Mehitable "Goody" Hallett the Witch of Wellfleet

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Mehitable "Goody" Hallett (Brown)

Also Known As: "Maria", "Mariah", "Goody", "Bellamy", "Witch of Wellfleet"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Eastham, Barnstable Cape Cod, Massachusetts Bay Colony, British Commonwealth
Death: April 02, 1751 (56-65)
Cape Cod, Barnstable, Massachusetts Bay Colony, British Commonwealth
Immediate Family:

Daughter of George Brown and Mehitable Brown
Wife of John Hallett
Fiancée of Capt. Samuel Bellamy
Sister of James Brown; William Brown; George Brown; Mary Mayo; Joshua Brown and 5 others

Occupation: Seamstress & Veteranarian & Tavern Worker
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Mehitable "Goody" Hallett the Witch of Wellfleet

Important note:

Before her first name was discovered by modern researchers with Expedition Whydah, Mehitable (Brown) Hallett had been historically known by the nickname of "Goody Hallett", with various spellings. "Goody" was once a title which was short for "the good woman of the house" and was often used in place of "Mrs". But in the 1930s the author Dr. Elizabeth Reynard took it upon herself to invent a first name for her with virtually no historic evidence, branding Goody Hallett as "Maria Hallett" in her book The Narrow Land, which featured stories and legends about Cape Cod. Not only was this a false name, it was gravely insensitive, as it was extremely unlikely that in the late 1600s a deeply Protestant English-founded Massachusetts family would give their daughter literally the most blatantly Spanish-Catholic name possible. But Reynard's book about Cape Cod was such a hit among the reading Public that the name of "Maria Hallett" all but replaced "Goody Hallett" - even among educated organizations and publications which ought to have known better such as National Geographic and even universities. To add to the confusion, author Elizabeth Moison changed Hallett's name once more in her historic novel Master of the Sweet Trade; although the book itself is a masterpiece and quite possibly the most comprehensive and accurate literary presentation of her story, the author, unaraware that "Maria" was an invested name, nevertheless knew and understood that that "Mariah" would most likely have been the proper pronunciation, precisely because Maria is not a name they would have used at the time, and a new tradition was begun. Now she is known by an array names.
However, extensive research, by historian Kenneth J. Kinkor and myself, uncovered that Goody Hallett's proper name was Mehitable Brown Mrs. John Hallett. Mehitable was a very popular Old Testament name for girls in the early years of Colonial America. Please bear all of this in mind as you read the stories about Goody Hallett and her very real relationship with famed pirate Samuel Bellamy. of Whydah Galley fame"
-Dr. James Cunningham, historian (retired) Historic Shipwreck Inc/Whydah Pirate Museum


So who was Mehitable "Goody" Hallett?
Centuries before the Disneyland pirate themed attraction and its billion-dollar movie franchise starring Johnny Depp, a real life pirate captain plundered the Atlantic coast from New England to the Caribbean Sea. His name was Samuel “Black Sam” Bellamy. Born in Devon, England in 1689, Bellamy left his home for a life at sea at an early age before making his way to Cape Cod in the early 1700’s. In the tiny Cape Cod village of Wellfleet, the young Bellamy met his true love, a teen-aged beauty named Maria “Goody” Hallett [Mehitable Brown Hallett]. The young couple soon became inseparable, taking long strolls across the rolling dunes where they talked about getting married and raising a family in their picturesque ocean-side community where a man with a strong knowledge of the sea could support his wife and children through fishing, which was bountiful. Bellamy had worked on rigged ships for several years and strove to become a prosperous sea captain. Goody’s father however, believed that his beautiful daughter had more promising prospects for marriage and halted his ambitions. Bellamy was soon driven out of Wellfleet by the elder Hallett who told him to “leave this place and never return”.

Sam Bellamy did leave, but not before making a promise to his love that he would come back to her a wealthy man and build the life they both had dreamed of together. This wasn't a fairy tale promise; in just over a year he would skyrocket to history's single-most successful pirate in the Atlantic, with Forbes Magazine 19 September 2008 issue rating Sam Bellamy the #1 wealthiest pirate with $120,000,000. Sam convinced a group of men from Cape Cod to sail with him from the Cape to the coast of Port St. Lucie Florida where a press report informed them of the recent wreck of a 9-ship Spanish silver fleet (now known as the 1716 Fleet). Palsgrave Williams, a wealthy jeweler and son of the attorney general of Rhode Island Colony, joined them as sponsor of the expedition. Unfortunately for them, the Spanish navy as well as other treasure hunters had taken all of the reachable booty before Bellamy had arrived. With no other options to provide him the riches he needed to marry his love, Bellamy, Williams, and many of the men who came with them, sailed to what was then the Pirate Republic of The Bahamas based at Nassau, and joined a band of pirates aboard the Marianne',' led by the infamous old-school Buccaneer Benjamin Hornigold (who once served under Sir Henry Morgan) and his soon-to-be-famous first mate, Edward “Blackbeard” Teach.

Sam Bellamy earned the nickname “Black Sam”, likely in compliment to crewmate Blackbeard, for his refusal to wear the customarily fashionable powdered wig. Instead, he let his black hair grow long enough to tie with a satin bow. “Black Sam” soon earned the respect of his fellow pirates, who voted to depose Hornigold as their captain for his refusal to attack ships waving a British flag. Sam and Blackbeard also parted ways amicably, sailing into their own famed histories. The crew then elected Bellamy as their new captain and they began to successfully seize ships through several epic battles on the high seas. In just over a year, “Black Sam” Bellamy and his men captured a record 53 ships, without killing a single person. His kindness and mercy to his prisoners earned him another historic nickname – The Prince of Pirates. His crew compared him to Robin Hood and even called themselves “Robin Hood’s Merry Men”.

In January 1717, “Black Sam” Bellamy captured his biggest and grandest ship ever – the magnificent, superfast, brand new Whydah Galley, which was an English cargo & slave ship on its maiden run in the Atlantic Trade Triangle, owned by Sir Humphrey Morice of the Bank of England and his various merchant partners. The Whydah's captain, Lawrence Prince - a former Buccaneer himself - had just sold all of its cargo and several hundred Slaves in the Caribbean and was returning to England with a hold filled with precious coins and jewels and a variety of other documented valuables. But “The Prince of Pirates” still longed to be a good husband and father, and two months after seizing the Whydah, with a hoard of 5 tons of treasure and over 60 cannons and 4 consort ships (the Marianne, the Mary Anne, the Anne, the Fisher), he turned the ship north and set sail for Cape Cod and his one true love.

While “Black Sam” Bellamy had been away at sea, his love, Goody, discovered that she was with child. The fact that she was not married sparked a scandal in her village. The town fathers brought Goody to the local meetinghouse where they voted to banish her from their community. Like “Black Sam” before her, Goody was forced to leave Wellfleet village in shame. She moved closer to the ocean and became a recluse as she watched the horizon day after day in hope of her lover’s return.

In April 1717, Sam Bellamy found his way home to Cape Cod. But the calm weather he and his crew had enjoyed during most of their journey, suddenly turned when they entered the waters off the Cape. Bellamy, his crew and the Whydah had found themselves caught in a violent gale just 500 feet from shore – just 500 feet from Goody. Just after the clock struck midnight on April 26th, strong winds thrust the ship onto a sandbar in only 16 feet of water – a true shallow grave for any seaman. The Whydah’s sturdy masts snapped in half at the point of impact and the heavily loaded ship capsized in the frothing surf. 143 pirates drowned in the wreck. Only two crewmen survived. The body of “Black Sam” Bellamy was never found.

On the night of the storm, villagers spotted Goody on the top of a bluff, watching in horror as the ship went down. Some later said she shouted into the wind, cursing the storm for taking her love. Others insisted that she had become a witch and created the storm herself through sorcery as an act of revenge against the man who had left her and had shamed her in the eyes of her family. Those who believe this legend also say that villagers chased Hallett, who would later become known as “The Witch of Wellfleet” with torches and pitchforks into a nearby swamp where she died. Still others claim that Hallett reached the Whydah by rowboat and searched desperately for her true love. Unable to find “Black Sam”, Goody loaded the boat with treasure and buried it deep in the dunes of Wellfleet, along the walking trails where she and Sam Bellamy had charted their future together.

The story of “Black Sam” Bellamy lay dormant for centuries beneath the icy waters off Cape Cod until the year 1984, when an American underwater explorer named Barry Clifford discovered the wreckage of the flagship “Whydah”. At the time of its capture in 1717, the Whydah carried more than 30,000 pounds of sterling and massive amounts of gold, ivory and indigo – making it the largest pirate’s booty ever collected. In 1984 a team of divers led by treasure hunter, Barry Clifford dove on the wreck – the first authenticated pirate’s shipwreck ever discovered in North America, and recovered much of its treasure and 200,000 artifacts from the ship which travel on display to museums around the United States through a sponsorship from the National Geographic Society.

The spirits of Black Sam and Goody Hallett reportedly haunt the dunes of Wellfleet to this day. To learn more about this story, visit the Whydah Pirate Museum on Cape Cod (formerly on MacMillan Wharf in Provincetown, now located in Yarmouth) www.whydah.com.

More about Mehitable's life...

Mehitable Brown (aka Maria/Mariah/Goody Hallett), whom records seem to indicate was the one-time wife of a Mr. John Hallett, was at Crosby's Tavern on Great Island (in Wellfleet) one night in 1716 when a terrible storm forced a ship full of seamen to come ashore to wait out the storm. The storm lasted several days and during that time Goody had an affair with an English sailor, Samuel Bellamy, and by the time he left port with the men of the Cape, she was carrying his baby. It is said he promised her he would return for her once he had amassed a fortune for her. While he was gone, by the time that her pregnancy was discovered, word of Sam's fame as a pirate had already reached the cape. She was scandalized and ostracized by the community, but her father was able to convince the town council (with a great deal of money), that the young woman was not dangerous and should be freed. They forbade her to live in the town, however, and she was banished by Justice Joseph Doane to an abandoned little shanty in "Lucifer Land" - a field of sand and poverty grass along the eastern cliffs of Truro and Wellfleet where no crops would grow; it would later be known as 'Goody Hallett's Meadow. She was well-known for her talent in weaving the most beautiful fabrics in Massachusetts, and although people were forbidden to visit her, many risked being stoned to cross the meadow and purchase her fine fabrics. She was also well known to have a way with animals; people often brought their sick pets and farm animals to her. A sick cat was given to her as a gift. She was able to heal all of them with care and nurturing. No one had been suspicious of these things. But all of these things would later work against her. It is not known if anyone was with her when her son was born - the only known child of Sam Bellamy. But while foraging for food that night, she hid her new born son among the warm hay of a nearby barn. When she returned she discovered that her baby had choked to death on the straw. Her screams of heartbreak alerted the barn's owner of her presence - the owner being none other than Justice Doane himself, who was convinced that she had murdered her child and ordered her arrest and imprisonment in Barnstable Gaol, now the oldest wooden jail house in America (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Jail_(Barnstable,_Massachusetts). Her father, though ashamed, nevertheless loved his daughter and visited her jail cell window in the late night in a dark hooded cape so as not to be identified, and helped her escape. However, a citizen out for a late night stroll spotted the cloaked figure outside the jail and later claimed that it was the devil himself come to see his servant, Goody. When Mehitable was seen by the townsfolk back at Lucifer Land the next morning - some 27 miles away - they marveled at how she could have made such a journey on foot, not knowing that it had been her father who had taken her by horse & carriage in the night. She was re-arrested, and again her father rescued her and returned her to Lucifer Land, though it would not be for years later that he confessed to this, for the Halletts were well known on the Cape (their Hallet's Store is still in operation in Yarmouth to this day) and the scandal would have ruined him. After multiple arrests and escapes, much talk among the residents turned into fear ... how in the world could this young girl travel such a distance in the night on her own, unseen, so many times? And what of the witness report of the cloaked figure seen at her jail cell? The Witch Trails at Salem had only occurred a couple of decades before... could this be new plague of witchery? Could that cloaked figure be Satan who set her free? The people had already been suspicious, saying that 'Black Sam is the devil in the flesh, and [Goody] has consorted with the devil.' So, she was accused of witchcraft. On Cape Cod, which was conservative at the time yet far more Bohemian than Boston and Salem ever were, witches were sentenced to jail rather than hanged. She was famously branded "the Witch of Wellfleet", and it was finally decided to just leave her alone in her shanty in Lucifer Land, and over the years legends were born claiming that the her spirit haunted the Cape's coasts. However, there is also recorded testimony by an eye witness that Sam Bellamy was among the survivors of the Whydah Galley when it wreck literally just off the coast of the cliffs where Goody's shanty lay. The ship wreck was in fact found, but did Sam really survive? Evidence indicates that not only did he survive, but that Sam and Goody escaped Cape Cod and possibly made it all the way to the Caribbean island which was his base of operates and bears his name to this day - Bellamy Cay, in the British Virgin Islands. or possible the two of them had met up with Paulsgrave Williams, who was at the time commanding the Marianne and had detoured to Rhode Island while Sam, aboard Whydah, had gone to fetch Goody on the Cape. It is known for a fact that the Marianne fled the area when Williams got word of the arrest of the Whydah Survivors, and had high-tailed it to the Bahamas, and then on to the Africa coast where he continue pirating into the 1720s, after which time he retired in Jamaica where he remarried and father a son. Could it be that Sam and Goody was with him that whole time? Only time and further research can tell... if the answer is still out there. The National Geographic of July 1975 published an article about Cape Cod which included the story of Maria Hallett and Black Sam Bellamy. It even elaborated further, claiming that she sat, keeping watch on the shore, waiting for the return of her lover, Black Sam Bellamy, warning the sailors of danger by tying lanterns on the tails of whales.

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Mehitable "Goody" Hallett the Witch of Wellfleet's Timeline

1690
1690
Eastham, Barnstable Cape Cod, Massachusetts Bay Colony, British Commonwealth
1751
April 2, 1751
Age 61
Cape Cod, Barnstable, Massachusetts Bay Colony, British Commonwealth