Witches of Massachusetts – K-N


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Sick Woman

Sick Woman

Mary Foster Lacey, Sr. (1652-1707) – Born to Andrew Foster and Ann Alcock Foster in Andover, Massachusetts, on July 9, 1652, Mary would grow up to marry Lawrence Lacey on August 5, 1673. The couple would have two children. In 1692, when a woman named Elizabeth Ballard came down with a fever that baffled doctors, witchcraft was suspected, and a search for the responsible witch began. Two of the “afflicted girls” from Salem VillageAnn Putnam Jr. and Mary Walcott, were taken to Andover to seek out the witch and fell into fits at the sight of Ann Alcock Foster, Mary’s mother. Ann Alcock Foster was soon arrested and it wouldn’t be long before Mary Lacey and her 18-year-old daughter would also be accused. The complaint was filed on July 19, 1692, by Joseph Ballard of Andover, alleging that both Mary Foster Lacey and her daughter were responsible for afflicting his wife, Elizabeth Ballard. When Mary was examined, she confessed to being a witch and also accused her mother, saying that they had both ridden upon a pole to a witch meeting in Salem Village. She also stated that several years previous she had seen Mary Perkins Bradbury, Elizabeth Jackson Howe, and Rebecca Towne Nurse being baptized by the old Serpent at Newbury Falls. In addition to these women, she also implicated Richard Carrier and Andrew Carrier and confessed that she, herself, had afflicted Timothy Swan and Elizabeth Ballard.

Though her mother, Ann Alcock Foster, tried desperately to take all the blame to shield her daughter and granddaughter, ironically, those who confessed to being witches were not executed; but, many of those who denied having anything to do with the devil were hanged. Both Mary Foster Lacey and Ann Alcock Foster were tried on September 17, 1692, both were found guilty, and both were sentenced to execution. Though there were several others who were also tried that day and their executions carried out on September 22, 1692, the Foster women were not among them. All three were imprisoned. Mary Lacey, Jr. was released on bond in October 1692 and later found not guilty. Mary Foster Lacey, Sr. would be released in 1693 after the trials were discredited and ended. But, for Ann Alcock Foster, it was too late. After spending 21 weeks in prison, she died there on December 3, 1692. Mary Foster Lacey, Sr. would continue to live in Andover until her death on June 18, 1707.

Mary Lacey, Jr. (1674-17??) – Born to Lawrence and Mary Foster Lacey in Andover on May 24, 1674, Mary, Jr. was 18 years old at the time she was accused of witchcraft. Her mother Mary Foster Lacey, Sr. and grandmother, Ann Alcock Foster were also accused. Both of her elders were found guilty and sentenced to be executed. However, they were not. Her mother was released in 1693 after the witch hysteria had ended. Unfortunately, her grandmother, Ann Alcock Foster died in prison in December 1692. Mary Lacey, Jr. was released on bond in October, 1692 and later found not guilty. She went on to marry Zerubbabel Kemp on January 27, 1703/04, in Groton, Massachusetts.

Jane Lilly – From Reading, Massachusetts, Jane Lilly was accused of witchcraft, and examined along with Mary Colson on September 5, 1692. Lucky for Jane, her accusation occurred shortly before the entire witchcraft affair began to be questioned. In February 1693, she was examined in Charleston, Massachusetts. She was accused of afflicting Mary Marshall, wife of Edward Marshall of Malden, Massachusetts, as well as the typical “afflicted girls” including Mary Warren, Elizabeth Booth, and several others, who went into dreadful fits when she entered the room. She was also accused of afflicting  Susanna Post. In her examination, she said she knew nothing of the reasons behind the accusations. She admitted to sometimes visiting the Proctor house, but, denied ever having any type of inappropriate conference with either John Proctor or his wife Elizabeth. Accusations were also made that she had a hand in the burning of William Hooper’s home, in which, he died. Jane Lilly was indicted, imprisoned, and later cleared by proclamation.

Susanna North Martin (1621-1692)  – Accused of witchcraft, the 71-year-old Widow Martin of Amesbury, Massachusetts was one of the twenty men and women executed during the hysteria that gripped Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. She was born to Richard North and Joan Bartram North and baptized in Olney, Buckinghamshire, England on September 30, 1621. Her mother died when she was a child and her father remarried a woman named Ursula. Somewhere along the line, the family made their way to the United States, settling in Salisbury, Massachusetts around 1639. Susanna North grew up to marry the widower George Martin, a blacksmith, on August 11, 1646, at Salisbury. The couple would eventually have eight children.

Susannah Martin reading her bible in jail

Susannah Martin reading her bible in jail

Let Goody Martin rest in peace, I never knew her harm a fly,
And witch or not – God knows – not I?
I know who swore her life away;
And as God lives, I’d not condemn
An Indian dog on word of them.

—  John Greenleaf Whittier

In 1654, George and Susanna moved to nearby Amesbury, where most of their children were born. Like many other accused witches, Susanna gained a reputation as a “troublemaker,” with locals saying that she was outspoken, defiant, and contemptuous of authority. In about 1647, while still living in Salisbury, she was fined 20 shillings for an unnamed offense. In about 1660, she was first accused of witchcraft by William Browne of Salisbury, alleging that she had been tormenting his wife, Elizabeth, with her spirit. There are no records of the results of this original accusation; but, years later, during the witch hysteria of 1692, William Browne would testify that Susanna had driven his wife insane by witchcraft some 30 years earlier. Though nothing appears to have originally come of this first accusation, this was not the type of the thing that was easily forgotten in Puritan New England. In 1667, records indicate that George Martin, objected to Susanna’s seat placement in the meeting house. Her poor placement is indicative of how the locals felt about her.

On April 13, 1669, an official complaint of witchcraft was lodged against Susanna by a man named William Sargent Jr., who would say that he witnessed Susannah give birth to and kill an illegitimate baby. On that same day, George Martin, filed suit for slander against William Sargent, Jr. for accusing his wife of fornication and infanticide. He also filed suit against William’s brother, Thomas Sargent for saying that his son George Martin was a bastard and that his son Richard Martin was Goodwife Martin’s imp. George Martin would post a bond of£100 pounds so that Susannah could be released from jail and the charges were eventually dropped. The slander charges against Thomas Sargent were also dropped, and though William Sargent, Jr. was found guilty of slander, the damage to Susanna’s reputation was already done.

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