Wednesday, October 24, 2012


I have some ancestors involved in 17th century witchcraft hysteria in
Massachusetts. Two of them, Rebecca (Blake)Eames and Mary (Towne)Eastey
were among those accused of being witches. Mary was hung ; Rebecca was
pardoned. But I also have relatives among the accusers. So I thought for
Halloween I'd do some blogposts about some of them.

First up are my 8x great grandparents  Benjamin Abbot(t) and Sarah
(Farnham) Abbot(t) of Andover, Ma. They testified against their neighbor
Martha Carrier accusing her of using magic to exact revenge over a land
dispute. If you are a longtime viewer of the PBS show History Detectives
you may have seen the episode they did on Abbott House in Andover and
the dispute with the Abbot(t)s. Here is Benjamin and Sarah's depositions
from Records of Salem Witchcraft: Copied from the Original Documents,
Volume 2
  (Priv. print. for W. E. Woodward, 1864) pp60-62:

"Benjn Abbott v. Martha Carier.

The testimony of Beniamin Abbutt aged about 31 years Saith: last march was
twelfe months, then haueing some land granted to me by the Towne of Andover
near to goodman Carriers his land, and when this land came to be laid out goodwiffe
Carrier was very Angery, and said she would stick as Cross to Benjamin Abbut
as the bark Stooke to the Tree and that J mould Repent of it afore seuen yeares
Came to an End and that docter prescott could neuer cure me: These words were
heard by Allin Toothaker she also said to Ralph farnam Junr that she would hold
my noss so Close to the grindstone as Ever it was held Since my name was 

Beniamin Abbut presently after I was taken with a Swelling in my ffoot and then 
was taken with a payne in my side Exksedingly Tormented, wich bred to a sore, 
which was lancit by docter prescott and Seuerall gallons of Corruption did run 
out as was Judged and so Continued about six weeks very bad, and then one other
sore did breed in my grine wich was lancit by doct. prescott also and Continued 
very bad awhile and then another sore breed in my grine which was also cutt and 
putt me to very great misery, So that it brought me almost to Deaths doore, & 
Continued, untill goodwiffe Carrier was Taken and Carried a waye by the Constable,
and that very day I began to grow better, my soers grew well and I grew better 
Every day and so haue been well ever since and have great cause to think that 
the sd Carrier had a great hand in my sickness and misery.

benjamin Abbut. Jurat in Curia Aug1 3d 1692.
 Attest Step. Sewall Cler."

"Sarah Abbott v. Martha Carrier.
The deposition of Sarah Abbott aged about 32 years testifieth that since my
husband had a parcell of land granted by ye Towne, lying near ye land of Thomas
Carrier, (which as I have heard) his wife martha Carrier was greatly troubled att
and gaue out threatning words that my husband Benjamin Abbott has not been
only afflicted in his body, as he testifies, but also that strange and unusuall things
has happened to his Cattle, for some have died suddenly and strangely, which we
could not tell any naturall reason for, and one Cowe Cleaned a fourthnight before
me Calved but ye Cowe died afterwards strangely though she calved well soe far
as we could perceive, and some of ye Cattle would come out of ye woods wth
their tongues hanging out of their mouths in a strange and affrighting manner,
and many such things, which we can give noe account of ye reason of, unless it
should be ye effects, of martha Carrier threatings.

her mark
Jurat in Curia. Sarah f Abbott
Aug13d 1692. attest. Steph. Sewall Cler"

Martha Carrier was executed on 16Aug 1692. Modern historians now hold that it
was Benjamin Abbot(t) who was landhungry and who engineered the accusation
of witchcraft to gain ownership over the coveted piece of land where Abbot(t)
House was later built about 1711. Benjamin died in 1703.


Anonymous said...

Hi Cousin! I'm Laurie Jones a very distant relative. Benjamin was my 8th great grand uncle. I am traveling to Andover for my birthday in November. I am going to try an go to the Abbot Homestead in Andover and get some pictures. I would love to share with you. My email is I was doing some family research when I ran across your blog. This was a really fun read. Thank you!

Unknown said...

Hi. That is my house. I sometimes have it open for public tours. But I also do private tours sometimes.

Anonymous said...

your 8x great grandpa might've had syphilis