Witches of Massachusetts – C

Salem Village Meeting House

Salem Village Meeting House

Sarah Towne Cloyce (1648-1703) – The sister of Rebecca Towne Nurse and Mary Towne Easty. She was accused of witchcraft, but, never indicted by a grand jury in the Salem witch trials. Sarah Towne was born in Salem, Massachusetts and baptized on September 03, 1648. She grew up to marry Edmund Bridges in Topsfield, Massachusetts in about 1659. After he died in about 1682, she married Peter Cloyce. Sarah’s sister, Rebecca Towne Nurse, was arrested on March 23, 1692 and examined the next day. The following Sunday, the Reverend Samuel Parris gave an explanatory sermon about the betrayer in Jesus’ midst, and how close the devil had gotten to the heart of the church. Sarah Cloyce was so angry that she walked out of the church and slammed the door.

Very soon, another complaint would be filed, this time, against Sarah. The complaint was filed by Jonathan Walcott and Nathaniel Ingersoll, accusing Sarah of having afflicted Abigail Williams, the niece of the Reverend Samuel Parris, as well as tormenting Mary Walcott.  On April 11, 1692, she was brought before an examiner and refused to confess. She was then sent to jail in Salem, where her sister Rebecca Nurse was already being held. Both Sarah and her sister, Mary Easty were suspected of bewitching their niece, Rebecca Towne, daughter of their late dead brother Edmund Towne. On September 9, 1692, an indictment was made out against Sarah Cloyes, “for certain detestable arts called witchcraft and sorceries, wickedly, maliciously and feloniously hath used practiced and exercised… in, upon and against one Rebecca Towne of Topsfield…and also for sundry other acts of witchcraft.”

While Sarah waited in jail, her sisters, Rebecca Nurse and Mary Easty, were executed for witchcraft. However, by December 1692, the indictments against Sarah were marked “ignoramus”, literally meaning “we do not know.” On January 3, 1693, the Superior Court of Judicature dismissed charges against Sarah and her husband, Peter, paid her fees for release. The couple eventually left Salem and settled in Sudbury, Massachusetts. She spent the last ten years of her life trying to clear her sister’s names. She died in about 1703 at Framingham, Massachusetts.

Sarah Davis Cole (1651-??) – Sarah was born to George and Sarah Clark Davis on October 1, 1651, in Reading, Massachusetts. She went on to marry Abraham Cole, a tailor of Salem and the couple would have seven children. During the witch hysteria, a warrant was issued for Sarah’s arrest, as well as Hannah Carroll,  on September 10, 1692. Both were accused of having afflicted torture and torment of William Brage, the son of Henry Brage. She was indicted and imprisoned. Her husband was able to bail her out on January 14, 1693, and on February 1, 1693, she was acquitted of all charges. She probably died in Salem, Massachusetts.

Sarah Aslett Cole (1662-1741) – Sarah Aslett was born on August 17, 1662, in Andover, Massachusetts and grew up to marry John Cole in 1686 in Lynn. Sarah was accused of witchcraft by Mary Browne of Reading in a complaint filed on October 1, 1692. A warrant for her arrest was issued two days later and she was examined.  Mary Browne would say that Sarah’s specter appeared to her night and day, tormenting her and causing her pain. Sarah would be imprisoned, but, would not be indicted or tried for months. On January 31, 1693, she was indicted after several people, including Mary Eaton, Elizabeth Wellman, John Browne, Abraham Wellman, and Isaac Wellman testified against her. Later; however she was tried in Charlestown and acquitted. She would live until 1741.

Elizabeth Colson (1676?-??) – Granddaughter of accused witch Lydia Dustin, Elizabeth’s widowed mother Mary Colson and Mary’s sister Sarah Dustin were also arrested and examined for witchcraft. A warrant was issued for her arrest on May 14, 1692, for allegedly afflicting Mary Walcott, Susannah Sheldon, and  Mercy Lewis. About 17 years-old at the time the warrant was issued, she would later also be accused by Malden resident, Mary Swayne Marshall who would say that in April, Elizabeth’s specter had tormented her by striking her deaf and dumb, beating her on the head, wringing her neck, and knocking her down. When Reading Constable John Parker went to look for her, Elizabeth Colson could not be found. He reported on May 16th that she had escaped and was likely in Boston preparing to leave the country. Two more warrants were issued, the last on September 10, 1692. Sources disagree as to whether she was ever captured. Nothing more is known of her.

Mary Dustin Colson (1650-??) – Accused of witchcraft, Mary Colson was the last in her family to be examined. Her mother, Lydia Dustin, and sister, Sarah Dustin, were both sitting in jail awaiting trials. An arrest warrant had been issued for her daughter Elizabeth Colson, who had escaped. Mary was brought in and examined before the justices on September 5, 1692. She was accused of afflicting Mary Swayne Marshall, who would say that Mary Colson had afflicted her ever since her mother, Lydia Dustin had been imprisoned. She was also accused by Elizabeth Booth and Alice Booth and it was insinuated that she may have had a hand in the deaths of William Hooper and Ed Marshal. Mary Colson was one of the lucky ones. Though she was accused, she was not indicted and was later released. Nothing more is known of her.

Giles Corey was pressed to death for refusing to make a plea

Giles Corey was pressed to death for refusing to make a plea

Giles Corey (1611?-1692) – A prosperous farmer and full member of the church, Corey was pressed to death during the Salem witch trials for refusing to enter a plea. Corey was originally from England, where he is believed to have married his first wife, Margaret. Margaret was the mother of his daughters and he had no sons. Somewhere along the line, he made his way to America. He married his second wife, Mary Bright on  April 11, 1664, and after she died just a few months later, married a third wife referred to as “Lady Perkins”. His final marriage was on April 27, 1690, to Martha Corey. He was not known to be a pleasant man and was once accused by John Proctor of setting fire to his house, though he couldn’t prove it. Despite his prosperity, Corey had a record that included stealing food and tobacco. He was also known to have a quick temper, to be argumentative and unfriendly, so it was not difficult for the people of the times to suspect him of witchcraft.

In April 1692, he was accused of witchcraft by Ann Putnam Jr., Mercy Lewis, and Abigail Williams. Ann Putnam Jr. claimed that on April 13, the specter of Giles Corey visited her and asked her to write in the Devil’s book. Later, Putnam also claimed that a ghost appeared before her to announce that it had been murdered by Corey. Other girls were to describe Corey as “a dreadful wizard” and recount stories of assaults by his specter. Giles Corey was arrested on April 18, 1692, along with Mary Warren, Abigail Hobbs, and Bridget Bishop. The following day, they were examined by the authorities, during which time, Abigail Hobbs confessed to Giles Corey being a warlock.

2 thoughts on “Witches of Massachusetts – C”

  1. She is not an AfricanAmerican enslaved woman from Barbados. She is “Joanna” an 18th century AfroSurinamese enslaved mulatto woman, abt 15 years old, as illustrated in John Stedman’s bestselling Narrative about his five year’s in Suriname, first printed in 1796.

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