Ipswich During The Witch Trials - From Ipswich in the Mass Colony

Ipswich During The Witch Trials

Ipswich in the Mass Colony
Witchcraft pages 292, 293

The early trials of the accused were before the Court of Assistants, of which Major Samuel Appleton was a member, but a special Comission of Oyer and Terminer was issued to several Justices, which began its sittings on June 2nd. Major Appleton had no part in the deliberations of this Court, which proceeded at once to pass severe sentence on the reputed witches. Bridget Bishop, who had long been under suspicion was tried and condemned to death on the 8th of June, and on June 10th she was hanged.

The Judges, the Ministers of and vicinity, and the most enlightened citizens were sure that the powers of darkness were leagued against them. It was declared that the Devil had met with a great gathering of witches, and had declared that Christ's kingdom must be broken down. He declared that the Judgement Day and the Resurrection were abolished and all punishment for sin. He promised ease' and comfort to those who would serve him, and a sacrament was then administered by him, with red bread and a liquid, red as blood. The severest measures were necessary, to repel these assaults.

The Court met again on June 30th, and Sarah Good, Rebecca Nurse, and Elizabeth How wife of James How of the Linebrook Parish, and others were put on trial.

The evidence was of the usual absurd character. Sarah Good had been confined in Ipswich jail. Joseph Herrick, the Constable of Salem, testified that she, had been committed to his charge to carry to Ipswich. That night, he affirmed, he had a guard over her in his own house, and she disappeared for a time, bare foot and bare legged, and went and afflicted Elizabeth Hubbard. Her arm was bloody in the morning. Samuel Braybrook said that while carrying her to lpswich," she leapt off her horse 3 times which was between 12 & 3 of the clock."

Elizabeth How was charged with causing the death of sundry cattle and horses, and with being one of a company, who knelt down by the bank of the river at Newbury Falls, and worshipped the Devil, and had then been baptized by him.
The accused were all condemned and were all executed on July 19th.

Ipswich had her full share of the horrors of that memorable summer. Sarah Buckley, wife of William Buckley, formerly a resident of Ipswich, was accused, and the venerable pastor, William Hubbard, had grace enough and courage enough to make a bold endeavor to save her at a time when all were beside themselves with fear.

Hubbard's Certifficate.

These are to certifye whom it may or shall concerne that I have known Sarah ye wife of William Buckly of Salem Village more or lesse ever since she was brought out of England wch is above fifty years agoe and during all yt time I never knew nor heard of any evill. in her an carriage or conversation unbecoming a Christian: likewise she was bred up by Christian parents all ye time she lived here att Ipswich I further Satisfye yt ye sd Sarah was admitted as a member into ye church of Ipswich above forty yeares since and that I never heard from others or observed by my selfe anything of her that was inconsistent with her profession or unsuitable to christianity either in word deed or conversation and am straingly surprized that any person should speake or thinke of her as one worthy to be suspected of any such crime that she is now charged with in testimony hereof
I have here sett my hand this 20th of June, 1692.


Old Rachel Clenton, who lived in a little house near Mr. Clark Abell's, by the Mill Dam, was arrested. Constable Joseph Fuller served the warrant and his personal account with the County is preserved.

Then picking up again a the end of page 298 -300

On January 3, 1692-3. by virue of an act of the General Court, the first Superior Court, called the "Court of Assizes and General Goal Delivery" was convened at Salem. The Grand Jury included Mr. Robert Paine, Mr. Richard Semith and Mr. Thomas Boarman of Ipswich, and on the "Jury for Tryalls", were Ensign Thos. Jacob, Sargt Nathaniel Emerson, Sen., Mr. Jacob Perkins, Jr., Mr. Matthew Whipple Sen., John Pengery, Seth Story, Thos. Edwards and John Lamson.

The Grand Jury, of which Mr. Paine was foreman, found nothing against thirty who were indicted for witchcraft, and true bills against twenty Six. Of those on trial, three only were, found guilty, and sentenced to death. These were the last to suffer. Nineteen were hanged and Giles Corey had been pressed to death. John Proctor and Elizabeth How had perished, but other Ipswich folk, Elizabeth Proctor, Rachel Clenton and Sarah Buckley had escaped.

Attempts to make amends for the irreparable harm soon began to be made. Twelve ministers of the County of Essex, including William Hubbard, John Rogers, Jabez Fitch, and John Wise, petitioned the General Court in July 1703, to clear the names of the accused and relieve those who had suffered.

In 1711, the legal disabilities resulting from the witchcraft executions and imprisonments were removed and damages awarded to the survivors and the families of the dead. John Appleton, Esquire, of Andros fame, and Nehemiah Jewett, Esquire, who had been a member of the House sixteen times and thrice its speaker, were members of this committee.

Ipswich had suffered grievously in the grim ordeal, but as compared with every other important town in the County, she had been favored indeed. None of her citizens, except Elizabeth How from the Linebrook Parish, near to Topsfield, were executed, and those that were accused were not condemned.

No such delirium as afflicted Salem, Beverly, Wenham, Andover, Salisbury, Gloucester, and Newbury was ever manifest here, and the reason of this fine composure and steadiness of mind is not hard to find. All the ministers put themselves on record as out of sympathy with the popular delusion, and Mr. Hubbard Mr. Wise made formal appeals for the accused. Major Appleton, though an Assistant, and a Magistrate at the first trial, had no further connection with the matter, and his disappearance from the scene may be interpreted as indicating that his broad and well balanced mind condemened this travesty of Justice. The same judicious and far seeing temper that made Ipswich the leader of the Colony in the Ursupation period, preserved her balance in the wild excitement of the witchcraft time.