Witches of Massachusetts – T

Margaret Toothaker (1682-??) – The daughter of Roger and Mary Allen Toothaker, Margaret was born in Billerica, Massachusetts on January 31, 1682, the youngest of nine children. Margaret was just ten-years-old when she was arrested along with her mother, Mary Allen Toothaker for witchcraft. The complaint, made by Joseph Houlton and Jonathan Walcott of Salem Village on May 28, 1692, allegedly that she and her mother had afflicted Mary Walcott and Abigail Williams. No records of any examination of her survive, but she is referred to in several court records. Interestingly, her name never appears, rather, she was referred to repeatedly as the daughter of her father or her mother, or even as a cousin, but never as an individual. Her father, Roger Toothaker, who was also accused, died in prison shortly after Margaret’s arrest. Margaret Toothaker was the only child of two parents who were accused witches. The ten-year-old appears to never have been indicted but remained in prison with her mother, Mary, for over seven months. Her mother was tried in January 1693 and found not guilty. Margaret was released with her mother. In the meantime, the Toothaker homestead had been burned by Indians. Margaret and her mother returned to the remains of their home. But, their turmoil would not yet be over. On August 5, 1695, Indians attacked their small town of Billerica. Some 15 people were killed including Mary Allen Toothaker. Margaret, who was 12 years-old at the time, was kidnapped and never seen again.

Mary Allen Toothaker (1642?-1695) – The wife of Roger Toothaker, who was already in prison on a charge of witchcraft, Mary would also be arrested, along with her ten-year-old daughter, Margaret. Mary was born in about 1642 in Andover to Andrew and Faith Ingalls Allen. She grew up to marry Roger Toothaker on June 9, 1665, and the couple would eventually have nine children. Her husband, who was a folk-healer and claimed to be able to hunt and get rid of “witches” was arrested for witchcraft himself on May 1692. Soon, Mary and her ten-year-old daughter, Margaret, would also be accused. Upon a complaint made by Joseph Houlton and Jonathan Walcott of Salem Village on May 28, 1692, for allegedly afflicting Mary Walcott and Abigail Williams. Both were brought in and imprisoned in Salem Towne. When questioned, she would admit that her husband, Roger Toothaker had skills in practicing countermagic against witches and confirmed that her daughter, Martha Toothaker Emerson had killed a witch. Mary would also be accused by her seven-year-old niece, Sarah Carrier, and Elizabeth Johnson Jr.

Just a few weeks later, on June 16th, Mary’s husband, Roger Toothaker died in prison. Six days later, Mary’s daughter, Martha Toothaker Emerson was arrested and jailed. On July 30th, Mary Toothaker was examined and confessed to practicing witchcraft. She was deathly afraid of Indians due to the fact that their homestead was so far away from the center of town. Stating that she had many dreams of fighting with them, she had yielded to the Devil, who promised her she would not be hurt by them. She said that she had signed the Devil’s book and had been a witch for about two years. She would also admit to attending a witches meeting where others were present and that the Reverend George Burroughs was the leader. She implicated Mary Green and Hannah Varnum Tyler Brumidge of Haverhill and Ann Alcock Foster of Andover, as well as others.

Mary had good reason to be afraid of the Indians. Just two days after her examination, on August 1st, her hometown of Billerica was attacked and six people were killed. A couple of days later, the Indians returned and burned down the deserted Toothaker farm. On August 5th, 1692, Mary’s sister, was condemned by the Court of Oyer and Terminer, and on August 10th she was hanged at Salem Towne. In the meantime, Mary and her daughters remained in prison. She was finally tried by the Superior Court of Judicature at Charlestown at end of January 1693. Both she and her daughter, Martha Emerson, were found not guilty. Mary’s daughter, Margaret Toothaker, was never tried but was also released. Mary and Margaret returned to their burned-out home. Mary Toothaker had been through hell. But, her terror was not yet over. On August 5, 1695, her worst fear came true when Indians attacked the small town of Billerica again. Some 15 people were killed including Mary Allen Toothaker. Her daughter, Margaret, who was 12 years-old at the time, was kidnapped and never seen again.

Folk healer

Folk healer

Roger Toothaker (1634-1692) – A doctor, Roger Toothaker was charged with witchcraft and died in prison. He was born in England in on November 27, 1634, and while just a baby, traveled with his parents to America. When he was only four-years-old, his father, also named Roger, died in 1638, and a year later, his mother remarried a man named Ralph Hill. The couple settled in Billerica. When Roger grew up, he served as an assistant to another physician, and later became a doctor himself, though he had no formal training. In about 1660, he was given a lot of land by his step-father, Ralph Hill, which was located in the northern part of Billerica. On June 9, 1665, he married Mary Allen, daughter of Andrew and Faith Allen of Andover and sister of Martha Allen Carrier. The couple would eventually have nine children.

Roger Toothaker was known to have practiced a natural form of medicine making him more of a “folk-healer.” He also claimed that he specialized in detecting and punishing witches. For several years before the Salem witch trials began in 1692, Toothaker had bragged to locals that he had taught his daughter, Martha Emerson, wife of Joseph Emerson, his trade and that she had killed a witch by boiling her urine in a pot overnight. Despite his claims of being a “witch hunter,” or perhaps, because of them, a warrant for his arrest was issued in May 1692, for allegedly having afflicted Elizabeth Hubbard, Ann Putnam, Jr. and Mary Walcott of Salem Village. Roger was then sent to prison in Boston. Later that month, another complaint would be filed against his wife, Mary Allen Toothaker and their ten-year-old daughter, Margaret, who were imprisoned in Salem Towne. Roger Toothaker died in the Boston jail on June 16, 1692, before he could come to trial. Though a full inquiry was conducted into his death and it was determined he died of natural causes, many found it suspicious. After his death, his grown daughter, Martha Toothaker Emerson would also be arrested. The rest of his family would spend some time in prison, but, all were spared the hangman’s noose.

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