SWP No. 167: Petitions from Relatives of Prisoners and Others (October 1692 - January 1693)
(Petition of John Osgood of Andover and Eight Others on Behalf of Their Wives and Relations )
[October 12, 1692]
To the Honored Generall Court Now sitting in Boston this 12 of october 1692
Right honored Gentlemen and fathers We your humble petitioners whose Names are under written petition as followeth: viz: We would Not Trouble Your honours w'th a Tedious diversion: but brieffly spread open our distressed Condition and beg your honours favour and pitty in affording what Relieff may be thought Convenient as for the matter of our Trouble: it is the distressed Condition of our wives and Relations in prison at Salem who are a Company of poore distressed creatures as full of inward grieff and Trouble as thay are able to bear up in life withall and besides That the agrivation of outward Troubles and hardships thay undergo: wants of food Convenient: and the coldness of the winter season that is coming may soon dispatch such out of the way That have Not been used to such hardships: and besides that The exceeding great Charges and expences that we are at upon many accounts which will be two Tedious to give a pertickular account of which will fall heavy upon us especially in a time of so great charge and expence upon a general accout in the Country which is expected of us to bear a part as well as others which if put all together our familys and estates will be brought to Ruin: if it Cannot in time be prevented: having spread open our Condition: we humbly make our adress To your honours to Grant that our wives and Relations being of such That have been approved as penitent Confessors might be Returned home to us upon what bond your honors shall see good we do not petition to take them out of the hands of Justic but to Remain as prisoners under bond in their own familys wher thay may be more tenderly Cared for: and may be redy to apear to Answer farther when the honored Court shall Call for them: we humbly Crave Your Honors favour and pitty for us and ours herin. having lett down our Troubled state before you. we heartyly pray for your honors
*John Osgood in behalf of his wife
John frey . in behalf of his wife
*Joseph Willson: in behalf of his wife #[& children]
John Bridges: in behalf of his wife and children
hope Tiler: in behalf of his wife and daughter
*Ebenezer Barker: for his wife
*Nathaniel Dane for his wife
(In left margin)
John Osgood et al. Petition
( Mass. Archives, Vol. 135 No. 59, Massachusetts State Archives, Boston, MA. )
(Petition of Twenty-six Andover Men on Behalf of Their Wives and Daughters )
[October 18, 1692]
To his Excellency the Governour, and Councill, & Representatives, now Assembled at Boston. The Humble Address of the ministers, and of some of the Inhabitants of Andover.
We being deeply sensible of the heavy judgment that the Righteous God hath brought upon this place, thought it our duty (after our earnest prayers to the God of Heaven, to give us help from our trouble) to lay before this Honourable Assembly, our present distressed estate, and to crave a redress of our greivances. It is well known that many persons of this Town, have been accused of witchcraft, by some distempered persons in these parts and upon complaint made have been apprehended and committed to prison. Now though we would not appear as Advocates for any who shall be found guilty of so horrid a crime, but we heartily desire that this place, and the whole land, may be purged from that great wickedness: yet if any of our #[freinds] friends and neighbours have been misrepresented, as tis possible some of them have been; wee would crave leave (if it might be without offence) to speak something in their behalf, haveing no other desighn therein, then that the truth may appear. We can truly give this Testimony of the most of them belonging to this Town, that have been accused, that they never gave the least occasion (as we hear of) to their neerest relations or most intimate acquaintance, to suspect them of witchcraft. Severall of the women that are accused were members of this church in full Communion, and had obtained a good report, for their blameless conversation, and their walking as becometh woemen professing godliness. But whereas it may be alledged, that the most of our people that have been apprehended for witchcraft, have upon Examination confessed it. To which we Answer that we have nothing to plead for those that freely and upon conviction own themselves guilty; but we apprehend the case of some of them to be otherwise. for from the information we have had and the discourse some of us have had with the prisoners, we have reason to think that the extream urgency that was used with some of them by their friends and others who privately examined them, and the fear they were then under, hath been an inducement to them to own such things, as we cannott since find thay are conscious of; and the truth of what we now declare, we judge will in time more plainly appear. And some of them have exprest to their neighbours that it hath been their great trouble, that they have wronged themselves and the truth in their confessions.
We are also very sensible of the disstressed condition of severall poor familyes, on whom this great trouble is fallen; some #[more] of our neighbors are like to be impoverished & ruin'd by the great charge they are at to maintain such of their familyes as are in Prison, and by the fees that are demanded of them, whose case we pray may be considered.
Our troubles which hitherto have been great, we foresee are like to continue and increase, if other methods be not taken then as yet have been, for there are more of our neighb'rs of good reputation & approved integrity, who are still accused, and complaints have been made against them, And we know not who can think himself safe, if the Accusations of children and others who are under a Diabolicall influence shall be received against persons of good fame.
We thought meet also to Signifye that not only persons of good creditt among our selves, but some Honorable & worthy men of other places, do suffer in their names by the acusations of afflicted people in this Town
Thus haveing given your Honors some account of our present troubles, we crave pardon for our boldness in this Address, and humbly pray this Honored Court to take into their serious consideration our low and distressed estate: And that the only wise God may bless yo'r counsels & Endeavors for the welfare of his people, shall be the prayer of
Your humble Petitioners
Dated at Andov'r 18'th Oct. 1692.
*Francis Dane sen'r
*Thomas Chandler Jun'r
( Mass. Archives Vol. 135 No. 61, Massachusetts State Archives,Boston, MA.)
(Petition of John Osgood Andover and Seven Others on Behalf of Their Wives and Neighbors )
[December 6, 1692]
To his Excellency the Governour, and Council now sitting at Boston. The humble Petition, of severall of the Inhabitants of Andover, Sheweth
That whereas our Wives and severall of our neighbours, sometime since, were committed to Salem Prison, (for what cause your Hon'rs have been informed) and during their imprisonment have been exposed to great sufferrings, which daily encrease by reason of the winter comeing on; we had hoped that before this day they would have had a Goal delivery, but since that hath been so long deferred, and we are very sensible of the extream danger the Prisoners are in of perishing, if they are not speedily released: have made bold to make our humble Petition to #[this Honored C] yo'r Honors, to consider the present distressed and suffering condition of our friends in Prison and grant them liberty to come home, upon such terms as yo'r Honors shall Judge most meet. If we might be allowed to plead their Innocency, we think we have sufficient grounds to make such a plea for them, and hope their Innocency will in time appear to the satisfaction of others, however they are at present under uncomfortable circumstances. So craveing pardon for the trouble we have now given your Honors, and humbly requesting that something may be speedily done for the releif of our friends. And yo'r Petition'rs, as in duty bound shall every pray
(Reverse) 1692 Andover petcon
( Mass. Archives Vol. 135 No. 66, Massachusetts State Archives, Boston, MA. )
(Petition of George Herrick )
[December 8, 1692]
To his Excelency S'r William Phipps Knight Capt Gen'll & Governor of their Majesties Teritores & Dominion of the Massachusetts Bay In Newengland --
And To: the Hon'ble William Stoughton Esq'r Leut Govern'r of said Province and To: the Rest of the Honored Councell --
The Petition of yo'r Pore Serv't George Herrick
-- Most Humbly Sheweth --
That Whereas your Excellency & Hon'rs Porre Petitionor haveing been imployed as Marshall & dep't Sheriff for the County of Essex for the Terme of nine months & upwards, in Serveing of Warrants and Apprehending many prisoners attending Examinations & Courts of Oyer & Terminer, as likewise by mitimus and writts of habeas Corpus have often conveighed Prisoners unto Prison & from Prison to Prisson it hath taken up my whole time and made me Incapeable to gett any thing for the maintainance of my Porre famally, & by that means become so impoverisht that Nesessity hath forcd me to lay downe my Place and must Certainly come to Wante if not in some Measure suplyd Therefore I humbly beseech your Hon'rs to take my case & Condition so fare into Consideration that I may have some supply this hard winter that I and my Porre children may not be destitute of sustenance & so inevitabley Perish for I have been bred A Gent' & not much used To Worke and am become Despicable in thees hard times and that yo'r Excell' & Hon'rs may not immagine that I am Weary of Serving my King & Country were but my habitation Graced with plenty in the Rooms of Pennury; there shall be no servis too dangerous & difficulte but your Pore Petitioner Will Gladly Except & to the best of my Power accomplish: I shall wholely #[through] lay my selfe att your Hon'ble feet for Releife & shall allwayes Pray for yo'r Excell' and Hon'rs health & hapyness and Subscribe my self hopeing for a Gennerus Returne
Dated in Salem
this Eigth day of Decemb'r
in the year of our Lord 1692
Yo'r Pore & Humble Pettitioner
(Reverse) Geo: Herrick his Petition 1692
( Mass. Archives Vol. 135 No. 67, Massachusetts State Archives, Boston, MA. )
(Petition of Ten Prisoners at Ipswich)
(Statement by the Rev. Francis Dane Regarding Some of the Andover Accused )
[January 2, 1692
Whereas there have been divers reports raysed, how, and, by what hands I know not, of the Towne of Andover, and the Inhabitants, I thought it my bounden duty to give an account to others, so farr as I had the understanding of anything amongst us. Therefore doe declare, that I beleeve the reports have been Scandalous, and unjust, neither will bear the light, As for that, of the Sive, and Cisers I never heard of it, till this last Summer, and the Sabboth after I spake publiqly concerning it since which I beleeve it hath not been tryed, As for such things of Charmes, and ways to find their cattle, I never heard, nor doe I know any Neighbour that ever did so, neither have I any grounds to beleeve it. I have lived above Fortie fower yeares in the Towne, and have been frequent among the Inhabitants, and should certainely heard if so it had been. That there was a suspicion of Goodwife Carrier among some of us before she was apprehended, I know. As for any other persons, I had no suspicion of them, and had Charity been put on, the Divel would not have had such an advantage against us, and I beleeve many Innocent persons have been accused, & Imprisoned, the Conceit of Spectre Evidence as an infallible mark did too far prevaile with us Hence we so easily parted with our neighbours of honest, & good report, & members in full Communion, hence we so easily parted with our Children, when we knew nothing in their lives, nor any of our neighbours to suspect them and thus things were hurried on, hence such strange breaches in families, -- severall that came before me, that spake with much sobrietie, professing their innocency, though through the Devils subtilty they were too much urged to Confesse, and we thought we did doe well in so doeing, yet they stood their ground professing they knew nothing, never saw the devil, never made a covenant with him, & the like; & some Children that we have cause to feare that dread has overcome them to accuse themselves in that they knew not. Stephen Johnson Mary Barker the daughters of Lieftenant Barker , and some others by what we had from them with suitable affections we have cause to beleeve they were in the truth, and so held to it, if after many indeavours they had #[been dismissed] not been overcome to say w't they never knew
(Reverse) This hath been a trouble to me, considering how oft it hath been sayd you are a witch, you are guilty, & who afflicts this maid or the like, & more then this hath been sayd, charging persons with witchcraft, and what flatteries have past from: & threats and telling them they must goe to prison & this feare have caused many to fall. our Sinne of Ignorance wherein we thought we did well, will not excuse us when we know we did amisse but what ever might be a stumbling block to others must be removed, else we shall procure divine displeasure, & Evills will unavoidably breake in upon us.
Andover Jan 2. 92
Yours Sr who am though unworthie a friend to them that are friends to Sion.
Francis Dane Sen
Concerning my Daughter Elizabeth Johnson I never had ground to suspect her: neither have I heard any other to accuse her, till [by] Spectre evidence she was brought forth, but this I must say, she was weake, and incapacious, fearfull. and in that respect I feare she hath. falsely accused her self & others. Not long before that she was sent for she spake as to her owne particular, that she was sure she was no witch, and for her Daughter Elizabeth , she is but simplish at the best, and I feare the comon speech that was frequently spread among us, of their liberty, if they would confesse, and the like expression used by some, have brought many into a snare, the Lord direct & guide those that are in place, and give us all submissive wills, & let the Lord doe with me, & mine, what seems good in his owne eys.
Francis Dane Sen
( Essex County Court Archives, Salem -- Witchcraft Vol. 1, no. 319