John Willard, Salem Witch
|Death:||Died in Salem, Essex, MA, USA|
|Place of Burial:||Salem, Essex, Massachusetts, United States|
|Managed by:||Private User|
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About John Willard, Salem Witch
John Willard had married into the Wilkins family of Salem Village [BG: now Danvers, Massachusetts]. His wife, Margaret (Wilkins) Willard, was the daughter of Thomas Wilkins, and the granddaughter of Bray Wilkins, age eighty-one. Constable John Putnam, Jr. tried to employ John Willard to take in some of the accused. Appalled at the idea of capturing innocent people, Willard refused.
John Willard, who had been employed as an officer to bring in the accused, became dissatisfied with the actions of the people, declined further service with sarcastic skepticism , and he was thereupon accused.
Not trusting his comrades, he made his escape to Nashua, N.H., about forty miles from Salem, where he was overtaken, returned, and executed, his trial being on the fifth of August and his execution on the nineteenth of the same month.
On Thursday morning, August 19, 1692, Lecture Day, the condemned, the Rev. George Burroughs, John Proctor, John Willard, George Jacobs, Sr., and Martha Carrier, were carried in a cart through the streets of Salem to execution.
John Willard, born no later than 1672, was one of the people executed for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts, during the Salem witch trials of 1692. He was hanged on Gallows Hill on August 19.
May 10, 1692 - First warrant for arrest, subsequently fled from authority, and was arrested.
May 18, 1692 - Examination of John Willard.
August 5, 1692 - Pronounced guilty and sentenced to death.
August 10, 1692 - Was involved in an altercation with the sheriff.
August 19, 1692 - Hanged. 
John Willard, Convicted Witch of Salem Village
Who was John Willard? We know a few things about him:
(1) he was born no later than 1672, for it's unlikely to see a man younger than 20 in 1692 being married for as long as John was.
(2) he was related to Henry-2 Willard and Benjamin-2 Willard. Here's the evidence: when he and his wife lived in Groton, there was an episode when he behaved weird and she became worried about him. She went to "Benjamin Willard" and "Henry Willard" for help and they brought him back. Our Henry-2 and Benjamin-2, brothers to each other and sons of Major Simon-1 Willard were the only Willards with those given names to have lived in Groton. Henry lived there for certain from 1674 to perhaps as late as 1682; and Benjamin lived there at least in 1690 when he married and may have lived there for a number of years both before and afterwards, though he was in Sudbury by 1693. Both boys married girls from Groton.
(3) He was well-enough acquainted with someone in Lancaster in 1692 to choose to flee there when he was worried about being accused of witchcraft. Henry-2 Willard was living in Lancaster at least as early as 1685.
Do we have any unaccounted for John Willards in the genealogy? No.
Major Simon-1 Willard had one son named "John" who was born in 1657. But he was busy getting married and siring children starting in 1698 — long after John Willard, husbandman of Salem Village had been publicly executed. And Simon would not have recycled the name when the original recipient was still living.
Of Major Simon-1 Willard's grandchildren:
Josiah-2 Willard had a son John who was born in 1672 (just barely in time to be considered). And there's no additional data on him in the 1915 Willard Genealogy. But the editor of the upcoming revision to the Josiah-2 Willard Supplement says there is evidence that Josiah's John lived out his days in Connecticut.
Samuel-2 Willard had a son John who was born in 1673 (again the right time period) at Groton (ta da!). But this can't be our man as he left a record of activities post-dating the hysteria of 1692. Furthermore, the Rev. Samuel-2 Willard publicly criticized the trial proceedings, and even went so far as to help one couple "jump bail", so to speak, and escape. It is unlikely he would have allowed his son to go to trial and not attend it himself, or to fail to enlist his powerful friends on his son's behalf.
Simon-2 Willard had no sons named John. But he's mentioned because he lived at Salem (Salem town, not Salem Village) and as can be seen below, busied himself as one of the accusers of two different individuals: one went to trial and was hung the same day John Willard was, and the other was not brought to trial. (What must have Rev. Samuel thought of his brother's testimony?)
Henry-2 Willard had one son named John, born either in Groton or Lancaster (ta da!) but was too young. He was born in 1682.
Daniel-2 Willard had no sons named John, but he was the keeper of the Boston jail possibly as early as 1693, and perhaps also in 1692 when John Willard was incarcerated there.
Joseph-2 Willard, born in 1661, is a tad young to have had a son young enough to be our man. He did have a son named John, born in 1702.
George-1 Willard, brother to Simon-1 Willard, though we have no record of him having a son named John, is a likely candidate for being the father to this John Willard for the following reasons:
(1) We know so little of his whereabouts and his progeny there are ample holes in which to fit a John Willard who lived in Salem Village in 1692.
(2) the youngest of the four known/suspected sons of George-1 Willard was born in 1652 when George was about 38, leaving plenty of time for another son to be born before his death in about 1656.
((3) being 1st cousin to "Henry Willard" and "Benjamin Willard" is perhaps a sufficiently close relationship to explain the episode in Groton and the receiving of shelter in Lancaster?
The following is from WFA Assistant Historian William L. Willard, Sr.
There was a third Willard who came to America in the 1630's. Jonathan Willard, then 16, came to America via the West Indies aboard the William and John in 1635. He was the Indentured servant to Thomas Price. Thomas Price and Jonathan Willard both took the "Oath" at Saint Christophers. He is on the list of residents at Salem in 1642.
Many Indentured Servants were people that agreed to work for someone for a certain number of years in exchange for their passage to America, usually four or five. If this was the case, Jonathan Willard would be living in Salem as late as 1639 or 40 possibly longer.
There is no record of this Jonathan Willard after he reached America except in the four Volume History of Boston "there Was a Jonathan Willard who was a Harness Maker in Boston in 1665." Thomas Price was a Harness maker. None of Simon's children or descendants could have been this Jonathan.
I have yet to trace this Jonathan Willard in England. He departed from "Lands End" and did not put a place of residence on his application to take the Oath.
Since none of Major Simon's children or grandchildren fit the bill to have been the Witch, I attribute John Willard, the Witch, as a son of this Jonathan Willard. [Karen's Note: This Jonathan Willard would have been born about 1619 (1635 minus 16) and could easily have finished his apprenticeship (by 1641?) and had a son born by 1672 and thus old enough to qualify being the man convicted of being a witch.]
Based on John Willard knowing Benjamin and Henry (2) is it possible that this Jonathan was a relative to Simon and George?
Karen E. Willard continues the discussion:
Could this Jonathan have been a brother to Simon and George Willard, or a nephew?
Richard Willard, the father of our Major Simon Willard and George Willard, was buried at St. Margaret's Church, Horsmonden, Kent County, England on 20 February 1616/17. Joane, Richard's last wife and mother to our George Willard, was buried there a few days later on 25 February 1616/17. We might want to argue that Jonathan Willard's stated age of 16 when he boarded the William and John is two or more years too old, and look for him in the will of Richard Willard (pg. 53 of Willard Memoir; or Life and Times of Major Simon Willard by Joseph Willard, 1858) to see if he's mentioned.
"Joan my wyfe" is named, as is her son by her earlier marriage, "ffranncs Morebread," who wasn't yet 21 at the time the will was drawn up. We read of the legacy left to "George Willard my sonne", and Richard's "fower daughters namely Mary Elizabeth Margery & Catherine." There's also "Richard Wyllard my sonne." "Thomas Bolde of Horsmonden aforesayd housboundman my kindesman" was given rights in Richard's lands called "Weestbines". Richard mentions "Thomas Willarde my late Brother," and "Thomas Humferie my Brother in Lawe," along with "John Tyboull of Marden in the said countie my Sonne in Lawe." There's also "Roberte Goure of Stapelhurste in the said Countie yeoman my brother in Lawe."
The bulk of the estate went to "Symon Willard my sonne... when he shall come to his full age of two & twentie yeres." If Symon "shall decease without heire or heires of his boddy lawfully begotten" then it should go to "George Willard my sonne". Some mesuage & lands was to go to "my sayd sonne Richard Willard." The executor [John Tyboull] was to place Symon "with some honeste man wher he may learne some good trade wherby he may geet pte of his lyveinge & to allowe him that shalbe his master some porcon that he maye be the better instructede." The will was signed "viiij Martij 1616". There's no mention of a Jonathan. [Aside: Richard the son was 8 years older than Simon. There might have been property not named in the will which automatically would have gone to Richard Jr as oldest surviving son.]
Looking at the Willards mentioned in the parish registers of Horsmonden as listed on pages 39-41 in the Willard Memoir, [we dearly need a transcription of the actual records rather than this 3rd hand list — any volunteers?] — for the baptisms one finds no Jonathans; in the list of marriages there are no Jonathans. [One does find Richard's brother Thomas marrying Alice Aleworth on "1608, 20 Sept."] In the list of burials we have no Jonathans. In fact, the earliest appearance of the given name "Jonathan" in the Willard Memoir is with Simon's son who was born in 1669 at Lancaster, modern Worcester county, modern Massachusetts.
So we're still left with tantalizing clues as to how Jonathan Willard (emigrated 1635) connects to the American family, and equally tantalizing clues as to how John Willard the convicted witch of Salem might connect in.
Here's what has been gleaned from the records surrounding the witch hysteria of 1692:
John Willard married Margarett Wilkins, daughter of Henry Wilkins Sr, and granddaughter of Bray Wilkins, before 1692.1 Perhaps circa 1690 John Willard and Margarett Wilkins resided at Groton, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts Bay Colony. Groton is about 33 miles west of Salem Village.2 He and Margarett were living on a farm in 1692 just outside the limits of the village between Pout Brook and Beachy Brook and west of the Ipswich R, Salem Village (modern Danvers), Essex Co., Massachusetts Bay Colong.3 Their residence has been marked on the Upham map of 1692 Salem Village. Margarett's family home can be seen on that same map just a little ways away.
20 January 1692: 9 year old Elizabeth Parris, daughter of the minister of Salem, and 11 year old Abigail Williams began to exhibit strange behavior... Within a short time, several other Salem girls began to demonstrate similar behavior.4
1 March 1692: The first of the arrests begin, with the examination of Tituba, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osbourne. More follow on March 12, March 19, March 24, March 28.5
John Willard had been imployed to fetch in several that were accused; but taking dissatisfaction from his being sent, to fetch up some that he had better thoughts of, he declined the Service, and presently after he himself was accused of the same Crime, and that with such vehemency, that they sent after him to apprehend him; he had made his Escape as far as Nashawag, [the old name for Lancaster] about 40 Miles from Salem; yet 'tis said those Accusers did then presently tell the exact time, saying, now Willard is taken.6
The Arrest Warrant -----
An arrest warrant directs the Salem Constable John Putnam Jr, to bring in "the body of John Willard of Salem Village, husbandman" on 11 May 1692 at Salem Village (modern Danvers), (modern Essex Co.), Massachusetts Bay Colony, Constable Putnam went to John's house but couldn't find him. He asked around and was told that "he was fleed."7
[On May 14 Daniel Wilkins was stricken. This Daniel Wilkins may have been Margarett's brother. The interpretation of what happened was included in the John Willard arrest report delivered by George Herrick, Marshal]: "I have an accompt from thees whoos names are under written that on the 14th day of Instant May Daniell Wilkins about tenn of the clock in the morning was taken speechless and never spoak untell the 16th day in the intervale of time wee often Endeavoured to make him take something in A spoon but what hee took in which was but little hee spitt it out in our faces with that wee sent to the french Doctor but hee sent word againe that it was not a naturall Cause but absolutly witchcraft to his Judgment that same day two of the afflicted persons came up to vissett to Daniell Wilkins the last night beeing the 16th day Marcy Lewis and Mary Walkott beeing their both did see the said John Willard and Goodwife Buckly upon the said Daniell Wilkins and said that they would Kill him and in three hours after the said Daniell Departed this life in a Most dolful and solome Condition therefore wee humbley begg of Yo'r Honnors to Dispach A Returne for Examination to prevent any farther murther in the afflicted creatours who continue in a lemetable Condition and so wee Remaine yo'r Hon'rs most humble servants." G. Herrick
This breeiffe accompt was taken from Benj Wilkins by the consent of wee whoos names are under written and sent by me Ezekiell Cheever, Geo. Herrick Marshall, Joseph Neale Coss'tt, John Putnam Coss'tt, Jonathan Putnam Constable, Nathaniel Putnam, John Putnam Sen, Jonathan Walcott, Thomas Flint, Edward Putnam, John Buxton, Thomas Putnam. Mr. pariss is gon to Salem.8 He was accused of causing the death of Daniel Wilkins on 16 May 1692 Salem Village (modern Danvers), (modern Essex Co.), Massachusetts Bay Colony, through witchcraft.9
The Arrest -----
John Willard was found and brought back on 17 May 1692 from Nashaway, Worcester Co., Massachusetts Bay Colony. The fact that he was found so quickly gives rise to the suspicion that someone welched. "This day Goeing to Salem village by yo'r order I found all the five persons brought their which wee was in persute of we had no sooner secured them in the watch house but Counstable John Puttnam came in with John Willard haveing seized him att Nashaway [the old name for Lancaster in Worcester Co.] hee beeing att worke with a howe. He no sooner arrived butt the afflicted persons made such an out crye that I was forced to pinion him..." G. Herrick.10
The Trial -----
Court of Oyer and Terminer, Salem, Essex Co., Massachusetts Bay Colony, THE EXAMINATION OF JOHN WILLARD 18 May 1692
(a lot of the accusations from the "afflicted" have been left out and only accusations unique to John Willard and the Wilkins family is presented)
[COURT] ...Here is a returne of the warrant that you were fled from Authority. That is acknowledgment of guilt, but yet notwithstanding this we require you to confesse the truth in this matter.
[JW] I shall, as I hope, I shall be assisted by the Lord of Heaven, & for my going away I was affrighted & I thought by my withdrawing it might be better. I fear not but the Lord in his due time will make me as white as snow.
[COURT] ...Ben. Wilkins testifyed for all his natural affections he abused his wife much & broke sticks about her in beating of her. You had need to boast of your good affections.
[JW] There are a great many lyes told, I could desire my wife might be called.
[COURT] Peter Prescot testifyed that he with his own mouth told him of beating his wife... You cryed up your tender affections and here round about they testify your cruelty to man & beast, & by your flight you have given great advantage to the Law, things will bear hard upon you, if you can therefore find in your heart to repent it is possible you may obtain mercy & therefore bethink yourself.
[JW] Sir I cannot confess that I do not know.11
(Lydia Nichols and Margaret Knight v. John Willard)
The deposition of Ledia Nichols aged 46 yeares and of Margaret Knight aged 20 yeares who testefy and say. that the wife of John Willard being at her fathers house, [that's where she was when she told this story to Lydia & Margaret. Are they perhaps her sisters?] when the say Willard lived at Groton. she made a lamentable complaynt. how cruelly her husband had beaten her: she thought her selfe that she should never recover of the blows he had given her: the next morninge he was got into a litle hole under the stayres and then she thought some things extra ordinary had befallen him then he ran out at the dore and ran up a steep hill. almost impossible for any man to run up: as she sayde then she tooke her mare and rid away/fearing some evil had been intended agaynst her and when she came to the house of Henery or Benhamin Willard she told how it was with her and the sayd Henery Willard, or both went to looke after him and met him runninge in a strange destracted.12
(Henry Wilkins Sr v. John Willard)
The Deposition of Henery Wilkins sen aged 41 yeares who testifieth and sayth that upon the third of may last John Willard came to my house: and very earnestly entreated me to go with him to Boston which I at length consented to go with him. my Son Daniel comeinge and understanding I was goinge with him to boston, and seemed to be much troubled that I would go with the sayd willard: and he sayd he thought it were wel if the sayd willard were hanged: which made me admire for I never heard such an expression come from him to any one beeinge since he came to yeares of discretion but after I was gone in a few days he was taken sicke: and grew every day worse & worse where upon we made aplication to a phisitian who affirmed his sickness was by some preter natural cause & would make no application of any phisicke some tymes after this our neighbours comeing to visit my son Mercy Lewis came with them and affirmed that she saw the apperition of John Willard aflecting him... then my eldest daughter was taken in a sad manner & the sayd Ann saw the sayd Willard aflecting her... and this not but a litle tyme before his death.13
(Bray Wilkins v. John Willard)
The Deposition of Bray Wilkins of Salem Village aged about eighty & one years with reference to John Willard of said Salem, lately charged with Witchcraft when he was at first complained of by the afflicted persons for afflicting of them he came to my house greatly troubled, desiring me with some other Neighbours to pray for him. I told him I was then going from home, & could not stay, but if I could come home before night I should not be unwilling, but it was near night before I came home & so I did not answere his desire, but I heard no more of him upon that account. Whither my not answering his desire did not offend him, I cannot tell, but I was jealous afterwards that it did. a little after my wife & I went to Boston at the last Election, when I was as well in health as in many yeares before, & the Election day coming to my brother Lft. richard Way's house, at noon there were many friends to dine there, they were sat down at the Table, Mr Lawson & his wife & severall more, John Willard came into the house with my sone Henry Wilkins before I sat down, & said Willard to my apprehension lookt after such a sort upon me as I never before discerned in any. I did but step into the next room, & I was presently taken in a strange condition, so that I could not dine, nor eat any thing, I cannot express the misery I was in for my water was sodainly stopt, & I had no benefit of nature, but was like a man on a Rack, & I told my wife immediately that I was afraid tha Willard had done me wrong, my pain continuing & finding no relief my jealousi continued: Mr. Lawson, & others there, were all amazed, & knew not what to do for me: there was a Woman accounted skilfull came hoping to help me, & after she had used means, she askt me whither none of those evil persons had done me damage. I said, I could not say they had, but I was sore afraid they had, she answered she did fear so too, as near as I remember. I lay in this case 3 or 4 dayes at Boston, & afterwards with the jeopardy of my life (as I thought) I came home, & then some of my friends coming to see me (& at this time John Willard was run away) one of the afflicted persons came in with them, & they askt whither she saw any thing: she said yes, they are looking for John Willard but there he is upon his grandfathers Belly (& at that time I was in grevious pain in the small of my Belly) I continued so in greivous pain & my water much stopt till said Willard was in chains, & then as near as I can guess I had considerable ease, but on the other hand in the room of a stoppage, I was vexed with a flowing of water, so that it was hard to keep my self dry. On the 5 July last talking with some friends about John Willard some pleading his innocency & my self & some others arguing the contrary, within about 1/4 of an hour after that I had said it was not I, nor my son Benja. Wilkins, but the testimony of the afflicted persons, & the jury concerning the Murder of my Grandson Dan. Wilkins that would take away his life if any thing did, & within about 1/4 hour after this was taken in the sorest distress & miser my water being turned into real blood, or of a bloody colour & the old pain returned excessively as before which continued for about 24 hours together.14
(Benjamin Wilkins, John Wilkins, and Nathaniel Richardson v. John Willard)
The deposition of Benjamin Wilkins aged 36 years and John Wilkins aged 26 years these deponents testifieth and say that Lidia Wilkins wiffe of John Wilkins was well delivered with child, and was well the next day after but the 2 day after shee was deleivered shee was taken with a violent feaver and flux as we supposed had in a litle time the flux abated but the feaver continued till she died which was about four dayes. Nathaniel Richardson tells of a Nashway man that speakes of a profound sleep that Willard was in.15
The Incarceration -----
John Willard was transferred on 18 May 1692 to the Boston Jail, Boston, Suffolk Co., Massachusetts Bay Colony, . (Mittimus for Roger Toothaker, John Willard, Thomas Farrar, and Elizabeth Hart)
To: To the Keeper of Theire Majest's Goale in Boston
You are in theire Majest's names hereby required to take into your care and safe Custody the Bodys of Roger Toothaker of Bilrica: John Willard of Salem Village, husbandman Thomas farrar of Lyn husbandman, and Elizabeth Hart the wife of Isaac Hart of Lyn husbandman, who all stand charged with Sundry acts of Witchcraft, by them and Every one of them Committed, on the Bodys of Mary Walcot Abigail Williams Mary Lewis Ann putnam and others of Salem Village or farmes, whom you are well to secure in order to theire tryall for the same. and untill they shall be delivered by due order of Law and hereof you are not to faile.
Dated Salem May 18'th 1692 *John Hathorne *Jonathan. Corwin by order of the Goven'r & Councill.16
Further Accusations While He's In Jail -----
(Samuel Wilkins v. John Willard)
The Deposistion of Samuell Wilknes aged about 19 years who testifieth and saith that sence Jno: willard has ben in prizson I have been afflected in a strange kind of maner for about the later end of June or begining of July as I was a weaveing the yarn broak exceeding fast: and as. I was a tying a thread I had a stroak on my hand like a knife the blood being almost Redy to com out and I was also pinched several times by an unseen hand: also Riding to marblehead Just as I came to forrist River Bridge I was immediatly seazed with a violent wait on my back and I saw a black. hate: and was immediatly pulled ofe my horse or mare and almost pulled into the Rivere: but holding fast at last I gott up againe: awhile after as I was once in the woods and agoeing hom & a little boy with me. I thought I must run: and I said: to the boy let us Run: and as soon as I Ran there was a black hate Run a long by me: a while affter one morning about an hour by sun I was afflected and I saw John willard or his Apperance with a darke collored coot and a black hate very like that hate which I formerly saw: a litle while affter this one night as soon as I was a bed John willard whom I very well knew or his Appearance came in to the Room where I was a bed: and another man and woman along with him which I did not know and they tould me they would cary me away before morning.17
(Rebecca Wilkins v. John Willard)
The testomony of Rebeckah wilkins aged ninteen years Doe testifie that 29'th July at night shee se John wilard seting in the Corner and hee said that hee wold afflick me that night and forthwith hee did afflick me and the nax day I ded se him afflick me soer by Choaking & Polling me ear into Peases the nex day being the Lords day I being Going to meting I se John wilard and hee afflickted me very soer.18
[The trial of George Burroughs was held at the Court of Oyer and Terminer in Salem. He was accused by 5 or 6 "afflicted" of causing misery to them; 8 of the confessing witches said he was the Head Actor; 9 accused him of extraordinary Lifting and such feats of strength as could not be done with the devil's assistance; miscellanous accusations totally in all about 30. Simon was one of the 9 who accused the Reverend George Burroughs of being supernaturally strong and gave the following testimony:]
John Willard's relative (a 1st cousin if John's father was George-1 Willard), who lived in Salem Town, testifies against a former Salem Village minister, while John is in Jail in Boston:
(Simon Willard and William Wormall v. George Burroughs)
The: Deposition of Simon Willard aged:about forty two years sayth:
I being att the house of Mr Robt Lawrance: at falmoth in Casco Bay: in Septemb'r 1689 s'd Mr Lawrance was commending Mr George Borroughs his strength: saying that we none of us could doe what he could doe: for s'd he Mr Borroughs can hold out this gun with one hand Mr. Borroughs being there: sayd I held my hand here behind the lock: and took it up: and held it out. I s'd deponant saw Mr Borroughs:put his hand on the gun: to show us: how he held it and where he held his hand:and saying there he held his hand when he held s'd gun out: but:I saw him not hold it out then: s'd gun was about or near seven foot barrill:and very hevie: I then tryed to hold out s'd gun with both hands: but could not do it long enough to take sight
- Simon Willard Jurat in Curia
Simon willard owned:to the Jury of inquest:that the above written evidence: is the truth Aug'st 3: 1692
(Wm Wormall v. Geo. Burroughs.)
Capt Wm Wormall Sworne to the above & that he Saw him Raise it from the ground, himselfe. Jurat in Curia
(Simon Willard v. George Burroughs)
The Deposition of Simon Willard [aged about 42] years saith I being at Saco in the year  some: in Capt Ed Sarjants garison was speaking of mr George Borroughs his great strength saying he Could take:a barrill of mallasses out of a Cannoe or boat alone: and that he Could. take it in his hands or arms out of the Cannoo or boat and carry it and set it on the shore: and mr Borroughs being: there sayd that he had carryed one barrill of molasses.or sider: out of a cannoo that had like to have done him a displeasure: s'd mr Borroughs intimated: as if he did not want strength to do it but the disadvantage of the shore was such: that his foot slipping in the sand: he had like to have strained his legg
- Simon Willard
Simon Willard ownd: to the Jury of Inquest, that the above written evidence is the truth. Jurat in Curia
[George Burroughs had been arrested on May 4, 1692 in Wells, York county, Maine. He was hanged the same day as John Willard on August 19. Burroughs was the most notable of the victims at Salem. A graduate of Harvard in the class of 1670, he preached in Maine for some years, and in 1680 became pastor at Salem Village, where he fell heir to a parish quarrel, and, becoming involved in it, found it wise to remove in 1683, Deodat Lawson was pastor in Salem Village from 1684 to 1688, followed by Parris in whose home the scandal began. Burroughs returned to Maine, and was a pastor there at Wells when his accusation by the "afflicted" at Salem caused his arrest. He was brought back to Salem on May 4, committed on May 9, and tried on August 5.].19
The Execution -----
John Willard was hung on 19 August 1692 at Gallows Hill, Salem Village (modern Danvers), Massachusetts Bay Colony, as a convicted witch.20
(Thomas Brattle wrote a letter criticizing the witchcraft trials. This letter had great impact on Governor Phips, who ordered that reliance on spectral and intangible evidence no longer be allowed in trials. Also, on October 29 Governor Phips dissolved the Court of Oyer and Terminer.)
LETTER OF THOMAS BRATTLE, F. R. S., 1692
... As to the late executions, [those of John Proctor, John Willard, Rev. George Burroughs, George Jacobs, and Martha Carrier] I shall only tell you, that in the opinion of many unprejudiced, considerate and considerable spectatours, some of the condemned went out of the world not only with as great protestations, but also with as good shews of innocency, as men could do. They protested their innocency as in the presence of the great God, whom forthwith they were to appear before: they wished, and declared their wish, that their blood might be the last innocent blood shed upon that account. With great affection [emotion] they intreated Mr. C. M. [Cotton Mather] to pray with them: they prayed that God would discover what witchcrafts were among us; they forgave their accusers; they spake without reflection on Jury and Judges, for bringing them in guilty, and condemning them: they prayed earnestly for pardon for all other sins, and for an interest in the pretious blood of our dear Redeemer; and seemed to be very sincere, upright, and sensible of their circumstances on all accounts; especially Proctor and Willard, whose whole management of themselves, from the Goal to the Gallows, and whilst at the Gallows, was very affecting and melting to the hearts of some considerable Spectatours, whom I could mention to you: but they are executed, and so I leave them.21
Account of Margaret Towne
-- Case of John Willard ----
Topsfield Septemb. 13 1710
To the Honored committee appointed by the Honored Generall Court (to make enquiry into the dammage sustained by any persons in the year 1692 by reason of the great disturbance in our land from the powers of darkness) the Committee aforesaid being to meet at Salem Sept the 14.
Margarett Town of Topsfield in the County of Essex in N. England, formerly Margarett Willard Relict of John Willard Late of Salem who suffered death in that hour of the power of darkness as if he had been guilty of one of the greatest of crimes that ever any of the Sons of Adams have been left of God to fall into,
Having been notified by order of the Generall court to appear before your Honors to give an account as near as I can what dammage my self together with my aforesaid former Husband did sustain in our Estate besides the fearfull odium cast on him by imputing to him & causing him to suffer death for such a piece of wickedness as I have not the least reason in the world to thinke he was guilty of I say besides that reproach & the grief & sorrow I was exposed to by that means I do account our dammage as to our outward estate to have been very considerable. for by reason of my said former Husband being seized by order of the civil Authority & imprisoned all our Husbands concerns were laid by for that summer we had not opportunity to plant or sow whereas we were wont to raise our own bread corn I Reckon (which your Honors may please more certainly to Inform your selves from the Records of those unhappy times & things that happened) I say according to my best Remembranc from the time of his first imprisonment to the time of his suffering was near upon half a year all which time I was at the trouble & charge to provide for him in prison what he stood in need of out of our own estate, my aforesaid Husband was 3 weeks a prisoner at Boston which occasioned me to be at yet more charge & trouble & altho I had after his sentence of death was past upon him obtained a Replevin for him for a little time which not coming as was expected at the time appointed I was forced to hire a horse at Salem & go to Boston to see what was the reason of the failure, I have nothing further to add but only to pray your Honors to guess at the dammage as well as you can by the Information I have here given & that God will direct you in & about what you are now concerned about, & so take Leave to subscribe my self Your Honors Humble & sorrowful servant the marke of Margarett Town
I Judge that my Loss and damage in my estate hath not been Less than thirty pounds, But I shall be satisfyed If I may have twenty pounds allowed me.
What WFA Learned at Danvers in 2000 ----
The principal speaker at this year's annual WFA meeting was the Director of Education from the Salem Witch Museum. She described the events surrounding the witch hunts, trials and executions of 1692. Included in her remarks was a discussion of this John Willard who was hung in Salem Village (present Danvers). In response to a question by our WFA historian Ruth Willard about the ancestry of John Willard, Alison D'Amario said that it has been very difficult to collect information from the local families. This is because when the episodes were over, a curtain seemed to drop about the events. The clergy elsewhere in Massachusetts Bay Colony disapproved of the allowance by the judges in the court to allow testimony concerning apparitions seen only by the presumed victims of the alleged witches, and many of the ordinary citizens of the colony were more embarrassed by the events than frightened. 18th century families didn't include those relatives who'd been accused witches in their genealogies. She said that many researchers today experience great difficulty in actually connecting the accused positively to their family lines because of this. Interestingly, this reticence continues to be encountered. Up until the 1980s, present-day families of Danvers with connections going back to the events of Salem Village remained ill-at-ease discussing both accusers and accused who may have been ancestors, even with professional historians and historical sociologists. With everyone in the 1700s deliberately keeping quiet about what they knew concerning the participants in the tragedy and therefore not creating the kinds of records that have proved so helpful in genealogical research, we may be as close as we'll ever get to solving our puzzle as to John's lineage.
For Further Research -----
All information herein is taken from these online repositories:
For a chronology of general events:
Witchcraft in Salem Village (now Danvers, Massachusetts)
This site introduces the infamous Salem Witch Trials of 1692, and is designed to provide accurate general information about these events, as well as information on other aspects of the history of Danvers (formerly Salem Village), Massachusetts
Upham's 1866 map of Salem Village circa 1692:This map shows the locations of major landmarks, farms, land grants, physical features, and the dwellings of prominent and important residents in Salem during 1692.
The Complete 1692 Verbatim Transcripts
The easiest way to see all of the documents that pertain to John Willard and Simon Willard and Samuel Willard is to use the index:
Link to Gravestones at the Salem Witch Trials Memorial page
Death: Aug. 19, 1692
Convicted of practicing witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials. There are twenty benches in the memorial, one for each of the victims actively put to death (not counting those who died in prison).
Cause of death: Hanged for
Search Amazon for John Willard
Burying Point Cemetery *
- Cenotaph [?]
John Willard, born no later than 1672, was one of the people executed for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts, during the Salem witch trials of 1692. He was hanged on Gallows Hill on August 19. At the time of the first allegations of witchcraft Willard was serving as a constable in the village of Salem and his duties included bringing the accused before the court. Soon, however, he began to doubt the truth of the accusations and in May 1692 he refused to make any more arrests. In retaliation Ann Putnam and others accused him of witchcraft, and of murdering thirteen citizens.
May 10 — First warrant for arrest, subsequently fled from authority, and was arrested.
May 18 — Examination of John Willard.
June 3 — Grand jury endorsed the indictments formally charging Willard with witchcraft
August 5 — Pronounced guilty and sentenced to death.
August 19 — Hanged.