SWP No. 172: Petitions to the General Court, with Responses (1696-1725)
(Petition of Elizabeth Proctor to Recover the Estate of John Proctor )
[May 27, 1696]
To the Honourable Generall Court Asembled at Boston may twenty seventh 1696
that in the yere of our Lord 1692 when many persons in salem and in other towns ther about were accused by som evill disposed or strangly Influenced persons, as being witches or for being guilty of acting witchcraft my s'd Husband John procter and my selfe were accused of such and we both: my s'd Husband and my selfe were soe farr proceded against that we were Condemned but in that sad time of darkness before my said husband was executed it is evident som body had Contrived awill and brought it to him to sign wher in his wholl estat is disposed of not having Regard to a contract in wrighting mad with me before mariag with him; but soe it pleased god to order by his providence that although the sentanc was executed on my dere husband yet through gods great goodnes to your petitioner I am yet alive; sinc my husbands death the s'd will is proved and aproved by the Judg of probate and by that kind of desposall the wholl estat is disposed of; and although god hath Granted my life yet those that claime my s'd husbands estate by that which thay Call awill will not suffer me to have one peny of the Estat nither upon the acount of my husbands Contract with me before mariage nor yet upon the acount of the dowr which as I humbly conceive doth belong or ought to belong to me by the law for thay say that I am dead in the law and therfore my humble request and petetion to this Honoured Generall Court is that by an act of his honoured Court as god hath Contenewed my life and through gods goodnes without feare of being put to death upon that sentanc you would be pleased to put me Into acapacity to make use of the law to Recover that which of Right by law I ought to have for my nessesary suply and support that as I your petetioner am one of his majestyes subjects I may have the benifett of his laws soe Humbly prayeng that god would direct your honnours in all things to doe that which may be well pleasing to him I subscrib your honours humble petetioner
Elizabeth procter widow Read 10th June. 1692 [sic] in Council
(Reverse) Elizebeth Procter her petetion 1696
( Mass. Archives Vol. 135, no. 109. Massachusetts State Archives, Boston, MA. )
(Petition of Sheriff Timothy Phillips to Recover Expenses )
[March 18, 1697]
To the Hon'ble William Stoughton Esq'r Lieutenant Governour and Commander in chief in and over his Ma'tys Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England and the Hon'ble Council of the s'd Province and Representatives of the same convened in General Assembly. The Petition of Timothy Phillips Sheriffe of the County of Middlesex Humbly Sheweth
That your Petitioner and the Keeper of his Ma'tys. Goale in Cambridge in the yeares 1692 & 1693 during the time of the great trouble by Witchcraft in the County afores'd. were at great Cost and Charges out of their own Pockets in removing the Persons then in custody for Witchcraft from place to place by writts of Habeas Corpus and in finding such persons with Provisions, besides the great trouble they were at, and time expended in that respect all which they did by order of the Superiour Court &c and have not yet received any Satisfaction for their time or money which they so expended and laid out as afores'd whereby they are in disburse on that Account between thirty and forty pounds, as yo'r Petitioner can make appear. Your Petition'r therefore humbly prayes this Hon'ble Court to take the premisses into Consideration, and to grant an order for the payment of what your Petitioner and the s'd Prison Keeper have disbursed and expended as afores'd as also such satisfaction as yo'r honours shall think meet for their trouble and time imployed in the affair aforesaid -- And your Pet'r as in duty bound shall ever pray &c *Timo Phillips Sheriffe March 18th. 1696/7
( Mass. Archives Vol. 135 No. 110, Massachusetts State Archive, Boston, MA. )
(Response of the General Court to Timothy Phillips' )
[December 15, 1697]
Province of the Massachusetts Bay Anno RR Gulielmi Tertii Angliae nono
At a Great and General Court or Assembly begun and held at Boston upon Wednesday the 26th of May 1697 and continued by several prorogations unto Wednesday the 15th of December following & then met
Upon reading the Petition and Accompt presented by Timothy Phillips Sheriff of the County of Middlesex amounting unto Forty two pounds thirteen shillings and ten pence for Dyat Expences and Fees for several Prisoners accused and tryed for Witchcraft within the s'd County in the year 1692
Voted That the Petitioner be allowed the Sum of Ten pounds out of the publick Treasury towards his s'd accompt And the Quarter Sessions of the Peace in s'd County of Middlesex are ordered and impowered to raise on s'd County the Remainder of s'd Accompt and pay the Ballance thereof upon their adjustment By Order of the Lieut Gov'r Council and Assembly *Isa Addington Secry
( Middlesex County Archives, Foliio Collection 1698-164-4, Massachusetts State Archives, Boston, MA. )
(Order for Payment to Timothy Phillips )
[December 17, 1697]
Decemb'r. 17th 1697 In the House of Representatives
Ordered, That in Answer to the within Petition and Account Ten pounds be allowed and paid out of the publick Treasury towards s'd. Account; And #[that] the Quarter Sessions of the Peace in s'd County of Middlesex #[be] are Ordered and impowered to raise on s'd County the Remainder of s'd Account, and pay the Ballance thereof upon the petitioner their adjustm't -- *Penn Townsend Speak'r. Sent up for Concurrance Dec'r. 18th 1697.
In Council. Read & Vot'd a Concurrance. *Isa: Addington Se[cbar ][rbar ][ybar ].
( Mass. Archives Vol. 135 No. 112, Massachusetts State Archives, Boston, MA. )
( Petition of Francis Faulkner et al. to Clear the Records of Rebecca Nurse, Mary Esty, Abigail Faulkner Sr., Mary Parker, John Procter, Elizabeth Procter, Elizabeth How, SamuelWardwell,& SarahWardwell )
[March 2, 1703]
To his Excellency the Governour, and Councill, and Representatives now in Generall Court Assembled; at Boston: The Petition of severall of the Inhabitants of Andover, Salem village & Topsfield, humbly sheweth:
That whereas in the year 1692 some of your Petitioners and the near Relations of others of them, viz: Rebecca Nurse , Mary Estey , Abigail Faulkner , Mary Parker , of Andover John Procter & Elizabeth his wife: Elizabeth How , Samuel Wardwell & Sarah his Wife: were accused of Witchcraft by certain possessed persons, and thereupon were apprehended and Imprisoned, and at a Court held at Salem were condemned upon the Evidence of the aforsaid possessed persons; and sentence of Death hath been executed on them (except Abigail Faulkner , Elizabeth Procter & Sarah Wardwell ) of whose Innocency those that knew them are well satisfyed. And whereas the invalidity of the aforesaid Evidence and the great wrong which (through Errors & mistakes in those tryalls) was then done, hath since plainly appear'd which we doubt not but this Honored Court is sensible of: Your Petitioners being dissatisfyed and grieved, that (besides what the aforesaid condemned persons have suffered in their persons and Estates) their Names are Exposed to Infamy and reproach, while their Tryall & condemnation stands upon Publick Record: We therefore humbly Pray this Honored Court, that something may be Publickly done to take off Infamy from the Names, and memory of those who have suffered as aforesaid, that none of their surviving Relations, nor their Posterity may suffer reproach upon that account. And yo'r Petition'rs shall ever pray &c.
Dated March 2d 1702/3
Francis Faulkner Abigail Faulkner Sarah Wardwel John Parker Joseph Parker Nathaniel Dane Francis Dane Mary How Abigail How Issac Estey Samuel Nurse Phebe Robinson Samuel Wardwell John Tarbel John Nurse Peter Cloys sen'r Isaac Estey Jun'r Sarah Gill Rebecca Preston Thorndick Procter Benjamin Procter
In the House of Representatives March. 18th 1702. Read & sent up
Pet'con of Fra. Faulkner &C.
( Mass. Archives Vol. 135 No. 113 )
(Petition of Abigail Faulkner, Sr. )
[June 13, 1700]
To the Hon'rble the Greate and Generall Court of the province of the Massachusets Bay assembled att Boston -- The petition of Abigall the wife of Francis faulkner of Andover in the County of Essex Humbly Sheweth
That Whereas in the yeare 1692 when many were acused & Imprisoned att Salem as Witches and some Executed, my selfe was accused by the afflicted who pretended to See me by theire Spectrall Sight (not with theire bodily Eyes) and that I afflicted them upon whose accusations (and theires only) I was Examined Imprisoned and brought to tryall these being all that gave in anny Evidence against me upon Oath yett the Jewry (upon only theire Testimony) brought me in guilty, & the Sentence of Death was passed upon me, But it pleased god to put it into the heart of his Ex'cy: Sir Will'm Phipps to grant me a repreve and att Length a pardon the Insufficiency of the proofe being in s'd pardon Exprest as the Inducement to the granting there of Soe that Through the greate goodness of God I am yett preserved Verte (Reverse) The pardon haveing Soe farr had its Efect as that I am as yet Suffred [to] to live but this only as a Malefactor Convict upon record of the most henious Crimes that mankind Can be Supposed to be guilty off, which besides its utter Ruining and Defacing my Reputation, will Certainly Expose my selfe to Iminent Danger by New accusations, which will thereby be the more redily believed will Remaine as a perpetuall brand of Infamy upon my family And I knowing my owne Inocency as to all such Crimes (as will att the last fully appeare) and being soe Defamed in my Reputation and my life Exposed besides the Odium Cast upon my Posterrity Doe humbly pray that this high hono'ble: Court will please to take my Case into Serious Consideration and order the Defacing of the record against me Soe that I and mine may be freed from the Evill ConsequentsThereof And your Petion er : as in duty bound Shallever pray
Boston Jun 13: 1703 the Court orderd the Reading of hir tryall
[Faul]kner Pet'con [Ju]ly. 1703
( Mass. Archives Vol. 135, nos. 113 & 114, Massachusetts State Archives, Boston, M.A. )
(Petition of Ministers from Essex County)
[July 8, 1703]
To his Excellency the Governor, Council and Representatives of the Province of the Massachusets Bay, in Generall Court Assembled June 1703 The Address of severall Ministers of the County of Essex.
Whereas in the year 1692 some of our neighbours of a good conversation, were apprehended and imprisoned upon suspition of Witchcraft, upon the complaint of some young persons under Diabolicall molestations; and upon their Tryall at the Court at Salem were condemned; great weight being layd upon the evidence of the Afflicted persons, their Accusers Sentence of Death was Executed on severall of them, others were Reprieved. But since it is apparent and hath been Acknowledged, that there were Errors and mistakes in the aforesaid Tryalls; and notwithstanding the care and conscientious endeavour of the Honorable Judges to do the thing that is right: yet there is great reason to fear that Innocent persons then suffered, and that God may have a controversy with the Land upon that account. We would therefore humbly propose to the consideration of this Honored Court, whether something may not, and ought not, to be publickly done to clear the good name and reputation of some who have suffered as aforesaid, against whom there was not as is supposed sufficient evidence to prove the guilt of such a crime and for whom there are good grounds of charity. Some of the condemned persons aforesaid, and others in behalf of their Relations who have suffered, have lately Petitioned this Honoured Court upon this Account. We pray that their case may be duely considered.
- Thomas Barnard *Joseph Green *William Hubbard *Benjamin Rolfe *Samuel Cheever *Zech. Sy[mbar ]mes
- Joseph Gerrish *John Rogers *Jabez fitch *Jno Wise
- Joseph Capen *Thomas Symmes
July 9th 1703 In Council Read and sent down. July 16th: 1703. In the House of Representatives Read.
(Reverse) Petition of sundry ministers referring to persons condemn'd for witchcraft. read. July 8th 1703.
( Mass. Archives Vol. 135, no. 124, Massachusetts State Archives, Boston, MA. )
(Response of the General Court)
[Jult 20, 1703]
In the House of Representatives
July 20th. 1703
In Answer to the Petitions of Abigail faulkner , and Sundry of the Inhabitants of Andover, in the behalfe of sundry persons in and late of s'd Town, & Elsewhere, who in the Year 1692 were Indicted, accused and Condemned, & many of them Executed for the crime of Felony by witchcraft. And whereas it is Conceived by many worthy and pious Persons that the Evidence given against many of the s'd condemned Persons was weak and insufficient as to Taking away the lives of sundry so condemned &ca Wherefore it is thought meet and it is hereby Ordered †That a bill be drawn up for Preventing the like Procedure for the future, and that no Spectre Evidence may hereafter be accounted valid, or Sufficient to take away the life, or good name, of any Person or Persons within this Province, and that the Infamy, and Reproach, cast on the names and Posterity of the s'd accused and Condemned Persons may in some measure be Roll'd away. sent up for Concurrence.
*Jam's Converse Speaker.
(Reverse) Order for bringing in a bill to reverse the attainder of Abiga' Faulkner &ca of witchcraft.
( Mass. Archives Vol. 135 No. 123, Massachusetts State Archives, Boston, MA. )
(Memorandum for a Bill to Acquit Abigail Faulkner & Others )
[July 21, 1703]
That a bill be brought in to acquit mary [Abigail] falkner and the other present petitioners severally of the penaltys to which thay are lyable upon the said Convictions and Judgments in the said Courts and Estate them in their Just Cred't and reputation as if no such Judgment had been had , In Council July .21th 1703. Agreed to Die p'rdict. agreed to.
( Mass. Archives Vol. 135 No. 122, Massachusetts State Archives, Boston, MA. )
(Declaration of Mary Osgood , Martha (?) Tyler, Deliverance Dane , Abigail Barker , Sarah Wilson , and Hannah Tyler )
We whose names are under-written, inhabitants of Andover; whenas that horrible and tremendous judgment beginning at Salem village in the year 1692, by some called witchcraft, first breaking forth at Mr. Parris's house, several young persons, being seemingly afflicted, did accuse several persons for afflicting them, and many there believing it so to be, we being informed that, if a person was sick, the afflicted person could tell what or who was the cause of that sickness: Joseph Ballard , of Andover, his wife being sick at the same time, he, either from himself or by the advice of others, fetched two of the persons, called the afflicted persons, from Salem village to Andover, which was the beginning of that dreadful calamity that befel us in Andover, believing the said accusations to be true, sent for the said persons to come together to the meeting house in Andover, the afflicted persons being there. After Mr. Barnard had been at prayer, we were blindfolded, and our hands were laid upon the afflicted persons, they being in their fits and falling into their fits at our coming into their presence, as they said; and some led us and laid our hands upon them, and then they said they were well, and that we were guilty of afflicting them: Whereupon, we were all seized, as prisoners, by a warrant from the Justice of the peace and forthwith carried to Salem. And, by reason of that sudden surprizal, we knowing ourselves altogether innocent of the crime, we were all exceedingly astonished and amazed, and consternated and affrighted even out of our reason. and our nearest and dearest relations, seeing us in that dreadful condition, and knowing our great danger, apprehended there was no other way to save our lives, as the case was then circumstanced, but by our confessing ourselves to be such and such persons as the afflicted represented us to be, they, out of tenderness and pity, persuaded us to confess what we did confess. And indeed that confession, that it is said we made, was no other than what was suggested to us by some gentlemen, they telling us that we were witches, and they knew it, and we knew it, which made us think that it was so; and our understandings, our reason, our faculties, almost gone, we were not capable of judging of our condition; as also the hard measures they used with us rendered us incapable of making our defence, but said any thing and every thing which they desired, and most of what we said, was but, in effect, a consenting to what they said. Some time after, when we were better composed, they telling us what we had confessed, we did profess that we were innocent and ignorant of such things; and we hearing that Samuel Wardwell had renounced his confession, and quickly after condemned and executed, some of us were told we were going after Wardwell.
( Thomas Hutchinson , History of Massachusetts-Bay, II, 31-32 )
(Petition of Phillip English et al.)
[May 25, 1709]
To his Excelency the Governor and the Honorable Counsell and Generall Asembly for the Province of the Massatusetts Bay in New England Conven'd. at Boston May 25th 1709 The Humble Adress and Motion of Several of the Inhabitants of the s'd Province some of which had their near Relations Either Parents or others who suffered Death in the Dark and Dollfull times that past over this province in the Year 1692 under the suposition and in that Gloumy Day by Some (thought prov'd) of Being Guilty of witchcraft w'ch we have all the Reson in the world to hope and beleive they were Inocent off, and others of us that Either our selves or some of our Relations have Been Imprison'd impared and Blasted in our Reputations and Estates by Reson of the same. its not our Intent Neither Do we Reflect on the Judges or Jurors Concern'd in those Sorrowfull tryals whome we hope #[and beleive] Did that w'ch they thought was Right in that hour of Darkness. but that w'ch we move and pray for is that You Would Pleas to pass some sutable Acts as in Your Wisdom You may think meet and proper that shall (so far as may be) Restore the Reputations to the Posterity of the suffurers and Remunerate them as to what they have been Damnified in their Estates therby we Do not Without Remors and greif Recount these sorrowfull things But we Humbly Conceive that we are Bound in Consience and Duty to god and to our selves Relatives and posterity and Country Humbly to make this Motion praying God to Direct You in this and all Your Weighty Consultations. Wee subscribe Your sorrowfull and Distrest Supliants philip English Isack Estey sen John Tarbell John Parker Isaac Estey Joseph esty Benjamin Procter John Procter Thorndik Procter George Jacobs Joseph Parker John Johnson Francis Faulkner Samuel Nurs Benjamin Nurs john preston Samuel Nurs ju In the Names & on Behalf of our Selves And seveeal others (Reverse) petion May. 1709 - Pet'ion the Witchcraft in 1692 May 25 1709
( Mass. Archives Vol. 135 No. 111 )
(Petition of Isaac Esty et al.)
[May 25, 1709]
To his Exelency the Governour and the Honourable Counsell and Generall Assembly for the Province of the Massatusetts Bay in New England convened at Boston May 25, 1709 The Humble adress and motion of several of the Inhabitants of the s'd Province some of which had their near Relations Either Parents or others who suffered Death in the Dark & Dolefull times that past over this province in the year 1692 under the suposition (and in that Gloomy Day) by some thought provd of Being Guilty of Witchcraft w'ch. we have all the Reason in the world to hope & beleive they were Inocent of. and others of us that. Either our selves or some of our Relations have been Imprisoned impared & Blasted in our Reputations and Estates by Reason of the same its not our Intent neither doe we Reflect on the Judges or Jurors Concern'd in those sorrowfull tryalls whome we hope did that w'ch they Thought was Right in that hour of Darkness [but] that which we move & pray for is that you Would Please to pass some suitable Act as in your Wisdome you may think meet & proper that shall so far as may be Restore the Reputations to the Posterity of the Suffurrers & Remunerate them as to what they have been Damnifid in their Estates thereby: we doe not without Remors & greif Recount these sorrowful things But we Humbly Conceive that we are Bound in conscience and duty to god & to our selves Relatives & posterity & County Humbly to Make this Motion praying God to Direct you in this & all your weighty Consultations Wee subscribe Your sorrowful and Distresst Supliants Isaac Esty Jno Nurse Joseph parker Thorndick Procter George Jacobs In the names & on Behalf of our selves and several others.
(Reverse) May 1709. Pe'ions about the Witchcraft in 1692. ay 25 1709
( Mass. Archives Vol. 135 No. 126, Massacbhusetts State Archives, Boston, MA. )
(Response of the General Court to Timothy Phillips Petition)
Province of the Massachusetts Bay Anno RR Gulielmi Tertii Angliae &c nono [?]
At a Great and General Court or Assemby begun and held at Boston upon Wednesday the 26th : of May 1697. and continued by several Prorogations unto---- Wednesday the 15th of December following & then met
Upon reading the Petition and Accompt presented by Timothy Phillips sheriff of the County of Middlesex---- amounting unto Forty two pounds thirteen shillings and - tenpence for Dyat, Expenses and Fees for several Prisoners accused and tryed for Witchcraft within the sd County in the year 1692
Voted That the Petitioner be allowed the Sum of Ten Pounds out of the publick Treasury towards his sd Accompt And the Quarter Sessions of the Peace in sd County of Middlesex are ordered and impowrd to raise on sd County the Remainder of sd Accompt. and pay the Ballance thereof upon their adjustment
By Order of the Lieut. Govr. Council and Assembly Jja e Addington secry
(Reverse) 1697 May 26 (doc) Charges for keeping persons accused of witchcraft The account of Timothy Phillips, Sheriff of the County of Middlesex, for money expended on prisoners accused of witchcraft was approved, Addington, Sec. ordered that the sum of ten pounds out of the Treasury was to be paid on the account, and the rest was to be raised on the County.
vol x P [?]
Middlesex County Court (FOLIO Collection), 1698-164-4, Judicial Archives, MA
Middlesex Archives, Massachusetts
Account of expenses by Timothy Phillips, March 22, 1696/7; Payment for expenses, Dec. 16, 1697
Middsx Ss 1692/3 Janry the 3d
An Acount of Charges Expended upon Prisoners Accused for Witchcraft and tryed attCharlestowneExpensesL S d
To Carying Elizebeth Coleson to Salem by warant from Charlstowne & Assistance: 01:11:00: To Removeing 6 Prisoners from Camebridge to Salem by habeasorpus 5 men & 5 horses Vitewall & drink upon ye Road 22 ea.-- 09:08:00: To Expenses for prizoners when Brought by habeas corpas from Salem to Charlstowne for Tryall, for Victewalls & Drink & a keeper for them at Charlstowne 02:04:10: To Mony for Wood when in Charlstowne prizon 00:09:00: To 8 persons Tryals for my ffees as alowed att Salem 15 [d?] per peice 06:00:00: To Transporteing of Them after Tryall to Camebridg with Cart & 4 men to guard 01:00:00: To 7 dayes my Self Spent with a guard to Seize and pursue with hue & cry after them 4:00:00: To the County Prison keeper for Diett as appears in perticulers [? Document is torn here] 15:07:08: To Mr Henry Summers Mony Due for ye Prizoners 00:19:08: To ye Keeper 6 Bushells of Corn att 2s per bushel 00:12:00: To ye Cryers fees 16s 5d. To ye Constabels Ringing ye bell 6s 01:02:06 42:13:10: Per me Timo: Phillips Sherriffe
[unreadable] March 22d 1696 [unreadable] Decembr: 17th: 1697 [unreadable word] that the Consideration hereof be referred to the Court Quarter Sessions in the County of Middlesex. that if anything be [unreadable] it be discharged as the Law provides [unreadable] for Continuance Penn Townsend Speaker
(Massachusetts Archives, vol. 135, nos. 11 & 112. Massachusetts State Archivers, Boston, MA.)
(Resolve Allowing 50 pounds to Thomas Rich)
[July 1, 1724]
A Petition of Thomas Rich of Salem Shewing that his Mother. Martha Carey (who with her Husband & his Father in Law Gyles Carey Suffered death in the time of the Witchcraft) had in her hands Sicty pounds of personall Estate, left by his Father, which She Carefully Kept for the petitioner & which was lost by her Suffering, and therefore praying this Court to make some allowance to him in Consideration thereof as they have done to others in the Like Circumstances. Read & [Accepted] Resolv'd that the Sum of Fifty pounds, be allowed & paid out of the publick Treasury, to the petitioner Thomas Rich in full Satisfaction for the Losses he might have Sustained, as at Large Sett forth. in his petition. [Passed July 1
(Acts and Resolves, Public and Private, of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, vol. 10, 1720–1726, chap. 93 (Boston: Wright and Potter, 1902), p. 322.)