About Stephen Johnson
6. Stephen Johnson
- Stephen’s wife Elizabeth Dane was born about 1640 in Essex, Mass.
- Her parents were Francis Dane and Elizabeth Ingalls.
- Elizabeth died 15 Apr 1722 in Andover, Essex, Mass.
- Stephen Johnson and Elizabeth his wife were fined upon their presentment for fornication before marriage, they having confessed.
- Elizabeth, three of her children, her sister Abigail (Dane) Faulkner (1652- 1730) her sister-in-law Deliverance Dane, two of her nieces, and a nephew, were all accused of witchcraft and arrested during the Salem witch trials in 1692.
- Some were convicted, but none were executed.
- Elizabeth’s father Francis Dane matriculated from King’s College at the University of Cambridge in Easter term 1633 and emigrated to Massachusetts with his parents, John Dane and Frances (Bowyer) Dane in 1636. Dane became the second pastor of the North Parish Andover, Massachusetts in 1649. During that time, he founded a school for Andover youth. In 1658 when the subject of witchcraft first came to his attention, he came down decidedly against the concept. When John Godfrey was charged with injuring the wife of Job Tyler by “Satanic acts,” Francis Dane judged against the probability.
- Around 1680, when Francis Dane was about sixty-five years of age, church members became concerned about his ability to fulfill his role leading the church and requested that a younger minister be sent to them. In January 1682, Rev. Thomas Barnard, a recent graduate of Harvard, arrived.
Shortly following Barnard’s arrival, Francis Dane’s salary was stopped. Dane petitioned the General Court in Boston to have it reinstated. The town complied, but split the salary of 80 pounds a year so that Dane received thirty pounds and Barnard received fifty. Neither man was pleased with the solution.
Salem Witch Trials Begin
- Dane had lived in Andover for forty-four years, and he was seventy-six years old when the Salem Witch Trials began.
- On October 18, 1692 Francis Dane, Thomas Barnard, and twenty-three others wrote a letter to the governor and to the General Court public condemning the witch trials. Dane and his family were in danger as half a dozen family members stood accused, including Francis Dane himself. Another minister, George Burroughs, had been hanged, and thus Dane’s status did not guarantee protection. He warned that his people were guilty of blood for accepting unfounded accusations against covenanted members of the church..
In the frenzy that followed, Elizabeth Johnson’s sister Abigail Faulkner was convicted and sentenced to death, but her execution was delayed due to pregnancy Before she gave birth, Faulkner was pardoned by the governor and released from prison.
Faulkner was soon accused of witchcraft by neighbors who claimed she had “afflicted” their children. On August 11, she was arrested and taken to Salem, where she was interrogated by Jonathan Corwin, John Hathorne and Captain John Higginson.
Most of her accusers were young women from Salem, among them, Ann Putnam and Mary Warren. An exception to this, was the middle-aged William Barker, Sr., who stated under examination that he had been afflicted for three years by the devil. He confessed that he had signed the devil’s book, and that Satan had promised to “pay all his debts” and allow him to live in luxury. He stated that George Burroughs was the “ringleader”, but claimed that Faulkner and her sister, Elizabeth Johnson Sr., were his “enticers to this great abomination.”
When Faulkner entered the room, her accusers would fall down to the floor in hysterics. She held a handkerchief in her hands while she was examined, and whenever she would squeeze or twist the cloth, her accusers would have “grievous fitts.” When magistrates demanded to know why she harmed the girls, asking her to look at their distress, Faulkner told the magistrates that she was “sorry the girls were afflicted,” but that she had not afflicted them, “it is the devil [who] does it in my shape.” The magistrates responded by asking, if she was innocent, why did Faulkner shed no tears over the girls’ suffering. She refused to confess, insisting “God would not have her confess that [which] she was not guilty of.”
At one point during the examination, Mary Warren fell into “fitts”, and was “pulled under the table,” apparently unable to come out from under it, but after receiving “a touch of said Faulkner” she was freed. Faulkner was reexamined the next day in prison, still insisting that she had never consorted with the devil, nor signed his book, she did admit to feeling animosity toward her family’s accusers. She suggested that the devil had taken advantage of this, in essence framing her for the crime of witchcraft. She had been “angry at what folks said” when her niece was “taken up” for witchcraft. Neighbors had crowded round the Johnson home, laughing, taunting Faulkner, telling her that soon her sister would also be arrested for witchcraft: “and she [Faulkner] did look with an evil eye on ye afflicted persons consenting that they should be afflicted because they were the cause of bringing her kindred out, and she did wish them ill, that her spirit being roused, she did pitch her hands together. She knew not but that the devil might take advantage, but it was the devil, not she, that afflicted them.” Things came to a head in early August 1692, when Elizabeth Johnson’s daughter and namesake, was accused of witchcraft and arrested. Elizabeth Jr. quickly confessed, telling her examiners on August 10, that she had consorting with the devil, meeting him at a gathering of “about six score”.
Elizabeth Johnson, Jr., known as Betty, was an accuser in the Andover witchcraft trials. See In the Devil’s Snare by Mary Beth Norton published in 2002 by Alfred Knopf. On page 255 the author states that, in 1692, Betty Johnson was 22 years old, the daughter of Elizabeth Dane Johnson, daughter of Rev. Francis Dane. Betty was accused by the children of Martha Carrier of being a witch and in turn confessed to being a witch herself. Betty then stated that she had attended a “Mock Sacrament” in Andover. She saw at this event over 70 witches including George Burroughs [hung], Mary Toothaker [husband died in prison] and Mary Toothaker’s daughter, Martha Carrier, Captain John Floyd and Daniel Eames of Boxford. Betty’s grandfather, the Reverend Francis Dane of Andover, later in a petition to stop the madness calls Betty “simplish at best.” She seems to have not married. .
On August 29, Elizabeth’s eleven-year-old daughter and fourteen year-old son, Abigail and Stephen Johnson, were also arrested on charges of witchcraft. On August 31, Elizabeth Johnson and her son Stephen confessed to witchcraft. They testified that they had attended a gathering where they were baptized by the devil, who promised them “happiness and joy”, and that at the devil’s behest, they had afflicted Martha Sprague and several people in Andover. They refused to implicate anyone else in their activities. On September 8, Faulkner’s sister-in-law, Deliverance Dane, confessed to witchcraft under examination, though she would later recant insisting that she had “wronged the truth” by confessing. Faulkner’s nine-year-old daughter Abigail was accused of witchcraft and arrested on September 16. The next day her twelve-year-old daughter Dorothy was arrested on the same charge. Faulkner’s young daughters confessed soon after their arrest, and were persuaded to condemn their mother as a witch.
One day later, Ann Putnam testified that she had been “afflicted” by Faulkner on August 9, 1692, and that she had witnessed Faulkner or her specter tormenting two other young women.
Faulkner’s sentence read:
- The Jury find Abigail Faulkner, wife of Francis Faulkner of Andover, guilty of ye felony of witchcraft, committed on ye body of Martha Sprague, also on ye body of Sarah Phelps. Sentence of death passed on Abigail Faulkner.
- Faulkner was pregnant when brought to trial, and for this reason, her execution was delayed. Gov. William Phips reprieved Abigail, releasing her because of insufficient evidence and her pregnancy. Hers was the only special pardon he issued. But the record still listed her as a convicted, pardoned witch, and on June 13, 1706 she appealed to the General Court for her record to be erased.
Elizabeth’s children Stephen and Abigail Johnson were released from prison in October 1692, along with their cousins Faulkner’s daughters, on a 500 pound bond paid by Nathaniel Dane and John Osgood. Elizabeth’s daughter Elizabeth Johnson Jr., was found guilty of witchcraft, and sentenced to death in January 1693. Her death warrant was signed by William Stoughton. Elizabeth, like her aunt, managed to escape the gallows due to the intervention of Governor Phips. Elizabeth Johnson Sr., was acquitted and released in January 1693, but her attainder was never reversed. Faulkner’s sister-in-law, Deliverance Dane, was released in December 1692, when the case against her was dismissed.
Warrant for Arrest of Elizabeth Johnson, Sr. and Abigail Johnson ) Essex:/ To the Constable of Andivor Complaint being made this day to us by Sam’ll. Martin of Andivor & Moses Tyler of Boxford, against Elizabeth Johnson widow and Abigall Johnson Singleweoman of Andivor that they the Said Elizabeth Johnson & Abigall Johnson hath greviously, afflicted and abused Martha. Sprage of boxford & Abigall Martin of Andivor Singleweomen by witchcraft contrary to the Peace of our Sover’ne Lord & Lady William & Mary King & Queen of England &c & to their Majesties Lawes in that case provided, and Said Sam’ll Martin & Moses Tyler haveing given Sufficient bond to prosecut their Said Complaint to Effect These are therefore to require you in their Majesties name forthwith to apprehend & seize the Bodys of the Said Elizabeth Johnson widow & Abigall Johnson her dauter Singlewoeman of Andivor & them Safely, convey to Salem before us their Majesties Justices of the Peace to be examined & proceded with according to law, forw’th. this shall be your warrant. Dated in Salem 29: August 1692. *Bartho Gedney * John Hathorne *John Higginson Just’es. Peace (Reverse) in obedenc to this writ I have seased the bodies of Elizabeth jonson widow and abigall jonson hur [torn] Both of andover this 30 day of agust 1692 By me *John Ballard constable of andover 1692 Eliz’th Johnson Examined Before the Justices of Salem August 30th 1692 – Eliz’th Johnson you are hence Charged for acting Witchcraft Come tell how long you have ben a witch A I cannot tell butt Since my Daught’r Came heither & Stopt – Q. w’t the Divel Come to You did he not A yes – Q. was it in the Day A no in the night when I was asleep & awaked me & S’d he would goe & afflict in my Shape but I never Sett my hand to his book — Come be thorow in all lickly hood — you have been long in this Snare the Sundry years She S’d & Pray for me for it is true I have bin long in this Snare but yett would owne but 3 Year or not above 4 — w’t Shape did the Divel appear to you at first A a white bird wel what would he have you to doe A Serve & worship him well that time Then you Signed to his book how did you doe it A w’th my finger Q w’t Spott did itt Make a black & what bignes was the book A pretty big – Q. did you promise to Serve & worship him A yes – Q. when & where did the bird appear to You — A In the day time in my owne house – Q. has he not apeared to you like a black man A Yes he mostly apears to me like a black man Was you alone when he appeared to you A yes I have been to much alone. how long has the Child that Is here been a witch a 5 yeares I suppose [for] lived at Goody Carriers A that time who came w’th the Divel when he came to you first did W’m. Bark’r No he has not been oh Soe long it was my Sister Abigail Falkner — who stands before you now is it not the Sister falkner A Yes She Threattens to Tear me in peices if I confses Q. how long hath She ben one A no longer then I Where did the Divel baptize you A at 5 mile pond who ware baptized when you was A My Sister falkner & a great many more — Jeames How was one how many times have you been at the witch metting at the Village A butt once Unlese I was Their in my Spirit. Q how did you goe thither one Horse back as far as I know but after wards S’d She was Carried thither upon a pole & that her sister falkner was there & William Barker others She new not for She did not know folk Q but did you give the Children to the Divel A No I do not know that this Girle is a witch w’t number of witches be there in all. A it may be I doe not know w’t did they agre to doe at the metting at the Village A to afflict people & make as many witches as they Could [as they Could] how many have you made witches A none Q. was they to Sett up the divels Kingdome A yes but why doe they afflict now they [doe] they are daly brought out A the Divel makes them doe it Q. how many was their at that Metting at Chandlers A 20 or 30 I dont know how many what did you doe their A drink wine, where did you gett Your wine A from Boston I think butt I doe not know how brought it Mr Busse was Their did you drink A yes how did it tast A it has been bitt’r to me I am Sure butt who were the Company A I do not know any but them that are brought out Q. was Martha Emerson there A I know not Was Dan’ll Eames of the Comp’y A yes he was She S’d also Hannah Mary & Susana Posts were baptized when She was & that the Divel dipt there heads in the watt’r & s’d thou art now Soul & body Come you that have been a witch Soe long you doe not Thouroly Conffess you know who you have afflicted She owned She had afflicted Sarah Phelps & 3 of Martins Children & that her Sister & Sarah parker Joyned w’th her in afflicting them Q then doe you know Sarah parker to be witch A I know She afflicted those or Else I afflicted none She owned She had afflicted Rose Fostter but I know not that I have afflicted Martha Sprauge I know not what my Spirit did Q how are you when your Spirit is Gone out of you A in A Cold Dampish Mallancolly Condition she would not own she had afflicted Swan She was askt how she knew She Should be Sent for A my Son Told me I should be Sent for yesterday She owned he had afflicted Martin & Martha Sprauge Yesterd’y & that the actions of — body that she Used to afflict was the pinching her hands & that the Divel had Made her promis to renounce god & Christ & she did Soe & being ask how long she had ben a witch she said She knew nott, butt She was 30 Years old when She was Married & now She was 51 & when She had had 3 Children the Divel came to her & it might be a 25 years & that the Divel Appeared to her like a bird a black bird & then She did not signe butt @ a year after She Signed & that the Divel came alone when She Signed She S’d her Sister Abig’l had been a witch as long as She, She would not own that She was baptized before the time fornamed nor that she had been baptized by him above ever nor that she had set her Seal to the book but She had Set her hand to the book at Salem Village when the Combination was she owned [she] had Eat & drink at the Mett’g at Chand’s butt no where Else She s’d Burroughs & Buss ware at the Village Metting & Buss was at the Mett’g at Chand’s & bid them Stand to the faith & truth She s’d the Divel propounded 30 Years to her to Serve him & he had promised her al glory & happines & Joy But as yett performed nothing — She S’d her familliar was like a Browne puppee & that he also Sucks her breast She also Confess’d She was afrayd her Son Stephen was a witch butt She did not Ceartainly know it but Conffesed his apperance was then before her & that was the young man the afflicted Saw before Her & before She had Conffesed of her Son She could not Shake w’th afflicted but after ward She could. This is the Substance of Eliz’th Johnsons Sen’rs Conffession & Examination out of my Carrecter Attest Simon[d] Willard. Sep 1, 1692 – The Examination & Confession of Steph’n: Johnson aged 14 Yeares – In the time of his Examinat’n he afflicted Martha: Sprauge Mary lacy & Rose fostt’r: by looking on them & Recovered them again by laying his hand Upon there Rist or arme & at last Conffesed thus — that @ hilling time this Su[mbar ] being alone he Saw a Speckled bird not soe big as a pigeon which Spake to him & the Next day he Saw a black Catt & after that Came a black man who told him he must Set his hand to a book & Soe [pbar ]rsented him a Single paper to which he Sett his hand being asked after w’t maner he did it he Said he prickt his fing’r: & blood Came out & he Stampt his fing’r: Upon the paper & made a red Mark He S’d that he was also to Serve the Black man one Year & his Servis was to afflict prsons & further that the Divel asked him to give up him Self Soul & body to him & Soe he did & thinks also that the Divel was to Have him at the Years End being asked w’t he was to have of the Divel for his Service s’d a pair of french fall Shouses w’ch he never yett had He Saith also that he was baptized at Shaw Shim River alittle after he Saw the Divel the first time. The Ma[nbar ]er was thus having ben at work at Benja: abbotts he went alone in the Evening to Swim In the Watt’r: & there mett w’th: the black Man who told him he must be his Servant & must be also baptized & Soe the black man took him Up & flung in his Whole body over the bank into the Watt’r: being Ready Stript before to goe in him Self, & [then] then this black man told him he must be his & must Renounce his first baptizime & Soe he did he Saith their was also a couple of Mades & 2 Men he Conffess that Yersterday he afflicted Martha Sprauge & that he did it by Squeezing his hands together he Conffesses also that he and the Rest of his Comp’y: did Daunce at Moses Tylers House & Made Martha Sprauge Sing he Says he is Sorry for w’t he has done Renounces the Divel & all his Works & then Could Take the afflicted by the Hand w’th out hurting of them – Stephen Johnson Signed & owned the above S’d Examination & Conffesion The Marke of Stephen Johnson 15 Sept: 92. Before Me *Jno Higginson Just’e peace .
Stephen Johnson's Timeline
Andover, Essex County, Massachusetts
March 15, 1666
Andover, Essex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony
August 12, 1677
Andover, Essex, MA
Andover, Essex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony
March 16, 1681
Andover, Essex County, Massachusetts, United States
November 30, 1690
Andover, Essex, Massachusetts