Jack: Selleck said that the New York Attorney General would not order Goody Miller taken into custody. Selleck encouraged Nathan Gold to send to the governor of New York to request the extradition of Goody Miller.
[00:22:16] Josh Hutchinson: Selleck suggested that he could write to Colonel Caleb Heathcote, an influential landowner in New York, quote, "who hath the greatest interest in this present governor of any man in New York."
[00:22:29] Sarah Jack: On June 30th, Mary Newman said that two years ago she had an argument with Elizabeth Clawson and exchanged words. The next day, three of Newman's sheep died suddenly.
[00:22:39] Josh Hutchinson: On July 12th, John Tash swore his testimony before John Reynolds in Greenwich. 
[00:22:46] Sarah Jack: About 30 years ago, Goodman and Goody Owen asked him to go to George Woolsey's house in Jamaica, Long Island with Mary Staples.
[00:22:54] Josh Hutchinson: Riding a horse with her behind him, they came to a rough slough, and he couldn't sense her behind him, so he reached back to her and felt nothing. When they got through the slough, Staples was back on the horse. This happened at the same spot on the way to Woolsey's house and on the way back.
[00:23:12] Sarah Jack: John Pettit, august 4th, 1692, Stamford. Quote, "John Pettit sayeth that he heard Daniel Westcott's wife say Kate told her that there came a fine man to her and told her that her brother was dead and that he would not trouble her no more in three weeks."
[00:23:29] Josh Hutchinson: On August 24th, Jonathan Bell wrote, quote, "Daniel Westcott came to my house upon the Saturday before he went to May Court and told me that his maidservant said that there came a gentleman to her that told her that her brother that was at Christopher's was dead, upon which she cried and was sad and told her that she should have no more fits this three weeks."
[00:23:53] Sarah Jack: Susannah Bell testified the same.
[00:23:57] Josh Hutchinson: That same day, Samuel Blatchley said that Abigail Cross said that Abigail Westcott Daniel's wife, mentioned Mercy Disborough's name in the presence of Katharine Branch. Abigail Westcott replied that Katharine was in a fit when she said that.
[00:24:13] Sarah Jack: Also on the 24th, Lydia Penoyer related that Katharine Branch told her that she, Katharine, quote, "never told Joseph Garnsey and Nathaniel Wyatt that she was possessed."
[00:24:25] Josh Hutchinson: Quote, "she heard her aunt Abigail Westcott say that her servant girl Katharine Branch was such a lying girl that not anybody could believe one word what she said and said that she heard her aunt Abigail Wescott say that she did not believe that Mercy nor Goody Miller nor Hannah, nor any of these women whom she had impeached was any more witches than she was, and that her husband would believe Katharine before he would believe Mr. Bishop or Lieutenant Bell or herself."
[00:24:56] Sarah Jack: Katharine Branch and Daniel Westcott testified before Jonathan Bell on August 25th. Both testified that Katharine was afflicted in her sleep and her head was drawn back to her back.
[00:25:07] Josh Hutchinson: Quote, "he got up and found her head drawn backward to her back and her body bowed upward a foot from the bed and her breath stopped."
[00:25:16] Sarah Jack: On August 29th, Joseph Bishop reported that he had asked Katharine what she saw in her fits. She said, cats. Abigail Westcott pressed her on it.
[00:25:25] Josh Hutchinson: Quote, "Katharine answered, 'cats, if they be cats, they are no ordinary cats ,for ordinary cats can't turn themselves into a woman and then into a cat again and sit on the rail and jump on the wheel.'"
[00:25:38] Sarah Jack: Abigail Westcott asked Katharine to describe the woman she wore, quote, "serge cloth and the best homespun. I think she had pretty thick lips."
[00:25:48] Josh Hutchinson: In undated testimony, Joseph Garnsey told a story about an experiment performed during one of Katharine's to see if she would react when threatened with a knife in real life. She immediately snapped out of her fit and ran out of the room. The experiment was tried again, and she again came to. This time, she said, "I am possessed with the devil, and he appeared to me in the hen house in the shape of a black cat and was earnest with her to be a witch and if she would not, he would tear her in pieces."
[00:26:22] Sarah Jack: Then she said she saw the devil. According to Garnsey, quote, "just at this time to my appearance, there seemed to dart in at the west window a sudden light across the room." Kate saw the devil as a white dog.
[00:26:35] Josh Hutchinson: Kate told Garnsey she had seen the devil appear in the shapes of Goody Clawson, Goody Miller and Mercy Disborough. The devil told her that it was really him.
[00:26:45] Sarah Jack: "She said she could not tell. They might be honest women, for ought she knew, or they might be witches."
[00:26:52] Josh Hutchinson: Nathaniel Wyatt confirmed Joseph Garnsey's testimony.
[00:26:57] Sarah Jack: In undated testimony, Ebenezer Bishop testified that during a fit, Katharine Branch, quote "said, 'now they are going to kill me and crying out very loud that they pinched her on the neck and calling out that they pinched again. I sitting by her, I took the light and looked upon her neck and I see a spot look red, seeming to me as big as a piece of eight. Afterwards, it turned blue and blacker than any other part of her skin, and after the second time of her calling, I took the light and looked again, and she pointed with her hand lower upon her shoulder, and I see another place upon her shoulder looked red and blue, as I saw upon the other place before, and then after that she had another fit."
[00:27:35] Josh Hutchinson: Hannah Knapp corroborated Bishop's testimony and added that she saw scratches upon Kate.
[00:27:42] Sarah Jack: In an undated testimony, Abigail Cross said, quote, "upon some discourse with Daniel Westcott about his girl's dissembling, said Daniel said that he would venture both his cows against a calf that she would do a trick tomorrow morning that nobody else could do."
[00:27:56] Josh Hutchinson: Abigail asked, "can you make her do it when you will?"
[00:28:00] Sarah Jack: Daniel said, "yes, and when I will, I can make her do it."
[00:28:05] Josh Hutchinson: Nathaniel Cross corroborated his wife, Abigail's testimony.
[00:28:09] Sarah Jack: Abraham Finch, Jr. testified that quote, "he being a watching with the French girl at Daniel Westcott's house in the night, I being laid on the bed, the girl fell into a fit and fell across my feet. And then I looking up, I saw a light about the bigness of my two hands glance along the summer [beam] of the house to the hearth ward, and afterwards I saw it no more."
[00:28:31] Josh Hutchinson: Kate said, "Goody Clawson came in with two fiery eyes."
[00:28:35] Sarah Jack: David Selleck was lying on the bed beside Katharine while Abraham was lying on the chest. David started up and said, "she pricked me."
[00:28:43] Josh Hutchinson: "The French girl answered, no, she did not. It was Goody Crump, and she put her hand over the bedside and said, 'give me that thing that you pricked Mr. Selleck with.' And I catched hold of her hand and found a pin in it, and I took it away from her."
[00:29:00] Sarah Jack: On another occasion, Elizabeth Clawson said, "she had not confessed, nor would not confess as long as she had breath to draw or to that effect."
[00:29:09] Josh Hutchinson: On August 29th, 50 year old man Samuel Holly, Sr. stated that, quote, "being at the house of Daniel Westcott in the evening, I did see his made Katharine Branch in her fit that she did swell in her breasts as she lay on her bed, and they rises like bladders and suddenly passed into her belly and a short time returned to her breast. And in a short time, her breasts fell and a great rattling in her throat as if she would've been choked. All this I judge beyond nature."
[00:29:43] Sarah Jack: Daniel Wescott confirmed this testimony and added, quote, "that when she was in those fits rattling in her throat, she would put out her tongue to a great extent I conceived beyond nature, and I put her tongue into her mouth again, and then I looked in her mouth and could see no tongue, but as if it were a lump of flesh down her throat, and this oftentimes."
[00:30:04] Josh Hutchinson: On August 30th, Daniel Westcott said, quote, "as she lay on the bed at her length in her fit and at once spring up to the chamber floor without the help of her hands or feet. That's near six feet, and I judge it beyond nature for any person so to do."
[00:30:21] Sarah Jack: On August 31st, John Knapp confirmed what Daniel Westcott said the day before.
[00:30:26] Josh Hutchinson: That same day, David Selleck said, quote, "in the night when said Katharine was in her fit, she, looking off the bed, said, 'Goody Miller, hold up your arm higher that the black dog may suck thee better.' Again, she said, 'Goody Miller, I never thought so much before, for now I'm sure you are a witch, for you have got a long teat under your arm.'"
[00:30:50] Sarah Jack: Abraham Finch, quote, "saw a ball of fire as big as his two hands pass along the summer [beam] to the hearth, and then vanish away."
[00:30:58] Josh Hutchinson: Quote, "she said that she saw Goody Clawson come in with fiery eyes."
[00:31:03] Sarah Jack: Lying in bed beside Katharine, with Abraham Finch lying on the chest, David felt a prickling in his side.
[00:31:10] Josh Hutchinson: Katharine said, "'Goody Crump, give me that thing that you pricked Mr. Selleck withall.' Then shutting her hand, Abraham Finch reached hold of her hand, and we found a pin in it."
[00:31:21] Sarah Jack: This should have been seen as clear evidence of fraud.
[00:31:25] Josh Hutchinson: On September 7th, Sarah Kecham reported, quote, "I asked her to ride, and then she got to riding. I asked her if her horse had any name, and she called out and said, 'Jack.' I then asked her to sing, and then she sung. I asked her that if she had sung in English, she could then sing French, and then she sung that which they called French."
[00:31:47] Sarah Jack: Thomas Austin told Kecham he knew that Katharine was bewitched. Kecham said that she doubted it. She didn't believe there was a witch in town.
[00:31:56] Josh Hutchinson: Then they did an experiment. Thomas Austin said that a bewitched person would laugh themself to death if a bare sword was held over them. They tried, it and Katharine laughed. But then they tried it without telling her, and she did not react at all.
[00:32:15] Sarah Jack: John Bates Jr. confirmed Kecham's testimony.
[00:32:18] Josh Hutchinson: On September 10th, Edward Jesop testified in Fairfield that last winter at Thomas Disborough's house, there was a pig roasting, with skin like normal pig. When it was placed on the table, the skin was suddenly gone. But when Thomas Disborough began cutting it, the skin reappeared.
[00:32:40] Sarah Jack: Later that evening, there was a debate over scripture. When Mercy Disborough brought out a bible, Jesop couldn't read it.
[00:32:48] Josh Hutchinson: On his way home, he needed a canoe to get across Campo Creek, but he couldn't move the canoe into the water.
[00:32:55] Sarah Jack: He tried to ride his old cart horse, Joe, around but couldn't get the horse to stay on the road.
[00:33:01] Josh Hutchinson: It took all night to get a little over two miles.
[00:33:04] Sarah Jack: On September 12th, Daniel Westcott testified that some years since he had quarrel with Elizabeth Clawson over the weight of some flax.
[00:33:12] Josh Hutchinson: Some short time after, Daniel's daughter, Johanna, was taken with fits.
[00:33:19] Sarah Jack: She continued to have fits at night for about three weeks.
[00:33:22] Josh Hutchinson: Then upon the advice of neighbors, the Westcotts sent their daughter to Fairfield, and the fits stopped.
[00:33:29] Sarah Jack: Abigail Westcott corroborated the testimony.
[00:33:33] Josh Hutchinson: On September 12th, Abigail Westcott claimed that Elizabeth Clawson once threw rocks at her.
[00:33:38] Sarah Jack: Another time Clawson called her a quote, "proud slut," and said, quote, "are you proud of your fine clothes and you love to be mistress, but you never shall be mine."
[00:33:48] Josh Hutchinson: Daniel Westcott's enslaved indigenous boy saw a string tie itself around Katharine's neck.
[00:33:58] Sarah Jack: Abigail Westcott witnessed the marks around Kate's neck after Daniel removed the string.
[00:34:03] Josh Hutchinson: Thomas Penoyer said that Goodwife Clawson argued with Mary Newman, whose daughter had allegedly stolen, quote, "apples or nuts or grapes or some such thing. " Clawson said, "if she allowed her children to steal when they was young, how would they be when they were old?"
[00:34:22] Sarah Jack: Thomas's wife's, Lydia, agreed to his testimony. 
[00:34:26] Josh Hutchinson: Sarah Bates said that when Kate had the first fit, the Westcotts sent for her to attend to the girl. Upon evaluating the girl, Bates decided she may have a natural illness.
[00:34:38] Sarah Jack: She suggested they burn feathers under Kate's nose and also suggested a few other remedies for fainting fits.
[00:34:44] Josh Hutchinson: While Kate was in a fit, Sarah Bates and Abigail Westcott decided to bleed her. When they approached to draw blood, Kate snapped out of the fit.
[00:34:54] Sarah Jack: Then she did let them take blood from her foot, and when she had laid a while, quote, "she clapped her hand upon the coverlid and cried out. And one of the girls that stood by said, 'mother, she cried out,' and her mistress was so affected with it that she cried and said, 'she is bewitched.' Upon this, the girl turned her head from the folk, as if she would hide it in the pillow, and laughed.
[00:35:14] Josh Hutchinson: Mary Lockwood confirmed this testimony.
[00:35:17] Sarah Jack: Swimming test witnesses Abraham Adams and Jonathan Squire made a statement.
[00:35:22] Josh Hutchinson: Both testified that, quote, "when Elizabeth Clawson was bound hand and foot and put into the water, she swam like a cork, and Joseph Stirg labored to press her into the water, and she buoyed up like a cork"
[00:35:36] Sarah Jack: Court of and Terminer, September 14th at Fairfield.
[00:35:40] Josh Hutchinson: Magistrates Governor Robert Treat, Deputy Governor William Jones, Major Nathan Gould, John Allen, Mr. Andrew Lee, Captain John Burr, Mr. William Pitkin, and Captain Moses Mansfield.
[00:35:54] Sarah Jack: Crown's Attorneys Lieutenant James Bennett and Mr. Eliphalet Hill.
[00:35:59] Josh Hutchinson: Mercy Disborough was arraigned.
[00:36:02] Sarah Jack: The grand jury indicted her.
[00:36:04] Josh Hutchinson: Disborough pled not guilty and agreed to stand trial.
[00:36:08] Sarah Jack: Elizabeth Clawson was arraigned.
[00:36:12] Josh Hutchinson: The grand jury indicted her, as well. 
[00:36:15] Sarah Jack: Disborough and Clawson were searched yet again by a jury of women.
[00:36:19] Josh Hutchinson: This time, Clawson had, quote, "in her private parts more than is common to women. We can't say teats but something extraordinary and Goody Disborough's was something like it but a great deal less, Goody Clawson's a dark red, and Disborough's of a pale color."
[00:36:38] Sarah Jack: Katharine Branch testified September 19th, quote, "sometime this last summer, she saw and felt Goodwife Clawson and Mercy Disborough afflict her, not together but apart, by scratching, pinching, and wringing her body."
[00:36:51] Josh Hutchinson: The grand jury presented Mary Staples, Mary Harvey, and Hannah Harvey.
[00:36:56] Sarah Jack: The court called three times for witnesses on September 15th, and then again called for witnesses on September 16th.
[00:37:02] Josh Hutchinson: Only two witnesses appeared, quote, "and what was objected seemed to be of no great weight."
[00:37:10] Sarah Jack: The court cleared the three women by proclamation.
[00:37:14] Josh Hutchinson: The jury could not reach a verdict on Clawson or Disborough.
[00:37:18] Sarah Jack: Court sent to the General Court for advice.
[00:37:21] Josh Hutchinson: And sent the prisoners to jail.
[00:37:24] Sarah Jack: The court was dismissed until a response was received from the General Court.
[00:37:28] Josh Hutchinson: On October 13th, the General Court ordered a new court session to be held ASAP.
[00:37:34] Sarah Jack: Court reconvened on October 28th in Fairfield.
[00:37:40] Josh Hutchinson: Disborough was convicted. The court sent the jury to reconsider. They didn't change their verdict. The court accepted it, and the governor issued the death sentence.
[00:37:52] Sarah Jack: Clawson was acquitted. The court accepted this and agreed to release Clawson from jail upon payment of her jail fees.
[00:37:59] Josh Hutchinson: The court sought advice from the clergy.
[00:38:02] Sarah Jack: On October 17th, Joseph Eliot, Timothy Woodbridge, and unnamed others responded.
[00:38:08] Josh Hutchinson: They said the swimming test is unlawful evidence.
[00:38:13] Sarah Jack: Quote, "the unusual excrescences found upon their bodies ought not to be allowed as evidence against them without the approbation of some able physicians."
[00:38:21] Josh Hutchinson: They further said that Katharine Branch may have dissembled, and you can't trust spectral evidence, because it may be counterfeited by the devil, so she's not a reliable witness.
[00:38:32] Sarah Jack: Quote, "as to the other strange accidents as the dying of cattle, etc., we apprehend the applying of them to these women as matters of witchcraft to be upon very slender and uncertain grounds."
[00:38:43] Josh Hutchinson: Richard Holmes testified on October 27th in Norwalk before Thomas Fitch.
[00:38:50] Sarah Jack: Quote, "my mother [a midwife] told me that the report was true and that Elizabeth Clawson was not as other women were."
[00:38:57] Josh Hutchinson: John Finch testified on October 28th in Stamford that about a year ago, he had a difference with Elizabeth Clawson. Soon a child was ill for two weeks and died.
[00:39:09] Sarah Jack: On May 12th, 1693, magistrates Samuel Willis, William Pitkin, and Nathaniel Stanley issued a defense of the reprieve of Mrs. Mercy Disborough.
[00:39:17] Josh Hutchinson: For one thing, they had the authority to do so.
[00:39:21] Sarah Jack: They had their reasons to believe the death penalty was not appropriate for Disborough.
[00:39:26] Josh Hutchinson: The jury was altered between court sessions. Quote, "one man altered, the jury is altered."
[00:39:32] Sarah Jack: "We had a good account of the evidences given against her that none of them amounted to what Mr. Perkins, Mr. Bernard, and Mr. Mather, with others, state as sufficiently convictive of witchcraft."
[00:39:44] Josh Hutchinson: There was no confession.
[00:39:46] Sarah Jack: They did not have two good witnesses to prove works above the course of nature.
[00:39:51] Josh Hutchinson: Quote, "as for the common things of spectral evidence, ill events after quarrels or threats, teats, water trials, and the like with suspicious words, they are all discarded and some of them abominated by the most judicious as to be convictive of witchcraft."
[00:40:09] Sarah Jack: Further, the witch-hunt in Salem proves these things are nothing but trouble and, quote, "will make hanging work apace."
[00:40:16] Josh Hutchinson: And at some point, Deputy Governor William Jones wrote out a document called "Grounds for Examination of a Witch," which we've previously read on this podcast in Connecticut witch Trials 101 Part One.
[00:40:32] Sarah Jack: Gershom Buckley later wrote a brief summary of what happened in 1692 saying, quote, "a time was appointed for execution, but upon motion, three of the Assistants of Hartford send down a reprieve, whereby the execution is suspended till next general court."
[00:40:47] Josh Hutchinson: In 1693, Hugh Crosia of Fairfield was accused of witchcraft after he claimed he had made a pact with Satan and sealed it with his blood. The indictment also referred to Crosia afflicting unspecified people.
[00:41:02] Sarah Jack: Crosia admitted in court that he had lied about the pact with the devil.
[00:41:06] Josh Hutchinson: On May 8th, the grand jury returned the indictment ignoramus, meaning there was not enough evidence to go to trial.
[00:41:14] Sarah Jack: Crosia was released upon payment of jail fees.
[00:41:17] Josh Hutchinson: Here's the story of accused witches from a founding family in Wallingford. The victims were Winifred Benham, Sr. and Winifred Benham, Jr. This family, like the Staples-Harvey family, included three generations of women targeted as witches in a direct line of descendants, as the mother of Winifred Sr., Mary Hale was tried as a witch in Boston, Massachusetts about a decade before.
[00:41:43] Sarah Jack: The genealogy story of Winifred Benham, Sr. has been confusing due due to the complexity around her name origins and the thin trail, her mother's marriages, and court case. We won't get into that today, because what we can know of the Benham women's link to mother Mary Hale is through court record statements and family connections through legal records.
[00:42:01] Josh Hutchinson: Winifred Benham, Sr. and Winifred, Jr. can likely be linked as the daughter and granddaughter of accused Boston witch Mary Hale. By looking at court records, Winifred Sr. and Mary Hale both gave their testimonies in a deposition in a 1656 lawsuit for Hugh Williams. This is pieced together in the July 2007 American Genealogists article called "Origin of Accused Witch Mary Williams King Hale of Boston and Her Brothers Hugh, John, and Possibly Nathaniel Williams" by Michael J. LeClerc and D. Brenton Simons.
[00:42:38] Sarah Jack: In their depositions, Mary refers to, quote, "her brother's house," and Winifred refers to, quote, "her uncle's house" in the lawsuit naming Hugh Williams as the brother and uncle. The article goes on to explain how record evidence connects the Williams brothers together and to Mary Hale and Winifred Benham, Sr. The article further establishes this link with trial records from the 1680/81 witchcraft case of Mary Hale, wherein she identifies Winifred's daughter, Joanna Benham, born 1662, as her granddaughter, as well as a deposition from Joanna in the case where she identifies herself as Mary Hale's granddaughter.
[00:43:13] Josh Hutchinson: Witchcraft charges against Mary Hale in February and March 1681 stemmed from the suspicious death of Michael Smith, a mariner who had formerly lodged at Mary Hale's house and who had attempted to court her granddaughter, Joanna Benham. Smith claimed shortly before his death that Mary had bewitched him while he was at the Isles of Shoals and at Bilboa and further that in a separate incident, she transported him to Dorchester, where he encountered a coven of witches.
[00:43:44] Sarah Jack: After his courtship with Joanna failed, Smith began seeing another young woman named Margaret Ellis of Boston, who became one of the chief accusers against Mary Hale when the mariner died under strange circumstances. According to the article, among the unusual witchcraft evidence used against Mary was a test using a bottle containing Smith's urine. When the bottle was stopped, Mary moved to and fro in an agitated manner throughout the house. When it was unstopped, her movement ceased. It is unclear whether Mary Hale was convicted because no further records have been identified yet. We have no record of her life after this. We do not know when or where she died.
[00:44:21] Josh Hutchinson: Mary Hale's daughter and granddaughter, Winifred Benham, Sr. and Jr. were also destined to endure witchcraft charges.
[00:44:30] Sarah Jack: Winifred Sr. had moved with her husband, Joseph, in 1670, Wallingford, Connecticut, before her mother Mary Hale's trial. Joseph Benham, like his father, John Benham, was one of the 37 founders of Wallingford. We know what land the Benham men held in Wallingford and that they had meeting house seat assignments in Wallingford, as well.
[00:44:48] Josh Hutchinson: Legal troubles for the family began in 1691, when Joseph Benham was tried for describing the selectman of Wallingford as quote, "no more fit for townsmen than dogs." In the following year, he threatened a neighbor, Goody Parker, with his gun for casting aspersions witchcraft upon Winifred. Joseph had already had his mother-in-law and daughter Joanna embroiled in a witchcraft trial in Boston
[00:45:16] In 1692, several townsfolk, such as Hannah Parker, Deacon Hall, and Anna Street, approached Reverend Samuel Street for guidance and together reported a formal complaint against Winifred Benham to the county court. Winifred Sr. was charged at the New Haven County Court for witchcraft, but the court found insufficient grounds to convict her.
[00:45:38] Sarah Jack: It appears she pleaded innocent and did not implicate others as witches. She was released with the warning that more suspicion would bring more charges. It is believed that in June of 1693 there was further examination about witchcraft, but we currently have no record.
[00:45:52] Josh Hutchinson: In 1697, Winifred Benham, Sr. was accused of witchcraft again, this time, along with her 12 or 13 year old daughter, Winifred Benham Jr. Winifred Sr. and Winifred Jr. were sent by local officials to high court for witchcraft charges to the Superior Court in Hartford.
[00:46:10] Sarah Jack: With no further witch trial cases on record, this leaves the Winifreds as the last two accused witches sent by local officials to a higher court in the New England colonies.
[00:46:19] Josh Hutchinson: The court records indicate that present were Robert Treat, Esq., Governor; William Jones, Esq., Deputy Governor; and Major Moses Mansfield, Assistant.
[00:46:31] Sarah Jack: The accusers represented at this trial were Ebenezer Clark, Joseph Royse, and John Moss, Jr.
[00:46:37] Josh Hutchinson: They testified that Sarah Clark, daughter of Ebenezer Clark, John Moss III, son of John Moss, Jr., and Elizabeth Lathrop, were physically harmed by the apparitions and witchcraft of Winifred Benham, Sr. and Winifred Benham, Jr. or by the devil in their shapes. Joseph Benham was ordered to pay 21 pounds for their appearance and for them to be jailed until the next convening of the court in October.
[00:47:04] Sarah Jack: On October 7th, 1697, the court of assizes met in Hartford, and prosecutor Daniel Clark argued that Winifred Benham, Sr. and Winifred Benham, Jr. of Wallingford had made dealings with Satan and, through this relationship, had been causing mischief around the town of Wallingford, hurting numerous people and disturbing the peace. They were also accused of causing the death of a baby.
[00:47:24] Josh Hutchinson: More details on the Winifred Benham, Sr. witch trial saga appear in the writing of Robert Calef in his More Wonders of the Invisible World. He reported that she was searched for teats and water tested. This is where it is stated that the Winifreds were acquitted in the 1697 trial and fled to New York.
[00:47:44] Sarah Jack: Like her mother, we lose the trail of Winifred Benham, Sr. We do not know when or where she died or when or where she is buried.
[00:47:51] Josh Hutchinson: John Benham, son of Winifred Sr. and Joseph Sr. was a resident of Kings County, New York, and two of the Benham daughters, Anna and Sarah were then living in Richmond. In the records of the Dutch Church on Staten Island, it states that Anna Benham and her husband, Lambert Johnson, had a daughter with the namesake, Winifred, who was baptized in 1696. As this family was already on Staten Island, Winifred Benham Sr. may have fled here, as Calef reported.
[00:48:25] Sarah Jack: More than one granddaughter was named Winifred after the Benham Winifreds. I'm a descendant of Winifred Sr. through her son Joseph, Jr. I have been contacted by several descendants in the past year looking for more information on how she's being remembered by the community, including one descending line that had passed down the oral history of Winifred Sr. being an accused witch. This was passed down to the current living generation, all the way down to living grandsons. That is touching. 
[00:48:52] This past March 1st, at the Judiciary Committee hearing on HJ 34, Resolution Concerning Certain Witchcraft Convictions in Colonial Connecticut, I gave in person testimony as a descendant. It was an unexplainable, proud experience to be able to give testimony in support of a state exoneration for my accused witch ancestor. The state representative representing Wallingford, along with others, voted no against the resolution at the judiciary hearing. But support for HJ 34 kept growing, and legislators representing Wallingford later voted yes in the House and Senate.
[00:49:23] After an amendment to the resolution in the House ,State Representative Craig Fishbein did change his original stance against the resolution. And after voting no on March 1st, he voted yes on May 10th, that accused witches Winifred Benham, Sr. and Winifred Benham, Jr., women of a founding family from his district did deserve an apology for what happened to them.
[00:49:43] Josh Hutchinson: Thank you for that, Sarah. Your testimony was excellent.
[00:49:48] Sarah Jack: Sarah Clother and Goodwife Brown were accused of witchcraft by Bethia Taylor of Colchester in 1713. Taylor withdrew the charge and apologized in public.
[00:49:57] Josh Hutchinson: Sarah Spencer was accused of bewitching her sister-in-law, Elizabeth Ackley in 1724, Spencer sued Ackley for 500 pounds damages for defamation and won five pounds.
[00:50:11] Sarah Jack: In 1742, Elizabeth Gold of Guilford sued Benjamin Chittenden for 500 pounds for defamation. The court found for the defendant, Chittenden, due to an insufficient declaration by the plaintiff, Gold.
[00:50:23] And now Mary Bingham is back with another great Minute with Mary. 
[00:50:28] Mary Bingham: May 25th, 2023, the day when those accused, convicted, and hanged for the capitol crime of witchcraft in colonial Connecticut were finally cleared. This is the day I will never forget. The first order of business for me was to travel the two hours south to Hartford from my hometown in New Hampshire and arrive by 11:00 AM. All I wanted was to be with the people, my people, who worked tirelessly since May 26th of 2022 to secure justice for these victims who lived over three centuries ago. They lived in our hearts in an indescribable way that day. 
[00:51:11] Not knowing the city of Hartford, I wound up parking at the Old State House, thinking it was close to the capitol. Wrong. I ran 15 minutes clear across town in sandals that would've no doubt twisted a smaller ankle than mine, and I almost fell into a sinkhole, as I rushed across the further side of Bushnell Park. 
[00:51:34] When I entered the capitol, after going through security and then ascending four floors to the gallery, I was never so happy to greet my fellow team members with warm hugs and smiles. Then the wait for final passage of our bill, HJ 34, began. We weren't sure how long that would be before the bill came before the Senate, early in the afternoon or closer to midnight, so we listened to some of the other important bills presented that day, went for lunch in the cafeteria, hung outside the gallery and talked, and then went downstairs for ice cream. 
[00:52:14] At 4:30, some of us were still downstairs when the urgent text came through that our bill was now before the Senate. We ran up four flights of stairs in record time for the final time that afternoon. When I took my seat, I felt like everything was surreal. I listened as the senators spoke for well over an hour. Final passage of this bill meant so much to us, the descendants, those who still suffer brutally as a result of active witch hunts today, as well as those who risk their lives advocating for the modern day victims. We knew from firsthand knowledge that other countries watched to see what the state of Connecticut would do. At about 6:00 PM Eastern Time, the bill passed. Connecticut had corrected the historical record for the world to see.
[00:53:09] What joy and exhilaration I felt, as tears of relief fell from my eyes for about 10 minutes straight. I was so grateful to finally meet and thank in person State Representative Jane Garibay and State Senator Dr. Saud Anwar, who were workhorses on behalf of this bill. Then I got my private wishes, to celebrate with my team members over good food and a nice glass of wine. 
[00:53:36] The following day, I realized my ultimate dream, when I knelt down and ran my fingers through the earth where both Alice Young and Lydia Gilbert lived and walked. Another most wonderful part of this journey, to meet people who have not only become friends, but who have become my family. We will always have this shared historical experience that is special to us. Sarah, Josh, Beth, and Tony, thank you for making it special.
[00:54:05] Sarah Jack: Thank you, Mary.
[00:54:07] Josh Hutchinson: And here's Sarah with End. Witch Hunts News.
[00:54:11] Sarah Jack: End Witch Hunts News. 
[00:54:14] Quote, "the world redeemed from superstition's sway is breathing freer for thy sake today," by John Greenleaf Whittier, a Quaker poet. These are the last lines of the memorial poem on the Rebecca Nurse Monument at her homestead museum. Breathing freer for thy sake today. The power of breathing is life. Life is powered by breath, inhaled and exhaled from our lungs. Draw it in with me.
[00:54:41] This breath saturated the moments of the witch trials of the 17th century American colonies. Breath was huffed and panted in affliction. Breath was held and paused in fear. Fleeting breaths, wheezed and gasped. Breath was crushed from lungs with weight, breath choked and spit as it condemned. The last breathed words hung from the gallows. The last gasp. The dying breath delivered the final twitch. Then the hunt ran out of air and these Hunts ceased. 
[00:55:09] Now let's exhale with easy resting breath. Rebecca and her fellow persecuted accused witches are at rest. They've been acknowledged by their descendants and society, are memorialized through education, monuments, ceremonies, family societies, media, the arts, books, poems, photographs, podcasts, and conversations between us all, all over the world.
[00:55:34] But reality is the world is not free to breathe redeemed from superstitions. Witch hunts truly continue. The vulnerable who are hunted are holding their breath in fear, and we who are not hunted must continue to use our breath to teach. Now I'm going to breathe down your neck about ending witch hunts. The witch hunts of today are more than a remnant of witch trials and witch hunts past. Like before, women, men, and children are blamed for misfortune and curses. They are unjustly punished. They're still using their breath to plead, to plead their innocence. They do not want to suffer. We must keep working to make people aware that witch hunts are not the result of superstition and hysteria, but rather a natural human reaction to pressure and strife, an impulse we must understand in order to control .
[00:56:19] The same factors which led to Salem are present today. They're always multiple factors that are repeatedly found in combination. Single bullet theories ignore the human fear of the Other that is behind it all. Vocal advocates in countries gripped by witch hunts are asking us for acknowledgement and support. Listen to them and talk about what they are telling us. Join them as they wish to memorialize and remember their victims. Accused witch memorialization and remembrance helps us grieve, and it connects us with ancestors, modern victims, and all fellow human beings who suffer this injustice. It teaches us to make things right when we can, to keep working for a world safe from witch hunts against the vulnerable. Continue to expand the remembrance of witch trial victims in your community's history and of all witch-hunt victims. Thou Shalt Not Suffer podcast supports the efforts to end witch hunts. You can learn more by visiting our websites and the websites listed in our show notes for more information about country-specific advocacy groups.
[00:57:15] Get involved. Visit 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.
[00:57:27] Josh Hutchinson: Thank you, Sarah, for that excellent report.
[00:57:30] Sarah Jack: You're welcome.
[00:57:32] Josh Hutchinson: And thank you for listening to Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast
[00:57:36] Sarah Jack: Join us next week.
[00:57:39] Josh Hutchinson: Subscribe wherever you get podcasts.
[00:57:42] Sarah Jack: Visit
[00:57:45] Josh Hutchinson: Remember to tell your friends about the show.
[00:57:47] Sarah Jack: Support our efforts to end witch hunts. Visit to learn more.
[00:57:53] Josh Hutchinson: Have a great today and a beautiful tomorrow. 
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