Samuel Wardwell (1643 - 1692) MP

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Nicknames: "Samuel Wardle", "Wardell"
Birthplace: Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts
Death: Died in Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts
Cause of death: Hanged as a witch
Occupation: Carpenter
Managed by: Christopher Lee Empey
Last Updated:

About Samuel Wardwell

Samuel Wardwell, a carpenter by trade, lived with his wife and several small children in the south end of the town. Up to 1692 he was regarded as an eccentric but harmless individual who sometimes told fortunes, played with magic, and perhaps in jesting moods even claimed supernatural powers. His peculiarities attracted the attention of the witch hunters, and he was shortly charged by Martha Sprague, of Boxford one of those involved in the case of Abigail Faulkner of having practiced upon her "certain detestable arts called witchcraft and sorceries." In a second and more precise indictment it was alleged that Wardwell had twenty years before made a covenant with the "evill speritt," in which he had promised to honor, worship, and believe the "devill." Witnesses against him were not only the familiar group of Salem Village girls but also three respectable citizens of Andover: Joseph Ballard and Thomas Chandler, neighbors of his in the south end, both of whom had been selectmen; and Ephraim Foster, who for years had been clerk of the proprietors. This was a formidable array of accusers.

Like many others, Wardwell, in his anxiety and terror, was led to make a complete "confession." While he was in a discontented mood because of a thwarted clandestine love affair with "a maid named Barker," he had seen some "catts" meeting together behind Mr. Bradstreet's house. One of them, assuming the form of a black man, told him that if he would only sign the book, he should "live comfortably and be a captain," like Dudley Bradstreet. Following the classic example of Faust, Wardwell attached his name to the contract, was then baptized in the Shawsheen River, and abandoned his church affiliation.

When Wardwell later was released from "brain-storming," he declared that the urgency of his tormentors had persuaded him, under emotional stress, that he must have done the deeds attributed to him. From that hour until his execution he never again weakened. He regretted that he had even once "belyed" himself and announced that even though it might cost him his life, he would stick to the truth. No one of sufficient importance intervened in the poor man's behalf, and he was hanged on September 22, 1692, together with seven others. Even as the noose was being adjusted around his neck, Wardwell declared in a firm voice that he was innocent. While he was speaking a puff of smoke from the executioner's pipe blew across his face and some misguided girl shouted, "The Devil doth hinder his words!" On this occasion the Reverend Nicholas Noyes, of the First Church in Salem, not content with mere watching, addressed the multitude of spectators, saying, "What a sad thing it is to see eight firebrands of hell hanging there!"

Wardwell's example was used in later trials as a threat to others of what might be their fate if they recanted their confessions. The injustice in his case reached beyond his grave. On January 2, 1693, his wife was brought before the Court of Trials, where a jury delivered the familiar verdict that she was "guilty of covenanting with the Devill." Meanwhile the selectmen of Andover notified the Court of Quarter Sessions at Ipswich that the four Wardwell children were in suffering condition, and then proceeded to bind them out to other households in the neighborhood until they should be mature enough to pursue some gainful occupation. To pay the expenses of Wardwell's trial, the sheriff seized property of his amounting to 36 pounds, 15 shillings, including five cows, nine hogs, eight loads of hay, and six acres of corn upon the ground. Furthermore both Wardwells had to provide their own subsistence while they were in prison. Eventually Sarah Wardwell was reprieved and released. In 1712, his mother meanwhile having died, Samuel Wardwell, Jr., requested and received compensation for the financial loss which his family had suffered. Unfortunately it was too late to bring his father back to life.

Extracted from chapter 8 of an out-of-print book called Andover: Symbol of New England, by Claude M. Fuess.

--------------------

Samuel Wardwell, a carpenter by trade, lived with his wife and several small children in the south end of the town. Up to 1692 he was regarded as an eccentric but harmless individual who sometimes told fortunes, played with magic, and perhaps in jesting moods even claimed supernatural powers. His peculiarities attracted the attention of the witch hunters, and he was shortly charged by Martha Sprague, of Boxford one of those involved in the case of Abigail Faulkner of having practiced upon her "certain detestable arts called witchcraft and sorceries." In a second and more precise indictment it was alleged that Wardwell had twenty years before made a covenant with the "evill speritt," in which he had promised to honor, worship, and believe the "devill." Witnesses against him were not only the familiar group of Salem Village girls but also three respectable citizens of Andover: Joseph Ballard and Thomas Chandler, neighbors of his in the south end, both of whom had been selectmen; and Ephraim Foster, who for years had been clerk of the proprietors. This was a formidable array of accusers.

Like many others, Wardwell, in his anxiety and terror, was led to make a complete "confession." While he was in a discontented mood because of a thwarted clandestine love affair with "a maid named Barker," he had seen some "catts" meeting together behind Mr. Bradstreet's house. One of them, assuming the form of a black man, told him that if he would only sign the book, he should "live comfortably and be a captain," like Dudley Bradstreet. Following the classic example of Faust, Wardwell attached his name to the contract, was then baptized in the Shawsheen River, and abandoned his church affiliation.

When Wardwell later was released from "brain-storming," he declared that the urgency of his tormentors had persuaded him, under emotional stress, that he must have done the deeds attributed to him. From that hour until his execution he never again weakened. He regretted that he had even once "belyed" himself and announced that even though it might cost him his life, he would stick to the truth. No one of sufficient importance intervened in the poor man's behalf, and he was hanged on September 22, 1692, together with seven others. Even as the noose was being adjusted around his neck, Wardwell declared in a firm voice that he was innocent. While he was speaking a puff of smoke from the executioner's pipe blew across his face and some misguided girl shouted, "The Devil doth hinder his words!" On this occasion the Reverend Nicholas Noyes, of the First Church in Salem, not content with mere watching, addressed the multitude of spectators, saying, "What a sad thing it is to see eight firebrands of hell hanging there!"

Wardwell's example was used in later trials as a threat to others of what might be their fate if they recanted their confessions. The injustice in his case reached beyond his grave. On January 2, 1693, his wife was brought before the Court of Trials, where a jury delivered the familiar verdict that she was "guilty of covenanting with the Devill." Meanwhile the selectmen of Andover notified the Court of Quarter Sessions at Ipswich that the four Wardwell children were in suffering condition, and then proceeded to bind them out to other households in the neighborhood until they should be mature enough to pursue some gainful occupation. To pay the expenses of Wardwell's trial, the sheriff seized property of his amounting to 36 pounds, 15 shillings, including five cows, nine hogs, eight loads of hay, and six acres of corn upon the ground. Furthermore both Wardwells had to provide their own subsistence while they were in prison. Eventually Sarah Wardwell was reprieved and released. In 1712, his mother meanwhile having died, Samuel Wardwell, Jr., requested and received compensation for the financial loss which his family had suffered. Unfortunately it was too late to bring his father back to life.

Extracted from chapter 8 of an out-of-print book called Andover: Symbol of New England, by Claude M. Fuess.

--------------------

Baptism: 16 MAY 1643 1st Church of Boston 2

Note:

Samuel probably grew up at Boston, Suffolk Co, MA. He had located in Andover, Essex Co, MA before 1670. He had purchased a 20 acre lot there in the south-end and built his home there. Samuel was a carpenter by trade. He was married to an unidentified first wife around 1669 and she died around 1672 at Andover. As a 29 year old widower, Samuel courted a daughter of Richard Barker but he was rejected by the family. He next turned his attentions to a recent widow, Sarah (Hooper) Hawkes, who also had a young child, and was quite wealthy from her first husband. They lived on Samuel's lot in Andover and prospered for a while. Samuel was granted a meadow and swamp land in Andover's division of common lands on 6 March 1674/5. King Philip's War soon erupted and on 8 April 1676, Andover was attacked by the Indians. Samuel probably took his family to the Abbot Garrison House, where all the South-end residents had gathered for safety. The town only lost one resident in the battle. Samuel received another grant of land on 10 March 1677/8 from Andover. He took an oath of allegiance in Andover on 11 February 1678/9. Samuel completed an apprenticeship as a carpenter before moving to Salem. In 1668, John Turner hired Samuel to build an elegant house, constructed on a splendid site overlooking the harbor. The house had peaks over the seven gables that rose up shapely. This is the house that became famous as the House of the Seven Gables in the Hawthorne story of Salem's past.

--William Colehour www.colehour.com

He was arrested on Sep. 1, 1692 and logged in the Salem jail, indicted on two counts, first with bewitching a sixteen year old Martha Sprague, and second having made a covenant with the devil some twenty years previously. Also, arrested were his wife Sarah and daughter Mary who after weeks of imprisonment, testified against him. Also arrested were Rebecca Nurse, Mary Estey, Abigail Faulkner, Mary Parker, John Proctor and his wife Elizabeth, and Elizabeth Howe. All were accused and imprisoned, and at a court held at Salem were condemned. Despite recanting his confession, Samuel Warwell received a sentence of death on Sept. 17 and was hanged on Sept. 22, 1692 with seven others.

His wife Sarah, then 42 and mother of a young child, was also found guilty, but her daughter Mary age 20 also accused of witchcraft was found not guilty and her execution was stayed.

From the History of Essex County: "Samuel Wardwell was an eccentric man given to palmistry and fortune telling, and not averse to prophesying a little on occasion. He was accused of tormenting Martha Sprague (a teenage girl) of Boxford, by wicked arts and also of having a covenant with the devil some twenty years before by which he promised to honor, worship and believe the devil, contrary to the Statute of King James the First in that behalf; after much persuasion, and in the hope of saving his life, he made a confession. But very soon he recanted and declared his innocence and was one of the three hanged from Andover."

"Samuel and Sarah were forced to pay for their own subsistence while in prison as well as to pay the jailer. In order to settle the account, the government seized all of their cows and hogs, as well as 8 loads of hay, 6 acres of corn and a set of carpentry tools. Then the government had the problem of what to do with the children, who were ages 1 to 19 years. The father was dead and the mother still in prison. The selectmen of Andover placed or bonded them as follows: Samuel was placed with John Ballard, his uncle, for 1 year. William was placed with Corpl. Saml. Frye to age 21, and to learn the trade of weaver. Eliakim, age 5, was placed with Daniel Poor until 21. Elizabeth was placed with John Steven until 18. At 21, Eliakim migrated to York, Maine. They were exonerated in 1703 & their property returned."

From "The Delusion of Satan" by Francis Hill:

"(Samuel) Wardwell was the only accused witch besides Margaret Jacobs to confess, recant his confession, and not go back on the recantation. He was from Andover, as were four of the others tried on September 17. By this time the Andover witch-hunt had peaked. Witches there were being arrested and examined in considerable numbers, though no new arrests were being made in Salem Village or elsewhere. Wardwell had a reputation for fortune-telling and, when examined on September 1 by John Higginson, said he was in the snare of the devil. Urged to go on, he concocted an elaborate tale of agreeing to serve Satan till he was sixty and being baptized by him in the river. He was "dipped all over," he said. But on September 13 Wardwell declared to the grand jury inquest, at which the accused were appearing before they went to their trials, that his whole confession was lies. He said "he knew he should die for it whether he owned it or no," meaning he would hang as a result of his confession whether he stuck to it or not. This seems a reasonable attitude, given that confessors were now being tried. Wardwell was not to know they would all be reprieved.

A stark reminder of the horrific effects of the imprisonments for witchcraft comes in the form of a petition about Wardwell's case from the selectmen of Andover to the Ipswich court: "Samuel Wardwell and his wife of Andover were lately apprehended and committed to prison for witchcraft, and have left several small children who are uncapable of providing for themselves and are now in a suffering condition. We have thought it necessary and convenient that they should be disposed of in some families whether there may be due care taken of them. We therefore humbly pray your honours to inform us what is our duty in this case."

It seems that the afflicted girls were as afraid as ever that the condemned would win the crowd's sympathy. They seized every opportunity for new insults and mockeries. As Wardwell spoke on the ladder, protesting his innocence, tobacco smoke from the executioner's pipe wafted into his face and made him splutter and cough. The afflicted girls shouted that the devil stopped him from speaking. It seems not to have occurred to them, or anyone else, that the devil could have no possible motive for preventing a disciple from making his case."

Indictment v Samuel Wardwell, No. 1

Essex in the Province [unclear: ] of the Massachusetts Bay in New England

Anno R R's & Reginae Gulielmi & Mariae Angliae &c Quarto Annoq'e Domini 1692.

ss/ The Juriors for our Sov'r Lord and Lady the King and Queen doe present That Samuel Wardell of Andivor In the County of Essex Carpenter on or about the fifteenth day of August In the yeare aforesaid and divers other days and times as Well before as after Certaine detestable Arts called Witchcraft and Sorceries Wickedly

Mallitiously and felloniously hath used practised & Exercised at and in the Towne of Boxford in the County of Essex aforesaid in upon and against one Martha Sprague of Boxford in the County of Essex Aforesaid Single Woman by which said Wicked Acts the said Martha Sprague the day & Yeare Aforesaid and divers other days and times #[both] before and after was and is Tortured Aflicted Consumed Pined Wasted and Tormented, and also for sundry other Acts of Witchcraft by the said Samuel Wardell Comitted and done before and since that time against the peace of our Soveraigne Lord and Lady the King and Queen theire Crowne and dignity And the forme in the Statute in that case made and Provided.

(Reverse) Indictm't against Samuel Wardell for bewitching Martha Sprague Billa Vera Ponet Se

( Essex County Archives, Salem -- Witchcraft Vol. 2 Page 27 )

Examination of Samuel Wardwell:

The Examination and Confession of Sam'll wardwell. taken Sept 1st 92. before John Higginson Esq one of theire majties Justices of peace for the County of Essex

After the returneing of negative answers to severall questions He said he was sensible he was in the snare of the devil, He used to be much discontented that he could get no more work done, and that he had been foolishly Led along with telling of fortunes, which sometymes came to pass, He used also when any creature came into his field to bid the devil take it, and it may be the devil took advantage of him by that Constable foster of Andover said that this wardwell told him once in the woods that when he was a young man he could make all his cattell come round about him when he pleased. The said wardwell being urged to tell o truth he proceeded thus, That being ones in a discontented frame he saw some catts together with the appearance of a man who called himself a prince of the aire & promised him he should live comfortably and be a captain and requyred said wardwell to honor him which he promised to doe, and it was about twenty yeares agoe. He said the reason of his discontent then was because he was in love with a maid named Barker who slighted his love, And the first Appearance of the catt then was behind Capt bradstreets house, about a week after that A black man appeared in the day tyme at the same place and called himself prince and lord and told him the said wardwell he must worship and believe him, and promised as above, with this addition that he should never want for any thing but that the black man had never performed any thing, And further that when he would goe to prayer in his family the devil wold begin to be angry He saith also that at that tyme when the devil appeared & told him he was prince of the aire that then he syned his book by makeing a mark like a square with a black pen and that the devil brought him the pen and Ink He saith further he Covenanted with the devil untill he should arryve to the age of sixty years and that he is now about the age of 46 years. And at that tyme the devil promeised on his part as is above exprest, he said it was about a 4tnight agoe since he began to afflict, and confesses that mary Lilly and Hannah Tayler of Ridding were of his company Further he saith that martha Sprague was the first he afflicted, that the devil put him upon it and threatned him there unto

And that he did it by pincheing his coat & buttons when he was discontented, and gave the devil a comission so to doe, He sayes he was baptised by the black man at Shaw shin river alone and was dipt all over and beleeves he renounced his former baptisme.

Wardwell's Confession

I used, when any creature came into my field to bid the devil take it, and when I was a young man I could make all my cattle come round about and follow me. Once I saw some cats together with the appearance of a man who called himself " The Prince of Air ", and he promised me I should be a captain if I would honor him, which I promised to do. The reason I was discontented was because I was in love with a maid named Barker who slighted my love. The first appearance of the cat was behind Captain Bradstreet's house. The next week a black cat was behind Capt. Bradstreet's house, about a week after that a black man appeared in the daytime at the same place and time and called himself Prince and Lord and told him that said Wardwell he must worship and beleive him, and promised him as above, with this addition that he should never want for anything but that the black man had never performed anything and further that when he would go to prayer in his family the devil would begin to be angry. He said also that at that time when the devil appeared and told him he was Prince of the Air, that then he signed his book by making a mark like a square with a black pen and that the devil brought him the pen and the ink. He saith further he honor the devil until he should arrive at the age of 56 years and that he is now about the age 46 years and at the that time the devil promised on his part, as is above expressed he said it was about a fortnight ago since he began to afflict , and confess that Mary Lilly and Hannah Tayler of Ridding were of his company, further he saith that Martha Sprague was the first he afflicted, that the devil did it by pinching his coattails and buttons when he was discontented and gave the devil a commission to do. He says he was baptised by the black man at Shaw Shin river alone and was dipped all over and beleives he renounced his former baptism.

John Higginson Esq.

The deposition of Ephraim Tosser of Andover aged about 54 testifieth and sayeth he heard Samuel Wardwell the prisoner now at the bar tell my wife that she should have five girls before she would have a son; which thing came to pass, and I heard him tell Dority Eames her fortune and I have heard said Dority say after that he believed Wardwell was a witch or else he could never tell what he did and I took notes that said Wardwell would look into their hand and then would cast his eyes down upon the ground always before he told anything, this I have both heard and seen several times.

While Sarah Wardwell was in prison her children were disposed as of follows:

1) Mary age 20 accused of witchcraft but found not guilty married John Wright.

2) Samuel age 17 was placed with his uncle John Ballard.

3) William age 14 was placed out with Samuel Frye until age 21, to learn the trade of a weaver.

4) Eliakim age 9 was placed with Daniel Poor until age 21.

5) Elizabeth age 2 was placed with John Stevens until age 18.

6) Rebecca was an infant in arms during the mothers imprisonment.

(Account of Samuel Wardwell Jr. -- Cases of Samuel and Sarah Wardwell)

To: To the Honourable Committee Sitting in Salem Sept 13. 1710. An Account of what was seiz'd and taken away by the Sheriffe or his Deputy and assistants out of the Estate of Samuel Wardwell late of Andover Deceased who suffered the paines of Death under condemnation on the Sorrowfull tryalls for witchcraft in the year 1692.

viz Seis'd and taken away

5 Cowes at 2 P 10-00-00

1 Heifer & a yearling 2-5-00

1 Horse 3-0-00

9 Hogs 7-0-0

8 Loads of Hay 4-0-0

A set of Carpenters Tools 1-10-0

6 Acres of corn upon the ground. 9-00-00

36.15.00

"Samuel Wardwell, a carpenter by trade, lived with his wife and several small children in the south end of the town. Up to 1692 he was regarded as an eccentric but harmless individual who sometimes told fortunes, played with magic, and perhaps in jesting moods even claimed supernatural powers. His peculiarities attracted the attention of the witch hunters, and he was shortly charged by Martha Sprague, of Boxford one of those involved in the case of Abigail Faulkner of having practiced upon her "certain detestable arts called witchcraft and sorceries." In a second and more precise indictment it was alleged that Wardwell had twenty years before made a covenant with the "evill speritt," in which he had promised to honor, worship, and believe the "devill." Witnesses against him were not only the familiar group of Salem Village girls but also three respectable citizens of Andover: Joseph Ballard and Thomas Chandler, neighbors of his in the south end, both of whom had been selectmen; and Ephraim Foster, who for years had been clerk of the proprietors. This was a formidable array of accusers.

Like many others, Wardwell, in his anxiety and terror, was led to make a complete "confession." While he was in a discontented mood because of a thwarted clandestine love affair with "a maid named Barker," he had seen some "catts" meeting together behind Mr. Bradstreet's house. One of them, assuming the form of a black man, told him that if he would only sign the book, he should "live comfortably and be a captain," like Dudley Bradstreet. Following the classic example of Faust, Wardwell attached his name to the contract, was then baptized in the Shawsheen River, and abandoned his church affiliation.

When Wardwell later was released from "brain-storming," he declared that the urgency of his tormentors had persuaded him, under emotional stress, that he must have done the deeds attributed to him. From that hour until his execution he never again weakened. He regretted that he had even once "belyed" himself and announced that even though it might cost him his life, he would stick to the truth. No one of sufficient importance intervened in the poor man's behalf, and he was hanged on September 22, 1692, together with seven others. Even as the noose was being adjusted around his neck, Wardwell declared in a firm voice that he was innocent. While he was speaking a puff of smoke from the executioner's pipe blew across his face and some misguided girl shouted, "The Devil doth hinder his words!" On this occasion the Reverend Nicholas Noyes, of the First Church in Salem, not content with mere watching, addressed the multitude of spectators, saying, "What a sad thing it is to see eight firebrands of hell hanging there!"

Wardwell's example was used in later trials as a threat to others of what might be their fate if they recanted their confessions. The injustice in his case reached beyond his grave. On January 2, 1693, his wife was brought before the Court of Trials, where a jury delivered the familiar verdict that she was "guilty of covenanting with the Devill." Meanwhile the selectmen of Andover notified the Court of Quarter Sessions at Ipswich that the four Wardwell children were in suffering condition, and then proceeded to bind them out to other households in the neighborhood until they should be mature enough to pursue some gainful occupation. To pay the expenses of Wardwell's trial, the sheriff seized property of his amounting to 36 pounds, 15 shillings, including five cows, nine hogs, eight loads of hay, and six acres of corn upon the ground. Furthermore both Wardwells had to provide their own subsistence while they were in prison. Eventually Sarah Wardwell was reprieved and released. In 1712, his mother meanwhile having died, Samuel Wardwell, Jr., requested and received compensation for the financial loss which his family had suffered. Unfortunately it was too late to bring his father back to life."

-Extracted from chapter 8 of an out-of-print book called Andover: Symbol of New England, by Claude M. Fuess.

-------------------- Links

Sources

  1. New England Marriages Prior to 1700: With an Updated Introduction by Gary ...By Clarence A. Torrey, Elizabeth Petty Bentley. Page 355
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Samuel Wardwell's Timeline

1643
May 16, 1643
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts
1669
January 1669
Age 25
1672
May 16, 1672
Age 29
Andover, Essex County, Massachusetts
1673
October 3, 1673
Age 30
Andover, Essex County, Massachusetts
1675
1675
Age 31
1676
February 24, 1676
Age 32
Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States
1679
1679
Age 35
Andover, MA, USA
1687
August 17, 1687
Age 44
Andover, Essex, Massachusetts, United States
1691
September 10, 1691
Age 48
Andover, Essex, Maine, United States
1692
September 22, 1692
Age 49
Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts