University of Virginia Library

IV. The Trial of Elizabeth How,[134] at the Court of Oyer and Terminer, Held by Adjournment at Salem, June 30, 1692.

I. Elizabeth How pleading Not Guilty to the Indictment of Witchcrafts, then charged upon her, the Court, according to the usual proceeding of the Courts in England, in such Cases, began with hearing the Depositions of Several Afflicted People, who were grievously Tortured by sensible and evident Witchcrafts, and all complained of the Prisoner, as the cause of their Trouble. It was also found that the Sufferers were not able to bear her Look, as likewise, that in their greatest Swoons, they distinguished her Touch from other peoples, being thereby raised out of them.

And there was other Testimony of people to whom the shape of this How gave trouble Nine or Ten years ago.

II. It has been a most usual thing for the Bewitched persons, at the same time that the Spectres representing the Witches Troubled them, to be visited with Apparitions of Ghosts, pretending to have bin Murdered by the Witches then represented. And sometimes the confessions of the witches afterwards acknowledged those very Murders, which these Apparitions charged upon them; altho' they had never heard what Informations had been given by the Sufferers.

There were such Apparitions of Ghosts testified by some of the present Sufferers, and the Ghosts affirmed that this How had Murdered them: which things were Fear'd but not prov'd.

III. This How had made some Attempts of Joyning to the Church, at Ipswich, several years ago; but she was deny'd an Admission into that Holy Society, partly through a suspicion of witchcraft, then urged against her. And there now came in Testimony, of Preternatural Mischiefs, presently befalling some that had been Instrumental to Debar her from the Communion, whereupon she was Intruding.


IV. There was a particular Deposition of Joseph Safford, That his Wife had conceived an extream Aversion to this How, on the Reports of her Witchcrafts: but How one day, taking her by the hand, and saying, “I believe you are not Ignorant of the great Scandal that I ly under, by an evil Report Raised upon me,” She immediately, unreasonably, and unperswadeably, even like one Enchanted, began to take this Womans part. How being soon after propounded, as desiring an Admission to the Table of the Lord, some of the pious Brethren were unsatisfy'd about her. The Elders appointed a Meeting to hear Matters objected against her; and no Arguments in the world could hinder this Goodwife Safford from going to the Lecture. She did indeed promise, with much ado, that she would not go to the Church-Meeting, yet she could not refrain going thither also. How's Affayrs there were so Canvased, that she came off rather Guilty than Cleared; nevertheless Goodwife Safford could not forbear taking her by the Hand, and saying, “Tho' you are Condemned before men, you are Justify'd before God.” She was quickly taken in a very strange manner, Frantick, Raving, Raging and Crying out, “Goody How must come into the Church; she is a precious Saint; and tho' she be Condemned before Men, she is Justify'd before God.” So she continued for the space of two or three Hours; and then fell into a Trance. But coming to her self, she cry'd out, “Ha! I was mistaken”; and afterwards again repeated, “Ha! I was mistaken!” Being asked by a stander by, “Wherein?” She replyed, “I thought Goody How had been a Precious Saint of God, but now I see she is a Witch. She has Bewitched me, and my Child, and we shall never be well, till there be Testimony for her, that she may be taken into the Church.” And How said afterwards, that she was very Sorry to see Safford at the Church-Meeting mentioned. Safford after this declared herself to be afflicted by the Shape of How; and from that Shape she endured many Miseries.

V. John How, Brother to the Husband of the prisoner testifyed, that he refusing to accompany the prisoner unto her Examination, as was by her desired, immediately some of his Cattle were Bewitched to Death, Leaping three or four foot high, turning about, Squeaking, Falling, and Dying, at once; and going to cut off an Ear, for an use that might as well per


haps have been Omitted,[135] the Hand wherein he held his knife was taken very Numb, and so it remained, and full of Pain, for several Dayes; being not well at this very Time. And he suspected this prisoner for the Author of it.

VI. Nehemiah Abbot testify'd, that unusual and mischievous Accidents would befal his cattle, whenever he had any Difference with this Prisoner. Once, Particularly, she wished his Oxe Choaked; and within a Little while that Oxe was Choaked with a Turnip in his Throat. At another time, refusing to lend his horse, at the Request of her Daughter, the horse was in a Preternatural manner abused. And several other Odd Things of that kind were testify'd.

VII. There came in Testimony, that one goodwife Sherwin, upon some Difference with How, was Bewitched, and that she Dy'd, Charging this How of having an Hand in her Death. And that other People had their Barrels of Drink unaccountably mischieved, spoilt, and spilt, upon their Displeasing of her.

The things in themselves were Trivial; but there being such a Course of them, it made them the more to be considered. Among others, Martha Wood gave her Testimony, that a Little after her Father had been employ'd in gathering an Account of Howes Conversation, they once and again Lost Great Quantities of Drink out of their Vessels, in such a manner, as they could ascribe to nothing but Witchcraft. As also, that How giving her some Apples, when she had eaten of them she was taken with a very strange kind of a maze, insomuch that she knew not what she said or did.

VIII. There was Likewise a cluster of Depositions, that one Isaac Cummings refusing to lend his Mare unto the Husband of this How, the mare was within a Day or two taken in a strange condition. The Beast seemed much Abused; being


Bruised, as if she had been Running over the Rocks, and marked where the Bridle went, as if burnt with a Red hot Bridle. Moreover, one using a Pipe of Tobacco for the Cure of the Beast, a blew Flame issued out of her, took hold of her Hair, and not only Spread and Burnt on her, but it also flew upwards towards the Roof of the Barn, and had like to have set the Barn on Fire. And the Mare dy'd very suddenly.

IX. Timothy Perley and his Wife Testify'd, not only that unaccountable Mischiefs befel their Cattle, upon their having of Differences with this Prisoner: but also, that they had a Daughter destroy'd by Witchcrafts; which Daughter still charged How as the cause of her Affliction; and it was noted, that she would be struck down, whenever How were spoken of. She was often endeavoured to be Thrown into the Fire, and into the Water, in her strange Fits: tho' her Father had Corrected her for Charging How with Bewitching her, yet (as was testify'd by others also) she said, she was sure of it, and must dy standing to it. Accordingly she Charged How to the very Death; and said, Tho' How could Afflict and Torment her Body, yet she could not Hurt her Soul: and, That the Truth of this matter would appear, when she should be Dead and Gone.

X. Francis Lane testify'd, That being hired by the Husband of this How to get him a parcel of Posts and Rails, this Lane hired John Pearly to assist him. This Prisoner then told Lane, that she believed the Posts and Rails would not do, because John Perley helped him; but that if he had got them alone, without John Pearlies help, they might have done well enough. When James How came to receive his Posts and Rails of Lane, How taking them up by the ends, they, tho' good and sound, yet unaccountably broke off, so that Lane was forced to get Thirty or Forty more. And this Prisoner being informed of it, she said, she told him so before; because Pearly help'd about them.

XI. Afterwards there came in the Confessions of several other (penitent) Witches, which affirmed this How to be one of those, who with them had been baptized by the Devil in the River at Newbery-Falls: before which, he made them there kneel down by the Brink of the River and Worship him.



Of Ipswich. For the touching story of her trial and of the loyalty of her blind husband and her daughters, see especially Upham, Salem Witchcraft, II. 216-223, and, in the Historical Collections of the Topsfield Historical Society, XIII. (1908), the study on “Topsfield in the Witchcraft Delusion,” by Mrs. Towne and Miss Clark. In the same volume (pp. 107-126) Mr. G. F. Dow has published the records of her case more completely than has Woodward in Records of Salem Witchcraft (II. 69-94). She was executed on July 19.


What this purpose may have been does not appear in the evidence: John How testifies merely that a neighbor who had laughed at him for thinking the sow bewitched told him to cut off her ear, “the which I did.” It was doubtless to burn it, as a means to detect the witch. So, Perkins and Gaule say, in England it was a practice to burn the thing bewitched; and so at New Haven, in 1657, Thomas Mullener cut off the tail and ear of a pig and threw them into the fire to find out the witch (Records of the Colony of New Haven, II. 224). The belief was that the person who then first came to the fire was the witch (see below, p.411).