Friday, May 23, 2014

Connections to the Salem Witch Trials

Wests in Essex County, Massachusetts:
Connections to the Salem Witch Trials

Compiled by Joy Ikelman, 2014. Disclaimers apply. Note: The use of double dating, such as 1630/1631, reflects the difference between the Julian and Gregorian Calendars.

Background: Judah West (b. 11 Sep 1765; d. 9 Apr 1825) was added to West DNA Family Group #5 in 2007. [1] He is a descendant of Thomas West (b. 1630/1631; d. 23 Dec 1720). This is the seventh and final in a series of articles about the Essex County, West families. In the next article, we follow Benjamin West, son of Thomas West, to Connecticut.

Currently (May 2014) Henry West and Thomas West are the earliest documented members of Family Group #5.

The Crucible, by Arthur Miller
On a cold Saturday night in December 2013, my husband and I settled in with popcorn to watch the 1996 movie, The Crucible. [2] It was filmed in Essex County, Massachusetts. The 1996 version had been given recognition for its cinematography and careful re-enactment of Salem in 1692. My goal was to soak in the scenery, as I hadn’t been to Massachusetts in decades. I wanted a visual backdrop for the lives of the Essex County Wests.

I knew the story of The Crucible. I had seen the play and the movie. As I watched the movie this time, I realized that the characters’ names were very familiar. They were people who had interacted with Henry and Thomas West, and their descendants.

The Salem Witchcraft Delusions
The “Salem Witchcraft Trials” were more than just trials of accused witches. The events occurred from February 1682 to May of 1693. The repercussions lasted for years. In early history books, these events are also called the Salem Hysteria or the Salem Delusions.  It was a time of paranoia and confusion. Each accused person went through humiliation, imprisonment, torture, and sometimes death. Their families were stripped of property and ostracized.

More than 200 people were accused of witchcraft—most from towns in Essex County. The first accusations came from young girls, and then conflicts moved on to feuding adults. Twenty were executed—nineteen were hanged, and one was pressed to death with rocks. At least thirteen died in prison. Those who served in prison and survived had to reimburse Essex County for their room and board. [3]

The West Connections
There are more West connections than I had time to research! Henry and Thomas were in their 60s during the Salem Witchcraft Delusions. Henry had lived in one place all his life—at the  center of old Salem. His neighbors had huge houses in town and farm land outside of the town. These people were the elite of Salem; they had “important” roles in the trials. Henry’s saddler business catered to this trade of wealthier people. Thomas was familiar with the planters (farmers) who had large farms on the outskirts of Salem, and in new surrounding towns like Salem Village (today, Danvers), where the events began. The two brothers probably knew almost all of the players in this drama.

The following people are just a sample of those known to Henry and Thomas West, and their families.  The names are in alphabetical order and are underlined in the text.  

Sarah Towne Cloyce, Accused
Sarah Towne Cloyce was the sister of Rebecca Nurse and Mary Eastey—both hanged for witchcraft.  She was accused the same day she had defended her sister, Rebecca, in court, April 3, 1692. She went to prison. In January, 1693, her case was dismissed. [4]
Connections: Sarah Cloyce’s first husband was Edmund Bridges. In 1678, Sarah and Edmund Bridges witnessed against Henry West in Essex County court, for his swearing. Henry West was admonished by the court but not fined. Henry West had several run-ins with Edmund Bridges who sold “cider” illegally.  At least once, the bond was posted by Frances Nurse, Bridges’  brother-in-law. [5]

Jonathan Corwin, Magistrate                
Jonathan Corwin was a magistrate during the Salem trials, with Bartholomew Gedney, and John Hathorne.
Connections:  Jonathan Corwin appears with Henry West and others on lists of town money matters—such as for services rendered. [6] The very large Corwin property was adjacent to Henry West’s Salem property. [7]

William Dounton, Salem Jail Keeper
William Dounton was the “Keeper of their Majesties Goale” in Salem. His name appears in trial documents. He kept records of expenses that the prisoners had to pay. [8]
Connections: William Dounton, Henry West, Thomas West, and other men were given tithingman status on 11:4:1677. Dounton and Henry West would pair up when doing evening duties as tithingmen. [9]

Edmund Gale, Jr., Juror
Emund Gale, Jr. served as a juror on eleven cases during the trials. Edmund’s brother, Ambrose Gale, witnessed against Willmott Reed. She was hanged on 19 Jul 1692 with Rebecca Nurse and others. [10]
Connections: His father, Edmund Gale, Sr. was admitted to First Church, Salem in 1665 on the same day as Henry and Elizabeth West, and Thomas West. [11] Edmund Gale’s granddaughter, Mary Gale, married Samuel West, Henry West’s grandson. [12]

Bartholomew Gedney, Magistrate
Bartholomew Gedney was one of the magistrates during the Salem witch trials, with John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin.
Connections: In 1680, he signed the petition against a meeting house replacement, with Henry West, John Higgenson, and others. He appeared in court with Henry West several times. [13] Gedney lived a block away from Henry West. [14]

The Reverend John Hale, Expert Witness, Examiner, Juror
John Hale was the minister of First Church, Beverly. He was called to the proceedings in Salem because of his expertise in the Biblical interpretation of witchcraft. In 1692, when the Salem Delusions began, he supported the witch hunt. He changed his mind when his wife was named as a witch. [15] In The Crucible, Hale is depicted as the rational voice of the future. In 1697, he wrote a book called A Modest Enquiry into the Nature of Witchcraft. This book stressed the importance of discernment when identifying witches. He believed that New England should move toward a new era of reason. [16]
Connections:  Reverend Hale was well-known in all churches in Essex County. In 1682, Reverend Hale was part of the council that established the church in Bradford, MA. Thomas and his second wife, Mary Tenney West, were founding members of this church. [17]

John Hathorne, Magistrate
John Hathorne was one of the magistrates during the trials, with Jonathan Corwin and Bartholomew Gedney.
Connections:  Henry West had appeared many times in court with John Hathorne as the presiding judge or “assistant” of the court. [18] John Hathorne sold land to Henry West. The land was mentioned in Henry’s Will, and given to his son Samuel West. Nathaniel West (1756-1851), g-g-grandson of Henry West, built a house there in 1834. [19] Today, this structure is part of the historic Salem Inn.

The Reverend John Higginson, Justice of the Peace
John Higginson served as justice of the peace at the trials. He was the senior pastor of First Church, Salem. Higginson was 76 years old at the time of the trials. He was concerned by the way the hysteria spread—from just a few people to those all over Essex County. His preface to Reverend John Hale’s book implied that the sin of mankind caused the Delusions, and not Satan. [20]
Connections: Henry West attended First Church, Salem all of his life—his children and grandchildren were baptized there. Thomas West was a member of First Church until 1678, when he moved to Bradford. [21] Higginson signed several petitions with Henry West and others. [22] He was part of the council that established the church in Bradford, where Thomas West and his second wife, Mary Tenney, were founding members. [23] Reverend Higginson lived four houses away from Henry West. [24]           

Nathaniel Ingersoll, Accuser
Nathaniel Ingersoll was a relative of two of the “afflicted” girls. [25] He ran a tavern at his house—trials were sometimes held there. He submitted invoices to the court—“Witchcraft Expences upon the Countrys Acco't for Majestrates Marshalls Constables & Asistance at my Howse.” Nathaniel Ingersoll, generally in association with Samuel Parris and Thomas Putnam, accused many people of witchcraft. [26] Six of the 10 people he accused were hanged.
Connection: In 1678, he was in a tax listing with Thomas West, John Proctor, Frances Nurse (husband of Rebecca Nurse who was hanged), and others. [27]

George Jacobs, Sr., Hanged
George Jacobs, Sr. had lived in Essex County for more than 30 years. He was 72 years old. The young girls who accused him of witchcraft claimed that they had seen his specter (ghostly apparition) afflicting them. His own granddaughter accused him; later she was also accused of witchcraft. [28] Jacobs was taken to prison, stripped, and examined for signs of Satan. This is the transcript of the physical examination:

Wee whose names are under written having r’ceived an order from the sreife for to search the bodyes of George Burroughs and George Jacobs . wee find nothing upon the body of the above sayd burroughs but w’t is naturall:butupon the body of George Jacobs wee find 3. Tetts w’ch according to the best of our Judgements wee think is not naturall for wee run a pin through 2 of them and he was not sinceible of it: one of them being within his mouth upon the Inside of his right shoulder balde and a 3’rd upon his right hipp.
Sworne: Ed. Weld, Will Gill, Tom Flint, Tom West, Zeb Hill, Sam Morgan, John Bare sworne [29]

In his testimony before the magistrate, George Jacobs said, “Well, burn me or hang me, I will stand in the truth of Christ.” [30] George Jacobs was hanged for witchcraft on 19 Aug 1692 with Reverend George Burroughs, John Proctor, Martha Carrier, and John Willard.

Tom West. Unfortunately, there is a high probability that this our FG#5 Thomas West. The other (adult) Thomas West alive at this time was Thomas West (b. ca. 1640) of Beverly, MA. Thomas West of Beverly was a constable, a Captain, and occasionally served as a lawyer. He was in a better social class. It is unlikely that he would be called to the trials—except in a higher capacity. Perhaps there were other “Tom Wests” at that time. I could not find them. There is circumstantial evidence that Thomas West knew all of the other examiners. For example, Thomas Flint owned the property in Salem that Thomas West had once owned. [31] Flint lived four houses away from Henry West. [32]

John Waters, Witness.  John Waters was called to be a witness at the hearing.  He was the brother of Phebe Waters West (first wife of Thomas West). The Waters and Jacobs family had known each other many years. Richard Waters, father of John Waters, sold 10 acres of land and a house to George Jacobs, Sr. in 1658. [33] John Jacobs (grandson to George Jacobs, Sr.) married Abigail Waters. She was the niece of Phebe Waters West. [34]

In Addition: In 1678, Henry West served on a grand jury with George Jacobs, John Tompkins, and others. George Jacobs was granted freeman status with John Waters, John Tompkins, John Proctor, Jeremiah Meacham (father of Rhoda Meacham who married Samuel West, son of Thomas West), Isaac Meacham (her brother), and others. [35] Stephen Sewall, the Clerk of the Court during Jacobs’ trial, has his own entry, below.

Mary Osgood Marston, Accused
Mary Osgood Marston was accused of witchcraft and confessed to it.  She was not executed, but spent several months in jail. She was married to John Marston of Andover, Essex County, MA. [36]
Connections: John Marston became a tithingman the same day as Thomas and Henry West in 1677. [37] Henry West sold his original Salem home lot to John Marston in about 1680. [38] He signed the “Petitions Against Imposts” with Thomas and Henry West [39] and also served on jury duty with Henry West. [40] John Marston’s sister Bethia Marston married Joseph West, son of Thomas West. [41]

John Mascoll, Juror
John Mascoll was one of the jurors on the trial of Susannah Post, accused. [42] She was found not guilty.
Connections:  John Mascoll and Henry West performed tithingman duties together. [43] In 1693, during the Salem Witchcraft Delusions, John Mascoll and Henry West were assigned to inspect “the families of Salem and take an account of all inmates or strangers, that are now in or may hereafter come into towne and returne their names to the selectmen every moneth, and if used be, to warne them to depart.” Salem had been overrun with people with their own agendas. [44] John Mascoll lived next door to Henry West. [45]

The Reverend Nicholas Noyes, Chaplain
Nicholas Noyes was the assistant pastor of First Church, and chaplain at the trials. He was committed to destroying witchcraft by any means. As he observed the bodies of eight people swinging on 22 Sep 1692, he said “What a sad thing it is to see eight firebrands of hell hanging there.” [46] Three of these “witches” were in their 70s. Fourteen of the 20 people executed during the Delusions were 50 years or older.
Connections: Henry West knew Reverend Noyes from church. Nicholas Noyes lived one block away from Henry West. [47]

Mary Clements Osgood, Accused
Mary Clements Osgood was the daughter of Robert Clements of Haverhill. She was married to Capt. John Osgood—likely the same Osgood family of Mary Osgood Marston, above. She was accused of witchcraft and confessed, but later recanted. Her husband said she was too frightened to know what she was saying. She was in prison for four months. [48]
Connection:  Thomas West and his son John West co-purchased land in Haverhill in 1695. Robert Clements was one of the witnesses to this transaction. [49]

John Proctor, Hanged
Elizabeth Proctor, Accused, Found Guilty
In the play The Crucible, John Proctor is the main character, and his storyline was written in order to propel the action. In real life he was a successful farmer, and a tavern keeper. His third wife was Elizabeth Bassett. He was outspoken about the lies destroying innocent people. John Proctor was hung for witchcraft on 19 Aug 1692 with Reverend George Burroughs, George Jacobs, Sr., Martha Carrier, and John Willard. Elizabeth Proctor was spared because she was pregnant. [50]
Connections:  John and Elizabeth Proctor were members of First Church, Salem, like the Wests. In 1678, John Proctor was granted freeman status with John Waters, John Tompkins, George Jacobs, Jeremiah Meacham (father of Rhoda Meacham who married Samuel West, son of Thomas West), Isaac Meacham (her brother), and others. He was in a tax listing with Thomas West, Nathaniel Ingersoll, Frances Nurse (husband of Rebecca Nurse, who was hanged), and others. [51] John Proctor’s grandson, also named John, married Lydia Waters, niece of Phebe Waters West. [52]

Stephen Sewall, Clerk of the Court
Stephen Sewall was the Clerk on many of the cases brought before the magistrates, including the case against George Jacobs. [53]
Connections: Stephen Sewall had witnessed wills with Henry West. [54] He sold land to Henry West that had been sold to him by John Hathorne. [55] Sewall inventoried Samuel West’s estate (Thomas West’s son) in 1685. [56] He and his wife Margaret signed the Will of Henry West. [57] Sewall lived across the street from Henry West. [58]

Timothy Swan, Accuser
Timothy Swan accused many of his neighbors in Andover, MA, of afflicting him. [59]
Connection: Timothy Swan’s niece was Phebe Swan. She married Isaac West. Isaac West was the son of John West, and the grandson of Thomas West. [60]

John Tompkins, Deputy of the Court
John Tompkins was a deputy of the court. He presented a warrant for witnesses (summons) against Giles Corey on 7 Sep 1692. [61] Giles Corey was pressed to death with heavy rocks because he would not confess to witchcraft. Corey’s final words were, “More weight!”
Connections: John Tompkins became a tithingman for Salem on 1677, with Henry West and Thomas West. He was in a fight with George Jacobs in 1677, witnessed by John Waters, brother of Phebe Waters West. In 1678, John Tompkins was granted freeman status with John Waters, John Proctor, George Jacobs, Jeremiah Meacham (father of Rhoda Meacham who married Samuel West, son of Thomas West), Isaac Meacham (her brother), and others. [62] He served on a jury of inquest with Henry West and George Jacobs in 1678. [XX] John Tompkins’ daughter, Sarah, married John Waters, brother of Phebe Waters West. [63]

References and Additional Notes
Three references appear multiple times in this section.
Salem Witchcraft Papers: Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum, 1977: Salem Witchcraft Papers, Verbatim Transcriptions of the Court Records; Three Volumes, Da Capo Press, New York. Nearly all transcripts of court notes for the Salem Witch Trials have been transcribed and put online at
EIQC: Essex Institute Quarterly Court records. The first number is the volume, and the second is the page. As an example: EIQC:4:56.
Map of Salem: William W.K. Freeman, compiler, 1933: Part of Salem in 1700, From the Researches of Sidney Perley, James Duncan Phillips, Salem, Massachusetts.

1. West Family Group #5 results are at
2. Arthur Miller, 1953: The Crucible. The 1996 movie version was filmed at several locations in Essex County: Salem, Beverly, Danvers, and Ipswich. It was directed by Nicholas Hytner. Production credit was given to the Topsfield Historical Society, Ipswich Historical Society, and the Peabody-Essex Museum, among others.
3. One of the best, well-documented, on-line histories of the Salem Witch Delusions may be found in the Wikipedia entry.
5. EIQC:7:81; EIQC:7:251.
6. As an example, EIQC:9:369.
7. “Jonathan Corwin,” Map of Salem.
8. “Officials' Expense Accounts for 1692: William Dounton's Account,” Salem Witchcraft Papers.
9. EIQC:6:290; EIQC:7:33.
10. Name search for “Edmund Gale,” and “Ambrose Gale v. Willmott Reed,” Salem Witchcraft Papers.
11. Essex Institute, 1974: The Records of the First Church in Salem, Salem, Massachusetts, p. 108.
12. Harry Irwin West, Jr., 1997: Descendants of Henry West (1629-1703) of Salem, Massachusetts with Some Collateral Lines of Interest, Anundsen Publishing Co., Decorah, Iowa, p. 7A.
13. EIQC:7:72; EIQC:7:33.
14. “Barholemew Gedney,” Map of Salem.
15. Wikipedia, “John Hale”
16. Reverend John Hale, 1697: A Modest Enquiry into the Nature of Witchcraft, and How Persons Guilty of that Crime may be Convicted: And the means used for their Discovery Discussed, both Negatively and Affirmatively, according to Scripture and Experience, Printed 1702 by B. Green and J. Allen, in Boston, Massachusetts in 1702, p. 175-176.
17. J. D. Kingsbury, 1883: A Memorial History of Bradford, Massachusetts; from the Earliest Period to the Close of 1882, C.C. Morse and Sons, Haverhill, Massachusetts, p. 31.
18. As an example, EIQC:9:473.
19. Essex Registry of Deeds, Book 13, Leaf 166; West, p. 17.
20. “An Epistle to the Reader,” in Hale, p. 4.
21. Essex Institute, 1974: The Records of the First Church in Salem, Salem, Massachusetts, various.
22. As an example, EIQC:7:72.
23. J. D. Kingsbury, p. 30-31.
24. “John Higginson,” Map of Salem.
25. Diane E. Foulds, 2010: Death in Salem: The Private Lives Behind the 1692 Witch Hunt, Globe Pequot Press, Guilford, Connecticut, p. 8, 32.
26. Name search for “Nathaniel Ingersoll,” Salem Witchcraft Papers.
27. EIQC:7:159.
28. Summary from Foulds, p. 80-83 and other reliable sources.
29. “Physical Examination of George Burroughs and George Jacobs, Jr.,” Salem Witchcraft Papers.
30. “Examination of George Jacobs, Sr.,” Salem Witchcraft Papers.
31. Essex Registry of Deeds, Book 1, Leaf 61.
32. “Thomas Flint,” Map of Salem.
33. Essex Society of Genealogists, Inc., 2003 (Reprint): Essex County Deeds 1639-1678: Abstracts of Volumes 1-4, Heritage Books, p. 71.
34. Sidney Perley, 1924: History of Salem, Massachusetts, Volume I, 1626-1637, Salem, Massachusetts, p. 382-383.
35. EIQC:7:152; EIQC:7:155.
36. Charlotte Helen Abbott, undated: “The Marston Family of Andover,” Memorial Hall (on-line) Library, Andover, Massachusetts; typewritten document.
37. Essex Institute, 1913: Town Records of Salem, Massachusetts, Volume II, 1659-1680, Salem, Massachusetts, p. 240.
38. Essex Registry of Deeds, Book 5, Folio 74; Essex Registry of Deeds, Book 5, Leaf 347.
39. Wm. B. Trask, compiler, 1855: “Petitions Against Imposts, 1668,” The New England Historical and Genealogical Register and Antiquarian Journal, Volume IX, New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts, p. 81-91.
40. Town Records of Salem, p. 274.
41. Topsfield Historical Society, 1912: Vital Records of the Town of Andover, Volume 2—Marriages and Deaths, Topsfield, Massachusetts, p. 567.
42. “Case of Susannah Post,” Salem Witchcraft Papers.
43. As an example, EIQC:9:473.
44. Joseph B. Felt, 1845: Annals of Salem, Volume I, Second edition, James Munroe & Co., Boston, p. 166 and 359.
45. “John Mascoll,” Map of Salem.
46. Foulds, p. 172.
47. “Nicholas Noyes,” Map of Salem.
48. Charlotte Helen Abbott, undated: “The Osgood Family of Andover,” Memorial Hall (on-line) Library, Andover, Massachusetts; typewritten document.
49. Eben Putnam, 1895: “Pedigrees from Deeds Recorded in Essex County, Massachusetts,” Putnam’s Monthly Historical Magazine, Volume III, January-December 1895, Salem, Massachusetts, p. 110.
50. John Proctor’s information is summarized from many reliable sources.
51. EIQC:7:155; EIQC:7:159.
52. Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620-1850: Danvers, MA, p. 309.
53. “Oath of Stephen Sewall as Clerk,” and “Summons for Witnesses v. George Jacobs, Sr.,” Salem Witchcraft Papers.
54. One example is the Will of Edmond Batter, EIQC:9:507.
55. Essex Registry of Deeds, Book 13, Leaf 263; Essex Registry of Deeds, Book 16, Leaf 2.
56. EIQC:9:560.
57. West, p. 18.
58. “Stephen Sewall,” Map of Salem.
59. Name search on “Timothy Swan,” Salem Witchcraft Papers.
60. Topsfield Historical Society, 1909: Vital Records of Methuen to the end of the year 1849, Topsfield, Mass. p. 286.
61. “Summons for Witnesses” (for Giles Corey), Salem Witchcraft Papers.
62. EIQC:6:290; EIQC:6:293; EIQC:7:155; EIQC:7:152.

63. Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620-1850: Salem, MA, p. 2016.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for presenting this information! I have not read The Crucible nor did I realize how tightly knit this community was for better or worse. Edmund Gale is my ancestor so the topic deserves delving into.