Ole Larson's Folks
witch

illustration by Howard Pyle

 

Mary Perkins (1615-1700) was born in England and came to Massachusetts in 1630 with her parents, John Perkins and Judith Gater, my 9th great-grandparents in the line of Helen Colby Myers, through Mary’s brother, Abraham Perkins. The Perkins line is traced back to King Henry III of England in several published sources, although the connection is not without controversy.

Anyway, Mary Perkins (Bradbury), when she was in her 70’s, was caught up in the Salem Witch hysteria. This quote is from the Perkins Family page of The New England Colonists Web:

On May 26, 1692, Mary [Perkins] Bradbury was named as a tormentor of Mary Walcott, Mercy Lewis, and Ann Putnam, Jr. She was arrested by Constable William Baker when she was 70 years of age [sic – she was more like 77]. Her husband, Captain Thomas Bradbury, was disliked by Suzanna Martin for his suspected tampering with her father’s will.

On August 9, 1692, Mary’s accusers depostions were taken. Suzanna Martin, enemy of her husband, was already hanged on July 19, 1692.

Mary was supposedly seen signing the Devil’s book. Other enemies were John Carr and his niece Anne Putnam, Jr. John Carr desired to marry Mary Bradbury’s daughter. Mary did not agree to his wants, since she thought her to be too young to marry. Later on, John Carr died in 1689. Mary Walcott and Ann Putnam, Jr. told the court that Uncle John appeared to them in a sheet as a spectre and told them that Mary Bradbury had killed him. John’s brother William, on the other hand, felt that John Carr had died of natural causes.

On Saturday, September 10, 1692, Mary [Perkins] Bradbury was sentenced to hang. Most of the testimony against Mary came from the Endicotts and the Carrs. The Carrs were the brothers of Mrs. Ann Putnam, Sr …

Another source, The Family of John Perkins of Ipswich, Massachusetts, by Geo. A. Perkins, M.D., Salem, 1882, quotes Mary’s answer to the indictment:

“I plead not guilty. I am wholly innocent of such wickedness through the goodness of God that hath kept me hitherto. I am the servant of Jesus Christ, and have given myself up to him as my only Lord and Saviour, and to the diligent attendance upon him in all his holy ordinances, in utter contempt and defiance of the Devil and all his works, as horrid and detestable; and have endeavored to frame my life and conversation in accordance with His holy word and in that faith and practice, resolve, by the help and assistance of God, to continue to my life’s end. For the truth of what I have to say as to the matter of practice, I humbly refer myself to my brethren and neighbors that know me, and to the searcher of all hearts, for the truth and uprightness of my heart therein, human frailties & unavoidable infirmaties excepted, of which I bitterly complain every day.”

118 friends and neighbors of the Bradbury’s signed a letter of testimony upholding Mary’s innocence and good character. But the court convicted her anyway, and sentenced her to be hanged on September 22, 1692. Back to The New England Colonists Web for the not-so-tragic outcome:

After Mary’s sentence a group of her supporters broke Mary Bradley [sic] out of jail. One of her accusers, Samuel Endicott, was said to have left home around the same time as she broke out of jail. He never returned. Seven years later he was still not found and was declared legally dead.

By Saturday, January 14, 1693 (four months later), Mary Bradbury was still in hiding, fearing that if she came back she would be charged for Samuel Endicott’s murder.

On Friday, May 12, 1693, Mary Bradbury rejoined her family and lived another seven years, until her death in 1700. By 1693, most prisoners were set free and the “Witch Hunt” was over.

Other sources state that bribes were paid to secure her release. Perkins (1882), states that Mary died of natural causes in 1693, instead of 1700.

Next: Stephen D Myers, new-found cousin.

More Larson Intermarriages
Leonora Brown Myers (1881-1974)

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