The “Witches” of Massachusetts – B

Sarah Wildes Bishop (1651?-??) – Married to Edward Bishop, Jr., the couple had as many as 12 children. She was the step-daughter of Sarah Wildes, who would be executed for witchcraft. He was the step-son of Bridget Playfer Bishop, who was also found guilty of witchcraft and hanged. Sarah and her husband were also accused of witchcraft and were arrested on April 21, 1692, along with Sarah’s stepmother, Sarah Wildes; William and Deliverance Hobbs, Nehemiah Abbott Jr., Mary Eastey, Mary Black and Mary English. The couple were examined by Magistrates Jonathan Corwin and John Hathorne the next day and were found to have committed witchcraft against Ann Putnam Jr., Mercy Lewis, and Abigail Williams. Also testifying against Sarah were Elizabeth Balch, wife of Benjamin Balch Jr., and her sister, Abigail Walden, claiming they heard Edward accuse Elizabeth of entertaining Satan at night. Both Edward and Sarah were indicted and transferred to the Boston jail to await trial. In the meantime, Sarah’s stepmother, Sarah Wildes, was executed for witchcraft on July 19, 1692. The couple was able to escape in October 1692. After their escape, their property was seized. What happened to them afterward is unknown, but, their son, Samuel Bishop was able to recover some of their property. Ironically, another son, Edward Bishop III eventually married Susannah Putnam, who was a relation of the Putnam family who was the main accusers in the witchcraft hysteria.

Katerina Biss – Nothing is known of her other than she was accused of witchcraft but, not indicted.

Mary Black – An African-American slave of elderly Lieutenant Nathaniel Putman of Salem Village, Mary was accused of witchcraft on April 21, 1692. Putnam was a respected leader and member of Salem village whose younger nephews and cousins were avid witchcraft accusers. Her examination was requested by the Reverend Samuel Parris. At her examination, held on April 22nd, she was accused by several of the “afflicted girls” including Mary Walcott, Abigail Williams, and Mercy Lewis. Though she was pressed to admit that she was a witch, she steadfastly refused, stating “I hurt nobody. Who doth? I do not know.” She was indicted and imprisoned, but not tried. She was cleared by proclamation on January 11, 1693. Her owner Nathaniel Putnam paid her jail fees and took her back to his house.

Mary Perkins Bradbury (1615-1700) – One of the lucky ones, Mary Bradbury was tried for witchcraft, convicted, and sentenced to be executed. Born to John and Judith Gater Perkins at Hilmorton, England, she was baptized September 3, 1615. Her family immigrated to America in 1631 and she married Thomas Bradbury of Salisbury, Massachusetts in 1636, one of the most distinguished citizens of the community. Years later, during the Salem witch fury, Mary would find herself in the midst of it when a merchant Samuel Endicott accused her of selling bewitched butter to one of his sea captains and causing dire effects for the voyage. She was also accused of assuming animal forms and suddenly “appearing” in strange places on the ships while they were at sea. Though over a hundred of her neighbors and townspeople testified on her behalf, it was to no avail and she was found guilty of practicing magic and sentenced to be executed in 1692. Through the ongoing efforts of her friends, her execution was delayed. After the witch fury had died down she was released. Some accounts suggest a jailer was bribed and she was allowed to escape. Afterwards, she and her husband went to Maine, only returning once the witch hysteria had completely died down. She died of natural causes in 1700.

Ann Wood Bradstreet – Ann was the wife of Colonel Dudley Bradstreet who was serving as the Justice of Peace in Andover during the witch hysteria. Though Dudley Bradstreet didn’t believe the witchcraft delusion, his duties required him to issue almost 50 arrest warrants before he finally refused to issue anymore. Afterwards, both Dudley and his wife, Ann were also accused. They temporarily fled the area, evading arrest.

Colonel Dudley Bradstreet (1648-1702) – Born in Andover, Massachusetts to Simon and Ann Dudley Bradstreet, he grew up to marry Ann Wood, also of Andover, on November 12, 1673. His father, Simon would serve as the Colonial Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony from 1670 to 1686. He was an attorney, a colonel in the militia, schoolteacher, and served as a selectman and town clerk in Andover. He would also serve as a Deputy to the General Court of Massachusetts and later, was a member of the Governor’s Council. Though he opposed the entire witchcraft delusion, he found himself in the unenviable position of Justice of the Peace in Andover during the hysteria. In the eight weeks from July 15, 1692, until the “touch test” on September 7th, Bradstreet granted out arrest warrants against and committed, some 30 Andover persons to prisons for supposed witchcraft. On September 7th, after the ludicrous “touch test,” he dutifully wrote out an additional 18 warrants. However, after he had issued those warrants, he refused to grant any more. Not long afterward, both he and his wife  Ann, were themselves, accused of witchcraft, with the “afflicted” claiming that they had killed at least nine people. In response, Colonel Bradstreet and his wife fled the area. However, he later returned to Andover and his name appears first on the petition written in late December. The petition presented to the Superior Court of Judicature at Salem at its opening session on January 3, 1693. It was signed not only by Colonel Bradstreet, but also the Reverend Francis Dane, Reverend Thomas Barnard, 38 other men, and 12 women. The petition was on behalf of Mary Clement Osgood, Eunice Potter Frye, Deliverance Haseltine Dane, Sarah Lord Wilson and Abigail Wheeler Barker, who were all church members who had been arrested together at the Andover touch test. He died in Andover, Massachusetts in 1706.

John Bradstreet (1653-1717) – The son of a former colonial governor, Simon Bradstreet and Ann Dudley Bradstreet, and brother to Andover Justice of the Peace, Colonel Dudley Bradstreet, John found himself in the unfortunate position of meeting some of “afflicted girls” in the street. At that very moment a dog ran out, barked at him then ran away. Immediately, the girls accused John Bradstreet of having afflicted the dog. Bradstreet didn’t wait for the inevitable complaint, he fled to New York on the first available ship. In the meantime, the dog was hanged as a witch. However, somewhere along the line, he obviously returned to the area, because he died in Topsfield on January 17, 1717.

Mary Bridges, Jr. (1669-??) – The 13-year-old daughter of John and Mary Tyler Post Bridges from Andover, Mary was both an accused witch and an accuser. She was accused by Martha Sprague of afflicting Rose Foster and arrested on August 25, 1692. At her examination, she confessed and said that she and her sisters had helped to hurt people with magic. Witnesses at the examination, including Martha Sprague and Rose Foster, made further allegations. She was sent to prison, where she would stay until she was finally found not guilty on May 12, 1693.

Mary Tyler Post Bridges (1644-??)  – Mary Tyler was born to Job and Mary Horton Tyler in about 1644. She grew up to marry a widower named Richard Post of Woburn, Massachusetts on November 18, 1662. Richard already had a daughter from his first marriage named Susannah Post. The couple would have three children, Mary, Hannah, and John. Unfortunately, Mary’s husband Richard was killed by Indians in Mendon, Massachusetts on July 14, 1675. Three years later, she would marry John Bridges, a blacksmith, and they would live in the northern part of Andover. John already had a daughter named Sarah, from his first marriage to Sarah Howe Bridges, who had died. John and Mary Tyler Post Bridges would four children together — Mary, Jr., Samuel, Elizabeth, and Mehitable. On July 28, 1692, a warrant was issued for Mary’s arrest, accused of witchcraft by Timothy Swan of Andover. She was imprisoned. On August 2, her 28-year-old daughter, Mary Post, was also arrested, and on August 25th, her daughters, 13-year-old Mary Bridges, Jr. and 26-year-old Hannah Post, and stepdaughters, 31-year-old Susannah Post and 17-year-old Sarah Bridges were arrested. Mary Tyler Post Bridges remained in prison until she was tried on January 12, 1693, and found not guilty.

Sarah Bridges (1675-??) – The 17-year-old daughter of John Bridges and his first wife, Sarah Howe Bridges, Sarah was examined on August 25, 1692 for afflicting Martha Sprague. She denied the charges and disowned witchcraft by saying she had “never set her hand to the Devil’s book nor had been baptized by him.” However, she would say that her step-sister, Hannah Post, had confessed to her that she was a witch. Under pressure, though, Sarah would also confess and said that there were some 200 witches in the area, that she herself had ridden on a pole, and asked forgiveness of the afflicted. She was indicted of wickedly and feloniously covenanting with the Devil, but, was later found not guilty. She would later marry Samuel Preston, and when he died, married for a second time to William Price.

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