Witches in Connecticut 1651-1662

Started by Joan Frum Marshall on Thursday, July 4, 2013


Showing all 19 posts
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

7/4/2013 at 11:39 AM

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

John Carrington, Sr., of Wethersfield

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

Joanne or Joan Clarke

Is here

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

Private User is this a relative of yours? :-)

Private User
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.

10/1/2013 at 12:15 PM


I’m new to this site, and just started a tree over on Ancestry.com. I am the great-great-grandson of Martha Jane Lewis, who was the great-great-granddaughter of Elizabeth Barnes. Elizabeth was the daughter of Nathaniel Barnes, who was the son of Maibe/Maybe/Maybee (I’ve found three different spellings) Barnes. Maybee was the son of Thomas Barnes (making Elizabeth the great-granddaughter of Thomas Barnes, (1623-1691) if the dates are correct). If I’m doing the math right, Maybee was my 8th great-grandfather. Also, most sources I’ve found (mainly other folks’ family trees) cannot agree on birth and death dates for many of these people.

I’m trying to determine a few things. First, which of Thomas Barnes’ wives was Maybee the son of? Also, Thomas Barnes of Hartford seems to be the fourth(?) Thomas Barnes in a row, but different trees over on ancestry.com seem to be confused about his father’s and grandfather’s birth/death dates. If anyone can shed any light on the mess that appears to be Thomas Barnes’s family, that would be great. :)

10/1/2013 at 12:21 PM

Yah, there's lots of Barnes confusion in Ancestry trees. I'll invite you join the Barnes Project. There were multiple un related Barnes families in Colonial America; Geni's profiles should be pretty well differentiated but we need to take a look at the Maybee line.

10/1/2013 at 2:08 PM

I started a spin off discussion here


Caleb Benjamin Clark & and anyone else - join in there because Caleb asked a LOT of questions without easy answers. :):)

6/25/2014 at 1:32 PM

Hi Erica,
I am also new to this website and like others, related to Mary Barnes. Can you help me get started and invite me to join the Barnes Project as well.

This information is wonderful!

7/16/2014 at 5:08 PM

Joan Frum Marshall, I'm coming back to ask you almost a year later...was the book about Mary Barnes worth the price in the end? It's $24 USD with shipping, so I don't want to order it if it's really short or just repeats what's already available on-line. Should I go for it? I'll trust your judgment. :)

7/16/2014 at 5:10 PM

Karen Lubbers, I just sent you a Barnes Project invite. Would you like help getting your tree set up?

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