The Annals of Witchcraft in New England: Rachel Fuller and Isabella Towle

By Samuel G. Drake, 1869

Rachel Fuller -- 1680

[An Excerpt]

While Witchcraft was flourishing in Newbury, a most exciting case of it broke forth in Hampton, in 1680. Rachel, the wife of John Fuller, of that town, was charged with causing the death of a child by the practice of Sorcery. A jury of twelve men was impanneled to investigate the charge, and the result as recorded is briefly as follows:

The Jurors say, "being called by authority to view a dead child of John Godfres, being about a year old, which was suspected to be murdered, we find grounds of suspicion that the said child was murdered by Witchcraft: first, in part by what we saw by the dead corpse; second, something we perceived by the party suspected, which was then present, and was examined by authority; and third, by what was said by the Witness."

The names of the Jury were: "Henry Roby, forman, Tho. Marston, Willyam Marston, Abraham Drake, Abraham Perkins, Anthony Taylor, John Smith, Tho. Levet, Aratus Levet, Gershom Elkins, Henry Derbond, and John Sanborne.

"This true list was given in upon oath, the 13th of July, 1680, before me,

"SAMUEL DALTON, of the Council."

The next day John Fuller, the husband of the accused, entered into bonds of £100, for her appearance "to answer to what shall be charged against her in point of Witchcraft," when called for. The cognizance is thus underwritten: "Owned before me 14 July, 1680.


(1) There was a family of this name living at Great Island (Newcastle) a little later. "Audrey Lux, of Portsmouth on Great Island, widow," made her will 9 June, 1688; mentions Grand Children, John and Elizabeth Cranch, children of Andrew Cranch, of Great Island; said children not then 21. If they died before 21, then the property to go to "Abishag Marshall, my dau., wf. of Tho. Marshall, of Great Island." To Son-in-law, Andrew Cranch, 5 Shillings. To dau. Abishag Marshall, all my houses, lands, wharves and orchards. Witnesses, Geo Pearson, Jas, Booth, Geo. Payne, proved, 18 March, 1692-3. LUX is not found in the N. Eng. Gen. Dict.

"SAMUEL DALTON, of the Council."

The same day Elizabeth Denham and Mary Godfrey deposed, "that we, being in discourse with Rachel Fuller, she told us how those that were Witches did so go abroad at night; they did lay their husbands and children asleep; and she said Rachel Fuller told us of several persons that she reckoned for Witches and Wizzards in this Town, to the number of seven or eight. She said eight women and two men; some of whom she expressed by name, as Eunice Cole, Benjamin Evans wife and her daughters, Goodwife Coulter and her daughter Prescott, and Goodwife Towle, and one that is now dead."

"Nathaniel Smith, aged about twenty years, saith, that going to the house of John Fuller, as he was coming home with his herd, the said Fuller's wife asked him what was the news in the Town? The said Smith said he knew none. She told him that the other night there was a great route at Goodman Roby's.(1)
(1)[This was doubtless Henry Roby, a Justice of the Court of Sessions. He was in the interest of Cranfield at one period, and generally in some kind of trouble. He was at Exeter as early as 1638. See Belknap, Hist. N. Hampshire.]
This was at the first time when Dr. Reed was at this town. She said they had pulled Dr. Reed out of the bed, and with an enchanted bridle did intend to lead a jaunt; and he got her by the coat, but could not hold her. I asked her who it was? and she turned from me, and as I thought did laugh.(2)
(2)[No doubt she laughed to think he was so easily made a fool of.]
Sworn the 14th of July, 1680, before me,

"SAMUEL DALTON, of the Council."

Mary, the wife of John Godfrey, and Sarah her daughter, aged about 16 years, gave testimonies too loathsome for recital. They speak of a circumstance which took place "the same day that Mr. Buff went through the Town, about three weeks or a month ago." They attempted some experiments with the water of the child; and "by and by Rachel Fuller came in and looked very strangely; bending, daubed her face with molasses, as she judged it, so as she almost daubed up one of her eyes; and she sat down by Goody Godfrey, who had the sick child in her lap, and took the child by the hand, and Goodwife Godfrey being afraid to see her come in that manner, put her hand off from the child, and wrapped the child's hand in her apron. Then the said Rachel turned her about, and smote the back of her hands together sundry times, and spat in the fire. Then, having herbs in her hands, rubbed and strewed them about the hearth by the fire. Then she sat down again, and said, woman, the child will be well. She then went behind the house. Mehitable Godfrey then told her mother that Goody Fuller was acting strangely. Then Mary Godfrey and Sarah, looking out, saw Rachel Fuller standing with her face towards the house, beating herself with her arms, as men do to warm their hands. This she did three times. Then gathering something something from the ground, went home. Sworn the 14th of July, 1680."

The same day, Mary Godfrey further declared that upon the next day after Rachel Fuller had been "at her house with her face daubed with molasses, the children told their mother that Rachel had told them that if they did lay sweet bays under the threshold, it would keep a Witch from coming in. One of the girls said, Mother I will try it, and she laid bays under the threshold of the back door, all the way, and half way of the breadth of the fore door; and soon after Raychel Fuller came to the house, and she always had formerly come in at the back door, which is next her house; but now she went about to the fore door, and though the door stood open, yet she crowded in on that side where the bays lay not, and rubbed her back against the post, so as that she rubbed off her hat, and then she sat her down and made ugly faces, and nestled about, and would have looked on the child, but I not suffering her, she went out rubbing against the post of the door as she came in, and beat off her hat again; and I never saw her in the house since. Sworn the 14th of July, 1680."

John Godfrey, aged about 48 years, and his wife about 36 years, said that Rachel Fuller came into their house about eight or nine o'clock in the day. Their child was very ill, at which Mrs. Fuller, seeing the mother much troubled, said that "this would be the worst day with it. To-morrow it will be well." She then "patted the child's hand, and took it in hers; at which the mother snatched it away and wrapped it in her apron. Then Mrs. Fuller rose up, and turning her back to Mr. Godfrey, did smite the back side of her hand together, and did spit in the fire.

"Sworn before SAMUEL DALTON, of the Council, July 14th, 1680, and in the Court at Hampton, Sept. 7th, 1680.


The Deposition of one Hazen Levit closes the evidence against Rachel Fuller, so far as discovered, and the proceedings against her end with that deposition. If any further action was had the account of it has not been met with. It is probable the matter was dropped, as the evidence was too silly and puerile for even those benighted times. Hazen Levit said he was about thirty-six years of age. "Riding up to his lot in July last, sun about an hour high, he saw John Fuller's wife upon her hands and knees, scrambling too and fro, first one way and than another, and seemed to him to be mighty lazy; (1)
(1)[It could be wished he had given his definition of this word, as it seems to have been the reverse of that as now understood.]
but after she espied him she left off that manner of acting, and seemed to take up her apron with one of her hands, and with the other to gather up something." It seems she had a "little child with her," and was perhaps gathering up some chips. While she was thus employed, she may have felt annoyed at Leavit's rude scrutiny, for, he says, "she gave him a frowning look at first," and when he went along "she laughted on him." After that he saw "a thing like a little dog," which came from the gate leading to her house and went to her "who was still in the same actions" of scrambling something to put in her apron.

Mrs. Fuller's maiden name was Rachel Brasbridge. She was married to John Fuller, March 19th, 1677, and had six or more children. He died in 1719. His inventory showing considerable estate for the time, about £460.

Isabella Towle -- 1680

Isabella Towle was committed at the same time on the charge of witchcraft, but we find nothing further in regard to her, or how long she and Mrs. Fuller were imprisoned.