Elizabeth Scripture

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Elizabeth Scripture (Knapp)

Birthdate: (64)
Birthplace: Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States
Death: Died in Groton, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of William Knapp, II and Margaret Knapp
Wife of Samuel Scripture and Samuel Scripture of Groton
Mother of Deborah Whitcomb; Samuel Scripture of Cambridge; Elizabeth Scripture; Mary Lawrence; Sarah Scripture and 5 others
Half sister of Priscilla Knapp; Joseph Knapp and Judith Knapp

Managed by: Erin Spiceland
Last Updated:

About Elizabeth Scripture


Elizabeth Knapp was the daughter of William Knapp, II and Mary Knox. She married Samuel Scripture.


As a girl, one Elizabeth Knapp was sent to the neighboring town of Lancaster to live -- perhaps as a maidservant -- with the family of Simon Willard. She moved into the household of Simon's son Rev. Samuel Willard in Groton in 1671, where in early autumn she began having fits. These fits became increasingly bizarre and alternated with coherent spells. She blamed the devil, saying that he wished to gain a new follower and accused two neighbors of being witches. [Ref, pp. 99 - 114] See John Demos's book Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England for a description. The fits must have resolved themselves as she apparently spent the rest of her life as an ordinary 17th century New England housewife.

Increase Mather [Ref, pp. 21-22] wrote in 1684:

Another thing which caused a noise in the Countrey, and wherein Satan undoubtedly had a great influence was that which happened at Groton. There was a Maid in that Town (one Elizabeth Knap) who in the Month of October, Anno 1671 was taken after a very strange manner, sometimes weeping, sometimes laughing, sometimes roaring hideously, with violent motions... Six men were scarce able to hold her in some of her fits ... a Daemon began manifestly to speak in her ... the Daemon belched forth most horrid and nefandous Blasphemies ... She cried out in one of her Fits, that a Woman (one her Neighbours) appeared to her and was the cause of her affliction...

At present time, I do not think it has been determined which Elizabeth Knapp this story is about. This Elizabeth Knapp b. 1657 had a cousin by the same name who lived and died in the same towns who was only 2 years younger than her. One researcher posited that it was the woman who married Ephraim Philbrick who was the one involved in the witchcraft story.


According to 1) The Knapp Family in America (p. 8), and 2) A History of the Chief English Families Bearing the Name of Knapp (p. 192) there were two Elizabeth Knapps that were 1st cousins.

The first was born 21 Apr 1655 to James Kanpp and Elizabeth Warren of Watertown & Groton, Mass. Both histories state that she married Ephraim Philbirck. The Knapp Family in America states that she was bewitched in 1671. Neither source lists a marriage date. Nor do they list any children

The second was born 23 Jul 1657 to William Knapp (brother of James Knapp mentioned above) and Margaret _____________ (Dean/Deane) of Watertown, Mass. Both histories state that she married Samuel Scripture. The first source states that he was from Cambridge and they married on 11 Sep 1674. Neither source lists any children, but there are ample sources that list the descendants of this marriage.

My hypothesis is that Samuel Scripture's Elizabeth Knapp was not the witch of Groton, but instead was the cousin of that Elizabeth Knapp. Because the Groton witch is so well documented and of such interest to historians and genealogists alike, most genealogists assumed that she was the wife of Samuel Scripture, that they had ten children, and ultimately thousands of descendants. I submit that both histories above are correct, and that the Groton witch married Ephraim Philbrick, likely had no children, and died not long after marriage. Possibly Ephraim Philbrick married second Elizabeth Baron.


There were two Elizabeth Knapps. They were first cousins. One was the daughter of James (Sr.) Knapp and Elizabeth Warren, and the other was the daughter of James's brother, William Knapp and Margaret Dean(e).

The question is: Which Elizabeth Knapp married Samuel Scripture and which Elizabeth Knapp was accused of being a witch? The other Elizabeth Knapp, born a few years apart from her cousin, married into the Philbrick family.

If you have any information, please e-mail me at lynn_steffen@att.net. This message board does not have my correct e-mail reply address.


Lynn Steffen

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Elizabeth Scripture's Timeline

July 23, 1657
Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States
October 4, 1675
Age 18
Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts
August 15, 1677
Age 20
Concord, Middlesex, Massachusetts
February 7, 1680
Age 22
Groton, Middlesex, Massachusetts
February 8, 1682
Age 24
Groton, Middlesex, Massachusetts
January 10, 1685
Age 27
Groton, Middlesex, Massachusetts
January 28, 1687
Age 29
Groton, Middlesex, Dominion of New England (Present Massachusetts), (Present USA)
Age 30
Groton, MA
Age 33
Groton, Middlesex, MA