Rebecca Dike (Dolliver)
|Also Known As:||"Dolever"|
|Birthplace:||Gloucester, Essex County, Massachusetts|
|Death:||(Date and location unknown)|
|Managed by:||Kevin Lawrence Hanit|
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About Rebecca Dolliver Dike, Salem Witch Trials
Rebecca Dolliver, daughter of Samuel Dolliver (1608 - 1683) and Mary Elwell (1639 - 1708), was born circa 1638 at Gloucester, Essex County, Massachusetts. She married Richard Dike, who held a large amount of land in Gloucester. Rebecca's neighbors were the in-laws of the Stevens family, the Eveleths, and she had many problems with them.
A warrant for the arrest of three women, Esther Elwell, Abigail Rowe, and Rebecca Dike, was issued on 3 November 1692, for afflicting Mrs. Mary Fitch. They were released on 7 November 1692.
Warrant for Arrest of Esther Elwell, Abigail Rowe, and Rebecca Dike
To the Sheriffe of Our County of Essex, his under Sheriffe or Deputy, or Constable of Glocester, or Constable.
Whereas Complaint is made by Leut. James Stevens & William Stevens & Nathaniel Coyt all of Glocester, In the County of Essex In behalfe of their Majesties, unto -- thair Majesties Justices, of the peace, against Esther Elwell the wife of Samuel Elwell, & Abigail Rowe daughter of Hugh Rowe: & Rebecka Dike, the wife of Richard Dike, all of Gloster, aforesaid, for that they have Grounded suspicion that the Said Elwell Dike & Rowe have wickedly & felloniously Comitted Sundry acts of witchcraft upon the body of Mrs. Mary Fitch the wife of Mr. John Fitch of Gloster aforesaid, unto the Wasteing pincing & Consumeing of her body Contrary to the peace of our sovereigne Lord & Lady the King & Queen Contrary to the forme of the statutes in that Case made & Provided & have Craved Justice & have Entered into Recognisance to prosecute the Said Complaint to Effect, the which is therefore In their Majesties Names, William & Mary of England & King & Queen to Require Seize & Secure the Said Esther Elwell Rebecka Dike & Abigail Rowe & them haveing So Secured You are the first Convenient time to bring before their Majesties Justices of the Peace for the County of Essex that thay may be Examined & Provided with as the Law Directs of which You are not to faile at your Perrill & for So Doeing this shall be Your sufficient Warrant, & make a true Returne under Your hand according to Law - Ipswich Novemb'r 5th 1692 Given under my hand *Tho's. Wade. J:P
The Gloucester Daily Times: Article by Grace Schrafft
When it seemed in 1642 that there were enough settlers to incorporate Gloucester as a town, the First Parish Church was also organized underits first pastor, the Reverend Richard Blynman, an enterprising Welsh Puritan.
Perhaps a better businessman than a spiritual leader, he constructed the canal that still bears his name, allowing fishing boats to 'cut' through the town, rather than having to rcumnavigate Cape Ann. Within two years, there was dissension within the Rev. Blynman's Gloucester flock.
In 1664, a William Stevens was chosen to represent Gloucester in the colonial legislature. But the elders of Blynman's church, over some 'private differences' decided to replace him with a Mr. Brown. Stevens appealed to the legislature, which returned him to his seat.
The Rev. Blynman lost that round with Stevens, and although he won the next one against John Stone, it did not bode well for his ministry that Stone was "scandalizing Mr. Blinman, charging him with a false interpretation of Scripture, as also saying that if an angel from heaven should preach the same he would not believe it, and that there were others of his mind." It wasn't long before others of Stone's mind openly challenged Mr. Blynman's pastoral abilities, and some ceased attending services altogether.
The pastor fared worse in September 1649, when he was called to court by Anthony Day for having torn up a writ that Day had taken out against William Vinson (or Vincent). Mr. Blynman's defense was that he did it, not "out of any contempt of authority, but only to stop the proceeding that the matter might be privately healed." Blynman was let off with an admonition "to beware of the like rash carridge for time to come."
In 1652, with some who remained of his followers, the disheartened Blynman abandoned the inhospitable and ungodly people of Cape Ann and resettled in New London, Conn. After Blynman's departure a small group of seafarers undertook to develop the fishery he had earlier tried to stimulate. According to Christine Heyrman, the moral fiber of one of that group, fisherman John Jackson, typified them all: "Within the space of two years, (Jackson) was presented to the county court for debt, for obscene language, and for the attempted rape of his servant maid; perhaps because neighbors suspected his wife of witchcraft, he sued two of them for slander. Throughout the '50s and early '60s, other shoremen and fishermen figured conspicuously in civil cases of debt and defamation and in criminal cases of assault, drunkenness, and husbands living apart from their wives."
When, not surprisingly, no willing replacement for the Rev. Blynman stepped forward, William Perkins of Weymouth, a teaching elder, was induced to resettle in Gloucester "to become the spiritual guide of the little band of worshippers then living here." But Mr. Perkins could endure no more than five years of ill treatment at the hands of his 'little band' and pulled up stakes once again, this time settling in Topsfield. After unloading his Gloucester lands and ministry into the hands of Thomas Millett, his successor, a disgruntled worshipper said of Perkins that his "sermons were soe dead he was fitter to be a lady's chamberman than to be in a pulpit."
Mr. Perkins ended up suing and winning a defamation suit in 1653, after one of his detractors accused his wife and three other women of the church of witchcraft. The three women, all defenders of Mr. Perkins, also won slander suits against the accuser. Their names were Agnes Evans, wife of William; Grace Dutch, wife of Osman; and Sarah, wife of William Vinson, the same man Mr. Blynman had unsuccessfully tried to 'heal' of debt by ripping up the complaint against him.
In the further annals of Gloucester, the name of Agnes Evans does not reappear. As soon as her reputation was restored, her family removed to Topsfield and joined the Perkinses. Of the only two women accused of witchcraft who remained in Gloucester, their innocence would become even more apparent over time. For if they had possessed powers to peer into the future, Sarah Vinson and Grace Dutch would have implored their husbands, for their sake and the sake of their children, to forsake Cape Ann forever.
Mr. Millet, Perkins' sorry successor, sought refuge in Portsmouth after only two years of Congregational harassment. Of him, a detractor grunted, "Mr. Blinman was naught and Perkins was starke naught and Millet was worse than Perkins." On Millet's departure, William Stevens failed to garner enough support to be elected teaching elder of the church. It may be inferred that the former supporters of Blynman, Perkins and Millet preferred a shepherdless flock over Stevens.
By the time the Rev. John Emerson, a Congregationalist, arrived on Cape Ann in 1663, it could be said that Gloucester had gone to hell in a bucket.
In 1656, John Rowe, having lent his support first to Mr. Blynman, then to Perkins and finally to Millet, expressed exasperation with his townsmen in speech so unbecoming a Puritan, he was fined for it: "...if his wife was of his mind, he would set his house afire and run away by the light and the Devil should take the farm, and that he would live no longer among such a company of hell-hounds." Though Goodman Rowe paid his fine, he was not forgiven. Had his wife, Bridget, possessed the psychic abilities attributed to witches, she would have gladly allowed her husband to give the farm over to the devil, and with their sons, John and Hugh, be gone from Gloucester forever.
On Nov. 5, 1692, in what appears to be a rekindling of a 40-year-old feud involving the families of the proponents of Gloucester's unsuccessful pre-Emerson church leaders - Blynman, Perkins and Millet - four Cape Ann women were indicted together. They were Rebecca (Dolliver) Dike, wife of Richard Dike; Esther (Dutch) Elwell, wife of Samuel Elwell; Mary (Prince) Rowe, wife of Hugh Rowe; their daughter Abigail Rowe; and Rachel Vinson, the widow of William Vinson.
By the time of their arrest, Margaret Prince, Mary's mother and Abigail's grandmother, and step-in-law to Rachel Vinson, had been moldering for two months inside the Ipswich jail. They were accused by William Stevens, his son James Stevens, and son-in-law Nathaniel Coyt of having 'committed Sundry acts of witchcraft' on the body of Mary Fitch of Gloucester, age 16.
According to the Salem Witchcraft Papers, "James Stevens testifieth and saith that Mary Fitch did say that she felt A woman upon the bed, and put forth hir hand, and felt the hand and felt the hair of hir head and A peg in it, also testifieth that she said she was squesed to pieces, whereas I saw no body hurt hur." It will be remembered that Mary Rowe's father-in-law, John, was the man who consigned Gloucester to the devil four decades earlier, in a tirade aimed at his fellow townsmen for the ill comportment during the ministries of Blynman and his successors.
It was during that time that William Stevens had, in the late 1650s, coveted the church eldership for himself, but was frustrated by John Rowe and others. Some of those others were Sarah Vinson and Grace Dutch, both of whom had been cleared in 1653 of witchcraft accusations prompted by their support for Blynman and Perkins. Esther Elwell, presently accused, was the daughter of Grace Dutch, and Rachel Vinson became William Vinson's wife after Sarah Vinson's death.
It seemed that revenge was taken most ruthlessly of all on William Vinson and John Rowe - both long dead by 1692 - Rowe for his utterances against his fellow townsmen in 1653, and Vinson because the Rev. Blynman had tried to protect him from the embarrassment of legal proceedings back in 1649. Not only was Hugh Rowe sorely hurt by the arrest of his wife and daughter, but further damaged in light of the fact that his deceased first wife was William Vinson's daughter. Winter was coming in when Abigail Rowe was separated from her mother and grandmother and jailed in Salem, while her mother Mary and Goodwives Dike, Elwell, and Vinson were remanded to Ipswich, there to be sorrowfully greeted by their Gloucester neighbors and kin.
What transpired between Goodwife Rowe and her aging mother, Margaret Prince, the sharpness of her tongue probably dulled by long months of imprisonment, can only be imagined. Some of their words, however, were put to paper, in a December plea that should have softened the hearts of their cruelest judges:
"To the Hon. Gov. and Council and Gen. Assembly now sitting at Boston: The humble petition of us whose names are subscribed hereunto now prisoners at Ipswich humbly showeth, that some of us have lain in the prison many mos., and some of us many weeks, who are charged with witchcraft, and not being conscious to ourselves of any guilt of that nature lying upon our consciences; our earnest request is that seeing that winter is so far come on that it cannot be expected that we should be tryed during this winter season, that we maybe released out of prison for the present upon bail to answer what we are charged with in the spring. For we are not in thus unwilling nor afraid to abide the trial before any judicature appointed in convenient season of any crime of that nature; we hope you will put on the bowells of compassion so far as to consider of our suffering condition in the present state we are in, being like to perish with cold in lying longer in this cold season of the year, some of us being aged either about or nere 4 score, some though younger yet being with child, and one giving such to a child not 10 weeks old yet, and all of us weak and infirm at the best, and one fettered with irons this halfe year and almost destroyed with so long an imprisonment. Thus hoping you will grant us a release at the present that we be not left to perish in this miserable condition, we shall always pray."
- Suffolk Court Records Case No. 2689 No. 17