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Andover and the Salem Witch Trials

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Located about 15 miles northwest of Salem Village, Andover got its start when a portion of land was set aside for an inland plantation in 1634. Early colonists were offered incentives to move to the area and the first settlement was established in 1641 by John Woodbridge and a group of settlers from Newbury and Ipswich. In May, 1646 the settlement was incorporated as a town and was named Andover, probably in honor of the town of Andover in England. The first recorded town meeting was held in 1656 in the home of settler John Osgood.


During the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, Andover, like other area villages, found itself in the midst of the hysteria. In fact, more people from Andover were accused and arrested for witchcraft than from any other town in New England.


North Andover, Massachusetts, 1886

North Andover nearly a century after the witch hysteria of

1692. Photo in 1886.




The atmosphere of the town at the time was charged with fear of the unknown and political upheaval. The Massachusetts Bay Colony charter had been revoked by the crown, the church was split by the differing ideologies of two pastors, and Indian raids were occurring in nearby Haverhill and Billerica. 


Unfortunately, the witch hysteria in Salem Village soon spread to Andover. The first accused was Martha Carrier, who was known as a strong-minded woman who would speak her mind. Unfortunately, this was not a trait admired by Puritans at the time. She was accused by her neighbor, Benjamin Abbot, after they had gotten into an argument that involved a land dispute. After the disagreement, Abbot fell sick and blamed his illness on her bewitching him and would later testify that she had killed one of his cows.


Witch HangingOn May 28, 1692 Martha Carrier, along with her sister and brother-in-law, Mary Toothaker and Roger Toothaker and their 9 year-old  daughter, Margaret, were arrested and charged with witchcraft. On May 31st, Carrier was examined by Judges John Hathorne, Jonathan Corwin, and Bartholomew Gedney. Testifying against her were several of the "afflicted girls", including Susanna Sheldon, Mary Walcott, Elizabeth Hubbard and Ann Putnam, Jr.. She pled not guilty and accused the girls of lying. Martha's youngest children were also coerced into testifying against their mother and in July, she was also implicated by Ann Foster.


In the meantime, Martha Carrier's children including 18 year-old Richard Carrier, 15 year-old Andrew Carrier, 10 year-old Thomas Carrier, Jr., and 8 year-old Sarah Carrier were also accused. Though her children would survive, Martha would not be so lucky. She was pronounced guilty on August 2nd and hanged on August 19, 1692, along with George Burroughs, George Jacobs, Sr., John Proctor, and John Willard.


In about July, 1692, Timothy Swan, a young man who was ill, began to accuse several people including Mary Ayer Parker, Mary Tyler Post Bridges, Rebecca Blake Eames, Frances Alcock Hutchins, and others. In some of these accusations, he was joined by two of the "afflicted girls," Ann Putnam, Jr. and Mary Walcott. Like Salem Village, the frenzy quickly spread in Andover and between July 15th and September 7th, Dudley Bradstreet, acting in his capacity as Justice of the Peace, issued some 30 arrest warrants to Andover persons who had allegedly committed the crime of witchcraft. That number would soon increase.


When the wife of Andover resident, Joseph Ballard, fell sick later that summer, they believed that her illness might be caused by witchcraft, and Mr. Ballard soon requested the help of two of the afflicted girls from Salem Village -- Ann Putnam, Jr. and Mary Walcott -- to identify who had caused his wife's illness. After visiting Elizabeth Ballard, the girls claimed that several people in Andover had bewitched her, including Ann Foster; her daughter, Mary Lacey Sr.; her granddaughter, Mary Lacey, Jr.; and numerous others. The Ballards then sought the help of the Reverend Thomas Barnard, who had once been the protégé of the Reverend Cotton Mather. Both Barnard and Mather whole heartedly believed in witchcraft and further thought that an “invisible empire” threatened the good people of Massachusetts Bay Colony. This belief was decidedly not shared by Barnard's co-pastor, the Reverend Frances Dane, who from the outset, had condemned the witch hunt and trials. However, the Reverend Thomas Barnard cared little for his co-pastor's opinions and had been instrumental in spreading the witchcraft hysteria, and holding prayer meetings against the Devil.



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