Friday, November 13, 2015


To recap from my last post, Martha (Barrett)Sparks had been in jail in Boston for over a year
in 1692, having been accused of witchcraft. Her husband was off with the militia fighting
Indians, and her two young children were being cared for by her elderly parents. In November 1692
her father, Thomas Barrett Jr., petitioned for her release. A month later he appeared before the Suffolk County Court. Here is the record of what happened there, again from William Waters' History of Chelmsford: 

Thomas Barrett's Recognizance For Martha Sparks'Appearance At Middlesex Court.
Recognizance of Martha Sparks:
That on the Sixth day of Decembr. 1692 in the ffowerth year of the Reign of our Souerain Lord & Lady William & Mary by the grace of God of England &c; King & Queen Defenders of ye ffaith; Personally Appeared before us James Russell & Samuell Heyman Esqs of their Maiesties Councill & Province of the Massachusets Bay in New England, & Justices of peace within ye Same; Thomas Barrat of Chelmsford in ye County of Middlesex; Mason & Acknowledged himself to be indebted unto our Sd: Lord &. Lady the King & Queen and the survivors of them, their Heires & Successors, in the Some of Two hundred pounds to be leavied on his Goods or Chattells Lands or Tennements for ye use of our said Lord &. Lady ye King &. Queen or Surviver of them if default be made in the performance of the Condition underwritten, viz

The Condition of the above Recognisance is Such yt wheare as Martha Sparks of Chelmsford in the County of Middlesex was committed to Boston Goall being accused & suspected of perpetrating or committing divers Acts of Wichcraft; If therefore ye aforesd. Martha Sparks Shall make her personal! Appearance before the Justices of our sd. Lord & Lady the King & Queen; at the next Court of Assizes Oyer & Terminer & Generall Goall deliuery to be holden for, or within ye County of Middlesex Abouesd. to Answer what Shall be Obiected against her in their Maities. behalfe refering to Witchcraft and to do &. Receiue yt.which by said Court Shall be then and there Inioined her, and not depart without Licence then the abouesaid Recognizance to be void or Elce to abide in ffull fforce &. virtue.
Capt. & Recognit die & diet. Coram.
Ja: Russell
Samuell Hayman"
[Suffolk Clerk of Courts—Early Files—No. 2696.]

The History of Chelmsford,  printed for the town by Courier-Citizen Company, Lowell, Ma 1917
So Thomas Barrett pledged 200 pounds to obtain Martha Sparks' release, which would be forfeit
if she did not appear in court on her trial date. Luckily,it didn't come to that.

Governor Phips returned to England in 1693 and pardoned the remaining witchcraft prisoners before
he left.

As for Martha Sparks her husband Henry died in 1694; she followed him in 1697. I will have to see what
happened to their children.

And that's how, thanks to the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge, there's another "witch" on my family tree!

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