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Martha Allen Carrier [see the Stevens line] was hanged as a witch in the hysteria that started in Salem.
The University of Virginia has a this web site that provides transcripts and images of original documents.
Her stone at the memorial in Salem:
Subject: Thomas and Martha Carrier
Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 12:07:05 EST
Taken from the Lowell Sun newspaper dated Tuesday March 16, 1999:
Billerica family's 323-year exile ends
BILLERICA- The Carrier family won redemption last
night-although it came 323
years too late. The Board of Selectmen, seeking to undo a wrong committed by their
predecessors during colonial times, voted last night to rescind the banishment
of the entire Carrier family.
This from Historical Sketches of Andover, in the chapter called "Witchcraft at Andover":
In the trials, eight citizens were hanged: Martha Carrier, Samuel Wardwell, Mary Parker; one died in prison, Ann Foster; Abigail Faulkner was reprieved, and by the delay ultimately saved; Sarah Wardwell and Elizabeth Johnson and Mary Lacey were dondemned at the very latest trial, January, 1692/3 and set free on the general jail delivery, when the frenzy was checked. The following is a list of those names of the accused which have been found, and the various identifying notes in regard to them: -
Barker, Abigail, wife of Ebenezer Barker, not guilty.
Barker, Mary, single woman, daughter of John Barker, not guilty.
Barker, William, Sen., bro of John Barker, not guilty.
Bridges, Mary, signle woman, not guitly.
Bridges, Mary, wife of John Bridges, not guilty.
Bridges, Mary, Jr., aged 12 years, dau of John Bridges.
Bridges, Sarah, signle woman, afterward wife of John Preston, not guilty.
Carrier, Martha (Allen), wife of Thomas Carrier, hanged.
Carrier, Andrew, son of Thomas Carrier.
Carrier, Richard, son of Thomas Carrier.
Carrier, Thomas, son of Thomas Carrier.
Carrier, Sarah, age 7 years, dau of Thomas Carrier.
Dane, Deliverance, wife of Nathaniel.
[28 additional persons listed.]
In the examinations of the accused which preceded the regular trial, most made confession and thus averted the extreme penalty. Martha Carrier was the only one of all, male or female, who did not at some time or other make an admission or confession. From the first moment to the last, under all the persuasions and exhortations of friends, under denunciations and threats of the magistrates and examiners, she held firm, denying all charges, and neither overborne in mind nor shaken in nerve, met death with heroic courage.
The charge of witchcraft was not the first of Martha Carrier's troubles; indeed, the former may have been in a sense the cause of the later affliction. The Carrier family, who came to Andover from Billerica (they were living in the latter town about 1685), were not welcome residents. Thomas Carrier was of Welsh birth, say the earlier historians. He seems to have been blessed with a comfortable temperament, for notwithstanding the misfortunes which befell him as a husband and father in the course of these witchcraft trials: his wife hanged, his sons imprisoned and cruelly handled, his daughter of tender years accused and made to confess against her mother, - sorrows enough to have brought some men to a premature grace, - he lived to th eage of one hundred and nine years, his head not bald or his hair gray, and of such bodily actrivity that he walked six miles a few days before his death.
The wife, Martha Allen, was a resident of Andover before her marriage, the daughter of Andrew Allen, Sen. Her sister Mary was married to Roger Toothaker of Ipswich and Billerica, and her nephew, Allen Toothaker, was a resident of Andover. The family were obnoxious, and were warned out of the town, because they had the small-pox, as appears from the following extract from the town records:
"To Samuel Holt, Andrew Allen, and John Allen, Neighbors and ffriends -- We the subscribers of Andover have been informed that your sister Carrier and some of her children are smitten with that contagious disease the small-pox and some have been soe inconsiderate as to think that the care of them belongs to the salect men of Andover which does not, for they took care when first they came to towne to warne them out again and have attended the law therein: and shall only take care that they doe not spread the distemper with wicked carelessness which we are afraid they have already done: you had best take what care you can about them, nature and Religion requiring it. We hope we have done faithfully in this information and are your friends and servants. Dated 14th Oct. 1690."
Later the selectmen issue the following warrant to the constable to provide for their support and the safety of the town: -
"To Walter Wright Constable: Whereas it has pleased God to visit those of the widdowe Allen's family which she hath taken into her house with that contagious disease the small-pox, it being as we think part of our duty to prevent the spreading of sd distemper we requier you in their Majesties' names to warn sd family not to goe near any house soe as to endanger them by sd infection nor to come to the public meeting till they may come with safety to others: but what they want let them acquaint you with: which provide for them out of their own estates. Dated the 4:9.1690."
These intruders who made so much trouble would not be likely to suffer last or least when witchcraft was supposed to be abroad. Martha Carrier was, too, a woman of a disposition not unlikely to make enemies: plain and outspoken in speech, of remarkable strength of mind, a keen sense of justice, and a sharp tounge. She, doubtless (from all that appears), took largely upon herself the care of the household, and no small interest in the management of the out-of-door affairs, in which she sometimes came into collision with the neighboring farmers. If the stories of witnesses can be credited (they were, it is plain, in some instances, greatly exaggerated) she had more than once threatened vengeance upon persons who, as she thought, over-reached and cheated her husband in his bargains. Among her unguarded speeches was brought against her, that she had declared "she would stick as close as the bark of a tree" to Benjamin Abbot (who had a dispute with her and her husband about laying out land), and he "should repent his conduct afore seven years came to an end," and "she would hold his nose so close to the grindstone as ever it was held since his name was Benjamin Abbot." As this man soon after had a swelling on his foot, and "a paine in his side which bred a sore that discharged several gallons of corruption," he was convinced that Martha Carrier had bewitched him. She was also accused of witchcraft exercised upon some of the afflicted girls of Salem, and on complaint of Joseph Houlton and John Walcott, of Salem, a warrant was issued for her arrest May 28, 1692. She was the first arrested at Andover, so far as record is found. John Ballard, the constable, carried her off, and as soon as she was gone Benjamin Abbot "began to mend and grew better every day," as witnesses in the trial averred, until he was quite well.
On the 31st of May the prisoner underwent an examination; being confronted with the persons who claimed to be suffering from her, five women and children of Salem and vicinity: -
"Abigail Williams, who hurts you? Goody Carrier of Andover.
Elizabeth Hubbard who hurts you? Goody Carrier.
Susan Sheldon who hurts you? Goody Carrier; she bites me, pinches me, and tells me she would cut my throat, if I did not signe her book."
These are specimens of the questioning, and the sort of answers which it elicited. The witnesses were seized with fits as soon as she looked at them, and "fell into the most intolerable outcries and agonies," as the chroniclers of the time relate. They said they saw a black man standing beside her. She denied that she knew anything of what they affirmed, and her manner was so defiant, as the magistrate thought, that it proved conclusively her guilt and impenitence. "I see the souls of thirteen persons whom she has murdered at Andover," cried one of the accusers. Goaded to desperation at this foul charge, the exasperated woman exclaimed, "You lie; I am wronged!" then turning to the magistrates she boldly made appeal and rebude: "It is false; and it is a shame for you to mind what these say, that are out of their wits!" But the accusers persisted that they saw the black man, and that even then the prisoner was practising diabolical arts upon them, and their tortures seemed (and doubtless were) so great that, as the records say, "there was no enduring it." So she was "ordered away and to be bound hand and foot with all expedition, the afflicted in the meanwhile almost killed to the great trouble of all spectators, magistrates and others." Thus handcuffed and fettered she was put into jail, where also her sons and her little daughter were soon incarcerated, to await further trial. A summons for witnesses was issued July 30: -
"Wm & Mary by ye Grace of God of England, Scotland, ffrance & Ireland King & Queen Defendrs of ye faith &c. ss. To ye Constable or Constables of Andover Greeting. Wee Comand you to Warn and give Notice until Allen Toothaker, Ralph ffarnum junr, John ffarnum son of Ralph ffarnum senr, Benjamin Abbot and his wife, Andrew Foster, Phebe Chandler daughter of William Chandler, Samuel Holt senr, Samuel Preston junr, that they and every one of them be personally appear at ye Court of Oyer and Terminer to be held by adjournment on Tuesday next at Ten of ye Clock in ye Morning there to testifye ye truth to ye best of their knowledge on certain indictments to be exhibited against Martha Carrier of Andover; herof fail not at your utmost perill and make return of your doings herein. Steven Sewall, Clerk. Dated in Salem July 30th 1692."
In the examination of Martha Carrier, Upham says: -
"The examination of Martha Carrier must have been one of the most striking scenes of the whole drama of the witchcraft proceedings. The village meeting-house presented a truly wild and exciting spectacle. The fearful and horrible superstition which darkened the minds of the people was displayed in their aspect and movements. Their belief, that, then and there, they were witnessing the great struggle between the kingdoms of God and of the Evil One, and that every thing was at stake on the issue, gave an awe-struck intensity to their expression. The blind, unquestioning confidence of the magistrates, clergy, and all concerned in the prosecutions, in the evidence of the accusers; the loud outcries of their pretended sufferings; their contortions, swoonings, and tumblings, excited the usual consternation in the assembly. In addition to this, there was the more than ordinary bold and defiant bearing of the prisoner, stung to desperation by the outrage upon human nature in the abuse practised upon her poor children; her firm and unshrinking courage, facing the tempest that was raised to overwhelm her, sternly rebuking the magistrates,--"It is a shameful thing that you should mind these folks that are out of their wits;"-- her whole demeanor, proclaiming her conscious innocence, and proving that she chose chains, the dungeon, and the scaffold, rather than to belie herself. Seldom has a scene in real life, or a picture wrought by the inspiration of genius and the hand of art, in its individual characters or its general grouping, surpassed that presented on this occasion."
After 2 months' imprisonment in the heat of midsummer, the unhappy woman was brought out on the first of August to face the neighbors and relations who were summoned to bear testimony. One and all they testified against her, - that she had afflicted them in their persons and estates, causing diseases to fall upon them and their cattle, and blight upon their crops. But, notwithstanding all the accumulation of evidence, she was undaunted and firm in maintaining her innocence. Others might confess to save themselves, or, because by so much evidence and argument they were driven to the belief that in some mysterious way they were actually, though unconsciously working with the devil, and drawn into his toils; but Martha Carrier's strong, clear mind no sophistry could bewilder, and her intrepid courage no threats terrify. The Rev. Cotton Mather was shocked at her impiety and her obduracy. An "arrant hag" he calls her, and says that as a reward of her adherence to Satan she had received the promise that she should be "queen of hell." He also says that even her own sons testified against her; but it appears from a letter written by one of their fellow prisoners that this confession was extorted from them by violence, which reminds us of the tortures of the Spanish Inquisition: "The sons of Martha Carrier would not confess anything till they had tied them neck and heel till the blood was ready to come out of their noses."
The little girl, Sarah Carrier, was brought into court August 11, 1692. There is something peculiarly touching in the scene, - this simple child, before the assembled magistrates and dignitaries, arraigned on a charge which she could not in the least comprehend, and confessing to the vagaries and overwrought fancies excited in her childish mind by fear, or prompted by the suggestions of the interrogators: -
"How long hast thou been a witch?
"Ever since I was six
"Near eight years
old; Brother Richard says I shall be eight years old in November.
"My mother; she
made me set my hand to a book.
"I touched it with my fingers, and the book was red; the paper of it was white
"You said you saw a
cat once; what did that say to you? It said it would tear me in pieces, if I did
not set my hand to the book.
With such absurd notions was the mind of th echild filled by the grave and reverend magistrates and ministers, of whom it now seems impossible to conceive that they could have seriously put these questions about cats' talking, and a woman's assuming the form of a cat to delude her own child. Yet these were men who, in the ordinary affairs of life, were sensible and sagacious. If the facts teach anything it certainly is a lesson of human fallibility.
Several women of Andover who confessed, accused Martha Carrier as the cause of their being led into witchcraft. Three of these were, Ann Foster, her daughter Mary Lacey, andher granddaughter, Mary Lacy, Jr. Ann Foster said she rode on a stick with Martha Carrier to Salem village, that the stick broke and she saved herself by clinging around Martha Carrier's neck. She said they met three hundred witches at Salem village, among them the Rev. Mr. Burroughs, and another minister with gray hair (Mr Dane, of Andover, was supposed to be hinted at). This story was confirmed by the daughter and the granddaughter. Besides these ridiculous charges there were others which had more foundation in truth. All the events of Martha Carrier's past life were gone over, and her rash speeches and revengeful words brought up, with some facts which looked greatly against her. Long ago, as one witness testifed, she, angry with him, "gave forth several threatening words as she often used to doe," and, "soon after, the deponent found one of his large lusty sowes dead near Carrier's house, and one of his cowes which used to give a good Mess of milk would give little or none." Said the witness, John Roger: -
"I did in my conscience believe then in ye day of it and have so done ever since and doe yet believe that Martha Carrier was ye occasion of thos Ill accidents by means of Witchcraft; she being a very malicious woman."
Her nephew, Allen Toothaker, testified that "he had lost a three year old heifer, next a yearlin and then a cow and he knew not of any naturall causes of ye death of the above sd creatures, but have always feare it hath been ye effect of my aunt Carrier's her malice."
Samuel Preston had also lost a cow, after Martha Carrier had a difference with him. In all of these cases the witnesses deposed that she had threatened these losses.
Phebe Chandler, eleven years old, testified: -
"About a fortnight before Martha Carrier, was sent for to Salem to be examined, upon the Sabbath day when the psalm was singing, s'd Martha Carrier took me s'd deponent by the shoulder & shaked me, in the meeting house & asked me where I lived: but I made her no answere, (not doubting but that she knew me, having lived some time the next door to my fathers house, on one side of the way)."
She also said further, in relation to the prisoner's poisoning her: -
"That day that s'd Martha Carrier was accused, my mother sent me to Carry some bear to the
folks that were att
She goes on to say that she heard a voice again telling her that she would be poisoned in two or three days. And so it was, her right hand swelled, and she had "a great weight on her breast and pain in her leges." When she got better, and went to meeting, Richard Carrier looked upon her "and the pains returned and she was struck deaf and heard non of ye prayers."
"During the trial one of the afflicted," says Cotton Mather, "had her hands unaccountably tied together with a wheelband, so fast that without cutting it could not be loosened." This was said to be done by the spectre or evil spirit working with and through Martha Carrier.
The prisoner was hanged August 19, 1692, along with four men, among them the Rev. George Burroughts. They were carried in a cart through the streets of Salem, crowds thronging to see the sight. Even from the scaffold, Martha Carrier's voice was heard asseverating her innocence ["All of them said they were innocent, Carrier and all." - Account of the execution in the Diary of Judge Sewall]. Her dead body was rudely treated, thrust into the ground in the same hole or grave with the bodies of Mr. Burroughs and John Willard. Calef describes the burial: -
"When he (Mr. Burroughs) was cut down, he was dragged by a halter to a hole or grave between the rocks about two feed deep; his shirt and breeches being pulled off and an old pair of trousers of one executed put on his lower parts; he was so put in together with Willard and Carrier that one of his hands and his chin and a foot of one of them was left uncovered."
Nothing more is found recorded of Martha Carrier, till, in the year 1711, her name occurs on a list of sufferers, whose legal representatives received money for losses sustained by the imprisonment and death of their relations.
This from Charles Uphams' "Salem Witchcraft, Volumes I and II With an Account of Salem Village and a History of Opinions on Witchcraft and Kindred Subjects" [which you can read online here]:
The case of Martha Carrier has some remarkable features. It has been shown, by passages already adduced, that every idle rumor; every thing that the gossip of the credulous or the fertile imaginations of the malignant could produce; every thing, gleaned from the memory or the fancy, that could have an unfavorable bearing upon an accused person, however foreign or irrelevant it might be to the charge, was allowed to be brought in evidence before the magistrates, and received at the trials. We have seen that a child under five years of age was arrested, and put into prison. Children were not only permitted, but induced, to become witnesses against their parents, and parents against their children. Husbands and wives were made to criminate each other as witnesses in court. When Martha Carrier was arrested, four of her children were also taken into custody. An indictment against one of them is among the papers. Under the terrors brought to bear upon them, they were prevailed on to be confessors. The following shows how these children were trained to tell their story:--
"It was asked Sarah Carrier by the magistrates,--
"How long hast thou been a witch?--Ever since I was six years old.
"How old are you now?--Near eight years old: brother Richard says I shall be eight years old in November next.
"Who made you a witch?--My mother: she made me set my hand to a book.
"How did you set your hand to it?--I touched it with my fingers, and the book was red: the paper of it was white.
"She said she never had seen the black man: the place where she did it was in Andrew Foster's pasture, and Elizabeth Johnson, Jr., was there. Being asked who was there besides, she answered, her aunt Toothaker and her cousin. Being asked when it was, she said, when she was baptized.
"What did they promise to give you?--A black dog.
"Did the dog ever come to you?--No. "But you said you saw a cat once: what did that say to you?--It said it would tear me in pieces, if I would not set my hand to the book.
"She said her mother baptized her, and the Devil, or black man, was not there, as she saw; and her mother said, when she baptized her, 'Thou art mine for ever and ever. Amen.'
"How did you afflict folks?--I pinched them.
"And she said she had no puppets, but she went to them that she afflicted. Being asked whether she went in her body or her spirit, she said in her spirit. She said her mother carried her thither to afflict.
"How did your mother carry you when she was in prison?--She came like a black cat.
"How did you know it was your mother?--The cat told me so, that she was my mother. She said she afflicted Phelps's child last Saturday, and Elizabeth Johnson joined with her to do it. She had a wooden spear, about as long as her finger, of Elizabeth Johnson; and she had it of the Devil. She would not own that she had ever been at the witch-meeting at the village. This is the substance.
The confession of another of her children is among the papers. It runs thus:--
"Have you been in the Devil's snare?--Yes.
"Is your brother Andrew ensnared by the Devil's snare?--Yes.
"How long has your brother been a witch?--Near a month.
"How long have you been a witch?--Not long.
"Have you joined in afflicting the afflicted persons?--Yes.
"You helped to hurt Timothy Swan, did you?--Yes.
"How long have you been a witch?--About five weeks.
"Who was in company when you covenanted with the Devil?--Mrs. Bradbury.
"Did she help you afflict?--Yes.
"Who was at the village meeting when you were there?--Goodwife How, Goodwife Nurse, Goodwife Wildes, Procter and his wife, Mrs. Bradbury, and Corey's wife.
"What did they do there?--Eat, and drank wine.
"Was there a minister there?--No, not as I know of.
"From whence had you your wine?--From Salem, I think, it was.
"Goodwife Oliver there?--Yes: I knew her."
In concluding his report of the trial of this wretched woman, whose children were thus made to become the instruments for procuring her death, Dr. Cotton Mather expresses himself in the following language:--
"This rampant hag (Martha Carrier) was the person of whom the confessions of the witches, and of her own children among the rest, agreed that the Devil had promised her that she should be queen of Hell."
It is quite evident that this "rampant hag" had no better opinion of the dignitaries and divines who managed matters at the time than they had of her. The record of her examination shows that she was not afraid to speak her mind, and in plain terms too. When brought before the magistrates, the following were their questions and her answers. The accusing witnesses having severally made their charges against her, declaring that she had tormented them in various ways, and threatened to cut their throats if they would not sign the Devil's book, which, they said, she had presented to them, the magistrates addressed her in these words: "What do you say to this you are charged with?" She answered, "I have not done it." One of the accusers cried out that she was, at that moment, sticking pins into her. Another declared that she was then looking upon "the black man,"--the shape in which they pretended the Devil appeared. The magistrate asked the accused, "What black man is that?" Her answer was, "I know none." The accusers cried out that the black man was present, and visible to them. The magistrate asked her, "What black man did you see?" Her answer was, "I saw no black man but your own presence." Whenever she looked upon the accusers, they were knocked down. The magistrate, entirely deluded by their practised acting, said to her, "Can you look upon these, and not knock them down?" Her answer was, "They will dissemble, if I look upon them." He continued: "You see, you look upon them, and they fall down." She broke out, "It is false: the Devil is a liar. I looked upon none since I came into the room but you." Susanna Sheldon cried out, in a trance, "I wonder what could you murder thirteen persons for." At this, her spirit became aroused: the accusers fell into the most intolerable outcries and agonies. The accused rebuked the magistrate, charging him with unfairness in not paying any regard to what she said, and receiving every thing that the accusers said. "It is a shameful thing, that you should mind these folks that are out of their wits;" and, turning to those who were bringing these false and ridiculous charges against her, she said, "You lie: I am wronged." The energy and courage of the prisoner threw the accusers, magistrates, and the whole crowd into confusion and uproar. The record closes the description of the scene in these words: "The tortures of the afflicted were so great that there was no enduring of it, so that she was ordered away, and to be bound hand and foot with all expedition; the afflicted, in the mean while, almost killed, to the great trouble of all spectators, magistrates, and others."
Parris closes his report of this examination as follows:--
"NOTE.--As soon as she was well bound, they all had strange and sudden ease. Mary Walcot told the magistrates that this woman told her she had been a witch this forty years."
This shows the sort of communications the girls were allowed to hold with the magistrates, exciting their prejudices against accused persons, and filling their ears with all sorts of exaggerated and false stories. However much she may have been maligned by her neighbors, some of whom had long been in the habit of circulating slanders against her, the whole tenor of the papers relating to her shows that she always indignantly repelled the charge of being a witch, and was the last person in the world to have volunteered such a statement as Mary Walcot reported.
The examination of Martha Carrier must have been one of the most striking scenes of the whole drama of the witchcraft proceedings. The village meeting-house presented a truly wild and exciting spectacle. The fearful and horrible superstition which darkened the minds of the people was displayed in their aspect and movements. Their belief, that, then and there, they were witnessing the great struggle between the kingdoms of God and of the Evil One, and that every thing was at stake on the issue, gave an awe-struck intensity to their expression. The blind, unquestioning confidence of the magistrates, clergy, and all concerned in the prosecutions, in the evidence of the accusers; the loud outcries of their pretended sufferings; their contortions, swoonings, and tumblings, excited the usual consternation in the assembly. In addition to this, there was the more than ordinary bold and defiant bearing of the prisoner, stung to desperation by the outrage upon human nature in the abuse practised upon her poor children; her firm and unshrinking courage, facing the tempest that was raised to overwhelm her, sternly rebuking the magistrates,--"It is a shameful thing that you should mind these folks that are out of their wits;"--her whole demeanor, proclaiming her conscious innocence, and proving that she chose chains, the dungeon, and the scaffold, rather than to belie herself. Seldom has a scene in real life, or a picture wrought by the inspiration of genius and the hand of art, in its individual characters or its general grouping, surpassed that presented on this occasion.
The evidence in the case of Rebecca Nurse was made up of the usual representations and actings of the "afflicted children." Mary Walcot and Abigail Williams charged her with having committed several murders; mentioning particularly Benjamin Houlton, John Harwood, and Rebecca Shepard, and averring that she was aided therein by her sister Cloyse. Mr. Parris, too, gave in a deposition against her; from which it appears, that, a certain person being sick, Mercy Lewis was sent for. She was struck dumb on entering the chamber. She was asked to hold up her hand, if she saw any of the witches afflicting the patient. Presently she held up her hand, then fell into a trance; and after a while, coming to herself, said that she saw the spectres of Goody Nurse and Goody Carrier having hold of the head of the sick man. Mr. Parris swore to this statement with the utmost confidence in Mercy's declarations.
The Court met again on the 5th of August, and tried George Burroughs; John Procter and Elizabeth, his wife; George Jacobs, Sr.; John Willard; and Martha Carrier. They were all condemned, and, with the exception of Elizabeth Procter, executed on the 19th of the same month.
Calef gives the following account of his [Rev. Burroughs] execution:-- "Mr. Burroughs was carried in a cart with the others, through the streets of Salem, to execution. When he was upon the ladder, he made a speech for the clearing of his innocency, with such solemn and serious expressions as were to the admiration of all present. His prayer (which he concluded by repeating the Lord's Prayer) was so well worded, and uttered with such composedness and such (at least seeming) fervency of spirit, as was very affecting, and drew tears from many, so that it seemed to some that the spectators would hinder the execution. The accusers said the black man stood and dictated to him. As soon as he was turned off, Mr. Cotton Mather, being mounted upon a horse, addressed himself to the people, partly to declare that he (Mr. Burroughs) was no ordained minister, and partly to possess the people of his guilt, saying that the Devil often had been transformed into an angel of light; and this somewhat appeased the people, and the executions went on. When he was cut down, he was dragged by a halter to a hole, or grave, between the rocks, about two feet deep; his shirt and breeches being pulled off, and an old pair of trousers of one executed put on his lower parts: he was so put in, together with Willard and Carrier, that one of his hands, and his chin, and a foot of one of them, was left uncovered."
As these confessions had a decisive effect in precipitating the public mind into the depths of its delusion, gave a fatal power to the accusers, and carried the proceedings to the horrible extremities which have concentrated upon them the attention of the world, they assume an importance in the history of the affair that demands a full and thorough exposition. At the examination of Ann Foster, at Salem Village, on the 15th of July, 1692, the following confession was, "after a while," extorted from her. It was undoubtedly the result of the overwhelming effect of the horrors of her condition upon a distressed and half-crazed mind. It shows the staple materials of which confessions were made, and the forms of absurd superstition with which the imaginations of people were then filled:--
The Devil appeared to her in the shape of a bird at several times,--such a bird as she never saw the like before; and she had had this gift (viz., of striking the afflicted down with her eye) ever since. Being asked why she thought that bird was the Devil, she answered, because he came white and vanished away black; and that the Devil told her she should have this gift, and that she must believe him, and told her she should have prosperity: and she said that he had appeared to her three times, and always as a bird, and the last time about half a year since, and sat upon a table,--had two legs and great eyes, and that it was the second time of his appearance that he promised her prosperity. She further stated, that it was Goody Carrier that made her a witch. She told her, that, if she would not be a witch, the Devil would tear her to pieces, and carry her away,--at which time she promised to serve the Devil; that she was at the meeting of the witches at Salem Village; that Goody Carrier came, and told her of the meeting, and would have her go: so they got upon sticks, and went said journey, and, being there, did see Mr. Burroughs, the minister, who spake to them all; that there were then twenty-five persons met together; that she tied a knot in a rag, and threw it into the fire to hurt Timothy Swan, and that she did hurt the rest that complained of her by squeezing puppets like them, and so almost choked them; that she and Martha Carrier did both ride on a stick or pole when they went to the witch-meeting at Salem Village, and that the stick broke as they were carried in the air above the tops of the trees, and they fell: but she did hang fast about the neck of Goody Carrier, and they were presently at the village; that she had heard some of the witches say that there were three hundred and five in the whole country, and that they would ruin that place, the village; that there were also present at that meeting two men besides Mr. Burroughs, the minister, and one of them had gray hair; and that the discourse among the witches at the meeting in Salem Village was, that they would afflict there to set up the Devil's kingdom.
The confession of which the foregoing is the substance appears to have been drawn out at four several examinations on different days, during which she was induced by the influences around her to make her testimony more and more extravagant at each successive examination. Her daughter, Mary Lacy, called Goody Lacy, was brought up on the charge of witchcraft at the same time; and, upon finding the mother confessing, she saw that her only safety was in confessing also. When confronted, the daughter cried out to the mother, "We have forsaken Jesus Christ, and the Devil hath got hold of us. How shall we get clear of this Evil One?" She proceeded to say that she had accompanied her mother and Goody Carrier, all three riding together on the pole, to Salem Village. She then made the following statement: "About three or four years ago, she saw Mistress Bradbury, Goody Howe, and Goody Nurse baptized by the old Serpent at Newbury Falls; that he dipped their heads in the water, and then said they were his, and he had power over them; that there were six baptized at that time, who were some of the chief or higher powers, and that there might be near about a hundred in company at that time." It being asked her "after what manner she went to Newbury Falls," she answered, "the Devil carried her in his arms." She said, that, "if she did take a rag, and roll it up together, and imagine it to represent such and such a person, then that, whatsoever she did to that rag so rolled up, the person represented thereby would be in like manner afflicted." Her daughter, also named Mary Lacy, followed the example of her mother and grandmother, and made confession.
The General Court, on the 17th of October, 1710, passed an act, that "the several convictions, judgments, and attainders be, and hereby are, reversed, and declared to be null and void." In simple justice, they ought to have extended the act to all who had suffered; but they confined its effect to those in reference to whom petitions had been presented... On the 17th of December, 1711, Governor Dudley issued his warrant for the purpose of carrying out a vote of the "General Assembly," "by and with the advice and consent of Her Majesty's Council," to pay "the sum of £578. 12_s._" to "such persons as are living, and to those that legally represent them that are dead;" which sum was divided as follows:-- Martha Carrier 7 pounds, 6
It only remains to record the course of the village church and people in reference to the events of 1692. After six persons, including Rebecca Nurse, had suffered death; and while five others, George Burroughs, John Procter, John Willard, George Jacobs, and Martha Carrier, were awaiting their execution, which was to take place on the coming Friday, Aug. 19,--the facts, related as follows by Mr. Parris in his record-book, occurred:--
"Sabbath-day, 14th August, 1692.--The church was stayed after the congregation was dismissed, and the pastor spake to the church after this manner:--
"'Brethren, you may all have taken notice, that, several sacrament days past, our brother Peter Cloyse, and Samuel Nurse and his wife, and John Tarbell and his wife, have absented from communion with us at the Lord's Table, yea, have very rarely, except our brother Samuel Nurse, been with us in common public worship: now, it is needful that the church send some persons to them to know the reason of their absence. Therefore, if you be so minded, express yourselves.'
"None objected. But a general or universal vote, after some discourse, passed, that Brother Nathaniel Putnam and the two deacons should join with the pastor to discourse with the said absenters about it.
"31st August.--Brother Tarbell proves sick, unmeet for discourse; Brother Cloyse hard to be found at home, being often with his wife in prison at Ipswich for witchcraft; and Brother Nurse, and sometimes his wife, attends our public meeting, and he the sacrament, 11th September, 1692: upon all which we choose to wait further."
This footnote of Thomas Carrier, Martha's husband:
When Thomas Carrier arrived in New England, he already had a mysterious and historic past. According to Carrier family tradition, Thomas' exceptional physical size (he was said to be over 7 feet tall) led him to be chosen as one of the King of England's Royal Guard. Then in 1649, when King Charles I was put on trial and sentenced to death, it was Thomas who acted in the historic position as executioner of the King. Unfortunately for Carrier, Charles I's son, Charles II, would re-take the throne and gain control of the country. In May 1660, Charles II ordered the arrest of those responsible for his father's death. If Carrier was involved, the arrest orders could have been what motivated him to make the journey across the Atlantic. The Puritans of Massachusetts certainly did not approve of the repression of Charles I, but they also did not approve of regicide (the killing of a king). The facts of Carrier's actions may have found their way across the Atlantic and could have played a part in the darkest chapter of Carrier's life. Carrier's arrival in New England comes sometime about 1665, shortly after the arrest orders were sent out. His first stop was in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but he would soon move on to the village of Billerica. It seems that Carrier lived an unsettled life at first, moving three or four times between Billerica and Andover. While in Andover in 1672, Carrier met Martha Ingalls Allen who was 20 years younger than himself. The couple was married in 1674 and after the birth of their second son they moved back to Billerica.
Other Salem girls began throwing fits, having strange dreams and making animal-like noises. Some of them developed spots that looked like pin pricks and teeth marks. They were examined by Dr. William Griggs, who could not find any reason for the state of the girls and proclaimed, "The evil hand is upon them." When the girls were asked who was bewitching them, they named Tituba, an obvious pagan, and a couple old beggar women. As the women were dragged off to jail and put on trial, the girls' popularity rose and they became regarded as visionaries. The witch-hunt had begun.
Shortly thereafter in
Andover, Joseph Ballard's wife came down with an illness that the normal herb
remedies failed to cure. He suspected witchcraft and rode to Salem to enlist the
help of the now prestigious Salem girls. The girls arrived in Andover with great
ceremony and announced that Ballard's wife was indeed bewitched, naming Martha
Carrier and others as witches. A warrant was signed for Martha's arrest on May
28, 1692, the first person in Andover to be charged with witchcraft. She was
taken to jail and placed in chains to keep her spirit from roaming. Three days
later, Martha underwent the "examination" that preceded witchcraft
trials. During the examination, most accused witches made confessions to avoid
the extreme penalty of death. Not Martha, she maintained her innocence in the
face of the scrutiny. She was then transported to the Salem Village Meeting
House to face the notorious Salem girls. When Martha entered the Meeting House
the girls fell to the floor writhing with cries of agony. After the elders read
the indictment, naming Mary Wolcott of Salem as the victim, Martha responded
with a plea of "not guilty." From the floor of the Meeting House the
Salem girls responded, "I would see the souls of the 13 persons whom she
murdered at Andover." Martha was also confronted by five women and children
from Salem who claimed to be suffering from her. Susannah Shelden claimed that
her hands were tied together with a wheel band by Martha's specter. The
magistrates asked, "Susannah, who hurts you?" Her response was clear,
"Goody Carrier. She bites me, pinches me and tells me she
The accusers persisted and Martha was formally indicted. She was bound in chains and taken to jail to await further trial while more evidence could be found. Martha'stwo oldest sons, Andrew and Richard, and her seven and a half year old daughter, Sarah, were also put in jail as suspected witches. During their stay, the children confessed that they were witches and it was their mother that made them witches. It is reported that Andrew and Richard were "tied neck and heel until the blood was ready to come out of their noses" before they confessed. Under the persuasive magistrates, the children related time, place and occasion of their "evil" behavior. They told the examiners about journeys, meetings and "mischiefs by them performed, and were very credible in what they said." However, the sons' testimony was never heard in court, the magistrates feeling there was enough other evidence.
The witnesses then came individually before the magistrates. Martha's neighbor Phebe Chandler testified that she heard Martha's voice over her head as she walked across a field. She claimed that the voice told her she would be poisoned within two or three days. A few days later Chandler reports that her right hand and part of her face had become swollen and painful.
Another neighbor, Benjamin Abbott, testified that there were angry words between them concerning a land dispute. Shortly afterwards Abbott became ill with swelling in his foot and then with a pain in his side. The sore in his side was lanced by the local doctor and released "gallons of corruption." Abbott's pain grew worse and worse over six weeks, bringing him close to death. Mysteriously, as soon as Martha was put in jail, Abbott began to regain his health.
The testimony continued with Andover resident John Rogers. He came before the court to state that "one of his cows which used to give a good mess of milk would give none... Carrier being a malicious woman." Even Martha's own nephew, Allen Toothacker, stood in front of the magistrates and testified that he "lost a three-year-old heifer, next a yearling, and then a cow and knew not any cause of ye deaths... but I always feared it hath been ye effect of my Aunt Carrier's her malice." Toothacker also stated that during a fight with Richard Carrier he was held on the ground by Martha's spirit. Martha, her two oldest sons, and her seven and a half year-old daughter had been arrested and kept in jail for almost three months before the trial. All of the old disputes between Martha and her neighbors were brought up and reviewed for suspicious activity. At least four of Martha's neighbors from Andover came to testify that she had used witchcraft against them, killing livestock and causing illnesses. Martha's two teenage sons had been hung by their heels "until the blood was ready to come out of their noses," before they confessed to being involved with witchcraft. The magistrates didn't use the sons' confessions, but they did bring Martha's young daughter, Sarah, to testify against her mother. Sarah's confession came six days after Martha was already convicted and sentenced to death. "It was asked by the Magistrates or Justices, John Hathorne, Esq., and others: How long hast thou been a witch? A. Ever since I was six years old. Q. How old are you? A. Near eight years old, brother Richard says I shall be eight years old in November last. Q. Who made you a witch? A. My mother, she made me set my hand to a book. Q. How did you set your hand to it? A. I touched it with my fingers and the book was red and the paper of it was so white.... Q. What did they promise to give you? A. A black dog. Q. Did the dog ever come to you? A. No. Q. But you said you saw a cat once; what did it say to you? A. It said it would tear me to pieces, if I would not set my hand to the book. Q. How did you afflict folks? A. I pinched them.... mother carried her thither to afflict. Q. How did your mother carry you when she was in prison? A. She came like a black cat. Q. How did you know it was your mother? A. The cat told me she was my mother. She said she afflicted Phelps child last Saturday and Elizabeth Johnson helped her do it. She had a wooden spear about as long as the finger of Elizabeth Johnson and she had it of the devil.... This is the substance. Attest: Simon Willard." The trial prompted the well known Boston cleric, Dr. Cotton Mather, to report, "This rampant hag, Martha Carrier, was the person of whom the confession of the rest agreed that the devil had promised her, she should be the Queen of Hell."On August 19, 1692, Martha was taken in the back of a cart to Gallows Hill in Salem. Jeering crowds lined the streets and gathered at the scaffold to witness the hanging of Martha and four men, also "convicted" witches. Screaming her innocence from the scaffold, Martha never gave up. A report from the time describes the treatment of Martha and two of the men, including a Mr. Burroughs: "When he was cut down, he was dragged by a halter to a hole or grave between the rocks about two feet deep; his shirt and breeches were pulled off and an old pair of trousers of one of the executed put on his lower parts; he was so put in together with Willard and Carrier that one of his hands and his chin and a foot of one of them was left uncovered."
The first record of the Carriers in the Connetticut area comes in 1701, when Thomas Carrier built a house and then opened a sawmill on the Jeremy River. Records indicate that Carrier owned almost all the land then called North Westchester, which would eventually become part of Marlborough. Later on Thomas' sons would join him in Connecticut. Land was taken in Richard's name in Westchester in 1703, and a little later Andrew was also granted a plot. Thomas, Jr. remained in Andover for a while longer, then joined his brothers and father in 1716 as a Colchester inhabitant. Thomas became known as the "Tall Man," having reached an unusual 7' 4" tall, with his strength and agility his pride at 100 years old. The Carrier Genealogy reports that Thomas, about 80 years old when he moved to North Westchester, would frequently walk to a grist mill in Glastonbury, a distance of eighteen miles. He would carry a bag of corn on his shoulders, walking very fast and erect, stopping only once to shift his load. He would have his corn ground and then walk back.
Thomas Carrier died on May 18, 1735 at a ripe old age of 109. Some of the Carrier family members maintain he was actually 113 when he died. It is reported in the New England Journal on June 9, 1735 that, "His head, in his last years, not bald nor his hair grey. Not many days before his death he traveled on foot six miles to see a sick friend, and the day before he died he was visiting his neighbors. His mind was alert until he died, when he fell asleep in his chair and never woke up." Thomas left five children, 39 grand children and 38 great grandchildren who would continue to fill the land with Carriers.
But even after Thomas passed away his remnants would be shrouded in mystery. The original Carrier burial ground was not in a regular church cemetery, but located near Thomas' property on the Jeremy River. This small piece of land became lost and forgotten in the woods of Marlborough until construction on Rt. 2 in the 1930s. While the local road crews were looking for gravel around town, they discovered the bodies buried in the Carrier plot located at the corner of South Main St. and Kellog Rd. The remains of the Carriers were reportedly taken to the Marlboro Cemetery, in Marlborough center, and given another burial. The monument which was erected is also a mystery, the names of Thomas' sons are repeated and seem confused. The town of Marlborough has no record of the movement of which body went where and who is responsible for erecting the monument. The fact that there are also at least two other people buried in the Carrier plot that were not moved only raises more questions. It is also strange that there are tombstones for Richard, Andrew and their wives in the Colchester Congregational Church, even though Andrew is listed twice on the Marlborough monument. It was a hard life for Thomas Carrier and his family. They had the unfortunate luck of being at the center of some of their era's most horrifying episodes, and the mystery continues.
In his History of Billerica, Massachusetts, with a Genealogical Register, Henry A. Hazen included a page-long entry on Thomas Carrier (2:22-23).
If Carrier owned land in Billerica, he never recorded any of his deeds. He certainly lived in Billerica (along High St., about 2000 feet short of the present-day boundary with Tewksbury), and a pair of deeds from a hundred years later (1781) mention his name in the description of their bounds: "by the wall to the old line between Carrier's & Roger's lots" (Billerica Deeds, 7:301) and "south 313.5' by the fence to the black oak standing near the line between Carrier's & Roger's lots" (Billerica Deeds, 7:341).
The proprietors of Billerica granted to Enoch Kidder on 6 Dec 1708 2 acres 32 poles of land "at the east end of the lot that was Thomas Carrier's" (Billerica Grants, Town Clerk's Office, 2:44), which followed an early (Sept 1708) grant to John Rogers Sr of land "partly at the end of Thomas Carrier's land" (Billerica Grants, 2:53). According to Hazen, Carrier had left Billerica for the neighboring town of Andover some time between 1684 and 1690.
Source information; Carrier Genealogy, 1974-1976 ??? by Carl W. Carrier.
Thomas Carrier was born in Wales, England, about 1626 and died
in Colchester, Conn. May 18, 1735; Colchester records say in his 109th year
although the family claimed his age to be 113 years. Records of the town embody
some remarkable traditions about him. He was 7' 4" tall, was notorious for
his fleetness of foot, and his strength was his pride at one hundred years of
age. He settled in Colchester soon after the turn of the century, when his age
was about 76 years. He would frequently walk from Colchester to the mill in
Glastonbury, a distance of eighteen miles, carrying a sack of corn on his
shoulder to be ground, walking very fast and erect, stopping but once to shift
his load and then walk back. The New England Journal for June 9, 1735 stated:
"His head in his last years was not bald nor his hair gray. Not many days
before his death he traveled on foot six miles to see a sick friend, and the day
before he died he was visiting his neighbors. His mind was alert until he died,
when he fell asleep in his chair and never woke up."
Charles I was of the same persuasion as his father, and soon after he was crowned, conflict with his legislature began. Parliament would not grant all the money he demanded, consequently he imposed excessive taxes on people, which led to protest by Parliament. Hence in 1629 he dissolved Parliament and ruled without assistance for eleven years, proceeding to get money by illegal means. Civil War resulted in 1642.
In 1646 Charles, defeated, gave himself up to the Scottish
Army. In 1647 the Scots surrendered him to Parliamentary Army. He was tried
before the English Parliament, and beheaded January 30, 1649. It was probably
during these two years that Thomas Carrier was one of the Guards. The tradition
cannot be disregarded as an impossible one but means of verification are
lacking. Charles II, the lawful prince, escaped to the continent in 1648, but in
February, 1649, Scotland proclaimed him King and his coronation took place
January 1, 1651. Nine months later he was vanquished by Oliver Cromwell.
Cromwell was made Lord Protector and Governor of the Commonwealth but he refused
the title of King. He died in 1658 and his son Richard proved incompetent to
take over his work. In 1660 Charles II was again made King. He agreed to a
pardon for all political offenders except the regicides and the judges of
Charles I, and in May, 1660 the House of Commons ordered the arrest of all
judges. Two of the judges, Major General William Goffe and
From the book of tryals: Imprimatur: J. Backenhead 1660, published immediately after the trials, one of the signers of the sentence of Charles Stuart, King of England on January 29, 1648, was a Thomas Wogan, Esquire. Dr. Stiles of Yale in his History of the Three Judges of Charles I of England (found in the Library of American History, a reprint of standard works edited by Samuel L. Knapp) printed a list of names he copied from the Journal of Major General William Goffe who had been in hiding in Hadley, Mass. One Sunday, while the people of Hadley were at worship, Goffe discovered Indians were gathering to commit massacre of the town's people, so he came out of hiding to warn them and was thereafter known as the Good Angel of Hadley. Goffe's original diary was not disclosed until death had put everyone in it out of danger. In the diary were the names of nineteen men "condemned and in the Tower, but" said Goffe: "Morgan was not in the Tower." It seems probable that Goffe knew the men personally, so perhaps Thomas (Morgan) Carrier was one who escaped before the order for arrest was issued and owed his freedom to an indistinct signature. (Wogan-Morgan) In November, 1667, Thomas Carrier was assigned to cutting brush in Billerica with his comrade and employee, John Levistone. He apparently was a man of means because he was next to the highest taxpayer in town. Levistone may have come with him from England, giving his services for passage and settlement, or he may have been assigned later to help him. Thomas Carrier took the oath of Fidelity, December 4, 1667, so he must have complied with the requirements of "an inhabitant."