Witches in Connecticut 1651-1662

Started by Joan Frum on Thursday, July 4, 2013

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7/4/2013 at 11:09 AM

I just discovered that three of my ancestors were tried and executed for witchcraft.
Mary Barnes of Farmington- born 1620, died either 2-6-1662 or 1-18-1663 in Farmington, CT (my 8th great grandmother)
Joan Carrington- born 1618 in England, died 1651 in Wethersfield, CT. (my 9th great grandmother)
John Carrington Sr.- born 1614, died 1651 in Wethersfield, CT (my 9th great grandfather)

I'm interested in any information. Joan Frum joaniep13@gmail.com

Private User
7/4/2013 at 11:39 AM

We have good trees in Geni for all three and they're in this project.

John Carrington

Could use more details! There should be reasonable documentation to add if anyone wants to take up the challenge.

Joanne or Joan Carrington

Is here

Private User
7/4/2013 at 11:40 AM

More seems to be known about Mary Barnes of Farmington, convicted witch

7/25/2013 at 6:09 PM

Connecticut historian, coming through! :)

Mary Barnes was hanged on January 25, 1663 on the South Green in Hartford, which is still there as a park but very, very tiny and not exactly the kind of place you want to take your children, unless you want them to get Hep C or something. She was hanged along with Nathaniel and Rebecca Greensmith. They were hanged the same day they were convicted. The uproar over this led to the reform of witch trials in Connecticut, and they wound up being the last three people executed for the crime in the colony.

The backstory is that Ann Cole blamed them for her epilepsy. Rebecca confessed to putting spells on Ann (out of fear, of course), and implicated her husband as well. Mary denied the charges until her final moments. They were understood to be among the more "free-spirited" people in town, so that was part of why they were targeted.

If you're ever in Hartford, there's a great non-profit called Connecticut Landmarks that runs historic Downtown Hartford walking tours out of the Butler-McCook House museum on Main Street. They go as far as South Green deliberately so that they can talk about this case. To be perfectly blunt: If you are not used to/comfortable with cities and/or homeless people, I would *not* recommend visiting South Green alone. It's safe -- I walk down there all the time -- but some people are understandably uncomfortable with that sort of thing. (And be sure to schedule your trip around a performance of the play "Panic in Connecticut," which features Mary.)

John Demos' "The Enemy Within" is a fabulous history of the Hartford witch trials (among others), just like everything else he has written. You can also try the fantastic collections on the Hartford witch trials at the Connecticut State Library and the Connecticut Historical Society. I don't recall the Hartford History Center having a dedicated file on the topic, but there's plenty of material there to work with if you search.

I have researcher access to the CSL and the CHS libraries, so if there's a particular record or resource you need and can't get it where you are, let me know and I can do some look-up work for you. I'd rather not repeat anything already available on-line or through your local library, though.

As a side note, Mary has *not* been pardoned by the state, nor has any other person convicted for witchcraft, because of a quirk in the state laws that prevents it. A bill comes up in the legislature nearly every year to pardon them, and it never goes anywhere. (See http://www.cga.ct.gov/2006/rpt/2006-R-0718.htm for history.) So maybe you should make a push for it as a descendant. :)

7/26/2013 at 7:49 AM

Thank you so much for all this info....fascinating stuff for my grandchildren! We will definitely push for that bill.

7/26/2013 at 8:05 AM

June Barnes is this a relative of yours? :-)

7/26/2013 at 8:18 AM

!!! not that I know of - she needs to be added to the Barnes project!

7/26/2013 at 12:29 PM

John Carrington is your 8th great grandfather's wife's brother's wife's grandfather.

7/26/2013 at 12:31 PM

Mary Barnes of Farmington, convicted witch is your 9th great grandfather's 1st wife.

7/26/2013 at 10:17 PM

If you are referring to me, this is very confusing! My 5th great grandmother was Sarah Elizabeth Allen (Barnes). Her parents were Joseph Stewart Barnes and Thankful Barnes, my 6th great grandparents. Joseph's parents were Joseph Barnes and Abigail Barnes, my 7th gg and his parents, Thomas and Mary Barnes of Farmington were my 8th great grandparents.

7/26/2013 at 10:22 PM

By the way, I just bought the book My Grandmother Mary Was Hanged from the author Bernice Mable Graham Telian, another desendent of Mary Barnes.

7/28/2013 at 4:19 AM

Joan, they're not referring to you. They're copying and pasting the relationship trails Geni is giving them. :) A lot of Geni users do this, and I agree, it can be confusing since it says "your" instead of "my."

Let us know how the book is!

7/29/2013 at 5:50 AM

Thanks for clarifying! I'm new to all of this and not as computer savvy as I'd like to be, but I'm learning and really enjoying all this new info at my fingertips. The book is great and the author sent me a nice note that meant a lot.

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