(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "December Meeting, 1884. "Instructions" of Malden, 1776; The Rev. Peter Thacher, D.D.; Manuscripts Relating to Witchcraft; Letter from Governor Phips; Petition of Elizabeth Proctor; Petition of the Parkers; Answers concerning Witchcraft; Questions concerning Witchcraft; Answers concerning Witchcraft; Trumbull Papers"

STOP 



Early Journal Content on JSTOR, Free to Anyone in the World 

This article is one of nearly 500,000 scholarly works digitized and made freely available to everyone in 
the world by JSTOR. 

Known as the Early Journal Content, this set of works include research articles, news, letters, and other 
writings published in more than 200 of the oldest leading academic journals. The works date from the 
mid-seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. 

We encourage people to read and share the Early Journal Content openly and to tell others that this 
resource exists. People may post this content online or redistribute in any way for non-commercial 
purposes. 

Read more about Early Journal Content at http://about.jstor.org/participate-jstor/individuals/early- 
journal-content . 



JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people 
discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching 
platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit 
organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please 
contact support@jstor.org. 



1884.] " INSTRUCTIONS " OF MALDEN, 1776. 335 



DECEMBER MEETING, 1884. 

The monthly meeting was held on Thursday, the 11th 
instant. The President being absent, Dr. Ellis took his place, 
and gave expression to the regret which was felt by all that 
Mr. Winthrop was detained at home by illness. 

The Secretary read his notes of the previous meeting. 

The Librarian mentioned the books which had been given 
to the Library. 

The Corresponding Secretary announced that Messrs. Wil- 
liam G. Russell and Edward J. Lowell had signified their 
acceptance of Resident Membership. 

The Hon. George S. Hale then offered the following 
remarks : — 

I ask leave to present to the Society, in behalf of Mrs. Mary 
Pratt Cooke Nash, the daughter of the late Josiah Parsons 
Cooke, long an honored and leading member of the Suffolk 
Bar, this "Lithographic Print" of the Instructions of the Town 
of Maiden to their Representative in the General Court of 
Massachusetts in 1776, giving their assurance to that body 
that, if America should be declared " a Free and Independent 
Republic," they would " support and defend the measure to 
the last drop of their blood and the last farthing of their 
Treasure." 

Chief Justice Marshall deemed this spirited paper of so 
much interest and importance, that he quotes it, in describ- 
ing the advance of the desire and purpose of the colonies to 
separate from the mother country, in the first edition, pub- 
lished in 1804, 1 of his " Life of George Washington," in con- 
nection with like declarations by the city of Boston. 

They deserve a prominent place as an early expression of 
these sentiments, although the controversy as to the exact 
order of the appearance of such declarations from different 
parts of the country does not seem to me of very great 
importance. 

» Vol. ii. p. 407. 



336 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec. 

In the Massachusetts House of Representatives, on the 10th 
of May, 1776, it was "Refolved, as the Opinion of this Houfe 
that the Inhabitants of each Town in this Colony, ought in full 
meeting warned for that Purpofe, to advife the Perfon or 
Perfons who ihall be chofen to Reprefent them in the next 
General Court, whether if the honorable Congrefs mould, 
for the Safety of the faid Colonies, declare them Independent 
of the Kingdom of Great-Britain, they the faid Inhabitants will 
folemnly engage with their Lives and Fortunes to Support 
the Congrefs in the Meafure." 

These Instructions were adopted by the town of Maiden 
on the 27th of May, 1776, and are quoted by Marshall from the 
" Gazette." Mr. Frothingham, in " The Rise of the Republic 
of the United States " (page 507), refers to these meetings, and 
says : " The instructions of Maiden and Boston were the earliest 
I have found in the newspapers." The former, I may add, were 
adopted on the 27th, the latter on the 23d, of May, 1776. By 
whom they were prepared does not appear of record ; but the 
following letter from D. P. Corey, Esq., who is now engaged in 
the preparation of a history of the town, gives some additional 
particulars in regard to them, and his sketch of the town of 
Maiden, in Drake's "History of Middlesex" (page 127), 
attributes the authorship to Peter Thacher. 

Maldex, Oct. 21, 1884. 
Hon. Geo. S. Hale, Boston. 

Dear Sir, — I have your note of Friday. I understand that the 
lithograph of the " Instructions" was the result of a subscription ob- 
tained by the efforts of the late Eev. Sylvanus Cobb. Copies may 
now and then be found in the possession of old Maiden families, al- 
though they are getting to be quite rare. One was recently presented 
to the Maiden Public Library, and very appropriately hangs in its 
reading-room. The following extracts will give you some information : 

In a warrant for a town-meeting, May 27, 1776, Art. 1, — 

" To see if the Town will Choos a Committee to Advise the Person 
Chosen to Represent them in the next General Court whether that if 
the Honorable Congress Should for the Safety of the Coloneys Declare 
them Independent of the Kingdom of Great Britain they the Said In- 
habitants will Solemnly Engage with their lives and fortains to Support 
them in the measure." 

At the meeting : — 

"The Town Resolved themselves into a Committee the Rev» Mr 



1881.] THE REV. PETER THACHER, D.D. 337 

"Willis was Choosen Chairman the Committee Proceeded to Consider 
the matter and Prepared the following Instructions." 

Ezra Sargeant was the representative to the General Court that 
year. You will notice that the town resolved itself into a Committee. 
Considering this, I suspect that the Instructions were already prepared, 
and only awaited presentation and acceptance by the town. Mr. Willis, 
the chairman, was the pastor of the South Church. I have no evidence 
that he was possessed of the proper spirit or the ability required to pro- 
duce the ringing sentences of the paper. There was only one other in 
Maiden who could have written them, and he had both the ability and 
the will. He had already done good work in the cause of freedom, 
and his name stands high among the ablest ministers of the Revolution. 
I think Peter Thacher, then pastor of the North Parish, and afterwards 
of the Brattle Street Church, Boston, must have been the author. I 
wish I could give you more definite information. 

Yours very truly, 

D. P. COEEY. 

Mr. Thacher needs no introduction to the members of this 
Society. Whitefield esteemed him the ablest preacher in 
America, and his political influence and eloquence were not 
inferior to those exercised and displayed in the pulpit. 

He was chairman of the committee which reported the In- 
structions of the Town to their Representative, adopted at 
their meeting on the 23d of September, 1774, the vigorous 
close of which resembles the Instructions of 1776. " We are," 
they said, " determined in the strength of our God that we will, 
in spite of open force and private treachery, live and die as be- 
comes the descendants of such ancestors as ours, who sacrificed 
their all that they and their posterity might be free." 

They are referred to in "An Historical Discourse delivered 
at Maiden," Dec. 1, 1831, by S. Osgood Wright, and in an 
oration, delivered May 23, 1849, on the two hundredth anni- 
versary of its incorporation, by James D. Green. 

At this celebration, Gilbert Haven, Jr. (the late Bishop 
Gilbert Haven), delivered a poem, in which I find the follow- 
ing passage, apparently referring to Mr. Thacher and to the 
sentiments expressed in the Instructions of 1776 : — 

" In the same green retreat another lies, 
Who stripped, like him, all sin of its disguise ; 
And, not through sermons only, was the truth 
Announced by him, which roused both age and youth. 
43 



338 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec. 

His ardent feelings may be yet discerned 

In thoughts that through his brain their passage burned ; 

Closing his bold recital of great wrongs 

In words not ill-becoming martial songs, 

That they would spend for Justice' sake, with pleasure, 

' Their blood's last drop, — last farthing of their treasure.' 

Honor to him who thus his flock inflamed 

To win a cause, through earth's wide borders famed ! 

His name suggests the era when desire 

For Independence wrapt their souls in fire." 

In Mr. Haven's effort to keep the memory of Mr. Thacher 
alive, he has buried him in the wrong place, since lie does not 
lie in " the same green retreat " in Maiden, but in the burying- 
ground or cemetery of the town of Milton, where, on the tablet 
of Peter Oxenbridge Thacher's tomb is found the following 
inscription : — 

"On the 22 a February A D 1827 were deposited here the remains 
of the Rev a Peter Thacher D D Pastor of the Church in Brattle Square 
in Boston who died Dec r 16 1802 aet 51 & of Elizabeth his wife who 
died Jan'y 26 181 6 aet 71 years." x 

I am not aware that these Instructions have ever been 
printed in full, (unless in the " Gazette," where I have not yet 
found them,) except in Force's " American Archives," 2 and 
in the " Bi-Centennial Book" of Maiden. 

This copy comes from an old house, now standing in the 
town of Everett, formerly the parsonage house of the Rev. 
Mr. Eliakim Willis, for some fifty years a minister in the town 
of Maiden, — a parsonage, which, during an unprosperous 
period, he was obliged to take for the arrears of his unpaid 
salary. 

Mr. Willis had a niece, Sarah Willis, who is said to have 
been a person of great beauty. She married the Rev. Nahum 
Sargeant, a nephew of Ezra Sargeant, to whom the Instruc- 
tions were addressed, by whom she had two daughters, Martha 
Willis and Elizabeth Howse. Mrs. Sargeant inherited the 
parsonage from her uncle Willis, and resided there, with her 
daughters, until the time of her death. She married, for her 
second husband, Colonel Popkin, 8 a widower, who had three 

1 As Dr. Thacher was born March 21, 1762, he died in his fifty-first year 
within but little more than three months of its completion. 
a Vol. vi. p. 602. 
» Ante, pp. 76, 250, 251. — Eds. 



1884.] MANUSCRIPTS RELATING TO "WITCHCRAFT. S39 

sons. By him she had one child, Ebenezer Willis Popkin, who 
died in the parsonage, December, 1883, at a very advanced age. 

One of the sons of Colonel Popkin by his first wife was the 
Rev. John Snelling Popkin, who was graduated at Harvard 
College in the class of 1792. He was appointed tutor in 
Greek in the College in 1795, University Professor of Greek 
in 1815, and Eliot Professor of Greek Literature in 1826. 
This chair he held until 1833. He received from the College 
the degree of S.T.D. in 1815. He was also a member of 
this Society. 

I trust it will not be inconsistent with the dignity of our 
Proceedings to add that Colonel Popkin and his son Professor 
Popkin were contempoi*aneous lovers of the beautiful Sarah 
Willis Sargeant, and that the son never married. 

The eager devotion of the citizens of Maiden to their own 
freedom and independence was not thought inconsistent with 
the existence of slavery in their midst, although, perhaps, it 
was that feeling which, more or less unconsciously, elevated 
the slave to the familiarity of a freedman. The story is told 
of a worthy citizen, who pompously announced to an aged 
slave of seventy years : " You have been a faithful servant 
to me and my father before me. I have long been thinking 
what I should do to reward you for your services. I give 
you your freedom ! You are your own master ! You are 
your own man ! " The prospective freeman, however, pre- 
ferred to remain dependent, and not to sacrifice what was 
now his all, simply that he might become free, — free to take 
care of himself at his own expense. " No, no, massa ! " said 
he, slyly ; " you eat de meat, and now you must pick de 
bone." 

Mr. Goodell presented the following communication : * — 

I rise to offer for publication in our Proceedings transcripts 
of certain manuscripts which have never to my knowledge 
been printed in full. These have a bearing upon the contro- 
versy between our accomplished Corresponding Member, Dr. 
Moore, and myself, respecting some incidents of the witch- 
trials of 1692, and the subsequent reversal of the attainders 
of the condemned. 

1 This paper was communicated by title at the October meeting, but its pub- 
lication has been necessarily delayed. — Eds. 



340 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec. 

The first is a letter from Governor Phips to the Earl of Not- 
tingham, copied for me from the archives of the Public Record 
Office in London by Mr. Sainsbury. 1 

The copious extracts from this letter, first given to the pub- 
lic in Palfrey's " History of New England," 2 show that Phips 
accused the Lieutenant-Governor (Stoughton) of causing " the 
estates, goods and chattels of the executed to be seized and 
disposed of" without his consent. This is a sufficiently dis- 
tinct, authoritative, and contemporaneous averment that for- 
feiture or escheat, or both, were not only supposed by the 
highest judicial authority of the province to properly follow 
attainder for witchcraft, but were actually enforced by legal 
process. Another clause, not printed by Dr. Palfrey, shows 
the Governor's commendable desire to have all proceedings 
in the court of oyer and terminer here, stayed, until advice 
could be obtained from the judges in England as to the practice 
there in trials for witchcraft : — 

Boston in New England Feb? 21st 169§. 
May it please yoF Lords h . p 

By the Cap" of yf Samuell & Henry I gave an account that att my 
arrivall here I found yf Prisons full of people coraitted upon suspition 
of witchcraft & that continuall complaints were made to me that many 
persons were grievously tormented by witches & that they cryed out 
upon severall persons by name, as yf cause of their torments yf number 
of these complaints increasing every day, by advice of yf Lieut Govf & 
y? Councill I gave a Comission of Oyer and Terminer to try yf sus- 
pected witches & at that time the generality of yf People represented 
yf matter to me as reall witchcraft & gave very strange instances of 
the same The first in Comission was yf Lieut. Govf & yf rest persons 
of yf best prudence & figure that could then be pitched upon & I de- 
pended upon yf Court, for a right method of proceeding in cases of 
witchcraft At that time I went to comand the army at yf Eastern part 
of the Province for yf French and Indians had made an attack upon 
some of our Fronteer Towns, I continued there for some time but 
when I returned I found people much disatisfied at yf proceedings of y? 
Court for about Twenty persons were condemned & executed of which 
number some were thought by many persons to be innocent The 
Court still proceeded in yf same method of trying them which was by 
yf evidence of yf afflicted persons who when they were brought into 

1 America and West Indies, No. 591 ; also in Colonial Entry's Book, No. 62, 
p. 426. 

2 Vol. iv. p. 112, note. 



1884.] LETTEB FROM GOVEENOE PHIPS. 341 

y? Court as soon as the suspected witches looked upon them instantly 
fell to yf ground in strange agonies & grievous torments, but when 
touched by them upon yf arme or some other part of their flesh they 
imediately revived & came to themselves, upon l they made oath that 
yf Prisoner at y° Bar did afflict them & that they saw their shape or 
spectre come from their bodies which put them to such paines & tor- 
ments : When I enquired into yf matter I was enformed by yf Judges 
that they begun with this, but had humane testimony against such as 
were condemned & undoubted proof of their being witches, but at 
length I found that the Devill did take upon him y e shape of Innocent 
persons & some were accused of whose innoceucy I was well assured 
& many considerable persons of unblameable life & conversation were 
cried out upon as witches & wizards The Deputy Gov 1 : notwithstand- 
ing persisted vigorously in y e same method to y? great disatisfaction & 
disturbance of y? people untill I put an end to y e Court & stopped y* 
proceedings which I did because I saw many innocent persons might 
otherwise perish & at that time I thought it my duty to give an account 
thereof that their Ma*!* pleasure might be signifyed hoping that for the 
better ordering thereof yf Judges learned in the law in England might 
give such rules & directions as have been practized in England for 
proceedings in so difficult & so nice a point ; When I put an end to 
yf Court there were at least fifty persons in prison in great misery by 
reason of the extream cold & their poverty most of them having only 
spectre evidence against them & their mittimusses being defective I 
caused some of them to be lett out upon bayle & put y° Judges upon 
considering of a way to reliefe others & prevent them from perishing 
in prison, upon which some of them were convinced & acknowledged 
that their former proceedings were too violent & not grounded upon a 
right foundation but that if they might sit againe, they would proceed 
after another method & whereas M r Increase Mathew 2 & severall 
other Divines did give it as their Judgment that yf Devill might afflict 
in yf shape of an innocent person & that yf look & yf touch of yf sus- 
pected persons was not sufficient proofe against them, these things had 
not yf same stress layd upon them as before & upon this consideration 
I permitted a spetiall Superior Court to be held at Salem in yf County 
of Essex on yf third day of January yf Lieut Gov' being Chief Judge 
their method of proceeding being altered, all that were brought to tryall 
to y? number of fifety two, were cleared saving three & 1 was enformed 
by the Kings Attorny Generall that some of yf cleared and yf con- 
demned were under yf same circumstances or that there was yf same 
reason to clear yf three condemned as yf rest acording to his Judgment 
The Deputy Gov' signed a Warrant for their speedy execucon & also 

1 Sic: " which " omitted ? 2 S{ c j n copy. 



342 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec. 

of five others who were condemned at yf former Court of Oyer & 
terminer but considering how yf matter had been managed I sent a 
reprieve whereby yf execucon was stopped untill their Maj. pleasure be 
signified & declared the Lieut. Gov. upon this occasion was inraged & 
filled with passionate auger & refused to sitt upon yf bench in a Supe- 
rior Court then held at Charles Towne & indeed hath from the begin- 
ning hurried on these matters with great precipitancy & by his warrant 
hath caused the estates, goods & chatties of yf executed to be seized & 
disposed of without my knowledge ■ or consent, the stop put to yf first 
method of proceedings hath dissipated y? blak cloud that threatened this 
Province with destruccon ; for whereas this delusion of yf Devill did 
spread & its dismall effects touched yf lives & estates of many of their 
Mat 8 Subjects & y e reputation of some of yf principall persons here & 
indeed unhappily clogged and interrupted their Mat" affaires which 
hath been a great vexation to me ! I have no new complaints but peo- 
ples minds before divided and distracted by differing opinions concern- 
ing this matter are now well composed 

I am 

Yof Lordships most faithfull 
humble Servant 

William Phips 
[Addressed] To the Rt. Hon bte 

the Earle of Nottingham 

att Whitehall 

London 
[Indorsed] R [i. e., received] May 24, 93 
ab'. Witches 

The second paper has a less obvious but not less important 
bearing upon the same subject. It is the petition of Elizabeth 
Proctor to the General Court at the May session of 1696 : — 

To the Honourable Generall Court Asembled at Boston may twenty 
seventh 1696 

the Humble petetion of Elizabeth procter widow and Relect of John 
procter of Salem decesed Humbly Sheweth 

that in the yere of our Lord 1692 when many persons in salem and in 
other towns ther about were accused by som euill disposed or strangly 
Influenced persons ; as being witches or for being guilty of acting witch- 
craft my sd Husband John procter and my selfe were accused as such and 
we both : my sd Husband and my selfe were soe farr proceded against 
that we were Condemned but in that sad time of darknes before my said 
husband was executed it is euident som body had Contriued awill and 
brought it to him to signe wher in his wholl estat is disposed of not hauing 
Regard to acontract in wrighting mad with me before mariag with him ; 



1884.] PETITION OF ELIZABETH PKOCTOB. 343 

but soe it pleased god to order by his providenc that although the sentanc 
was executed on my dere husband yet through gods great goodnes to your 
petetioner I am yet aliue ; sine my husbands death the sd will is proued 
and aproued by the Judg of probate and by that kind of desposall the 
wholl estat is disposed of; and although god hath Granted my life yet 
those that Claime my sd husbands estate by that which thay Call awill 
will not suffer me to haue one peny of the estat nither vpon the acount 
of my husbands Contract with me before mariage nor yet vpon the 
acount of the dowr which as I humbly Coceiue doth belong or ought to 
belong to me by the law for thay say that I am dead in the law and ther 
fore my humble Request and petetion to this Honoured Generall Court 
is that by an act of this honoured Court as god hath Contenewed my 
life and through gods goodnes without feare of being put to death vpon 
that sentanc yow would be pleased to put me Into acapacity to mak 
vse of the law to Recouer that which of Right by law I ought to have 
for my nessesary suple and support that as I your petetioner am one of 
his majestyes subjects I may haue the benifett of his laws soe Humbly 
prayeng that god would direct your honnours in all things to doe that 
which may be most pleasing to him I subscrib 

your honnours humble petetioner 

Elizabeth peoctek 
widow 
Read. 10 th June. 1696. in Council. 1 

This petition was read in Council June 10, 1696, as appears 
by the above memorandum thereon. On the 28th of Septem- 
ber the following entries appear in the legislative records of 
the Council : — 

" Several Petitions were read and debated and Sent down to the 
House of Representatives. 

" The Report of a Committee Appointed by the Board at the former 
Sessions of this Court upon Several petitions presented and lying under 
Consideration was read and Sent down." ' 2 

Unfortunately the Representatives did not begin to print 
their journals until 1715. There is, however, no question that 
such records were kept from colonial times ; but, not having 
been duplicated for the use of the Privy Council, probably all 
of them prior to 1715 perished irretrievably, with many other 
most valuable memorials of our early history, in the fire which 
destroyed the Court House in 1747. No clew, therefore, can 

1 Mass. State Archives, vol. exxxv. p. 109. 

2 Legislative Records of the Council, vol. vi. p. 447. 



344 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec. 

be obtained from that source to aid us in tracing to their end 
the proceedings thus briefly minuted in the records of the 
Council, or in ascertaining the purport of either of the peti- 
tions which were thus recorded as having been sent down for 
the consideration of the Representatives. 

Some light, however, may be obtained from another quarter. 
The will of John Proctor, the husband of the above petitioner, 
had been admitted to probate in the Probate Court of Essex 
County, March 22, 1694-5, upon the complaint of Thomas 
Very and Elizabeth, his wife (who was a daughter of the tes- 
tator), against the executors ; and a committee had reported 
to the court, April 15, 1695, a division of the estate according 
to the will. After this last proceeding, and before the execu- 
tors had rendered their account, the widow made the above 
application to the General Court. 

Now, it is more reasonable to suppose that the devisees 
under John Proctor's will had procured some legislative action 
annulling the effect of his attainder, before they proceeded to 
demand the probate of the will, than that the judge of pro- 
bate should have admitted that instrument to probate, re- 
gardless of the known attainder of the testator and the 
consequent forfeiture and escheat of his lands. 

This surmise is strongly corroborated by the circumstance 
that the widow presented the above petition to the General 
Court, as well as by the subsequent action of the judge of 
probate. If the husband's disability had been removed, the 
widow, upon her application for dower (which I will presently 
consider), would have had it assigned to her, unless prevented 
by some other cause. But it will be remembered that she too 
had been attainted, and that therefore it was not enough that 
her husband had been reinstated: it was also necessary for 
her to apply to be similarly restored ; otherwise she was barred 
by her own attainder, and was — as she complains the claim- 
ants of her husband's estate charged her with being — "dead 
in the law." 

Keeping these facts in mind, let us now turn to the probate 
records of Essex County, in search of a clew which the rec- 
ords and files in the State Archives fail to furnish. Here we 
find what certainly seems a probable solution of the mystery 
which involves the doings of the legislature respecting the 
above-named petitions after they had been sent down from the 



1884.] PETITION OP ELIZABETH PROCTOE. 345 

Council, and reasonably conclusive evidence that the prayer 
of the widow's petition to the legislature was granted. 

I cannot better show this than by giving, verbatim, as the 
third paper of this series, the record of the decree or " advice " 
of the judge of probate upon her petition for assignment of 
dower; only premising that Bartholomew Gedney, at that 
time Judge of Probate for Essex County, had been one of the 
justices of the court of oyer and terminer for the trial of the 
alleged witches, and that from the arrival of the charter until 
1698 he was one of the Provincial Council, — the body which 
had considered the widow's petition to the General Court, and 
sent it down to the House for their action. In the absence of 
the record, there could be no better evidence than his personal 
knowledge, of the legislative proceedings of 1696. The pro- 
bate record reads as follows : — 

" April 19, 1697. Whereas Elizabeth Proctor, Relict, Widow of John 
Proctor Late of Salem dec 1 ? praying that a citation might go forth to 
the executors of the dec? to Render an accompt of their Executor- 
ship &c* who appear this day & say that their is no more or other Estate 
of the dec? 8 Come to their hands or possession more than what was 
given in g Inventory : & the said Widow being restored to the benifit 
of the law the Judge's advice to the Executo™ is that they Render the 
s a Widow her Dowry in the said Estate." 1 

Probably — it may be said, most likely — the legislature very 
soon began to relieve the embarrassments of courts, and of 
parties in judicial proceedings, and the distresses of heirs and 
others, caused by the judgments of the court of oyer and ter- 
miner. At all events, I think it will not be denied that the 
above extracts not only fairly establish the fact that Elizabeth 
Proctor had the relief she sought for, but furnish some reason 
for supposing that her husband's will was probated under a 
similar legislative proceeding, which, in the absence of more 
direct evidence, we are warranted in presuming to have 
taken place. 

Neither should these facts be disregarded in forming a 
theory to explain why, after the disallowance of the " act 
setting forth general privileges," 2 corruption of blood, and 
escheats, as incidents to attainder for felony do not appear 

1 Essex Co. Probate Records, book 305, p. 252, new numbers. 

2 1692-93, chap. 11. 

44 



346 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec. 

to have been enforced by the courts throughout the subse- 
quent history of the province. It is possible that the pro- 
visions of this act were revived and continued by a resolve, 
of which there is no existing record. Indeed, this resolve 
may have been a part of the legislation immediately following 
the petition of the widow Proctor, and by a common misfor- 
tune it may have shared the fate of the lost resolve which 
restored her forfeited rights. By that time information had 
been received from England of the disallowance of the " act 
setting forth general privileges " ; and a prompt remedy may 
have been applied by way of resolve, which the Lieutenant- 
Governor, then acting as chief magistrate, would not be loath 
to approve, and which, if it did not clearly appear in the 
minutes of the Council, would escape the animadversions of 
the law officers of the crown. If the provisions of this act 
were not kept alive in some such way, it is difficult to account 
for the opinion which seems to have been held by the old 
lawyers of this State, that the act remained in force until it 
was superseded by similar provisions in the Constitution. 1 

The fourth paper offered is the following petition of John 
and Joseph Parker, which gives an instructive glimpse of the 
manner in which the sheriff proceeded against the " estates " 
of the attainted. It does not appear that Mary Parker was 
seized of any real estate at the time of her attainder ; and this 
petition, therefore, may be of service to those who contend 
that the word " estates " was not used in a technical sense in 
any of the proceedings relative to witchcraft. To this point 
it may be properly said in reply, that this was the petition of 
persons evidently not skilled in the niceties of legal language, 
and therefore is not a standard for determining the intended 
significance of words used some fifteen years later in a formal 
act of legislation. 

The declaration that the petitioners " know not of any law 
in force in this Province " by which the estate of their mother 
should be forfeited upon her condemnation, is evidently 
grounded npon the "act setting forth general privileges," 
which had become a law nearly one month before their peti- 
tion was filed, and probably before some of the acts and de- 
mands complained of against the sheriff had been made and 

1 See Sullivan's History of Land Titles, p. 385 ; Ancient Laws and Charters 
(by Dane, Prescott, and Story), p. 214. 



1884. J PETITION OP THE PARKERS. 347 

committed. By this act, as we have seen, all forfeitures and 
escheats, and all corruption of blood, except in cases of treason, 
had been abolished. 

To his Excellency the Governo*, and Councill and Representatives, now 
sitting in Boston 

the humble Petition of John Parker, & Joseph Parker of Andover 
Sheweth, 

That whereas our mother Mary Parker of Andover, was apprehended 
upon Suspicion of Witchcraft, and being brought to a tryall at Salem 
Court, was condemned : Since her Death the Sherriff of Essex Sent 
an officer to seise on her estate. The said officer required us in their 
majestyes name to give him an Account of our mothers estate, pretend- 
ing it was forfeited to y e King ; we told him that our mother left no 
estate; (which we are able to make appear) notwithstanding which, 
he seised upon our Cattell, Corn & hay, to a considerable value : and 
ordered us to go down to Salem and make an agreement with y e Sher- 
rife, otherwise the estate would be expos'd to Sale. We not knowing 
what advantage the Law might give him against us, and fearing we 
Should Sustain greater Dammage by y e loss of our estate, went to the 
Sherriff accordingly, who told us he might take away all that was seis'd, 
if he pleas'd but was willing to do us a kindness by giveing us an op- 
pertunity to redeem it. He at first demanded ten pounds of us, but at 
length was willing to take Six pounds, which he has oblig'd us by Bill 
to pay him within a moneth. Now if our Mother had left any estate, 
we know not of any Law in force in this Province, by which it Should 
be forfeited upon her condemnation ; much less can we understand that 
there is any Justice or reason, for y° Sherriff to Seise upon our 
estate 

And th6 it is true ou' own act has obliged us to pay him a Summ of 
money, yet we declare that we were drawn to it partly by the officers 
great pretences of Law for what hedid, partly to prevent y e loss of our 
estate which we feard would be immediately Sold. 

Now we humbly pi-ay this Hon'ed Court to consider our case, and if 
it be judged that So much money ought not to have been demanded of 
us, upon the forementioued account : we pray that we may be discharg'd 
from that obligation, which the Sherriff, takeing advantage of our igno- 
rance hath brought us under. And yo r Petition's as in duty bound 
shall ever pray &c. — 

John Parker. 
Dated at Andov Joseph Parker. 

7 th Novemb. 1692.1 

1 Mass. State Archives, vol. cxxxv. p. 65. 



348 MASSACHUSETTS HISTOEICAL SOCIETY. [Dec. 

Lastly, I offer the following transcript and translation of the 
questions propounded by Joseph Dudley to the Dutch and 
French clergymen of New York, in October, 1692, on the sub- 
ject of witchcraft, in order to procure better direction in future 
trials of the accused in Massachusetts. I have, in like man- 
ner, added the answers of the clergy to whom these questions 
were addressed. The Collections of the New York Historical 
Society for 1869 contain an imperfect abstract of these ques- 
tions and answers, found among the papers of the Rev. John 
Miller, who was chaplain to the royal forces in New York 
from 1692 to 1695 ; but I do not know that they have ever 
been printed in full. These answers are important, as be- 
ing, according to Cotton Mather, one of the causes which 
led Phips to first reprieve, and then pardon, many, of the 
condemned. 1 

De veneficio qumstiones ReuerendiJJlmis e Belgio et gallia Theologis propositce. 

Apud N. Ebor. 
6° octob. 1692. 

1. An concedatur quasdam per omnes setates a primo hominis lapsu 
a Deo derelictas ita efse, vt fe Daemonis Seruitio (quo facilius mali- 
tiam aduersus sodales perpetrent) penitus dedissent, vulgo veneficaj 
appellator. 

2. Vbi vera et formalis veneficii natura (qva data aut fubla) [sublata] 
veneflcium denominatur vere confistit. 

3. An ad veneficii conuictionem Diabolicis et prseternaturalibus in cru- 
ciatos actionibus, malitia, inimicitia, et maledictio prseuia fit probanda, 
an rationabiliter tan turn vt plurimum expectanda. 

4. An phantasma Seu apparitio cujusdam cruciatis vim et Jnjuriam 
Jnstanter ferentis absque malitia et minis praeuiis ipsum illud Spec- 
trum afflictorum oculis aut Jmaginationi propositum, fit justa veneficje 
conuictio. 

5. An cum Sacrosancto Dei omnipotentis mundi regimine fistere possit 
Diabolo veniam dare innocentium formas et figuras cruciatorum oculis 
aut imagination! proponere veluti authores et Jnstrumenta passioiium. 

6. an talis etiam exinde apparitio fit justa veneficii conuictio necne. 

7. Num contra longam Seriem just® christianse et eharitatis plense 
vitae apud homines approbatam valeat grauis afflictorum criminatio venefl- 
cium euincere, prassertim vbi nulla prasuia malitia innotescit. 

8. An hujusmodi cruciati continua poena lacerati, convulfi et multis 
miseriis pluribus menfibus contriti diluantur, minuantur, avt etiam mag- 

i See Mather's Life of Phips, 1697, p. 79; and again in "The Magnalia," Hart> 
ford edition, 1820, vol. i. bk. ii. p. 191. 



1834.] ANSWERS CONCERNING 'WITCHCRAFT. 349 

nam naturalium Spirituum turn corporis, turn animae confumptionem 
luant necne. Finaliter grauem fuspicionis causam praebeat etiam afflictis 
ignorantibus Dasrnonis illufionem Jnstare. 

Ad prmcedentes qucesliones breuis responfio. 

Respondetur ad primam quasstionem, plurimos, qvi negativam par- 
tem amplexi funt, extitifse ; inter quos Plinius ille Mysteriorum natural 
Jndagator, fed eximius mendax primum obtiuuit locum, fed qvid minim ? 
cum fuerint et Sint adhuc Jmpii qvi Deum efse negent, etsi natura 
rerum, omnium populorum confenfus, ipsa Jmproborum conscientia 
et varie3 Divinae reuelationes aduersus Jmpium dogma Jnvictiffime 
militent. 

Verum maxima pars virorum doctorum Saniorem mentem liabentes 
contrariam Jniere Sententiam. Et reuera qvi potest in dubium vocari 
qvin fint, qvi cum Diabolo immediatum commercium habeant, nifi privs 
lex et Evangelium Dei meras existimentur fabulas, omnium populorum 
consensus vt pura puta Stultitia dejiciatur, et ratio humana prorfus 
explodatur. 

Nam Si Diabolum efse Supponas (quod nifi fieri velis Jmpius fup- 
ponere debes) eumq creaturam fumme mifera, Jnvidam, astutam et 
potentem, nullum lapidem ad explendam Jnvidiam, et miferiam propriam 
qvodam modo miseroru confortio subleuandam mouere non debet, ten- 
tabit homines et in castra Sva trahere conabitur, vt exinde in idem 
Barathrum fecum protrudat. Jn hunc finem mendaciis, praestigiis, pro- 
mifsionibus, voluptatibus aut fictis aut veris, honoribus, diuitiis aliisq 
innumeris vtetur illecebris. qvid ! eruntne tot et tantas tentationes Sem- 
per irritae? prsesertim in homines carnales et Sensuum voluptatibus 
deditos! in eos Jmprimis, qvi nihil nisi praesentia curant. hoc verisi- 
mile non est. igitur pro hominum moribus et astutia potentiaq Diaboli, 
efse homines qvi cum Diabolo commercium immediatum habeant con- 
cludere possumus. Astipulatur rationi confenfus omnium populorum. 
qvid ? an verum non est qvod omnes gentes verum efse testantur. meri- 
tiffimo jure credimvs efse Deum, quia nullus fuit Jnquam populus qui 
Deum efse faffus non fuerit. verum praesumi debet, quod a Duobus vel 
tribus dicitur efse verum, multo magis qvod vnanimi cousensu populorum 
afseritur. Jam autem fi hoc non fuit populorum fententia inter homi- 
nes efse quosdam qvi cum Diabolo immediate communicent, cur Singula? 
gentes quaedam nomina propria et aptata ad tales homines Jndicandos 
habuere? veluti SIX inter hebraeos, TlvOuiv, vel ^ap/xaKoywrj [sic] inter 
graecos, Sage et venefica Jnter Romanos &c. eruntne mera nomina et 
voces absque fundamento fictae? fed accedit qvod leges aduerfus tales 
homines latas fuerint, vt ipse plinius refert de quodam Crefino, qvi 
coactvs est vt fe veneficii crimine purgaret, coram Judicibus comparere. 
Phn. lib. 18. 6. 



350 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec. 

Jn promptu efset multorum exempla narrare, qvi arte Diabolica fibi 
famam. compararunt, vt mulieris illius, qvse vt ait Acron, carminibus 
et herbis mala hominibus accessere vel pellere dicebatur, et ejus iterum, 
quae Juxta Apul. poterat coelum deponere, terrara fufpendere, fontes 
durare, montes diluere, manes Sublimare, Deos Jnfirmare; fed qvis 
efset narrandi finis. Consensum populorum excipiunt lex et Euange- 
lium. tempore Mofis veneflcos fuifse nemo uegauit, fiqvidem, Mofe ipso 
referente, prsestigiatrices et Spiritum Pythonis habente[s] mandato Dei 
morte plecti deberent; Exo. 22. Deu. 20 [sic], — Erant etiam certe 
tempore Saulis, cum et ipse Pythoniffa confuluerit, Quid ! nonne patet 
Scriptis Prophetarum .ZEgyptios, chananasos, Philistaaos, Sydonios, Ty- 
rios, Moabitas, Ammonitas, Jdumaeos et ipsos Jsraelitas praestigiis et 
prsestigiatoribus fuifse deditos ? certe illi praestigiatores et Spiritum 
Pythonis habentes aut nihil erant prseter ficta nomina, aut commercium 
Jmmediatu cum diabolo habebant. Jdem narraonibus Euangelicis euin- 
citur. tempore christi et Apostolorum praestigiatores erant et Pythonis- 
sae. hoc tam clare patet euangelistarum et Apostolorum acta et Scripta 
legentibus, vt locis indicandis operam nauandam non existimen. 

Possemus etiam, fi liberet seui nostri de fagis et prsestigiatoribus 
historias rarrare, fed nullvs efset narrandi finis ; legantur hemmingivs 
de Magia, et Danaeus de fortiariis. 

ad 2 a ™ quaes'? 
Respondetur rationem formalem venefici [sic] in confaederaone cum 
Diabolo confistere. Jn eo Scilicet quod homo Jmperium Dei creatoris 
nostri ac fupremi Regis, cui ratione dependentiae nostras in omnibus 
obedire, et cujus gloriam pro virili aduerfvs ejus hostes tueri tenemur, 
[deserit] in Jn \sic\ Castra Diaboli aduerfvs Deum militaturus tranfit, 
vt Jmperium Diaboli quantum in fe est ampliet et Stabiliat. Jn cujus 
defectionis compensationem, ad implendas libidines fvas opem Diabolus 
illi vicissim promittit. Jtaq ex una parte homo Jugum Dei excutit 
prasceptis ejus et promissionibus valedicens, vt totum fe Diabolo man- 
cipet eumque Loco Dei habeat; et ex altera parte, unam hominis 
libidinem aut plures aut omnes Se expleturum Diabolus Spondet. 

ad 3 ttm quaesti. 
Respondetur cum inimicitia aut malitia prasuia indicium certum ad 
aliquem veneficii conuincendum minime praebeat ; fiqvidem et vir bonus 
Jnimicitiam aduerfus proximum concipere possit, et nocendi Studium 
fouere, et homo malus et Diabolicus artem pefsimam fub amicitia et 
beneuolentia ficta occultare ; nihil efse inquirendum de malitia praevia in 
eo, qvi arte Diabolica et actionibus praeternaturalibus hominibus mala 
accessere legitime conuinci potest. Nam in tali homine nocendi Stu- 
dium tanquam in mancipio Diaboli supponendum est, quibuscunq 



1384.] ANSWERS CONCERNING WITCHCRAFT. 351 

morlis prauitatem Suam occultare conetur. haec euim est ars DiabolL 
et mancipiorum ejus vt quantum fieri potest animum et oculos perspi- 
cacium fallant et omnem amoueant Suspicionem. 

ad 4 am quaes. 
Respondetur ad conuictionem venefici aut veneficae nullo modo Suffi- 
cere Fhautasma feu apparitionem cujusdam vim et Jnjuriam cruciatis 
instanter facientis, etiam fi Jnimicitia et minae praecefserint. ratio est 
qvia Diabolus viri boni Speciem potest Jnduere et illam cruciatorum 
oculis tanquam principium afflictionum, quas patiuntur, intentare. fi enim 
ocvlis Saulis viri Dei demortui Samuelis objicere potuit, qvidni viri Dei 
viuentis figuram oculis eorum, quos Jmmediate vexat intentare poterit, 
vt odium, maerorem, vincula, et etiam mortem accersat illis ; nee ad 
inimicitiam prseviam vel minas attendendum est, qvia haec pariter in 
virum probum et improbum cadere possunt. 

ad 5™ quaes. 
Respondetur minime aduersari Sanctifsimo Dei regimini qvod vexare 
aliquein induta viri cujusdam boni imagine Diabolo permittat. vt Deus 
est Supremus mundi Monarcha et fummum jus habet in creaturas, 
hsec pariter illi licent et creaturam affligere, et ad id quibuslibet Jn- 
strumentis vti, prsesertim cum malum in bonum mutandi calleat artem 
peritiffime. et qvidqvid agit propter bonos fines agat. Jobum virum 
fanctum mirum in modum vexandi Diabolo licentiam dedit, et per 
tentationis euentum gloriam suam illustrauit, patientiam et virtutem 
ferui Sui manifestauit, et Satanam confudit. cum Diabolus Dominum 
nostrum I. C. in deferto tentauit oculis ejus Jdeam et imaginem totius 
mundi Jmperioru ostentauit. hoc nullam aspersit labem regimini Dei, 
qvi paflus est vt inimievs Jnfensissimus in dilectum fuum imagine 
mundi abuteretur, cur igitur aduersaretur ejus Jmperio Sanctissimo fi 
viri boni imagine diabolu abuti patiatur? Verum dices, Deo ita per- 
mittente, virum bonum in odium et vitae discrimen immerito venturum; 
qvid ! turn post ea ? an non licebit Deo virum peccatorem etfi fidelem 
et pium in hoc calamitosum vita? genvs detrudere, ad tentendam ejus 
pietatem et virtutem ? nonne Job vir Sanctifsimus ab amicis Suis prop- 
ter calamitosam conditionem Suam et contemptus et Lacefsitus fuit? 
Certe talem tantam calamitatem vir pivs et Sanctus nullo modo merue- 
rat. Jtaque fi Semel Deum posse creaturam immerentem affligere 
concefseris, vt illi liceat qvibvsuis instrumentis vti illico concedas opor- 
tet. hie autem creaturam immerentem voco, non qvae ab omni labe 
prorsus Sit immunis ; nulla enim talis est inter homines, fed qvae patitur 
ob injusta et falsam accufationem, talem autem creaturam affligi Deus 
pati potest pro Summo Suo Jure etfi talem afflictionis speciem, habito 
liominum respectu non fit commerita. 



352 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec. 

ad 6 am qvfesti. 
Respondetur quum nihil impediat qvin Diabolus Jmpostor et praesti- 
giator oculos et phantafiam hominum fascinare valeat, et imaginem viri 
boni iis quos ipse immediate vexat, intentare, vt fupra obferuatum est ; 
maxime Jmprudentife foret talem hominem vt veneficum condemnare 
propter hanc raonem, qvod ejus imago cruciatis, dum patiuntur, obuer- 
setur. Jn boc cafu Judices perspicaces et cauti efse debent, ne confilio 
et astutife Dasmonis Jmprudentes faueant ; nam dvo fimul Jntendere 
potest, Scilicet vnum vexare ad alterius imaginis prefentiam, et ilium 
cujus imaginem protendit in malam famam et vitae discrimen conjicere, 
est enim et mendax, et tortor, et homicida. 

ad 7"!" 
Respondetur longuam [sic] vitaa probas et charitatis plenas feriem et 
modum vivendi omnibus probatum a veneficii accufatis cruciatorum testi- 
monio, criminis Jntentati fuspicionem probabiliter amouere ; vix enim fieri 
potest vt qvi in Diaboli castris militat, Speciem militis christi diu valeat 
effingere. verum tamen hoc indicium certum et indubitatum falsa? cri- 
minationis efse non existimem ; qvia non video, cur homo astutus artes 
Diabolicas fub bona? vitas Specie, vt fufpicionem et justam condemna- 
tionem effugiat occultare non possit. ipse Diabolus verum aliqvando 
dicit, et bonum morale concionatur vt facilius et cautius fallat. 

ad 8™ qvasst. 
Respondetur fieri posse vt qvi reuera a Diabolo cruciantur, convel- 
luntur et multis miferiis per plures menses affliguntur nullam corporis 
diminutionem, nullamque Spirituum debilitatem patiantur. ratio est quia 
Stomacha nullam tesionem patiente nutritio potest efse perfecta ; Jmo 
Diabolo Sic procurante Stomachus cruciatorum validior factus majorem 
alimentorum copiam appetet et deglutiet qvam antea Solebat, et ea 
perfecte deqvoquendo et digerendo omne damnum per cruciatus illatum 
facili negotio refarciet. Deinde dubitandum non est quin Diabolus, Deo 
ita permittente, Spirituum naturalium dissipationem Jmpedire valeat. 
Ego alias me hominem mania affectum vidifse testor, qvi Singulis 
menfibus cir[c]a plenilunium per octo dies per montes et campos vaga- 
batur nullum alimentum per id tempus deglutiens praeter aquam, qvi 
tamen nee corporis, nee roboris, nee faciei coloris diminutionem aut 
mutationem patiabatur. Spiritus naturales non folum inedia non fran- 
gebantur, fed vi morbi in Statu et conditione nativa retinebantur. qvod 
autem caufa qvodam modo naturalis prasstat, Diabolu prasstare posse non 
dubito, cum et actiuis pafsiva et pafsivis activa adaptare bene novit. 

finis 



1884.] QUESTIONS CONCERNING WITCHCRAFT. 353 

has praecedentes Solutiones ad qusestiones propofitas vt veras no" Jnfra 
Scripti approbamus. 

in nostro Hknricub Selijns ) Mmiftri Neo . Eborenfe8 . 

congressu Petrus Peiretus ) 

ecclesiasti[c]o Godefridus Dellitjs 

11 Octob. 1692. Belg. Ecclae. Neo Alb" Min: 

EUDOLPHBS VARICH 

Min in Midwoort 

Questions concerning Witchcraft, laid before the most reverend clergy from 
Belgium and France. 
At New York 
Oct. 5, 1692. 

1. Whether it is indisputable that in all ages, since the first fall of 
man, some women, commonly called witches, have been so abandoned by 
God, that they have given themselves wholly to the service of the 
Devil, in order the more easily to exercise their malice against their 
fellow-men ? 

2. Where[in] does the exact and formal nature of "Witchcraft (that 
which, whether given or tendered, is called witchcraft) truly consist ? 

3. Whether in order to convict of Witchcraft by Diabolical and 
preternatural acts towards the tormented, it is necessary to prove pre- 
vious malice enmity and cursing, or whether these are to be reasonably 
presumed, [as] in most cases ? 

4. Whether the spectre or apparition of one who has previously 
neither shown malice nor made threats, put before the eye or imagina- 
tion of the afflicted, as immediately exercising force and injury upon 
them, is sufficient for a just conviction of a witch ? 

5. Whether giving the Devil permission to place before the eyes or 
the imagination of the afflicted the forms and figures of innocent per- 
sons, as the authors and instruments of their sufferings, is consistent 
with the holy government of the world by Almighty God ? 

6. Further, whether or not such an apparition is of itself sufficient 
for a just conviction of witchcraft ? 

7. Whether a serious accusation by the afflicted is sufficient to prove 
witchcraft, against a long continued consistent, just, Christian life, full 
of charity, and approved by mankind, where no previous malice is 
made known ? 

8. Whether or not those who are, in such manner, tortured by con- 
tinual pains, wounded, convulsed and threatened with many miseries, 
through several months, are worn out, wasted or suffer even a great loss 
of their natural spirits, bodily, as well as mental ? Finally, whether this 
does not furnish grave cause for suspicion that the Devil has exhibited 
an illusion, without the knowledge of the afflicted ? 

45 



354 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [DEC. 



A Short Answer to the foregoing Questions. 

It is replied to the first question, that there have been many who 
have maintained the negative, among whom Pliny, the famous inves- 
tigator of the mysteries of nature (although an extremely menda- 
cious one), stands first. This is not to be wondered at, since there have 
been, and still are, impious men who even deny the existence of a 
God, although nature, the consent of all nations, the very consciences 
of the wicked, and various divine revelations, militate most trium- 
phantly against this impious dogma. But the majority of the learned, 
possessing sounder minds, have adopted the contrary opinion. And, 
indeed, how can it be doubted that there are persons who have imme- 
diate commerce with the Devil, unless the divine law and gospel be 
considered as mere fables, the concurrent opinion of all nations be 
rejected as pure stupidity, and human reason totally exploded ? For, 
if you suppose the existence of a Devil (which must be supposed unless 
you intend to become impious), and that he is a most miserable, envi- 
ous, cunning and powerful creature, he is one who will leave no stone 
unturned to gratify his envy, and alleviate his own misery in some man- 
ner, by consorting with other wretches ; he will tempt men, and try to 
drag them into his camp, in order that thereafter he may thrust them 
into his own abyss. To this end, he makes use of lies, miracles, prom- 
ises, fictitious or real sensual indulgences, honors, riches, and other 
innumerable allurements. Can it be supposed that so many and great 
temptations will be ineffectual, especially with carnal men, given to sen- 
sual pleasures ? and, above all, with those who care for nothing but the 
present ? This is not probable ; therefore, in view of the common 
conduct of mankind, and the cunning and power of the Devil, we may 
conclude that there are people who have immediate commerce with the 
Devil. 

To this reasonable conclusion all nations consent ; and can it be sup- 
posed that that is not true, to the truth of which all nations testify ? 
We have the best right to believe that there is a God, because, I affirm, 
there never was a nation which has not acknowledged his existence. 
What is affirmed by two or three is presumed to be true ; how much 
more certain is that which is unanimously asserted by all nations ! But 
even if it had not been the judgment of all nations that there are those 
among men who associate immediately with the Devil, why has every 
nation had certain peculiar and fitting names to denote such people ? — 
as, for instance, ^^ with the Hebrews, Hv6a>v or ^apfmKoyvvrf with 
the Greeks, saga and venejica with the Romans, etc. Are these mere 
names, made up without any real foundation? But it must be added 
that laws have been made against such people ; as Pliny himself re- 
ports of a certain Cresinus, who was compelled to appear before the 



1884.] ANSWERS CONCERNING WITCHCRAFT. 855 

judges, in order to clear himself from the charge of witchcraft : Plin. 
18. 6. It would be easy to relate many instances of persons who have 
acquired a reputation for devilish arts, as the woman mentioned by 
Acron, who was said to inflict upon people, or expel from them, evils 
by means of incantations and herbs ; and, again, of her, in Apulia, 
who could call down the sky, suspend the earth, render the springs 
solid, and the rocks liquid, raise the spirits of the dead, and deprive the 
gods of their power: but where shall this narrative end? 

After the consensus of all nations, come the law and the gospel. 
That witches existed in the time of Moses, no one has denied. Moses 
himself declares that witches, and those that had the spirit of a python, 
were, by commandment of God, to be punished with death : Exod. 22 ; 
Deut. 20 [18]. Moreover, there were such in the time of Saul, since he 
himself consulted a pythoness. And is it not plain from the writings 
of the prophets, that the Egyptians, Canaanites, Philistines, Sidonians, 
Tyrians, Moabites, Ammonites, Idumeans, and the Israelites them- 
selves, were given to miracles and miracle-working? Assuredly, those 
wizards, and persons having the spirit of a python, were either noth- 
ing but fictitious names, or they had immediate intercourse with the 
Devil. 

The Gospel narratives also prove the same thing. In the days of 
Christ and the Apostles there were miracle-workers, and women who 
were soothsayers. This is so clearly evident to every reader of the 
Acts, and the writings of the Evangelists and Apostles that I do not 
think it worth while to quote the passages. 

We might also, if we chose, recount the history of witches and wiz- 
ards in our own age ; but there would be no end of narrating. Let 
those who desire this information, read Hemming, " De Magia," and 
Daneau, " De Sortiariis." * 

To the second question it is replied, that the formal essence of witch- 
craft consists in an alliance with the Devil ; that is to say, in that men 
[desert] the realm of God our Creator and Supreme King — whom all 
are bound to obey in everything by reason of our dependence upon 
him, and whose glory every one, to the extent of his ability, is bound 
to maintain against his enemies — and go over to the camp of the 
Devil, in order to fight against God, so as to increase and strengthen, as 

1 I gratefully acknowledge the service done me by Professor Henry W. 
Haynes, not only in carefully collating the above copy with the original manu- 
script, and in critically revising the translation, but in ascertaining for me 
the full titles of the works here referred to, and the names of their obscure 
autbors, as follows : — 

Hemming, Nicolas : Admonitio de superstitionibus magicis vitandis. Hafn., 
1578. 8vo. 

Daneau, Lambert: De veneficio, quos olim sortilegos, nunc autem vulgo sortiarios 
vocant, dialogus. Genev., 1573. 8vo. 



856 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Dec. 

much as they can, the kingdom of the Devil. In return for this defec- 
tion, the Devil, on his part, promises them his aid to gratify their lusts. 
Thus man, on the one part, throws off the yoke of God, bidding farewell 
to His precepts and promises, in order to belong wholly to the Devil, 
whom he holds in the place of God ; and, on the other part, the Devil 
engages to satisfy one or all or most of the lusts of the man. 

To the third question it is replied, that — since previous enmity or 
malice by no means offers certain evidence for conviction of witchcraft 
(it being possible for even a good man to conceive enmity against his 
neighbor, and to foster a desire to injure him ; and for a bad and devilish 
man to be able to conceal the very worst practices under the appear- 
ance of friendship and benevolence) — no inquiry concerning previous 
malice is necessary, in the case of one whom it is possible lawfully to 
convict of having afflicted others with evils' by devilish arts, and super- 
natural actions ; for the desire to do harm must be presumed in such a 
man, (as being a slave of the Devil) though he may attempt to cover 
his wickedness by what means soever. For such is the cunning of the 
Devil, and his servants, that they deceive, as much as possible, the eyes 
and minds of the discerning, and remove all suspicion. 

To the fourth question it is replied, that the spectre or apparition of 
one who immediately works violence and injury upon the afflicted, is by 
no means sufficient to convict a wizard or a witch, although preceded 
by enmity and threats. The reason is, because the Devil can assume 
the shape of a good man, and present this shape before the eyes of the 
afflicted, as the source of the afflictions which they suffer. For, if he 
was able to place the shape ot the dead man of God, Samuel, before 
the eyes of Saul, why can he not be able to exhibit the shape of a liv- 
ing man of God to the eyes of those whom he presently afflicts, in order 
that he may bring hatred, afflictions, fetters, and even death upon them ? 
Nor is any attention to be paid to previous enmity or threats ; because 
such may befall a just man equally with a wicked man. 

To the fifth question it is replied, that it is by no means repugnant 
to God's most holy government, that he permits the Devil in the shape 
of a good man, to annoy any one. As God is the supreme monarch of 
the world, and has a sovereign right over his creatures he is at liberty 
equally to afflict his creatures and to make use of any instrument he 
may choose for this end, — especially as he is most skilful in turning 
evil into good. Whatever he does he may do for a good purpose. He 
permitted the Devil to marvellously vex the holy man, Job, and by 
the event of the temptation, illustrated his own glory, manifested the 
patience and virtue of his servant, and confounded Satan. When the 
Devil tempted our Lord Jesus Christ in the wilderness, he spread before 
his eyes the idea and image of the empires of the whole world. It did 
not affix a stain on the government of God, to suffer his most malig- 



1884.] ANSWERS CONCERNING WITCHCRAFT. 357 

nant enemy to abuse the image of the world against his Beloved One ; 
why, therefore, should it be deemed repugnant to his most sacred 
authority, for him to allow the Devil to abuse the spectre of a good 
man ? 

But you will say, If God thus permits, a good man will incur unde- 
served hatred, and stand trial for life or death. What then ? Shall 
not God be allowed to thrust a sinful, though faithful and pious man 
into such calamitous experience in order to try his piety and virtue ? 
"Was not the most holy man, Job, despised as well as reviled by his 
friends because of his miserable condition ? That pious and holy man 
had certainly in no way merited his calamities. If, therefore, you once 
concede that God can afflict an innocent creature, you must further 
admit that he is at liberty to make use of whatever instruments he 
pleases. By " an innocent creature " however, I mean here, not one 
who is entirely spotless (for such an one does not exist among men), 
but one who suffers by reason of an unjust and false accusation. But 
God, in accordance with his supreme right, can suffer such a creature 
to be afflicted although, from a human standpoint, it has not deserved 
such a kind of affliction. 

To the sixth question it is replied : although nothing hinders the 
Devil, as an impostor and juggler, from exercising the power to be- 
witch the eyes and fancy of men, and to present the spectre of a good 
man to those whom he himself is vexing, as is above observed, still to 
condemn such a man as a wizard, for the reason that his spectre is 
presented to the afflicted while they are suffering, would be the great- 
est imprudence. In such case, the judges must be astute and cautious 
lest they rashly favor the purpose and cunning of the Devil ; for he 
may intend two things at once ; namely, to vex the one, while he ex- 
hibits the spectre of the other, and so to bring the latter, whose image 
he is simulating, into bad repute and danger of his life — for he is a 
liar as well as a tormentor and murderer. 

To the seventh question it is replied, that an honest and charitable 
life and conduct, of long continuance, such as meets with universal 
approbation, probably removes «the suspicion of criminal intent from 
those who are accused of witchcraft by the testimony of the afflicted ; 
for it can hardly be that he who fights in the camp of the Devil should 
have the power, for a great while, to put on the appearance of a soldier 
of Christ. Nevertheless, I should not believe this to be sure and indu- 
bitable evidence of false accusation, because I do not see why a cunning 
man may not conceal his devilish practices under the semblance of a 
good life, in order to escape suspicion and righteous condemnation. 
The Devil himself sometimes tells the truth, and proclaims good morals, 
in order the more easily and insidiously to deceive. 

To the eighth question it is replied, that it is possible for those who 



358 MASSACHUSETTS HISTOKICAL SOCIETY. [Dec. 

are really tortured, convulsed and afflicted by the Devil with many mis- 
eries, during several months, to suffer no wasting of the body, and no 
weakening of their spirits. The reason is, that nutrition is perfect — 
the stomach suffering no injury. On the contrary, if the Devil so pro- 
cure it, the stomach of the tortured, having become stronger, will crave 
and swallow greater quantities of nourishment than before, and will 
easily repair all the injury caused by the tortures, by perfectly digesting 
and assimilating its supply of food. Hence it is not to be doubted that 
the Devil (God permitting it), has power to prevent the impairment of 
the natural spirits. I testify that I have seen elsewhere, a man affected 
with mania who every month about the time of the full moon wan- 
dered in the mountains and through the fields, for eight days, taking 
no nourishment but water during that time, who, nevertheless, suffered 
no diminution or change either of body, vigor, or color. His natural 
spirits were not only not broken by his fasting, but were preserved in 
their normal state and condition by the power of his malady. That the 
Devil can produce that which is produced by a kind of natural cause 

I do not doubt, since he well knows how to balance liabilities with assets 
and assets with liabilities 1 

The End. 

We the undersigned affirm the above-written solutions of the ques- 
tions propounded, to be true. 

^ on l Henry Selijns } Ministers of New York, 

church Peter Peiretus. ) 

congress, Godfrey Dellius, Minister of the Dutch 

Church at New Albany. 

II October, 1692. Rudolph Varich, 

Minister at Flatbush. 

Mr. Young presented to the Society, from Mr. T. Fales 
Gray, of Boston, a book of manuscript sermons of the Rev. Dr. 
Samuel Stillman, who, born in Philadelphia in 1737, was for 
more than forty years pastor of the First Baptist Church in 
this city, and was a most eloquent and popular preacher. He 
was one of the founders of Brown University, and he belonged 

1 From two or three conjectural translations of this passage, neither of which 
was very certain, I have adopted the above upon the authority of a friend whose 
long familiarity with Latin authors, ancient and modern, had conclusive weight 
with me on a point of such difficulty that the learned gentleman for whose care- 
ful revision of these pages I have above acknowledged my obligation would not 
attempt to decide what was the precise idea intended to be conveyed by this 
phrase. 



1884.] TEUMBULL PAPERS. 359 

also to the Pennsylvania Society for promoting the Aboli- 
tion of Slavery, the Relief of Free Negroes unlawfully held in 
Bondage, and for improving the Condition of the African 
Race ; and his certificate of membership in that Society was 
also presented. 

Edward Channing, Ph.D., of Cambridge, was elected a 
Resident Member of the Society. 

Mr. Deane, from the Committee on the Trumbull Papers, 
reported that a volume of them would shortly be ready for 
distribution. This volume will consist of papers relating to 
the Narragansett country, and of letters of Dr. William 
Samuel Johnson to the governors of Connecticut, from 1767 to 
1771. He was sent to London as the agent of that State to 
look after the celebrated Mohegan case before the Privy 
Council. While there, he attended the sittings of Parliament 
during the interesting period which followed the repeal of the 
Stamp Act, and in his letters he reported many speeches and 
detailed the gossip of the time. These letters are written with 
great freedom and elegance ; and it was proposed to publish 
them soon after they were obtained by this Society in 1795, 
but the consent of the writer, who was then President of 
Columbia College, could not be obtained. 

Dr. Ellis expressed great satisfaction that a volume from 
the Trumbull Papers, which had been long in possession of the 
Society, was to be printed ; and he hoped that other volumes 
from this large collection of historical material would soon 
follow. 

Dr. E. E. Hale remarked that the report of one of the most 
brilliant of Chatham's speeches was due to the pen of Dr. 
Johnson. He said, also, that the official account of the battle 
of Bunker Hill was written by the Rev. Peter Thacher, when 
he was twenty-three years of age, and as he saw it from the 
Maiden side of the river, and that the variations in the British 
account are to be explained by the fact that it was written 
from the opposite side. 

Many interesting anecdotes and personal reminiscences were 
given by various members at this meeting.