Sarah Bowden (Nurse) (1648 - 1754) MP

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Nicknames: "Sarah Nourse", "Sarah Boulden"
Birthplace: Town of Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony, (Present USA)
Death: Died in Lynn, Essex County, Province of Massachusetts, (Present USA)
Managed by: David Prins
Last Updated:

About Sarah Bowden (Nurse)

   Sarah Nurse was the daughter of the famous Rebecca Nurse, well known by many Americans, who was charged,  in Salem, Massachussetts, for being a witch. She was tried twice for this offense. The first time, when the family was present, she was found innocent and freed. 
      It was a most unusual trial. At first many, if not all, of the Nurse family were inprisoned. Judge Hawthorne presided. Among the witnesses was the daughter of a Mr. Putnam who testified under oath that she was stuck and bleeding by an evil spell performed by Rebecca. Sarah Nurse testified under oath that she saw the Putnam girl take a pin out of her dress and stick herself with the pin. Many people in the village were behind Rebecca and knew she was innocent; She had been very sick in prison praying constantly for her accusers. She prayed daily and was considered one of the most godly people in the this entire village. The entire Nurse family, especially, helped win the case. 
      However, when the Nurse family were sure this horrible trial was done and that she was finally safe, they left the town. However, when they were away, their mother was quickly tried again for the same crime and hung. Many people were enraged.  Of course the Nurse family were both enraged and grief-striken.  The Putnams took part of the blame in the written history of this case for various reasons. 
   I'll just site one of the possible reasons cited in history that may have prompted them to be so quick to accuse Rebecca in these trials. First, the Putnams had taken  a case twice to  court involving some 300 acres of land that they argued was theirs rightfully and each time they won each case in the lower courts. This property had belonged to Frances Nurse, Rebecca's husband and Sarah's dad. Francis  felt this land was legally his and thus took it to the higher court in Massachusetts, and he won the case. The Putnam's were, of course, enraged and very likely thought they had been cheated of their 300 acres. You might well guess that they also wanted it back. If this is why they charged Rebecca with witchcraft of not, in the end, they got back their 300 acres. 
    Sarah lost her mother, Rebecca (Towne) Nurse and two of her aunts, and both Towne sisters, and Sarah Towne, Sarah Nurse's only surviving Aunt was given just compensation by Massachussets of three gold sovereigns and, I am sure a letter of condolence as well.
    There are two major productions dealing with the trial of Rebecca Nurse that I have heard of.

The first was and HBO presentation called "Three Sovereign for Sarah".

The second is a play by Arthur Miller entitled "The Crucilble".

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Sarah Bowden's Timeline

1648
1648
Town of Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony, (Present USA)

The exact date of birth of Sarah Nurse (future Sarah Bowden) to father Francis and mother Rebecca Nurse is unrecorded, as is the date of baptism. The infant has two older brothers (a young boy named John - age 6, and a toddler named Samuel - age 2) and an older sister (a young girl named Rebecca, age 4).

1653
November 1653
Age 5
Town of Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony, (Present USA)

According to S.J. Walker's information on the Nurse family:
http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~walkersj/Nurse.htm

(Francis Nurse, husband of Rebecca Nurse and father of four, is) sued by Richard Waters for trespass and impounding three cows and one heifer.
(Currents of Malice - McMillen)

1654
1654
Age 6
Town of Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony, (Present USA)

(Francis Nurse, husband of Rebecca Nurse and father of four, is) involved in slander suit versus Jonathan Porter and his wife, Eunice. The court ruling in his favor, and "Eunice also made acknowledgement, which the court accepted". (Currents of Malice - McMillen)

1656
June 1656
Age 8
Town of Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony, (Present USA)

According to information on the Nurse family by S.J. Walker:
http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~walkersj/Nurse.htm

(Francis Nurse, husband of Rebecca Nurse and father of four) was discharged from training in June 1656, which may indicate some physical injury as he was much too young to be excused from military service. (The Ancestry of Sarah Johnson 1775-1824, Wife of Joseph Neal of Litchfield Maine)

1659
1659
Age 11
Town of Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony, (Present USA)

The exact date of birth of Mary Nurse (future Mary Tarbell) to father Francis and mother Rebecca Nurse is unrecorded, as is the date of baptism. The infant has two older brothers (an older boy named John - age 14, and a boy named Samuel - age 8), and two older sisters (a girl named Rebecca - age 12, and a young girl named Sarah - age 6).

1661
January 1661
Age 13
Town of Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony

As with most people from this period, Francis' actual birth date is unrecorded. His actual birth to father Francis and mother Rebecca Nurse likely took place within one or two months of his recorded baptismal date of February 3. The infant had two older brothers (a young man named John - age 16, and a boy named Samuel - age 12) and three older sisters (an older girl named Rebecca - age 14, a girl named Sarah - age 10, and a toddler named Mary - age 2).

(A note on English "double dates" - the old English calendar before 1752 used to change year on March 25. The first date indicated the English year, which differed between January 1 and March 24 from what the rest of the world followed. As what appeared to be some sort of compromise, English officials would double date their documents, and the rest of English society followed. Because the computer date system inflexibly changes years only on January 1, in order to maintain a proper chronology, the second date should be used.)

1664
1664
Age 16
Town of Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony, (Present USA)

From S.J. Walker's information on the Nurse family:
http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~walkersj/Nurse.htm

The Town of Salem grants Francis Nurse (husband of Rebecca Nurse and father of six) 20 acres of land. Likely, the family begins farming around now.

1665
January 2, 1665
Age 17
Town of Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony

As with most people from this period, Elizabeth's' actual date of birth to father Francis and mother Rebecca Nurse is unrecorded. Her actual birth likely took place within one or two months of her recorded baptismal date of January 9, 1664/1665. The infant had three older brothers (a young man named John - age 19, an older boy named Samuel, and a toddler named Francis - age 3), and three older sisters (a young woman named Rebecca - age 17, an older girl named Sarah - age 13, and a young girl named Mary - age 5).

1666
1666
Age 18
Town of Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony

As with most people from this period, Benjamin's actual date of birth to father Francis and mother Rebecca Nurse is unrecorded. His actual birth likely took place within one or two months of his recorded baptismal date of January 26, 1665/1666. The infant had three older brothers (a young man named John - age 20, a young man named Samuel - age 16, and a young boy named Francis - age 4) and four older sisters (a young woman named Rebecca - age 18, an older girl named Sarah - age 14, a young girl named Mary - age 6, and an infant named Elizabeth - age 13 months).

1669
December 15, 1669
Age 21
Topsfield, Essex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony, (Present USA)

Sarah Nurse (second daughter) leaves home in Salem to marry Michael Bowden in Topsfield, the town of her maternal grandfather, William Towne.