Less than three years after the trial of Mary Johnson, Wethersfield, Connecticut, produced a second witchcraft case — that of John and Joan Carrington.
John Carrington, Sr. was born in England in about 1610 and was first married to a woman named Mary. The two sailed to America on the Susan and Ellen, arriving in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1635. At that time, they were both recorded as being 33-years-old, and no children were traveling with them. The couple later had one child, John Carrington, Jr., in Simsbury, Connecticut in about 1640. They eventually settled in the Puritan community of Wethersfield, Connecticut.
At some point, Mary died, and John Carrington married another woman named Joan (or Joann) who was from Wethersfield. The couple would have a child named Rebecca in 1650.
Records show that John Carrington was a carpenter and bought land in Wethersfield in 1643. In 1644 he was a defendant in a civil action at Hartford, and in 1650 the same court fined him ten pounds for bartering a gun with an Indian. His economic and social status were probably low as he never held any offices in Wethersfield. However, he purchased more land in 1647 and received a small grant from the town in 1649. By that time, it appears he was also working as a farmer.
For unknown reasons, he and his wife Joan were charged with witchcraft at a court held on February 20, 1651. The indictment read:
“Thou art indicted by the name of John Carrington of Wethersfield, carpenter, that not having the fear of God before thine eyes thou hast entertained familiarity with Satan, the great enemy of God and Mankind; and by his help has done works above the course of nature, according to the laws of God and the established laws of this commonwealth thou deservest to Dye.”
The same indictment was handed down to his wife, Joan.
Both were convicted of witchcraft on March 6, 1651, and sentenced to death. They were hanged at Hartford on March 06, 1651.
After their deaths, their estate was worth only 23 pounds, and their debts were 13 pounds.
After the trial of the Carringtons, Wethersfield remained free of witchcraft proceedings for more than a decade.
© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated December 2020.
Salem, Massachusetts Witchcraft Hysteria
Connecticut General Assembly
Demos, John Putman; Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England; Oxford University Press, 2004.
Women History Blog