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.


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