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Dorcas Hoar's Geni Profile

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Dorcas Hoar (Galley)

Birthplace: of, Beverly, Essex, Massachusetts
Death: Died in Beverly, Essex, Massachusetts
Immediate Family:

Daughter of John Galley and Florence Galley
Wife of William Hoar
Mother of William Hoare, Jr.
Sister of Mary Ross and Elizabeth Giles

Occupation: Fortune teller, accused burglar, convicted of witchcraft
Managed by: Erica "the Disconnectrix" Howton
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Dorcas Hoar

Dorcas (Galley) Hoar, a widow from Beverly, Massachusetts, was accused of witchcraft during the Salem witch trials of 1692, found guilty and condemned to hang, but then confessed and with the support of several ministers, was given a temporary reprieve.

"Dorcas Hoar was reprieved, even though she had been dabbling in the occult for years by telling fortunes in Beverly. She was said to have predicted her husband, William Hoar's death."

During her examination by the court Dorcas was challenged with the spectral evidence:

  • * Dorcas: Oh! you are liars, & God will stop the mouth of liars.
  • * Court: You are not to speak after this manner in the Court.
  • * Dorcas: I will speak the Truth as long as I live.

From Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-33 John Galley

"A lengthy series of documents produced at Salem Court on 25 June 1678 portray Dorcas (Galley) Hoare as a precursor of Dickens's Fagin, apparently organizing her own daughters and a neighboring maidservant, Margaret Lord, into a burglary ring[EQC 7:42-55]. This situation may underlie the terms of the bequest to William Hoare in the will of John Galley."

from Wikipedia:

While imprisoned awaiting trial, Dorcas Hoar confessed to acts of witchcraft to Jonathan Lovett, son of Jonathan and Bethia (Rootes) Lovett. Jonathan was visiting his grandmother Susannah Rootes, also accused of the act of witchcraft and awaiting trial. Jonathan then testified to this confession in the 1692 trial of Dorcas Hoar where she was found guilty.

Rev. Deodat Lawson wrote of her,

"only one Woman Condemned, after the Death Warrant was signed, freely Confessed, which occasioned her Reprieval for sometime; and it was observable, This Woman had one Lock of Hair, of a very great length, viz. Four Foot and Seven Inches long, by measure, this Lock was of a different colour from all the rest, (which was short and grey) it grew on the hinder part of her Head, and was matted together like an Elf-Lock; the Court ordered it to be cut off, to which she was very unwilling, and said, she was told if it were cut off, she should Dye, or be Sick, yet the Court ordered it so to be."[1]


from: [–-burglary-ring/ December Blacksheep Sunday: Grandma Dorcas, Part I – Burglary Ring]

Dorcas Galley was my 8th-Great Grandmother on the Crosby side.  She was born in late 1635 or early 1636 in the town of Beverly, Essex County of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, America.  Her parents, John and Florence Galley most likely arrived in America shortly before her birth.

Dorcas, although an odd name by today’s standards, was not so uncommon a name in early New England. Dorcas, an alternate form of Tabitha, is a New Testament name of the Bible (Tabitha being the Aramaic form) and associated with being charitable.[1]

Around 1655, Dorcas Galley married William Hoar, also of Beverly. The date of marriage is calculated based on the birth year of their oldest known child, Samuel.  Together, William and Dorcas had a second son, William (my 7th-Great Grandfather) and four daughters: Mary, Elizabeth, Annice and Tabitha.  The birthdates of the children have yet to be found, but it is known that by 1678 all the children, with the exception of Annice, were married.

In Spring 1678, John Hale of Beverly made a formal complaint to authorities in which he was the victim of several thefts. Fortunately, the records of the Quarterly Court of Essex County, in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, still exist. ... An Arrest Warrant was issued on May 31, 1678, charging Dorcas Hoar and three of her daughters with receiving stolen goods. The contraband included flour, malt and oatmeal that were received from Margret Lord.

Robert Hale testified that Margret called Dorcas “Mother” and referred to Dorcas’ daughters as her sisters and all were involved in the thievery.

Roger Conant testified that some six to eight years before, Mary and Elizabeth Hoar came to his house to buy apples. While in the cellar fetching the apples a large bolt of canvass was stolen from his house.

Much of the remaining testimony was similar to Conant’s; the allegation often happening years before their testimony, and many times the testimony was hearsay.  Sixteen (16) others would also testified, either in-court or through deposition, concerning the Hoars stealing. There were also claims that Dorcas and Margret Lord violated the Sabbath and on some occasions were seen dancing in the woods on the Lord’s Day.

Killicrist and Mary Ross testified that Mary and Elizabeth Hoar lived with them for a time and they knew them to be trustworthy and faithful. Tabitha, however, they said, “was such a lying creature that they could not believe a word she said and could keep her no longer.”  Mary was Dorcas’ sister.

'The legal standards of the 1600s were much different than today’s. Hearsay was permitted and the court appears to have been the sole Trier – there was no prosecutor or defense, just the body of the court.  Based on the facts, the likelihood of acquittal appears slim. I have sent out queries seeking to learn the disposition of the case, but I am not too confident of success.  Searches of the other 8 volumes in the series of court records have not given any clues either.  Hopefully one day the outcome will be learned.'

There are no loose ends to her next case: the outcome is known.


In the spring of 1692 Dorcas Hoar was living in the town of Beverly, Massachusetts. She was recently widowed after her husband William died suddenly, and some thought suspiciously, during the previous winter. On April 30, 1692 Jonathan Walcott and Thomas Putnam swore out a formal complaint with the court detailing allegations of witchcraft committed by Dorcas and two others.

Dorcas was ordered to be held until her trial for “High Suspicion of Sundry Acts of Witchcraft”  and was committed to the jail in Boston. The trial of Dorcas Hoar was held September 6, 1692 in the village of Salem. The testimony of 18 people, all for the prosecution, was received by the court. There is no mention of testimony being presented in the defense of Dorcas.

After the sheriff had done his part in the affair, Rev. Nicholas Noyes, of Salem, turned toward the suspended bodies of the condemned, and said: “What a sad  thing it is to see eight firebrands of hell hanging there.” — September 22, 1692.

On September 22, 1692 eight people — 6 women and 2 men — were hanged in Salem; all were convicted of witchcraft. Four of those executed were condemned on September 9th. However, Dorcas was not among those hanged.

The day before her scheduled execution, Dorcas confessed to being a witch and asked for a one-month stay of execution so that she may pray for redemption of her soul. On September 21, 1692 a petition signed by Rev. John Hale, Rev. Nicholas Noyes, Daniel Epps and John Emerson was sent to the court asking for a temporary reprieve for Dorcas, for the sake of redeeming her soul.


What became of Dorcas after her release from jail is unknown. No other records pertaining to her, while living, have been found. On September 13, 1710 Annas King, Dorcas’ daughter, requested that restitution be made for the property seized from Dorcas upon her conviction. The inventory of property seized included two cows, a mare, a bed, bedding, curtains and other household items. The grand total of property seized was 21 pounds 17 shillings.

On December 17, 1711 Dorcas was compensated the full amount of 21 pounds 17 shillings. By this time, however, Dorcas had died so several of her children shared the payment. No record of Dorcas’ death has been found.

Sources Cited:


  1. Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts: 1678-1680: 1678-1680 (Google eBook) Massachusetts. County Court (Essex County) Essex Institute, 1919 - Court records. (search results for "Hoar")
  2. The Great Migration Project: John Galley "A lengthy series of documents produced at Salem Court on 25 June 1678 portray Dorcas (Galley) Hoare as a precursor of Dickens's Fagin, apparently organizing her own daughters and a neighboring maidservant, Margaret Lord, into a burglary ring[EQC 7:42-55]. This situation may underlie the terms of the bequest to William Hoare in the will of John Galley."


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Dorcas Hoar's Timeline

Beverly, Essex, Massachusetts
Age 26
Beverly, Essex County, Massachusetts
July 12, 1711
Age 77
Beverly, Essex, Massachusetts