Goody Cole and Jonathan Moulton
Excerpts from "Entertaining Satan : Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England", pp. 319-339, by John Putnam Demos, copyright 1983 by Oxford University Press, Inc. Used by permission of Oxford University Press, Inc. This book is an excellent overview of witchcraft in colonial New England and can be purchased through Amazon.com.
By John Putnam Demos
Oxford University Press - 1982
"From Generation to Generation"
The history of Hampton (until 1679 a part of the province of Massachusetts Bay, but belonging thereafter to New Hampshire) seems especially well suited for making this point. For more than twenty years the people of Hampton worried and gossiped about the dubious character of their neighbor, Goodwife Eunice Cole. On at least three occasions they brought her to court for conduct indicating "familiarity with the Devil." She became, in truth, a local celebrity, familiar not only to Hamptonites but also to residents of neighboring towns and to passing boatmen who traded along the New England coast. From a variety of local records it is possible to grasp the long-term continuity in the experience of this alleged witch, and in the town's dealings with her. One can even trace lines of personal contact along which her reputation passed through time and across generations, adding new recruits to the legion of her accusers and victims.
Goody Cole was the first and most notorious witch at Hampton, but she was not the last. As she grew older, attention shifted to other women. New arrests were made, testimony taken, bonds filed -- although, in the end, matters were resolved short of actual convictions. After 1680 there were no further legal actions of this sort, but witchcraft remained a part of the popular consciousness. Well into the eighteenth century, Hamptonites sensed the Devil at work around them.
New towns were stitched together from a dense fabric of personal experience -- the multiform biographies of all the individuals in the founding group. Inevitably, of course, the strength and substance of individual contributions was highly variable. In Hampton the single most powerful influence during the founding period was the Rev. Stephen Bachiller.
The thread of Bachiller's personal history reached far back into the sixteenth century. Born somewhere in the south of England in about 1560, he was graduated from Oxford in 1586, ordained a minister of the Anglican Church, and appointed vicar of Wherwhell in county Hampshire. By the turn of the century he was deeply involved in the Puritan movement -- for which cause he was deprived, in 1605, of his ministerial living. His movements during the following twenty-five years are difficult to trace, but it seems that he preached sporadically to non-conforming groups in various parts of England (and perhaps in Holland). In 1632, when he was already past seventy years old, the Rev. Bachiller sailed for New England, accompanied by a number of relatives, friends, and ecclesiastical followers.(1)
Accepting a call to preach at Saugus (later Lynn) in the Bay Colony, he became at once a center of contention there. Perhaps his views were somewhat "antinomian"; in any case, his preaching was suspended by order of the General Court "for his contempt of authority." Moving temporarily to Ipswich with his little retinue, Bachiller now sought a new locus farther from the seat of government. He considered, then abandoned, a proposal to settle at Yarmouth on Cape Cod. (Governor Winthrop noted, with evident admiration, that Bachiller, "though about seventy-six years of age . . . went thither [to Yarmouth] on foot in a very bard season" -- the distance from Ipswich being about a hundred miles.) Soon the Bachiller party was found at Newbury; it was from there that they planned the settlement of Hampton.(2)
In the autumn of 1638 the General Court granted their petition "to begin a plantation at Winnacunnet" (the Indian name for the site).(3) There were fifteen signers, and Stephen Bachiller's name headed the list.(4) The hard, physical work of "foundation" began almost immediately, and by the next spring a little village was alive and flourishing there, ready for legal incorporation.(5) Meanwhile a tide of additional settlers flowed rapidly in.(6) By the end of the year there were some sixty families on the site -- a total that held, with only minor fluctuations, for several decades. The usual administrative procedures were established, around the focal point of the town meeting. Officers were elected: selectmen, constables, herdsmen (right from the start the town was much involved with cattle-raising),(7) woodwards, haywards, surveyors. Land was parcelled out, according to a complicated (and somewhat obscure) set of criteria. As a result, most settlers received modest, but adequate acreage (in a range from 10 to 30), while ten obtained much larger holdings (80-150 acres), and five were granted "farms" (250-300 acres).(8) Such inequities were characteristic of all New England towns -- though in this case the scale of difference seems exceptionally large.
On other fronts trouble loomed, virtually from the start. Roughly concurrent with the settlement of Hampton, another group had founded the town of Exeter, several miles to the west.(9) Led by John Wheelright -- recently exiled from Massachusetts for his role in the Hutchinson controversy -- and largely sympathetic to "antinomian" views, these people had chosen a site hitherto beyond the borders of the Bay Colony. Their territorial claims were based on a purchase from the local Indians. However, the terms of this purchase embraced parts of Hampton as well; hence there ensued a sharp struggle between the two fledgling communities. A short while later Hampton's boundaries were questioned by her southern neighbor, the town of Salisbury. The dispute with Exeter was gradually resolved -- but not so the other one. Indeed, Hampton and Salisbury engaged in repeated controversy over their common border for another two hundred fifty years! (The line between two colonies -- later states -- was also at issue.)(10)
But far more serious, in the short run, was the growth of conflict within the population of Hampton itself. Some of the particulars are no longer discoverable, but the level of feeling seems clear. Winthrop noted, among his journal entries for 1644, that "the contentions at Hampton were grown to a great height."(11) Once again Stephen Bachiller was found in the eye of the storm. Incredibly --for he was now an octogenarian -- he stood accused of "soliciting the chastity of his neighbor's wife." As a result, he was removed from his ministry (a familiar experience), and formally excommunicated. His supporters tried strenuously, but unsuccessfully, to reverse these actions by appealing to the General Court; they were, it seems, considerably outnumbered within the church congregation.(12) By the late 1640s Bachiller had moved off to Portsmouth, from where he launched a series of lawsuits against his former parishioners at Hampton, claiming "wages" still due for his services.(13) In 1654 he recrossed the ocean, and in 1660 died near London "in the one hundredth year of his age."(14) [Later research proved this statement to be incorrect. The Rev. Bachiler was buried on 31 October 1656 in the Allhallows Staining Church cemetery, in London, England.-- N.H. Genealogical Record, 8:1, (1991)]
Behind the "scandals" laid at the minister's door lurked problems of another sort. Almost certainly, the membership of the Hampton church was divided over ecclesiastical issues, with Bachiller propounding one viewpoint, and his pastoral colleague -- the Rev. Timothy Dalton -- the other. It has been surmised that Bachiller was too "independent" by the standards of his community, even that the Massachusetts leadership connived at his ouster; but evidence on these points is lacking.(15) What seems clearer is a difference in English origins, between the members of the opposing groups. Careful study of signatures on rival petitions, and of ancestral lines to England, shows that most of Bachiller's followers had come from the southern counties, while the Dalton faction was predominantly East Anglian.(16) Bachiller himself noted these differences, in a bitter letter addressed to the elders of the church at Boston. Dalton, he charged, had "been the cause of all the dishonor that accrued . . . to myself . . . by his irregular proceedings, and abuse of the power of the church in his hands, by the major part cleaving to him, being his countrymen and acquaintances in old England."(17)
Strenuous efforts were made to heal this breach in the years 643 and 1644. "Diverse meetings . . . [with] magistrates and elders" might temporarily dampen the controversy, but -- as Winthrop noted -- then it "brake out presently again, each side being apt to take fire upon any provocation." After this point the record thins out, and questions remain about the process leading to a final resolution. No doubt the decision of the Rev. Bachiller to "voluntarily remove [from Hampton] for peace sake" constitutes at least a part of the answer.(18)
With Bachiller gone, conflict swirled away from religion and morality, toward issues of property and politics. In 1646 the town held special meetings to decide the ownership of a vast tract of previously ungranted lands, known as the "cow commons." The upshot was a carefully calibrated plan dividing the lands into 147 shares, and in turn assigning these shares to the established residents. As before, the distribution was an unequal one, with individual householders receiving one, two, or three shares, depending on size of family -- and of tax-rate. Objections were raised by some who felt short-changed in these assignments, and so Hampton was obliged once more to turn to outside arbitration. The usual remonstrances to the General Court brought the usual response, the appointment of a select committee "to search and examine all differences at Hampton."(19) There was a weary sense of deja vu: in the words of one petition, "our differences have been so long and tedious, as that they even make our spirits to droop under them."(20) Eventually, the original order about the commons was allowed to stand, with only minor modifications.
It would be tedious, and unnecessary, to present further details of town conflict in these years, but two general conclusions are worth mentioning. First, substantive issues, as they arose, regularly threatened to immerse the town in new controversy -- so raw were sensitivities on all sides.(21) But, second, the overall level of conflict diminished perceptibly with the passage of time. Indeed, after the early 1650s Hampton seems to have achieved a modus vivendi, with which most, it not all, of her citizens were reasonably comfortable. When new troubles developed, they were effectively contained by procedures internal to the community.
The formal history of witchcraft in Hampton begins with the year 1656. That there was an informal history, extending some time farther back, seems likely -- but not provable from extant materials.(22) In any case, by the spring of 1656 Hamptonites were giving evidence on a wide scale, directed toward the prosecution of Goodwife Eunice Cole. An initial brace of depositions was taken by magistrates in Essex County that April, and was forwarded to Boston for use in a trial before the General Court the following September. The court solicited further testimony of its own, so that some two dozen witnesses eventually took part.(23) Nine manuscript depositions survive today, and provide at least a sampling of the charges against Goody Cole. Two of these imputed illness (a grown man) and death (an infant girl) to her maleficium; three others alleged acts of destruction against domestic animals. The same materials noted a variety of suspicious and seemingly occult phenomena: strange scrapings against houses, fierce cats appearing suddenly and then disappearing, a private conversation that was somehow known to the accused.(24)
But who was Goody Cole? What can be learned of her character? And what was the pattern of her relations with others? The trial testimonies themselves yield some parts of the answer to such questions. She was, first of all, a woman given to threats and curses against those she perceived as antagonists. ("Goodwife Cole said that if this deponent's calves ... did eat any of her grass, she wished it might poison or choke them.")(25) She was herself quite ready to proclaim the influence of witchery. ("Goodwife Cole said that she was sure there was a witch in the town. . . . and that thirteen years ago she knew one bewitched as Goodwife Marston's child was.")(26) She was not reluctant to confront established authority. ("At a meeting with the selectmen, Eunice Cole came in . . . and demanded help of the selectmen for wood or other things; and the selectmen told her she had an estate of her own, and needed no help of the town.")(27)
These scattered glimpses of Eunice Cole interacting with her accusers can be supplemented by evidence of other kinds. She had arrived in New England some two decades before, together with her husband, a carpenter named William. A bill from November 1637 noted the manner of their coming: "William Cole . . . to pay unto Matthew Craddock of London, merchant, the sum of ten pounds of current money . . . for his and his wife's passage, and so to be free of their service to Mr. Craddock."(28) (Twenty years later Craddock took the Coles to court over this debt, "to this day never satisfied.") There was no reference, here or elsewhere, to any younger Coles, and it seems safe to assume that the couple was childless.
It is evident, too, that the Coles were quite poor. Recently freed from service to an English merchant, they assumed a modest position in the little community of Mount Wollaston (later Braintree) just to the south of Boston.(29) Mount Wollaston was the initial base of the controversial "antinomian" preacher, John Wheelwright; it was, from there that he and his followers set out to found the town of Exeter. Because they moved beyond the reach of any provincial authority, the Exeter group drew up special articles of "combination" as a, basis for self-government, All of the first-comers set their hands to these articles, promising thereby to "submit ourselves ... to Godly and Christian laws." Included in the list is the name of William Cole, undersigned with a crude personal mark.(30)
The Coles spent five uneventful years in Exeter. A land division among early householders, with the usual pattern of unequal shares, finds William near the middle of the list.(31) Twice he went to court in minor actions -- once as plaintiff, once as defendant.(32) In 1643 he served as fence-viewer, the only civil office he ever held in New England.(33)
It is not known why the Coles moved to Hampton in 1644, but this change marked a sharp downward turn in their fortunes.(34) In remarkably short order they incurred the enmity of their new neighbors. In 1645 Eunice was charged at Salisbury Court with having made "slanderous speeches" against other Hampton women.(35) Two years later the Coles were sued for the recovery of several pigs which plaintiff alleged they had wrongfully withheld. The court decided against them, and when the constable went to execute the verdict, a violent ruckus ensued. Witnesses reported that Eunice cried "murder, murder," while William ranted about "thieves in the town"; together they bit the constable's hands, knocked him down, and "pulled the swine from him."(36) From this sequence the authorities developed additional, and more serious, charges -- whose resolution is not recorded. In 1651 Eunice was admonished at court for new "misdemeanors," and in 1654 she was "presented" to still another jury.(37) There were, moreover, additional trials for which records are now lost.
If the Coles, and especially Eunice, were increasingly marked as deviant from a legal standpoint, they also gravitated quickly toward the bottom of the local status hierarchy. Hampton tax-lists from 1647 to 1653 show William Cole "rated" fifty-first among sixty householders in the former instance, and dead last out of seventy-two in the latter.(38) A floor plan for the meeting-house, dated 1650, finds William seated near the rear (among men far younger than himself), and Eunice consigned to the back bench of a gallery that was yet to be constructed!(39)
But what of the community in which the Coles found themselves so invidiously placed? Careful demographic reconstruction, focused on the year 1656, has yielded a reasonably clear profile.(40) The total population was a little more than 350, the number of households approximately 65, the average size of household 5.6. The age-structure was heavily skewed toward youth (62 percent of the inhabitants were under twenty years old); among people fully adult there were nearly equal numbers in brackets of thirty to thirty-nine, forty to forty-nine, and over fifty years. Among heads of household and their wives, fully half had lived in Hampton since the time of its founding; two-thirds had been there for at least ten years, and all but a handful for at least five. Of those whose place of origin in England can be traced, some 70 percent came from the eastern counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex. (It was to the influence of this majority that Stephen Bachiller ascribed his own downfall.) Before settling in Hampton, nearly all had stopped at least briefly in some other New England community -- Watertown and Exeter, most especially; also Salem, Newbury, Ipswich, and Dedham.
The spatial arrangement of Hampton was relatively simple. Most of the population lived in a central, nucleated village, clustered on all sides of the "meeting-house green." Several families, however, had home-lots along the roadways that connected the village with the ocean shore (two miles east), or with a ships' "landing" just to the south on Taylor's River.(41) The social structure of Hampton embraced a familiar range of ranks and statuses. Year after year a cadre of perhaps a dozen families filled most of the major town offices, paid the highest taxes (because they controlled the most property), and occupied the coveted front-row seats in the meeting-house.(42)
Here, then, was Hampton on the eve of its first witchcraft trial; a community no longer new, increasingly stable, self-contained, and self-sufficient -- a fully-formed social organism, by the standards of its own time and culture. The prosecution of Eunice Cole itself affirms this impression of integrated structure, for the people who testified against her represented a notably broad spectrum of local townsfolk; no single descriptive category will suffice to characterize them. For example, their spatial disposition within the town was almost random. Three sides of the village green produced witnesses for the trial; so, too, did the settlements along the outlying roads.(43) Nor was place of origin a significant determinant of trial participation; East Anglians predominated, but not disproportionately to their numbers in the town -- and other regions of Old England were represented as well.(44) A strong majority of the witnesses belonged to the families of "firstcomers," but several had arrived only within the previous decade.(45) The sexes were evenly represented (eleven apiece); and, with the exception of three young persons and one elderly widower, all the witnesses were married. Only the categories of age and social position yield anything like an uneven distribution. The age-group thirty to thirty-nine was somewhat more heavily represented (relative to its overall size) than other ten-year brackets.(46) And the status-group classified "high," as against "middle" and "low," was also distinctly preponderant. (The "low" group produced its fair share of witnesses, while the "middle" was somewhat underrepresented.(47)
In sum, this analysis of the witnesses to Eunice Cole's "witchcraft" reveals a general movement against her, led by people of recognized standing in the community. Her prospects must, then, have seemed rather bleak, in the summer of 1656, as her case headed for trial before the Court of Assistants.
Unfortunately, the verdict in this case is nowhere recorded. All previous writers on Hampton have assumed a conviction -- and a punishment by whippings and long imprisonment.(48) However, there is reason to conclude otherwise. Witchcraft was a capital crime in Massachusetts Bay, and a judgment of guilt invariably brought the death sentence. Yet Goody Cole was certainly not executed. Indeed she was back in Hampton by at least 1658, creating new difficulties for herself and her neighbors.(49)
The sequence of her life in these, and succeeding, years is extremely difficult to follow, for only some parts are documented. In 1660 she was prosecuted for "unseemly speeches . . . in saying to Huldah Hussey [a young neighbor], 'where is your mother Mingay, that whore? . . . She is abed with your father, that whore-master.'"(50) A short while later she was in jail at Boston, petitioning the court "for her liberty." (With considerable pathos, she pleaded her own "condition" as an "aged and weak woman," and the special needs of her husband-"he being 88 years of age and troubled often with swellings and aches in his body . . . at which times I do take such pains with him as none but a wife would do.")(51) In October 1662 the court granted her request, upon certain conditions, and she evidently returned to Hampton before the end of the year.(52)
Her husband, however, had died that summer, and local authorities were already in the process of settling his estate. William Cole had written a will in May 1662, leaving Eunice only her "clothes which she left with me," and giving the rest of his property to a neighbor named Thomas Webster "upon condition of his keeping of me comfortably during the term of my natural life.(53) Eunice could hardly have been pleased with this plan, but the records do not show her own part in the probate arrangements. Subsequently, the court elected to modify William Cole's will, dividing the estate evenly between Webster and the unfortunate widow. After various debts had been paid Eunice's share came to a mere £8, and this, in turn, was ordered withheld from her "to be improved" by the selectmen "for her necessity.(54) Almost certainly, these proceedings left a residue of bitter feeling, sufficient to energize still another charge of witchcraft -- ten years later.(55)
Meanwhile Eunice Cole continued to bounce back and forth between Hampton and the Boston jail. The spring of 1665 found her approaching the General Court with a new petition for release from imprisonment -- which was granted "upon her [giving] security to depart from, and abide out of, this jurisdiction.(56) It does not appear that she accepted these terms: how, after all, would an elderly, improverished widow start over in an entirely new setting? Perhaps, then, she remained a impoverished prisoner for some years longer;(57) there is no further trace of her at Hampton until about 1670. Whatever the legal troubles of Goody Cole in the decade of the 1660s, witchcraft was not among them. Other crimes (such as "unseemly speeches") served to sustain her adversary relationship with the towns-people of Hampton. But there is no reason to think that her reputation for witchcraft had been dissipated; on the contrary, it flourished as vigorously as ever. One episode, recalled much later, will serve to illustrate. The setting was Hampton, on an evening near the end of the year 1662; a selectmen named Abraham Perkins was approaching her house on an errand, when:
I heard a discoursing . . . and, harkening, I heard the voice of Eunice Cole and a great hollow voice answer her, and the said Eunice seemed to be discontented with something, finding fault, and the said hollow voice spake to her again in a strange and unworldly [?] manner . . . as if one had spoken out of the earth or in some hollow vessel. . . . And I being much amazed to hear that voice, I went and called Abraham Drake and Alexander Denham, and we three went to her house and harkened, and heard the said Eunice Cole speak and the said strange voice answer her diverse times, and the said Eunice Cole went up and down in the house and clattered the door to and again, and spake as she went, and the said voice made her answer in a strange manner . . . and there was a shimmering of a red color in the chimney corner.(58)
This exchange, so patently terrifying to the men who watched and listened, would eventually sustain a formal indictment, charging that "Eunice Cole of Hampton, widow, . . . not having the fear of God before her eyes, and being instigated by the Devil, did on the 24th of November in the year 1662 . . . enter into covenant with the Devil. . . ."(59) Significantly, however, the indictment was not returned until 1673. Doubtless, in the interim there was much local gossip about the "shimmering" presence which bad visited widow Cole on that fateful November evening; but for ten years it remained gossip -- and nothing more.
This sequence raises obvious questions of timing, and invites further investigation of the history of Hampton during the intervening years. Why did the community wait so long before renewing its legal battle against witchcraft? As mentioned previously, Eunice Cole may have spent much of this period in prison at Boston; if so, the incentive for a new prosecution would have been somewhat diminished. However, that is not the whole story. For during the decade of the 1660s Hamptonites were increasingly preoccupied with external risks and dangers. The problem which faced them was not new, but now -- as never before -- it threatened their property, their political rights, and the integrity of their community.
In order to understand this situation, it is necessary to trace the history of the so-called "Mason patent" for northern New England.(60) Deriving from grants by King Charles I to a minor courtier and colonial adventurer named Captain John Mason, the patent remained until mid century largely undeveloped. Meanwhile, settlers arrived in the designated region, establishing new towns (including Hampton) under the administrative oversight of Massachusetts Bay. In 1650 John Mason's grandson and principal heir obtained in England a judgment favorable to the family claim -- which, however, was immediately contested by the Bay Colony. Out of favor with the Cromwell regime, the Masons had no quick opportunity to break this impasse.
But their prospects brightened considerably following the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. The new king's attorney general reaffirmed that "Robert Mason . . . had a good and legal title to the Province of New Hampshire."(61) And the royal "commission" sent to New England in 1664-65 sharpened the issue by making it for the first time immediate and personal. Among other things, the commissioners challenged the jurisdiction of Massachusetts over the New Hampshire towns; indeed, at Portsmouth they appointed new officials directly responsible to the king. The whole region experienced, as a result, an extreme public agitation.(62) The political status of the various towns seemed suddenly unclear, and their territorial rights insecure; moreover, detached from Massachusetts, they would be far more vulnerable to the designs of Robert Mason.
As one of the communities directly involved, Hampton shared in the general excitement. During the summer of 1665 the town held special meetings to consider various avenues of response. Eventually a committee was appointed to "remonstrate" with the commissioners, and to "make answer to any claims or objections" that might be made against the rights of the local citizenry.(63) Subsequent meetings declared the strong desire of Hamptonites to retain their connection with Massachusetts. In all this they cooperated closely with their neighbors at Exeter, Portsmouth, and Dover.(64) Toward the end of the year the commissioners returned to England, with the issue still unresolved. The people of New Hampshire obtained thereby a brief period of remission; but Mason continued to press his interests as best he could, and he would find new -- and better -- openings in the future.
In 1672 the long-festering currents of fear and spite converged to produce the second major witchcraft prosecution at Hampton. Two developments seem to have opened the way. First, the "crisis" of the previous decade had temporarily abated, permitting the reassertion of internal concerns. And, second, Eunice Cole had returned home, under circumstances that were bound to create difficulty. The record suggests that she was now wholly a public charge. Apparently she was living in a small hut erected by the town; meanwhile individual householders took turns in supplying her daily needs for food and fuel.(65)
As in her previous trial for witchcraft, the prosecution mounted a large body of testimony against Eunice Cole. Fourteen depositions, taken between October 1672 and April 1673, are still extant;(66) they record the impressions of sixteen different witnesses, about twelve distinct episodes. Once again the range of the witness group seems notable -- whether measured in terms of age, sex, social position, or place of residence.
But most striking of all, in this 1673 case, is the blending of old and new material. Several major depositions recall events from a much earlier period: an angry encounter with the defendant "about 16 or 17 years ago";(67) a Sabbath service "many years since" when a "small creature . . . fell out of the bosom of Eunice Cole"(68) the mysterious death of a newborn child to whom Eunice had been denied access, "about ten years ago";(69) her alleged "covenant" with the Devil, made on a November evening in 1662.(70) The court accepted such evidence, "though it speaks of what was done many years since, because it was never brought in against her before."(71)
Of course, there was much new evidence as well. The town constable, whose task it was to deliver to Eunice Cole the maintenance donated by the townspeople, recounted a series of recent misadventures. Eunice, he noted, would be often finding fault with him about her provision, and complaining that it was not so good as was brought in to him" -- whereupon his own bread turned rotten, and for weeks together "we could never make any bread ... at home but it would stink and prove,loathsome." Inevitably, the deponants grew "suspicious that Goody Cole had enchanted our oven.(72) On another occasion Eunice quarreled with a local night-watch, and "the next day [he] fell sick, and lay sick about a fortnight."(73) There were renewed allegations that imps "sucked" on Eunice during Sabbath services.(74) But -- most important among the newer charges -- he was supposed to have "used means" on a young girl named Ann Smith, "all tending to entice her to live with her.(75)
Four different witnesses gave evidence on this latter point: Ann Smith herself (called "about the age of nine years"), Anna Huggins (age fourteen), Sarah Clifford (age thirty), and Bridget Clifford (age fifty-six).(76) One episode, in particular, exemplified the larger pattern:
Bridget Clifford ... saith [that] the last summer . . . she sent Ann Smith into the cabbage yard, and some [time) after my daughter Sarah said that she heard her cry in the orchard. And ... when she came crying out of the orchard, I asked her what she ailed, and she said she knew not, but when she came she spake these words: "she will knock me on the head: she will kill me." And . . . my daughter Sarah took her up and carried her into her house which was near mine. And when she had laid her in the cradle, the child related to us two that when she was in the cabbage yard there came an old woman to her in a blue coat and a blue cap and a blue apron and a white neckcloth, and took her up and carried her under the persimmon tree, and told her that she would live with her. Then, said she, "the old woman struck me on the head with a stone"; and then she turned into a little dog and ran up the tree, and flew away like an eagle.(77)
Among the many intriguing aspects of this testimony, the "enticement" theme commands special attention. Evidently this was not a new accusation against Goody Cole. The court noted that "it was her design formerly to insinuate herself into young ones," and recalled an earlier trial when another local girl had testified "how many ways, and in how any forms, she [Eunice] did appear to her."(78) There is pathos, as well as terror, in these charges. Herself childless through many years of marriage, Eunice Cole may have sought in her widowhood to become a parent," after all. It would be easy enough to understand her yearnings in this direction, given a culture which consistently affirmed child-bearing as a central part of life.
But there are further questions to raise here. Why, for example, was Ann Smith the particular object of the widow's interest? How did this one girl fall under the shadow of those dark fears and pressures which had attached to Goody Cole from a much earlier time? To explore such issues is to commit oneself to some painfully complicated demographic reconstruction; but the outcome will be worth the effort.
Ann Smith's personal history begins with her birth, at Exeter, in the year 1663.(79) She was the second child of one Nicholas Smith; her brother, Nathaniel, was three years older.(80) Her mother died when she was still an infant, and both Ann and Nathaniel were subsequently placed" in the family of William Godfrey of Hampton. Their natural father remarried within a few years, but evidently made no effort to reclaim the children for his own household. William and Margery Godfrey, henceforth foster-parents for the two young Smiths, were already well along in life.(81) Each had been previously married and widowed; each had children by the former spouse. In addition, they bad raised a son and two daughters of their own, who ranged in age from about eighteen to twenty-four when the Smiths came into the household.
William Godfrey died in 1671, and soon thereafter his widow made her third marriage -- to a Hampton neighbor named John Marion.(82) Nathaniel Smith remained with his adoptive mother through these various changes.(83) Ann, however, was by 1672 transferred to still another family, headed by Goodman John Clifford.(84) The Clifford household was itself extremely complex, for John had been married twice previously, and his current wife, Bridget, at least once; moreover, there were children from all of their earlier unions.(85) As of 1672 the Clifford menage comprised the following persons:
|Brodget [---] (Huggins) Clifford||56|
|Hannah Clifford (d. of John and first wife)||23|
|Bridget Huggins (d. of Bridget and first husband)||21|
|Israel Clifford (s. of John and first wife )||19|
|Joseph Richardson (s. of John's second wife and her previous husband)||17|
|Benjamin Richardson (s. of John's second wife and her previous husband)||15|
|Elizabeth Clifford (d. of John and second wife)||13|
|Anna Huggins (d. of Bridget and first husband)||13|
|Nathaniel Huggins (s. of Bridget and first husband)||12|
|Esther Clifford (d. of John and second wife)||10|
|Ann Smith (d. of Nicholas Smith; adoptive d. of William Godfrey)||9|
|Isaac Clifford (s. of John and second wife)||8|
Meanwhile, John Clifford, junior (son of John and his first wife), was living in the next house, with his bride of two years, Sarah [Godfrey] Clifford.(86)
This situation requires summary, from the particular vantage point of Ann Smith. The Cliffords' was the third household in which she had lived. She had experienced the loss by death, first of her natural mother, and later of her adoptive father; and, in each case, the surviving parent (natural father, adoptive mother) had acceded in her transfer to a new setting. Her current family was composed of thirteen persons, including eleven children with four different surnames. To be sure, fosterage was not uncommon in early New England; more than a few families were rearranged by the death of one spouse, and the remarriage of the other. But the complexity of the Clifford household was extreme, and the changes experienced by young Ann Smith were unusually frequent and jarring. Under all these circumstances, Ann might well have felt her new position (among the Cliffords) to be somewhat uncomfortable, even precarious. Where was her real home? To whom did she finally belong? Was it fanciful to suppose, as life continued to move her about, that she might one day fall into the clutches of a witch-mother?
These data help to explain why Eunice Cole, longing for a child "to live with her," might have fastened her interest on Ann Smith. They also suggest why Ann herself might have been made especially jittery by any overt approach. But there is still more to ask about the circumstances which brought these two together. How had Ann come to learn of the widow's "witchcraft" in the course of her childhood years? To what extent was she prepared, by those around her, for what would happen in the summer of 1672? 1
It is clear, in the first place, that the Clifford family supported her charges against Eunice Cole; three of them supplied personal testimony for the prosecution. But these three -- Bridget Clifford, Sarah Clifford, and Anna Huggins -- were themselves recent arrivals in the household; and, in each case, it was prior experience that shaped their participation in the 1673 trial. Bridget had served as a witness in the first witchcraft prosecution, seventeen years before.(87) She was then the wife of John Huggins -- who, as town constable, had once been responsible for whipping Goody Cole.(88) Anna Huggins was Bridget's daughter by her first husband. And Sarah Clifford was originally Sarah Godfrey, daughter of William; her brother, John, was another of the witnesses at the earlier trial.(89)
The Godfrey connection was important in one final way. William Godfrey's wife, Margery, was the mother by a previous marriage of Thomas Webster -- the same man whom William Cole bad designated as his principal legatee.(90) This suggests the following possibilities, hypothetical but hardly fanciful. Widow Cole would likely have resented Thomas Webster's claim to property that she regarded as rightfully her own. And Webster, knowing her reputation as a grasping sort, surely expected such resentment; more, be anticipated some form of retaliation. These anxieties were freely expressed in the home of his mother-where Ann Smith, young and impressionable, was living as a foster-child. Time and again, she would hear of the spiteful widow in terms that left too little, or too much, to the imagination. (Had Goody Cole muttered a curse, as she passed by the gate this morning? What was she doing be- side Thomas Webster's barn on the day his cows took sick?) This much, we can reasonably suppose, Ann Smith carried with her in moving from one foster-family to the next.
To summarize, the lives of Eunice Cole and Ann Smith were joined in a social web of many strands and complicated structure. Smiths, Godfreys, Websters, Cliffords, Hugginses: each of these families contributed something to the sequence that would eventually bring the orphaned girl and the elderly widow into fateful contact. It remains now to characterize the entire group of witnesses in the 1673 trial, so as to show their collective relation to the defendant through time and space. Of sixteen deponents, three had also participated in the trial of 1656. Five more were relatives of people who had witnessed on that earlier occasion. Four had moved into Hampton since 1656 and four were from neighboring towns. Among all of these together, at least seven (and perhaps as many as nine) were under the age of thirty-five. The total picture reveals, first, some widening of the defendant's reputation beyond the borders of Hampton proper,(91) and, second, a process of transmission from one generation to the next. Like Sabbath services and barn-raisings, Goody Cole's witchcraft bad become a local institution.
Convicted in the minds of her Hampton neighbors, Eunice would still have her day in court at Boston. In April 1673 the Essex County magistrates ordered her committed to jail "in order to her further trial."(92) Her case was called late that summer, and the grand jury approved her indictment.(93) But the final verdict turned in her favor -- just barely: "In the case of Eunice Cole, now prisoner at the bar, [we find her] not legally guilty according to indictment, but [there is] just ground of vehement suspicion of her having had familiarity with the Devil.(94) So back she went, to whatever was left of her life in Hampton.
Several years later Hampton undertook its third, and last, prosecution for witchcraft. Interestingly, Eunice Cole was no longer the leading figure; other women had now been pushed to center stage. The case began with the death of a little child -- Moses Godfrey, age fifteen months -- in July 1680. A jury of inquest found "grounds of suspicion that the said child was murdered by witchcraft.(95) Naming no names, the jurymen nonetheless alluded to "a party suspected," and the following day the court took bond from one John Fuller to guarantee that "Rachel, his wife, shall appear . . . to answer what shall be charged against her in point of witchcraft.(96)
In fact, the suspicious death of the Godfrey child was not the only count against Goodwife Fuller.(97) Various personal testimonies portrayed her as a generally eccentric figure. Often she had played the role of an expert on witchcraft, describing "how those that were witches did go abroad at night." Once she had named "several persons that she reckoned as witches and wizards in this town.(98) (Her list included Eunice Cole.) On another occasion she bad told a neighbor of "a great rout at Goodman Roby's ... when [witches] had pulled Doctor Reed out of the bed, and with an enchanted bridle did intend to lead a jaunt.(99) Moreover, she had specifically advised the Godfrey family to "Lay sweet bays under the threshold; it would keep a witch from coming in." As things turned out, this procedure served to implicate Rachel herself:
One of the girls . . . 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 Rachel Fuller came to the house. And she had always 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 the bays Lay not, and rubbed her back against the [door]-post so as that she rubbed off her hat. And then she sat down, and made ugly faces, and nestled about. . . . And when she was in the house, she looked under the door where the bays lay."(100)
Rachel Fuller diverged, in one respect, from the usual pattern in these cases; at twenty-five, she was among the youngest persons ever to stand trial for witchcraft in colonial New England. Married just three years before, she had two small sons of her own. Her father, John Brabrook, had been an early and prominent settler at Watertown;(101) Rachel, however, did not know him, for he died in the year of her birth.(102) Her mother was left to raise eight small children. As time passed, the family became increasingly dependent on public assistance.(103) (Even before John Brabrook's death, there was a house-fire, which devastated the family properties.)(104) Several Brabrook children were farmed out into foster-households. Rachel lived for some period with an uncle -- a rich uncle, at that -- in Newbury.(105) Her marriage to John Fuller of Hampton came in 1677. Like Rachel, Fuller had been raised by an uncle, and tasted wealth and prestige without really sharing in it.(106) Perhaps these ambiguities, these elements of social and personal dislocation, contributed indirectly to the process from which Rachel emerged as "suspect." Other accused witches came from similarly checkered back- grounds. Surely, however, the immediate source: of the feeling against her was her manifest eccentricity -- and her strong interest in all things occult. Such a woman, however youthful, could not but alarm her neighbors.
A second person was charged as a witch that summer at Hampton. Isabella Towle by name, she was a woman in her late forties, married, and the mother of nine children.(107) Her husband, Philip, was first a seaman," and later a "yeoman" of average position in the community. Beyond this the record does not speak. Particularly unfortunate is the lack of any material on the substantive charges against Goodwife Towle. All that survives is a court order, from September 1680, that "Rachel Fuller and Isabel Towle, being apprehended and committed upon suspicion of witchcraft . . . still continue in prison till bond be given for their good behavior of £100 apiece, during the Court's pleasure. Both defendants were discharged in the following year.
But were there other defendants, in addition to these two? A single, stray reference supplies a familiar name: "At a quarter court held at Hampton, . . . 7 September 1680, . . . Eunice Cole, of Hampton [was] by authority committed to prison on suspicion of being a witch; and, upon examination of testimonies, the Court vehemently suspects her so to be, but [there is] not full proof. [Defendant] is sentenced and confined to imprisonment, and to be kept in durance until this court take further orders, with a lock to be kept on her leg. In the meantime, the selectmen of Hampton (are] to take care to provide for her as formerly, that she may be retained."(109)
The timing of these events invites further comment. As noted previously, the "Mason patent" had claimed the attention of Hamptonites at intervals since at least mid-century; here, indeed, was the single greatest threat to their life as a community. In the 1650s, when the town produced its first witchcraft prosecution, the Masons could find no good openings to press their case. In the 1660s events turned sharply in their favor, and Hampton, like the other New Hampshire settlements, was preoccupied with questions of political defense; meanwhile there were no indictments for witchcraft.
The same reverse correlation can be posited for the 1670s. In the early part of this decade the threat from outside had temporarily abated, and the years 1672-73 brought new efforts in court to rid the town of its most notorious "witch." But soon thereafter the Masons returned to the attack. In 1675 they gained more legal judgments in their favor.(110) And in 1676 Edward Randolph, the Crown's leading trouble-shooter for colonial affairs, arrived in Boston to press various claims against New England -- including that of the Masons.(111) Randolph went to New Hampshire in person, and aroused a flurry of anxious reaction. At Hampton, for example, the minister and other leading men drafted an urgent statement "to clear [the townspeople] from having any hand in damnifying Mr. Mason ... and for the full vindication of their rights.(112) The upshot was renewed litigation in England -- and, finally, a decision to constitute the New Hampshire towns as a separate, royal province. A commission from the king in 1679 established new machinery of government, providing considerable scope for the colonists themselves.(113) Once again, the Mason threat seemed to recede -- and, once again (in 1680), Hamptonites made witchcraft their central point of concern.
But the Masons were not done yet. Disappointed in their hopes for political control of New Hampshire, they still held claims to ownership of the land. In 1681 Robert Mason visited the colony, and sought to persuade (or frighten) individual settlers into accepting leases for their property.(114) These efforts were largely unsuccessful, and so Mason returned to England and mounted a new strategy.. In 1682 his friend, Edward Cranfield, received appointment as governor of New Hampshire, under a commission that conferred extraordinarily wide powers.(115) The following years were tumultuous ones for New Hampshire; charges of "rebellion" and "tyranny" flew back and forth between the Cranfield administration and the local citizenry. At Hampton, in fact, plans were laid for armed protest -- plans that were frustrated only by prompt intervention from the governor himself. The insurgent leader, one Edward Gove, was arrested, tried for "high treason," convicted, and condemned to death; eventually, however, his sentence was commuted to imprisonment in the Tower of London.(116) So it was that Hampton, and "Gove's Rebellion," have a modest claim to be considered in the story of resistance to imperial oppression.
Meanwhile, the governor had issued a new proclamation, requiring that the people of the colony take leases on their houses and lands from Robert Mason. A spate of lawsuits followed -- most of them decided, allegedly by packed juries, in favor of Mason.(117) Inevitably, there were appeals, which prolonged the controversy through the Andros regime of the late 1680s and beyond.
The political history of Hampton need not detain us further, for we have reached a terminus in the sequence of local witchcraft trials. But if the trials ended in 1680, the belief in witches -- and the fears which attended such belief -- continued long thereafter. Here we must leave the relatively firm ground of documentary evidence (contemporaneous with the events described), and enter the uncertain area of folk "tradition." Such material is not susceptible to detailed analysis; but it deserves to be sampled, if only briefly.
The lore of Hampton mentions at least two local "witches" from the eighteenth century. One was a woman named Brown-apparently elderly, widowed, and extremely poor. She lived by herself on an isolated road, and at least some Hamptonites were fearful of passing that way. The only printed reference to her witchcraft notes the mysterious disappearance of some pigs, whose owner had stopped one day to visit with her. While she lived, there must have been many similar stories -- circulating by word of mouth among the townspeople, and becoming in time a staple part of everyday gossip.(118)
The second eighteenth-century witch at Hampton cuts a strikingly different figure. "General" Jonathan Moulton carried the name of an old and extremely prominent local family. He served with distinction in various Indian wars and in the Revolution itself.(119) He was frequently a town officer and a deputy to the colonial legislature; he was also elected as a delegate to the convention that drew up the state constitution. He early was a businessman of great energy and wide interests. For many years his "store" was the hub of economic life in Hampton; he owned, as well, a number of local mills. After the Revolution be speculated heavily in lands all over New Hampshire.(120) From these activities he prospered greatly -- some thought too greatly. His reputation was that of a "sharp dealer." On one occasion, at least, his property was vandalized by a "violent, riotous, and tumultuous" mob, which accused him of turning an unfair profit from goods washed up on Hampton beach in a shipwreck.(121) But this man's reputation reached out in other directions as well. Shrewd and sharp as he was, his great wealth seemed to some Hamptonites inexplicable except by reference to supernatural influence. Rumor declared that Moulton was in league with the Devil.
One incident served to crystallize the full range of these attitudes. Late on a March night in 1769, Jonathan Moulton's house burned to the ground. It was, in truth, a mansion by the standards of the time; and the fire made sensational news, reported in detail as far away as Boston.(122) There was no injury to persons, but the loss in property was estimated at a full £3000. Evidently, there were many in Hampton who felt that Moulton had simply received his due. Indeed -- according to later tradition --
the report was at once spread far and wide that the fire had been set by the Devil, because the General had cheated him in a bargain. . . . The "facts" have been stated thus -- The Devil was to have the General's soul after a certain number of years, in consideration of which, at stated periods he was to fill the General's boot with gold and silver -- the boot being hung up in the chimney for that purpose. Whether a bootful at a time was not sufficient to meet his demands for money is not stated; but on a time when [the Devil] came to fill the boot, he found it took a quantity so vast that he descended into the chimney to see what the matter was, and to his surprise he found that the General had cut off the foot of the boot! And the room below was so full of money that be could not proceed to the door, and was compelled to go back up the chimney again.(123)
This account diverged at many points from the pattern in comparable cases a century earlier. The suspect was a man of the highest social and economic position. His "witchcraft" was entirely a matter of acquisitiveness, not malice and destruction for its own sake. Moreover, there was no obvious victim here -- save the Devil himself. Moulton may be viewed as an early capitalist, in a society whose main features were still precapitalist. His great and distinctive talent was the use of money to create more money. This form of enterprise was equated with "cheating" not only because of its prodigious success, but also because it ignored traditional values.
Financial manipulation was, indeed, central to the story of Moulton's transactions with the Devil. A bootful of money can become a roomful -- if clever "tricks" are employed. (It is striking, by way of contrast, that seventeenth-century witchcraft rarely seemed to involve money; instead, the property at risk typically comprised land, produce, domestic animals, food, drink, and the like.) But if greed was Moulton's sin, the envy of his detractors seems equally evident. There is even a hint of admiration here; how many men, after all, had managed to fool the Devil? Finally, there is humor; then, as now, such a tale would surely evoke amusement. But, again, these attitudinal postures marked a change in the lore of witchcraft. They belonged to the world of eighteenth-century folk culture, where the Devil and his legions displayed a new, less menacing aspect than heretofore.
The burning of his house was only a temporary setback for Jonathan Moulton; quickly he built a new one, more grand than the first. His later years brought additional honors and greater prosperity -- but no discernible mellowing of local attitudes toward his person and career. A town historian writes "that news of his death [in 1788] was carried to the haymakers on the marsh; and the cry 'General Moulton is dead!' was passed along from mouth to mouth for miles, in no regretful tones."(124) And there is one more story attached to his death. His body, having been prepared for burial, was suddenly missing from the coffin. The people of Hampton were not surprised. "The Devil," they whispered knowingly to one another, "has got his own at last."(125)
As time passed, new names and new events were added to the lore of Hampton witchcraft; but always, it seems, Eunice Cole retained pride of place. Well down into the nineteenth century the legend of her deeds, and misdeeds, was embellished through constant retelling. About 1840 a Hamptonite wrote of Goody Cole as follows: "Whatever may have been the old woman's crimes and misfortunes, still many a mother has been indebted to her for hushing their crying children. The fear of her name would alarm the most courageous, or subdue the worst temper, from generation to generation."(126)
These elements of local tradition go well beyond the documentary record from the various trials of Eunice Cole. Their relation to the historical reality of seventeenth-century Hampton is quite uncertain; but they do reveal much about the place of witchcraft in the minds of later generations of Hamptonites. What, then, were the tales which subdued tempers and hushed the cries of children? A few examples will have to suffice.
A carpenter named Peter Johnson, born and raised at Hampton in the settlement years, was one of several young men who dared to "torment" Goody Cole, "playing upon her many a trick." On a particular occasion, while Johnson was framing a house, Goody Cole stood by and taunted him about his work. In a flash of anger the carpenter hurled his axe in her direction. The axe missed its target and stuck in the ground, the handle upwards" -- and Johnson could not pull it free. Eventually, he made apologies and asked Eunice "to give him his axe again"; whereupon she lifted it out "with the greatest ease." On an evening not long thereafter, several "young folks" peeked at Goody Cole's window, "and saw her busily engaged in turning a bowl with something in it, apparently in the shape of a boat; at last she turned it over and exclaimed, 'there, the Devil has got the imps.' That night news came that Peter Johnson, carpenter, and James Philbrick, mariner, were drowned at the same hour in the river near the creek now [circa 1840] known as Cole's creek."(127)
Vengeance, of terrible proportions, was always a central theme in the legend of Goody Cole. One special instance caught the attention long afterward of a famous American poet. In the autumn of 1657 a boat had capsized in Hampton harbor with dreadful result, as noted in the town records: "The sad hand of God [came] upon eight persons, going in a vessel by sea from Hampton to Boston, who were all swallowed up But the "sad hand of God" was not the only way in the ocean...."(128) to explain this disaster. A quite different version was preserved in folklore -- and then in a poem, "The Wreck of Rivermouth," by John Greenleaf Whittier:
Two hundred years ago and more,
A boat sailed through the winding ways
Of Hampton River to that low shore ....
"Fie on the witch!" cried a merry girl,
As they rounded the point where Goody Cole
Sat by her door with her wheel a twirl,
A bent and blear-eyed poor old soul.
"O-ho!" she muttered "ye're brave today!
But I bear the little waves laugh and say,
'The broth will be cold that waits at home;
For it's one to go, but another to come!'"
"She's cursed," said the skipper; "Speak her fair.
I'm scary always to see her shake
Her wicked head, with its old gray hair,
And nose like a hawk, and eyes like a snake,"
But merrily still, with laugh and shout,
From Hampton River the boat sailed out ....
They saw not the shadow that walked beside,
They heard not the feet with silence shed,
But thicker and thicker a hot mist grew,
Shot by the lightnings through and through
And muffled growls, like the growl of a beast,
Ran along the sky from west to east. . . .
Veering and tacking, they backward wore;
And just as a breath from the woods ashore
Blew out to whisper of danger past,
The wrath of the storm came down at last!
The skipper hauled at the heavy sail:
"God be our help," he only cried.
As the roaring gale, like the stroke of a flail,
Smote the boat on its starboard side.
Suddenly seaward swept the squall;
The low sun smote through cloudy rack;
the shoals stood clear in the light, and all
The trend of the coast lay hard and black.
But far and wide as eye could reach,
No life was seen upon wave or beach.
The boat that went out at morning never
Sailed back again into Hampton River.(129)
Goody Cole's own end is not mentioned in the town records; but once again "tradition" has preserved a chilling account. In her last illness she remained alone in her house, with all the windows and doors boarded up save one. Presently the neighbors, seeing no further sign of her, mustered their courage and forced their way in. They found her quite dead. As quickly as they could, they dug a hole in the ground beside the house. They threw the body down, covered it, and then "drove a stake through it, with a horseshoe attached, to prevent her from ever coming up again.(130)
The alleged site of this strange burial is still a point of interest among the people of Hampton. So, too, is the Cole house lot, with its ancient well. For the latter, special claims are made. It is said that ship-masters used to stop there to fill their casks, in the belief that the water would never become brackish.(131)
In 1938, on the three hundredth anniversary of the founding of Hampton, the town took official action to square accounts with Goody Cole: "Resolved, that we, the citizens . . .. of Hampton, in the town meeting assembled, do hereby declare that we believe that Eunice (Goody) Cole was unjustly accused of witchcraft and familiarity with the Devil in the 17th century, and we do hereby restore to the said Eunice (Goody) Cole her rightful place as a citizen of the town of Hampton."(132) The resolution was passed by unanimous vote.
In fact, the legend of Goody Cole has become a cherished part of the local culture. A bronze urn in the Town Hall holds some material purported to be her earthly remains. A stone memorial on the village green affirms her twentieth-century rehabilitation.
There are exhibits on her life in the [Tuck Memorial] Museum [at 40 Park Avenue, Hampton, NH] of the local historical society, There are even some new tales in which she plays a ghostly, though harmless, part: an aged figure, in tattered shawl, seen walking late at night along a deserted road, or stopping in the early dawn to peer at gravestones by the edge of the green.(133)
And now an author's postscript. Picture the living room of a comfortable house in Hampton. A stranger has come there, to examine a venerable manuscript, held in this family through many generations. Laboriously, his eyes move across the page, straining to unravel the cramped and irregular script of a bygone era. Two girls, aged nine or ten, arrive home from school; after a brief greeting they move off into an alcove and begin to play. Awash in the sounds of their game, the stranger looks up from his work and listens. "Goody Cole," cries one of the girls, "I'll be Goody Cole!" "Yes," responds the other, "and I'll be the one who gives you a whipping -- you mean old witch!"(134)
It is a long way from her time to ours, but Goody Cole has made the whole journey.
Footnotes To Chapter 10
(1) On Bachiller's life, see The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, XXXXVI (1892), 58-64, 157-61, 246-51, 345-50; and Sybil Noyes, Charles Thornton Libby, and Walter Goodwin Davis, Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire (repr. Baltimore, Md., 1972), 81-82.
(3) Petition to the General Court, September 6, 1638, in Noble and Cronin, eds., Records of the Court of Assistants of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, I, 236. A memorandum noting approval of the petition is in Suffolk Court Files, no. 26. (4) For an excellent study of the settler-group, see V. C. Sanborn, "The Grantees and Settlement of Hampton, N.H.," in Essex Institute Historical Collections, LIII (1917), 228-49.
(6) See Joseph Dow, History of the Town of Hampton, New Hampshire, 2 vols., (Salem, Mass., 1893), I, ch. 1. This work, one of the finest of all New England local histories, is an indispensable reference.
(7) The contemporary chronicler of New England life, Edward Johnson, wrote as follows about Hampton: "The great store of salt marsh did entice this people to set down their habitation there, for as yet cows and cattle of that kind were not come to the great downfall in their price, of which they have about 450 head." See J. Franklin Jameson, ed., Johnson's Wonder-Working Providence, 1628-1651 (New York, 1910), 188-89.
(8) See Dow, History of the Town of Hampton, N.H., I, 17-19. Another list, composed in June 1640 and noting houselot sizes only, may be found in the Town Book of Hampton, I, 41-45. (Manuscript volume, Town Offices, Hampton, N.H.)
(10) Dow, History of the Town of Hampton, N.H., I, ch. 7.
(12) Dow, History of the Town of Hampton, N.H., I, 346-47. See also William Hubbard, A General History of New England, 2nd ed. (Boston, 848), 420-21; and Hosmer, ed., Winthrop's Journal, II, 45-46. Hubbard reports that Bachiller had at first denied the charges against him, but "was forced soon after, by the terror of his conscience to confess it openly in the church." Apparently this was an especially bad period in Bachiller's life, for (again, according to Hubbard) "his house, and near all his substance, was consumed by fire."
(13) Dow, History of the Town of Hampton, N.H., I, 348.
(15) Dow, History of the Town of Hampton, N.H., I, 346.
(16) On the settler-group, see Sanborn, "Grantees and Settlement of Hampton, N.H." Petitions and other material relating to this controversy are in the Massachusetts Archives. The origins of many early Hamptonites are noted in Charles E. Banks, Topographical Dictionary of 2885 English Emigrants to New England, 1620-1650 (Philadelphia, 1937), and in various family genealogies.
(17) Letter from Stephen Bachiller, to John Winthrop and the elders of the church at Boston, February 26, 1644, in The Winthrop Papers, IV, 446-49. Writing in his journal, Winthrop placed some blame on both parties to the struggle, though he attributed special importance to Stephen Bachiller's contentious personality: viz. "Mr. Bachiller had been in three places . . . and through his means, as was supposed, the churches fell to such divisions, as no peace could be till he was removed." Hosmer, ed., Winthrop's Journal, II, 179.
(19) This controversy is described in Dow, History of the Town of Hampton, N.H., I, 31-34. A "true and perfect list of the Shares of the Common" is printed on p. 33. Petitions, and other material pertaining to the resolution of the case by the General Court, are in Shurtleff, ed., Records of the Governor and Company of Massachusetts Bay, III, 66ff.
(20) Petition, signed by William Howard on behalf of the town, quoted in Dow, History of the Town of Hampton, N.H., I, 32.
(21) In 649 there was controversy over the ownership of the town "ox-common." Significantly, the matter was resolved by a local committee of leading men -- without recourse to outside arbitration. See Dow, History of the Town of Hampton, N.H., I, 39-40. In 1651 new conflict was created by Stephen Bachiller's efforts to collect back-"wages." (It appears that two residents of the town, serving as the minister's agents, had succeeded in distraining the "goods and lands" of several others.) See Shurtleff, ed., Records of the Governor and Company of Massachusetts Bay, III, 253.
(22) For example, the following testimony from the trial of Eunice Cole in 1656: "Goody Marston and Goodwife Susannah Palmer . . . saith that goodwife Cole said that . . . thirteen years ago she knew one bewitched as goodwife Marston's child was, and she was sure that party was bewitched for it told her so . . . and she had prayed [for] this thirteen years that God would discover that witch." (Manuscript deposition, April 8, 1656; Massachusetts Archives, CXXXV, leaf 2.)
(23) There is a manuscript list of persons who had "expended time in witnessing against Eunice Cole on trial for witchcraft" in Suffolk Court Files, no. 26203. The list contains eighteen names. Six more persons can be identified, from other materials, as having joined in this prosecution.
(24) See Massachusetts Archives, CXXXV, nos. 2-3, depositions by Goody Marston and Goodwife Susannah Palmer (April 8, 1656), Thomas Philbrick (undated), Sobriety Moulton and Goodwife Sleeper (April 10, 1656), Mary Coleman (undated), Richard Ormsby and Ensign Goddard (April 12, 1656), Abraham Perkins and John Redman (September 4, 1656), Abraham Drake (September 4, 1656); Suffolk Court Files, no. 256a, deposition by Joanna Sleeper (September 4, 1656); Trials for Witchcraft in New England, Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., deposition by Thomas Coleman and Abraham Drake (September 5, 1656).
(27) Deposition by Thomas Coleman and Abraham Drake (September 5, 1656), in Trials for Witchcraft in New England. There was a suspicious aftermath to this incident. Denied the assistance she sought, Eunice Cole allegedly complained to the selectmen that "they could help goodman Robie, being a lusty man, and [yet] she could have none." The man she referred to, one Henry Robie, "lost a cow and a sheep very strangely . . . two or three days after this."
(30) This document is reprinted in John Demos, ed., Remarkable Providences: The American Culture, 1600-1760 (New York, 1972), 192-93. Three other manuscript documents bear the name of William Cole with an accompanying signature-mark. (See his bill to Matthew Craddock, November 16, 1637, in Middlesex Court Files, no. 1219; petition from Exeter, to the General Court of Massachusetts Bay, 1643, in Massachusetts Archives, CXII, no. 9; and the petition from Hampton on behalf of Lieut. Robert Pike, 1654, in ibid., X, nos. 299-300.) This evidence makes it seem probable -- though not certain -- that Cole was illiterate. His wife also used a signature-mark. (See her petition to the Governor and General Court of Massachusetts Bay, undated, in ibid., X, no. 281.)
(34) The Coles had received land in Hampton, as part of the general "division" of June 30, 1640. (See the Town Book of Hampton, I, leaf 21.) However, it is clear that Exeter remained their place of residence for four years thereafter.
(38) See town rate, in the Town Book of Hampton, I, leaf ~ (This list is not dated, but can be attributed from internal evidence to the later months of 1647.) The original record of the rate for 1653 has apparently been lost; however, a copy was included by Edmund Willoughby Toppan, in his Manuscript History of Hampton (unpublished; written about 1850), book two, 187. (The latter volume is currently (2009) owned by Lori Cotter of North Hampton, N.H.)
(40) This summary reflects a detailed effort to reconstruct the entire population of Hampton at the time of Eunice Cole's first formal trial for witchcraft. The reconstruction is based primarily on the superbly full and accurate information in Noyes et al., ibid., and on the genealogies in Dow, History of the Town of Hampton, N.H., II. Additional material has been taken from various genealogies of individual families, and from the Town Book and Vital Records. The information as to place of origin, in England, has been drawn chiefly from Banks, Topographical Dictionary of 2885 English Emigrants to New England, 1620-1650.
(41) For a useful map of Hampton, in the early years, prepared by Lucy E. Dow and A. W. Locke, see Dow, History of the Town of Hampton, N.H., inside back cover. This has been checked against the original land records, in the Town Book of Hampton, II.
(42) An effort has been made to construct a "status-ladder" for the various Hampton families, by analyzing the extant tax lists, the meeting-house plan of 1650, wills and inventories and patterns of local office-holding. See the Town Book of Hampton, I, leaf ~ E. W. Toppan, Manuscript History of Hampton, II, 187; Probate Records of Essex County, Massachusetts; Noyes, et al., Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire, 55; Dow, History of the Town of Hampton, N.H., I, 563-78.
(44) Among fifteen witnesses whose place of origin can be traced, 9 came from eastern England (among a total of 56 adults associated with that region, in the overall population of Hampton). For other regions, the figures are as follows: north, 2 (out of 4); center and west, (out of 7); south, 3 (out of 12).
(46) Among 22 witnesses whose ages can be approximately determined, 8 (Out of a cohort of 37 in the total population) were between the ages thirty to thirty-nine. Four (of 38) were twenty to twenty-nine; 4 (of 33) were forty to forty-nine; and 4 (of 29) were fifty or over. In addition, there were two witnesses younger than twenty years old. (47) A "scoring system," based on considerations of wealth, office-holding, and seating in the meeting-house, has been used to divide the adult population into three status-groups of roughly equal size. Eleven witnesses against Eunice Cole are thereby classified "high" (out of 46, in the population as a whole); 4 are "middle" (Out of 45); and 7 are "low" (out of 41). (48) See, for example, Dow, History of the Town of Hampton, N.H., I, 54-64; and James W. Tucker, "The Witch of Hampton" (pamphlet, privately published, no date given).
(49) An obscure, but important, reference in the Town Records seems to establish this point. Under a heading entitled "The accounts of the County of Norfolk for the Court held at Salisbury, the 12th [day] of the 2nd month 1659," there is the following entry: "To Rich. Ormsby, for expense about G. Cole, 58: 00.05.00." Ormsby, a local constable, could not have had any responsibilities for Eunice Cole unless she was, at the time designated, physically present in Hampton. (See the Town Book of Hampton, II, leaf 343.) There is also the evident fact that she was soon thereafter (perhaps 1659?) charged with making "unseemly speeches" about her neighbors. (See text, below.)
(51) "The Humble Petition of Eunice Cole, wife of William Cole of Hampton, Now Prisoner at Boston," in Massachusetts Archives, X, no. 281. The petition is not dated. However, other writers have assigned it to the year 1662, and this appears, from internal evidence, to be accurate.
(52) See Shurtleff, ed., Records of the Governor and Company of Massachusetts Bay, IV, part two, 70. The evidence on this point is somewhat confusing, for the court made it a "condition" of Eunice Cole's release that she "depart, within one month ... out of this jurisdiction, and not to return again upon penalty of her former sentence being executed against her." She appears, nonetheless, to have returned to her home in Hampton (still within the "jurisdiction" of Massachusetts Bay), for there, on November 24, 1662, she was observed in conversation with a strange presence alleged to be the Devil. (See p. 324.) Note also that in November 1662 the county court ordered payment to Henry Green of Hampton "for watching one day and one night with Eunice Cole." This procedure is not otherwise explained, but, again, it seems to establish Goody Cole's reappearance in the town. See Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts, III, 4.
(53) A manuscript copy of William Cole's will is in Essex County Probates, no. 6001 (Registry of Probates, Salem, Mass.). There is also an inventory of Cole's estate, taken by Thomas Webster acting as "executor." The estate included a house-lot and housing (valued at £20), an acre of meadowland, two cows, a heifer, a pig, a feather-mattress and other bedding, a Bible, small quantities of yarn and hemp, and a variety of kitchen furnishings (mostly described as "old," and valued low). The total value of these properties was estimated at £53, 19s.
(57) According to one source, the prison-keeper at Boston was receiving payment "for keeping goodwife Cole," as late as June 1668. (See Samuel G. Drake, Annals of Witchcraft, 101.) However, the documents which support this assertion are not identified by Drake; they may indeed have been lost between his time and ours.
(58) Deposition by Abraham Perkins, Sr., April 7, 1673, in Suffolk Court Files, XIII, no. 1228. The deposition dates this episode to a time "when William Fifield was constable." Fifield was constable of Hampton only once -- in the year 1662.
(60) See Charles E. Clark, The Eastern Frontier: The Settlement of Northern New England (New York, 1970), 16-18, and passim. (61) Quoted in Dow, History of the Town of Hampton, N.H., I, 90.
(62) Ibid., I, 91-92.
(63) Ibid., I, 91.
(64) Ibid., I, 93.
(65) This arrangement is mentioned in the deposition by Robert Smith, August 29, 1673, in Massachusetts Archives, CXXXV, no. II. See also Dow, History of the Town of Hampton, N.H., I, 79-80.
(71) Paper entitled "In the Case of Eunice Cole," undated, in Massachusetts Archives, CXXXV, no. 13. This document contains decisions handed down by the court with reference to several questions of evidence in the 1673 trial.
(79) These genealogical reconstructions are based on materials in Noyes, et al., Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire, 151, 269, 355-56, 646, 731; in Dow, History of the Town of Hampton, N.H., II; and in the Town Records of Hampton, passim.
(80) Nicholas Smith, born about 1629 in England, came to Exeter before 1658. The name of his first wife is not known. They had children: Nathaniel (born, September 3, 1660), and Ann (born, February 8, 1663). Nicholas Smith married, second, Mary [Satchell] Dale, about 1666. He died June 22, 1673.
(81) William Godfrey was born, probably in one of the eastern counties of England, between 1600 and 1608. He was resident at Watertown, in Massachusetts Bay, by 1639, and moved to Hampton in 1649. He married, first, Sarah [-------], about 1630; they had one child, John, born about 1632. He married, second, Margery [-------] Webster, in 1638; they had three children, Isaac (born 1639), Sarah (born 1642), and Doborah (born 1645). William Godfrey died March 25, 1671. Margery Webster, born about 1609, was the widow of Thomas Webster (who died in county Norfolk, England, in 1634). By her first husband she had one child, Thomas, born in 1631. She married, third, John Marion, September 14, 1671, and died May 2, 1687.
(82) John Marion was born, probably about 1610, in county Essex, England, was briefly at Watertown in Massachusetts Bay (early 1640s), and came to Hampton in 1645. He married, first, Sarah Eddy, before 1640, who died January 26, 1671. They had at least four children, born between 1641 and 1650. John Marion was living as late as 1684; his death is not recorded.
(83) Note the following order, by the County Court at Salisbury, April 10, 1677: "Nathaniel Smith, being given to Deacon William Godfrey and his wife Margery as their own, and they having kept him from [the time when he was] a child, [and] Deacon Godfrey being now dead, and his widow having married John Marion, the Court orders that Smith shall continue and abide with the said Marion and [his] wife until he comes to the age of one-and-twenty years, and shall do them faithful service." (Quoted in Dow, History of the Town of Hampton, N.H., II, 978.) On July 31, 1680 Nathaniel Smith was found dead in a canoe at the landing place, with his face bloody"; an inquest decided that "water was the cause of his death by drowning." (Quoted in ibid., II, 978.)
(84) See the grand jury "presentment" of Eunice Cole, October 9, 1672, in Massachusetts Archives, CXXXV, no. 7. This document mentions both Ann Smith and John Clifford, senior, "who hath the charge of her by her father." There is also a separate reference to Clifford and "a child [again, Ann Smith] which was committed to his wife's tuition." (See the paper entitled "In the Case of Eunice Cole," Massachusetts Archives, CXXXV, no. 13.)
(85) John Clifford was born, about 1615, in county Nottingham, England. He was an original proprietor of the town of Salisbury, in 1640, and was resident at Hampton by 1642. He married, first, Sarah [-------], about 1640; she died about 1655. They had children: John (born about 1640), Hannah (born 1649), Elizabeth (born 1651), Israel (born about 1653). John Clifford married, second, Elizabeth [Wiseman] Richardson, September 28, 1658; she died December 1, 1667. They had children: Elizabeth (born 1659), Mahitable (date of birth uncertain, died young), Esther (born 1662), Isaac (born 1664), Mary (born 1666, died 1669). John Clifford married, third, Bridget [-------] Huggins, February 6, 1672. He died in 1694. Bridget [-------] Huggins was born about 1617 in England. She married, first, John Huggins, about 1638. John Huggins was born in England (perhaps in county Norfolk) about 1609. He was in Dedham by 1638, and came to Hampton in 1639. He and his wife had children: Susannah (born 1640), Esther (born about 1642), John (born about 1646), Elizabeth (born about 1648), Mary (born 1650, perhaps died young), Bridget (born 1651), Martha (born 1654), Anna (born 1659), and Nathaniel (born 1660). Bridget Huggins was living in 1680; her death is not recorded.
(87) Bridget Huggins's testimony from the earlier case does not survive. However, her name is included on a list of witnesses against Eunice Cole, from the year 1656, in Suffolk Court Files, no. 26203.
(90) See p. 323. See also n. 53 above.
(91) One episode, recounted as part of the prosecution case, appears to have taken place in Boston. See depositions by Hopestill Austin, September 5, 1673 and Elizabeth Person, September 5, 1673 in Suffolk Court Files, no. 1228.
(99) Deposition by Nathaniel Smith, July 14, 1680, in ibid., I, 417-18. Curiously, this witness was the elder brother of Ann Smith, whose role in the prosecution of Eunice Cole (1673) has been fully discussed above. Nathaniel died, apparently from drowning, a scant two weeks after giving this testimony. (See n. 83 above.)
(101) On Brabrook's affairs in Watertown, see Watertown Records, 5 vols. (Watertown, Mass., 1894-1907), I, part one, 14, 26, 28, 29, 30, 34, 38, 39, 40, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 51, 53, 55, 59, 77, 78, 82, 92, 93, 100; also part second, 122; and part third, 8, 10.
(102) The date of John Brabrook's death is not recorded. His name appeared for the last time in the town records on October 14, 1654; by January 1655 his wife was being mentioned as "the widow Brabrook." See Watertown Records, I, part one, 38-40, 44.
(103) In January 1655 the selectmen of Watertown appointed three men to oversee the affairs of the Brabrook family. For several years thereafter the town made ad hoc grants of money to widow Brabrook, and arranged for the "hiring" of her land, cows, and other property. By 1663 the town was forced to provide "for the keeping of widow Brabrook" for one full year at a time. In 1668 the selectmen ordered "Brabrook's house and land (being seized by execution) . . . sold to pay the town's debts." See ibid., I, part one, 44, 77, 78, 82, 100.
(105) On June 28, 1668, Joseph, Sarah, and Rachel Brabrook petitioned the county court "that Henry Short of Newbury and Simon Thompson of Ipswich be appointed their guardians." (Probate Records of Essex County, Massachusetts, II, 130.) In September 1669 Rachel Brabrook testified in a court case involving members of Henry Short's family. It appears, moreover, that she was the "ward" in the Short household who experienced some "lewdness" at the hands of a neighboring manservant. (See Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts, IV, 179-80.) Henry Short, brother of Rachel's mother, was an early and prominent settler of Newbury; he held many local offices, up to and including that of selectman. After his death, his estate was valued at more than £18oo. (See Probate Records of Essex County, Massachusetts, II, 345-49.)
(106) John Fuller was born in Ipswich in about 1643. (His father, also named John, had come from England in 1635, and had married Elizabeth Emerson, daughter of another Ipswich resident.) When still a boy John, Jr., was sent to live in the household of his uncle, William Fuller, at Hampton; his brother -- a second William -- went along. William Fuller, senior, had no children of his own, and seems to have treated these nephews more or less as adopted sons. When John Fuller, Sr., died, he made only token bequests to his sons, John, Jr., and William, because "their uncle hath undertaken to give them sufficient portions." William, Sr., paid the highest rate among all Hampton householders in 1647; moreover, his name is found near the top of two subsequent rate lists. He held many local offices, and was twice elected deputy from Hampton to the Massachusetts General Court. But John, Jr. -- his allegedly "sufficient portion" notwithstanding -- never approached the same level of wealth and prestige. On a town list of 1680, for example, his "rate" falls among the bottom third of the householders. See William H. Fuller, Genealogy of Some Descendants of Captain Matthew Fuller (1914; no place given), 175-76; "John Fuller of Ipswich, Mass., 1634,"in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, LIII, 335ff.; Probate Records of Essex County, Massachusetts, II, 57-61.
(107) This woman was born Isabella Austin, dau. of Francis and Isabella [Bland] Austin, in about the year 1633. Her father, an early resident of Hampton, died in 1642, and her mother was remarried thereafter to Thomas Leavitt. The Bland connection, on the mother's side, was a distinguished one: "Mr." John Bland was an early and prominent settler of Martha's Vineyard. Moreover, Thomas Leavitt was a man of considerable stature within Hampton itself. Isabella Austin married Philip Towle November 19, 1657. Towle's origins are not known, though local tradition makes him out an Irishman. He arrived in Hampton just a short while before his marriage. Philip and Isabella [Austin] Towle had children: Philip (born 1659), Caleb (born 1661, killed by Indians 1677), Joshua (born 1663), Mary (born 1665), Joseph and Benjamin (twins, born 1669). Francis (born 1672), John (born 1674), Caleb (born 1678). Philip Towle died in 1696, aged about eighty; his widow died in 1719. See Noyes, et al., Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire, 68-69, 95-96, 425, 689; and the Town Book of Hampton, passim.
(108) Quoted in Dow, History of the Town of Hampton, N.H., I, 85.
(110) See Dow, History of the Town of Hampton, N.H., I, 94.
(111) See Michael G. Hall, Edward Randolph and the American Colonies (Chapel Hill, NC., 1960), 36-37, and Dow, History of the Town of Hampton, N.H., I, 94.
(112) Ibid., I, 94.
(113) See Clark, The Eastern Frontier, 56-58, and Dow, History of the Town of Hampton, N.H., I, 95-97. The new framework of government included a president, a council, and an assembly. The latter was to consist of deputies chosen by the various towns. The councillors were appointed from London, but at first these appointments fell entirely to residents of New Hampshire.
(114) See ibid., I, 100.
(115) Ibid., I, 101-2.
(116) Various materials pertaining to this affair are printed in Bouton, ed., Documents and Records Relating to the Province of New Hampshire, I, 458-62. See also Dow, History of the Town of Hampton, N.H., I, 103-5.
(117) Ibid.,I, 106.
(119) On various particulars of Jonathan Moulton's life, see Dow, History of the Town of Hampton, N.H., I, 209, 212, 215, 249, 251, 255, 262, 264, 268, 270, 271, 273, 278, 287, 399, 403, 404, 406, 536, 550, and II, 870. Moulton was born, the son of Jacob and Sarah [Smith] Moulton, in about 1726. He married, first, Abigail Smith, February 22, 1749. They had children: Joseph (born 1749), Sarah (born 1752), Jonathan (born 1754), Mary (born about 1756, died 1760), Abigail (born 1758), Benning (born 1761), Anne (born 1763), William (born 1766), Elizabeth (born 1768), Jacob (born 1770), Joseph (born 1772). Jonathan Moulton married, second, Sarah Emery, September 11, 1776. They had children: Sally (born 1779), Emery (born 1782), John (born 1783), Nathaniel (born 1787).
(120) See Dow, History of the Town of Hampton, N.H., I, 278. The grand scale of his business operations may be illustrated by reference to a circular of 1785, in which Moulton advertised sale of some 80 thousand acres of land (comprising most, or all, of eight separate townships). Apparently, this circular was directed especially to Ireland.
(121) See ibid., I, 212-14.
(122) Passages from the report of this fire in the Boston Chronicle, March 20, 1769, are quoted in Dow, History of the Town of Hampton, N.H., I, 215.
(124) Dow, History of the Town of Hampton, N.H., I, 278.
(126) Toppan, Manuscript History of Hampton, III, 45.
(127) Ibid., III, 40ff. See also Hurd, History of Rockingham and Strafford Counties, New Hampshire, 322.
(128) Quoted in Dow, History of the Town of Hampton, N.H., I, 57.
(129) John Greenleaf Whittier, The Complete Poetical Works of John Greenleaf Whittier (Cambridge, Mass., 1894), 245-46. "The Wreck of Rivermouth" was written in 1864. The verses quoted here are only a part of the entire poem. Whittier wrote a second poem, entitled "The Changeling," in which Eunice Cole again figures as a principal. See ibid., 255.
(130) Slightly different versions of this story may be found in Toppan, Manuscript History of Hampton, III, 45 and Hurd, History of Rockingham and Strafford Counties, New Hampshire, 322.
(132) Article 16, Town Meeting, March 8, 1938, quoted in James W. Tucker, "The Witch of Hampton."
(134) Personal observation, November 16, 1971; house of Mrs. Winslow White, Hampton, N.H.
End of Footnotes