Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Convicted and Escaped

I am a student of history.  It was my favorite subject in school and it is what I got my college degree in - B. S. of History, English minor in 1989 at the University of Idaho.  Having said that, you could assume that I had some knowledge of the Salem Witch trials.  It was a surprise to me to find out that I had a distant relationship to one of the accused.

Lydia Perkins would be my 9th great grandmother.  She was born 3 June 1632 in Boston, MA and died 12 Jan 1707 in Ipswich, MA.  She was married to Henry Bennett (b. 1629 in London, England d. 3 Oct 1707 in Ipswich, MA).  Lydia was the daughter of John Perkins and Judith Gater and had a sister named Mary Perkins.  Mary was b. bef 3 Sep 1615 in Hillmorton, Warwickshire, England and d. 20 Dec 1700 in Ipswich, MA.  She married Thomas Bradbury in 1636.  During one of my genealogical wanderings, I came across a notation about Mary, my 10th great aunt, that she had been tried and convicted during the Salem Witch trials.  According to an article by Melisssa Berry in GenealogyMagazine.com - at http://www.genealogymagazine.com/witchcraft.html - Mary was the victim of numerous familial squabbles from the Carr family.   Melissa explains that it mainly started when Mary spurned an offer of marriage from George Carr and married Thomas Bradbury. Evidently Mary was so powerful that she caused the death of John Carr by "dethroning his reason" and leaving him "weakened by disease, with disordered fancies."  Read the entire article if you get a chance.  I had to use that phrase...it was too good not to quote. Mary had to be quite aged at the time of the accusations.  The trials occurred during 1692 and Mary was born in 1615 making her 77 years of age. Mary was actually sentenced to death to be hung.  Somehow she escaped that fate and died in 1700.

I have always found the Salem Witch trials an excellent example of what mass hysteria can and does do.  It seems like we never seem to learn "our" lesson, because it has happened time and time again. I can't imagine the helplessness that Mary's family had to feel from her husband and children to her siblings, because it seems that it is a very difficult thing to combat.  You can look at Mary's grave online which is located at Salisbury Colonial Burying Ground in Salisbury, MA - Go to FAG #38426363 . Her gravestone is essentially broken pieces in the photo, not an uncommon occurrence in a gravestone that is 300 years old.

I am related to Mary Bradbury through my 3rd great grandmother, Belinda Willey.  Here is my line starting with my grandparents.

Frank Stewart Johnson m. Helen Marian age
Shirlie Louisa Pope m. Ulpian Grey Johnson
Winslow Lonsdale Pope m. Nancy Ann Marie Lyons
Belinda Willey m. Francis Pope
Eber Willey m. Elizabeth McFarland
Abel Willey m. Mercy Fowler
Abel Willey m. Patience Beckwith
Rose Bennett m. Isaac Willey
Henry Bennett m. Sarah Champion
Henry Bennett m. Lydia Perkins
John Perkins m. Judith Gater (Parents of Mary Perkins Bradbury)

My Grandpa Frank used to think there wasn't a whole lot impressive about his family background!  I think he might have changed his mind with all the info that we have found through the years about his family!