04 October, 2015

October, When the Witches Fly!

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In a previous post, I wrote about my 9th great-grandmother, Elizabeth Carrington Paine, who was an accused witch in Salem, MA. That entry was mainly dealing with the question of who the woman was who married John Lilley, as she was potentially the great x3 granddaughter of Elizabeth and a great x4 grandmother of mine. Since that post I have found more dna matches that strongly suggest that my presumption that the wife of Lilley was Elizabeth Valpey and great x3 granddaughter of Elizabeth Carrington Paine, Salem witch.

So, a bit more about Salem and my supposed demonic great-grandmother Elizabeth! She was born in Charlestown, MA in 1639, and her parents were immigrants Edward Carrington and Elizabeth Preston of Cheshire, England who had settled in Charlestown, just north of Boston. A bit further north of Boston is the city of Malden, which had been part of Charlestown and was incorporated as its own city when Elizabeth was 10 years old. The Carrington family lived in Malden (coincidentally the city where I grew up!).

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When Elizabeth was just 19 years old, she married 26 year old Stephen Paine, also an immigrant, who hailed from the Wapping section of London. Less than a year later they had their first of six children in just nine years, three boys and three girls, who would make up their family. (I descend from their second child, Mary Paine.) One can only imagine how busy Goody Paine must have been with six children under the age of ten!

But it wasn't until all her children were grown and out on their own that the 53 year old grandmother, Elizabeth Carrington Paine, became one of the accused in the dreadful year of 1692. Few people realize that, once the horror began in Salem, it spread rapidly throughout surrounding towns, and many of the accused were not from Salem at all but from more than twenty neighboring locales, including Andover, Haverhill, Reading and Malden.


According to Elizabeth's arrest warrant of 28 May 1692, she was accused of "sundry acts of witchcraft" against Mercy Lewis and Mary Warren of Salem. I have not discovered how Elizabeth's path crossed with these two young women of Salem, but I do know that Mercy Lewis was a maidservant in the home of Mr. Thomas Putnam, as she had been orphaned at age 14 in an Indian attack on her family's home in Maine. Her elder sister was married and living in Salem when she was placed, first in the household of Reverend George Burroughs, whom she would accuse, and later with the Putnams.

It is generally thought that Mercy's accusation of her former master, Burroughs, was based in a desire to retaliate against him for having reportedly sold shot and powder to the Indians who eventually massacred her family. Burroughs was tried and hanged for witchcraft, largely on Mercy's testimony that he came to her in a vision, imploring her "sign his book", presumably the devil's book. What prior offense could have inspired Mercy to exact revenge on Elizabeth Paine? The answer will never be known, but it could well have been that the accusation of Elizabeth amounted to the settling of a score. 

At the time of Elizabeth's accusation, Mercy was about 17 years of age and friendly with her masters' daughter, Ann Putnam, and her cousin Mary Walcott, who were among the first to become "afflicted" by unseen tormentors, leading to the initial accusations of witchcraft against their neighbors. After the trials, Mercy moved to a relative's home in Boston where she gave birth to a child out of wedlock. Eventually she married a Mr. Allen of Boston and nothing more is known of her.

Mary Warren, Elizabeth Paine's other accuser, was the 19
year old servant of the Proctors in Salem. She was one of the
young women who accused her neighbors of appearing to her and tormenting her. At one point, Mary seems to have suffered some feelings of guilt, as she apparently insinuated that the other girls were lying when they said they had seen the devil. Her friends turned against her, and she soon found herself in jail as one of the accused. Under questioning, however, she reverted to having fits and naming others as witches, perhaps to take the focus off of herself. Nothing is known of Mary's life after the trials.

While it is known that Elizabeth Paine was sent to jail following her arrest on 2 June 1692, there is no known record as to the disposal of her case. Whether she was pardoned, tried and found not guilty, or the charges were dropped, Elizabeth went on to live 19 more years after the trials of 1692. Her life must have been forever marred by the vicious accusation, her grief compounded by the loss of her husband a year later. One can imagine that her widowhood was a long and lonely one. We can hope that she was able to enjoy her many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, including one Elizabeth Fowle, born four years before her death, my great x6 grandmother.


02 October, 2015

The Quest

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Okay, maybe I've gone over the deep end! This dna data is so cool, though! It's gotten me to thinking and I've begun a great quest... I'll admit, it could take me years to solve, or I may never be able to come to a resolution, but it's a challenge that I just cannot pass up. What is it?

In a few of my earlier entries I've mentioned that my paternal great-grandfather, John Reid, was born to an unwed mother in a poorhouse in Renfrewshire, Scotland. Her name was Caroline Reid, and she gave her child her own surname. I have the birth record, and no father is listed. SO... my quest is to use dna analysis to find out who the mystery man was! Impossible? Maybe. But not definitely! I have at least one good thing on my side.

Scotland did a good and thorough census in 1871, the year John Reid was conceived (he was born in January of 1872). So if my mystery man was living in Scotland during the census taking that year, he may well be on record. With the census record for that year, I may be able to place him in the vicinity of my Caroline Reid, that is, once I have narrowed my search down to some concrete possibilities.

Now, there are plenty of things working against me too. One of those is that I do not have a record for Caroline herself in that 1871 census. As of the 1861 census, she was living in Collier Street, Johnstone, Renfrewshire (a suburb of Paisley) as a boarder while she worked in the nearby mills. She was 13 at that time. The next record I have for her is the possible birth of her first son, William, in Neilston, not far from Johnstone, in 1870. That record may not be her, but I have a good feeling that it was. The next record is her giving birth to John in January of 1872 at Abbey poorhouse in Neilston, Renfrewshire, three miles down the road from her Collier Street address. After that, I have only her death record in February 1881 in a boarding house in Neilston (Andrews Land Boarding House).


Mystery Man
However, as I am daily discovering, dna is a powerful tool. I have about 4,000 matches on ancestry .com... that is, 4,000 people who share some of the same dna strands that I carry. For many of these I have already discovered the exact ancestors that I have in common with my matches and recorded that. Most have been on my maternal side, but I do have at least a few matches for each branch of my Dad's side, except, of course, for great-grandfather John Reid. So, at least I can confirm that my other great-grandparents are probably accurate as I have them recorded, including John's wife's family.

I have had my father's dna taken and it is currently in the lab being processed at ancestry. I eagerly await the results, as this should help to narrow down my avenues toward accomplishing my quest. One thing that I'm very curious about is his % of Scandinavian ethnicity. Mine says I am 17% Scandinavian and I know of no one in any of my lines from that part of the world. If he is at least that amount or more Scandinavian as well, then my guess would be that at least one of Mystery Man's parents were of that ethnicity.

Please follow me and find out how the Great Quest turns out! Who knows, it may be solved sooner than I think, if I'm very, very lucky. The next step is to examine my Dad's dna results, which should be done in just a few weeks time. Can't wait!