A Witch in the Family?

Happy Halloween! What better way to enjoy the day but to remember the family witch. Well, at least, the ancestor that was accused and convicted of witchcraft.

Abigail Faulkner (nee Dane) is my wife’s sixth great grandaunt, having married Lt. Francis Faulkner in 1675. Francis was the eldest son of my wife’s seventh great grandfather, Edmond Faulkner. 

In 1692, Abigail was arraigned and indicted, on the basis of the ‘evidence’ of a few local Andover, Massachusetts women, “for the crime of felony by witchcraft.” The women who accused Abigail of giving them ‘the evil eye’ were Sarah Phelps, Martha Sprague, and Hannah Bixbe (Bixby). Each testified that Abigail had “afflicted” them. Their evidence made that much more dramatic as a result of their falling to the floor, I suppose due to their affliction, when Abigail entered the courtroom.

So convincing was their evidence that the jury found “Abigail Faulkner wife of Francis Faulkner of Andover guilty of ye fellony by witchcraft comited on ye body of Martha Sprague allsoe on ye body of Sarrah Phelps.” The court passed a sentence of death on Abigail, a sentence that was not carried out as a result of petitions from townsfolk and family members,and the fact that Abigail was pregnant at the time.

I’ve not encountered any evidence that the witchcraft trait has been passed on to my wife but on a day like today, it’s wise to be on my best behaviour, just in case! 

Images of the trial documents can be found at: http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/salem/witchcraft/archives/MA135/

One thought on “A Witch in the Family?

  1. A cousin connection! I descend from Abigail's sister, Hannah Dane who married William Goodhue. Do you know about their father, the Rev. Francis Dane? He was one of the few ministers to speak out against the witch trials, which is probably why so many members of his family were accused. More members of his immediate and extended family were accused than any other family in the entire witch hysteria. Accusations against clergy like Rev. George Burroughs and Rev. Francis Dane were the ultimate in boldness of the young girls giving testimony, and only when they elevated their accusations against the Governor's wife and other upper crust Bostonians did the prosecution consider that things had gone too far.

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