Basic Facts about Goody Cole

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  • The term "Goody" is an old expression that is short for "Goodwife" It is a polite title once given to married women among the poorer classes.
  • Her first name was Eunice. It is not known when she was born, but her husband was born about 1574.
  • She was born in England, and her maiden name is unknown, as is the location she lived.
  • She married a man named William Cole, a carpenter, while still in England.
  • William and Eunice were indentured servants of a Mr. Matthew Cradock, a wealthy merchant of London, England. He was one of the leaders of the Puritan group that obtained a charter for the Massachusetts Bay Colony, but he never migrated to America. The fact that they worked for a London merchant may mean that they lived in London, but this is just a guess.
  • William and Eunice were released from Mr. Cradock's service to come to New England, with their passage furnished for £10.
  • William would have been about 63 years old when he came to this country, and, presumably, Eunice would have been about the same age. It is certainly possible that they left children and descendants in England, but if they did, none of them came to this country with them.
  • They came first to Boston, where they were granted two acres of land at Mt. Wollastan, now part of Quincy, Mass, on February 20, 1637.
  • They were followers of the Rev. John Wheelwright, who was banished from Boston in November 1637. He founded the town of Exeter, NH.
  • William Cole was one of the signers of the "Indian" deed in which Wheelwright purchased the town of Exeter from the local Indians in April 1638.
  • They didn't stay in Exeter for long, and were living in Hampton by June of 1640 when they were granted 40 acres of land.
  • Their house lot of 5 acres was situated just slightly east of where the Baptist church stands today, on Winnacunnet Road.
  • Despite having 40 acres of land, which sounds like an enormous amount by today's standards, William and Eunice were very poor.
  • Eunice "Goody" Cole was evidently a rather outspoken, eccentric, and unattractive person, which is what got her in trouble with the law.
  • She appeared in court many times between 1645 and 1656, the first was when she was charged with making "slanderous speeches."
  • In 1656 she was (probably) convicted of witchcraft and sentenced to be whipped and to spend the next several years in prison in Boston.
  • Her husband didn't fare well at all in her absence. Within a few years, after being unable to tend his little farm alone, the town of Hampton took possession of all their lands, and used the proceeds to take care of the Coles for the remainder of their lives. William was now living on the 1600s version of "welfare" while his wife wasted away in prison in Boston.
  • Eunice was released from prison around 1660, but within a year or two she had gotten herself in trouble again and was sent back to jail.
  • William Cole died May 26, 1662, aged 88 years.
  • Eunice was released from prison again after her husband died, but almost immediately upon her return to Hampton found herself up on charges of witchcraft again. Before long she found herself back in prison.
  • At some point between 1668 and 1671 she was released again, but by 1671 was back in Hampton, completely destitute.
  • Between this time and her death in October 1680, she was in and out of court a couple more times, but neither time was she returned for prison for long. She was strongly suspected of being a witch by the courts, but they stopped short of convicting her.
  • She lived out her last days in the reluctant care of her fellow Hamptonites, who still thought of her as a witch. She lived in a little shack at the foot of Rand's Hill, on the northeasterly side of the road. This area today is in the vicinity of the Tuck Museum.
  • Legend states that after she died her body was dragged outdoors, pushed into a shallow grave, and a stake driven through it "in order to exorcise the baleful influence she was supposed to have possessed." No one today knows where she was buried, but presumably it is somewhere near to where she lived her final days.
  • During Hampton's Tercentenary celebration, on its 300th anniversary in 1938, the people voted to restore "Goody" Cole to full citizenship and try and make some amends for the wrongs that were done to the poor old woman nearly 300 years earlier. Certified copies of old documents relating to her conviction were burned, and the ashes placed in an urn. The urn was to be buried at some point, but never was, and today sits in the Tuck Museum.
  • During the 1960s many rumours of the "ghost" of Goody Cole haunting the area of Founder's Park became prevalent. This fad passed and such rumours are never heard these days. One of the houses she supposedly "haunted" was that of Frank Fogg. This house is now the main building of the Tuck Museum on Park Avenue.
  • In 1963 an unmarked stone was placed on the lawn of the Tuck Museum as a quiet memorial to Goody Cole. There is another stone that reads simply "Cole -- 1640" amongst the other family stones across the street in Founder's Park.
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