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Charlotte Estey's ancestors were accused of witchcraft in 1692



Salem Witchcraft Trial

Charlotte Estey descended from Jeffrey Estey, born in 1584, in England, and his son, Isaac, who emigrated to Massachusetts in 1634.  Isaac was one of the more prosperous farmers in the area around Salem and Lynn Massachusetts.  However, Isaac's wife, Mary Towne, was hanged as a witch in Salem in 1692.  


Mary Esty (Estey) was the daughter of William Towne, of Yarmouth, Norfolk County, New England, where she was baptized on August 24, 1634.  Two of her sisters, Rebecca Nurse and Sarah Cloyse, were also accused of witchcraft during the Salem outbreak, although there is ample evidence that all three were innocent.


The following passages have been taken from the transcripts of the trial:  (Petition of Mary Easty)


"The humble petition of Mary Eastick unto his Excellency's S'r W'm Phipps to the honour'd Judge and Bench now Sitting in Judicature in Salem and the Reverend ministers humbly sheweth


"That whereas your poor and humble petitioner being condemned to die Doe humbly begg of you to take it into your Judicious and pious considerations that your Poor and humble petitioner knowing my own Innocencye Blised be the Lord for it and seeing plainly the wiles and subtility of my accusers by my Selfe can not but Judge charitably of others that are going the same way of my selfe if the Lord stepps not mightily in i was confined a whole month upon the same account that I am condemned now for and then cleared by the afflicted persons as some of your honours know and in two dayes time I was cryed out upon by them and have been confined and now am condemned to die the Lord above knows my Innocence then and Likewise does now as att the great day will be know to men and Angells -- I Petition to your honours not for my own life for I know I must die and my appointed time is sett but the Lord he knowes it is that if it be possible no more Innocent blood may be shed which undoubtidly cannot be Avoyded In the way and course you goe in I question not but your honours does to the uttmost of your Powers in the discovery and detecting of witchcraft and witches and would not be gulty of Innocent blood for the world but by my own Innocency I know you are in this great work if it be his blessed you that no more Innocent blood be shed I would humbly begg of you that your honors would be plesed to examine theis Afflicted Persons strictly and keep them apart some time and Likewise to try some of these confesing wichis I being confident there is severall of them has belyed themselves and others as will appeare if not in this wor[l]d I am sure in the world to come whither I am now agoing and I Question not but youle see and alteration of thes things they my selfe and others having made a League with the Divel we cannot confesse I know and the Lord knowes as will shortly appeare they belye me and so I Question not but they doe others the Lord above who is the Searcher of all hearts knows that as I shall answer att the Tribunall seat that I know not the least thinge of witchcraft therfore I cannot I dare not belye my own soule I beg your honers not to deny this my humble petition from a poor dy ing Innocent person and I Question not but the Lord will give a blesing to yor endevers."


(Reverse side)  "To his Excellency S'r W'm Phipps: Govern'r and to the honoured Judge and Magistrates now setting in Judicature in Salem."


At the time of her questioning, Easty was about 58 years old and was married to Isaac Easty, with whom she had seven children.  Isaac owned and lived upon a large valuable farm. Her examination followed the pattern of most in Salem: the girls had fits, and were speechless at times, and the magistrate expostulated with her for not confessing her guilt, which he deemed proven beyond doubt by the sufferings of the afflicted.


"How far have you complied with Satan?" "Sir, I never complied with him but pray against him all my days. What would you have Easty do?" "Confess if you be guilty" "I will say it, if it was my last time, I am clear of this sin." During the exam, when Easty clasped her hands together, the hands of Mary Lewis, one of the afflicted were clenched and not released until Easty released her hands, and when she inclined her head, the afflicted girls cried out to have her straighten her neck, because as long as her head was inclined their necks were broken. She was committed to prison after her examination. For a reason not disclosed in any of the remaining records, Easty, after spending two months in prison, was discharged on the 18th of May. She and her family believed she would now be safe from further accusations. They were wrong. The release seems to have been very distasteful to the afflicted girls, they became determined to not let the matter rest, and redoubled their energies to get her back into prison. On the 20th, Mary Lewis spent the entire day experiencing fits of unprecedented severity, during which time she said she was being strangled, and claimed "they will kill Easty out right." Several of the other afflicted girls claimed that they could see the apparition of Easty afflicting her, and people came from all around to see the fits. That evening a second warrant was issued for Easty's arrest. At midnight, after experiencing two days of liberty and being reunited with her family, Easty was rousted from her sleep by the marshall, torn from her husband and children, and taken back to prison where she was loaded with chains. Once Easty was back in prisons with chains, Lewis's fits stopped.


Easty was tried and condemned to death on September 9th. She was executed on September 22, despite an eloquent plea to the court to reconsider and not spill any more innocent blood. The court had long since ceased to pay any attention to anything that was said by the condemned. On the gallows she prayed for an end to the witch hunt.


Easty's parting communications with her husband and children were said by those who were present to have been "as serious, religious, distinct, and affectionate as could be expressed, drawing tears from the eyes of almost all present."


In November, after Easty had been put to death, Mary Herrick gave testimony about Easty.  Herrick testified that she was visited by Easty who told her she had been put to death wrongfully and was innocent of witchcraft, and that she had come to vindicate her cause.  Easty's family was compensated with 20 pounds from the government in 1711 for her wrongful execution. -- KS


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