The Witch Trial, My Great…Great Grandmother

Witch Hill

“Witch Hill” or “The Salem Martyr” painting by Thomas Slatterwhite Noble, 1869, Collection of the New York Historical Society

The 1659 witchcraft arrest warrant for Mrs. Winifred Holman of Cambridge, Massachusetts, the widow of William Holman, and her daughter Mary was quite explicit and quite serious, since the penalty if proven quilty was hanging.

“To the Constable of Cambridge, you are requested forthwith to apprehend the persons Widow Holman and her daughter Mary and immediately bring them before the county court now sitting in Charlestown, to be examined on several accusations presented on suspicion of witchcraft, you are forthwith to bring them away and not suffer them one with another after the knowledge of this warrant and heretofore you are not to fail at your peril. It will be convenient that you charge some person to bring away the maid first [the daughter], and then you may acquaint the mother also with the warrant respecting her.”
Dated February 1659. Thomas Danforth R [Source: Family History]

Although the infamous Salem Witch Trials took place between February 1692 and May 1693, Massachusetts was executing witches as early as 1647.
Continue reading