Friday, April 06, 2007

Salem Witchcraft Trials

I ran across this article in today's Knoxville News-Sentinel. My 8th great grand-aunt, Mary Perkins Bradbury, was actually one of those accused. She is actually one of the survivors because her family was able to manage her escape and hide her until the crisis was over (according to most accounts). Most people believe that the guards were bribed to facilitate the escape. Historian Mary Beth Norton mentions that in her research at Cornell that she discovered that all those accused were not from Salem. This was the case with Mary Perkins Bradbury. She was born in Hillmorton, Warwickshire, England where she was christened 3 September 1615. (I have not seen the actual records so this is secondary information.) Her family arrived in America in 1631 aboard the same ship (the Lyon) with Roger Williams. The family lived in Boston for about 3 years before moving to Ipswich. She was married to Capt. Thomas Bradbury about 1637 (as he testified in 1692 that they had been married for 55 years). (Some say that the marriage took place in May 1636 in Salisbury, but I have not yet documented this.) Thomas and Mary were residents of Salisbury where he was a prominent resident. She was tried and convicted of witchcraft in 1692 and sentenced to hang, but she was able to escape death.

When studying the Salem Witch Trials in school, I would have never dreamed that I was related to one of those accused and convicted. I also had the impression then that those accused were all younger persons. Mary was about 77 years old when she was accused and tried and was a very well-respected member of society. I was surprised to discover a family connection to this historic trial. I was even more surprised because of her age. I remember thinking that it must be a different Mary and finally realized that it was Mary, the daughter of John Perkins and Judith Gater, the one who was related to me.

Needless to say, I'm going to have to read the book mentioned in the newspaper article to see what else Norton has discovered.

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