Archiver > ESSEX-ROOTS > 1997-10 > 0877925969

From: rleutner <>
Subject: "Witchcraft" and dissension in Gloucester, 1652-53
Date: Sun, 26 Oct 1997 22:19:29 -0600 (CST)

I have been finding a few more items relating to VINSON and
others in the Salem and Ipswich court abstracts in Essex
Antiquarian (excerpted below), including allegations of
witchcraft against Sarah VINSON, the wife of William VINSON,
the wives of William EVANS and Ossmund DUCH (probably
Grace), and "Mistris PIRKINS," without much doubt wife of
Mr. William PERKINS, teacher in the Gloucester church.

I posted a few days ago the record of a court action against a
Mrs. HOLGRAVE for calling Mr. PERKINS "fitter to be a lady's
chamberman [that should probably be 'chambermaid'] than to be
in the pulpit." That looks now to have been just one in a
series of upsets in Gloucester over Mr. PERKINS' preaching in
the course of nearly a full year in 1652 and 1653, which is
all the farther I have got in my reading so far.

I'd be interested to know if anyone has a broader
understanding than I do of what was going on here. It
obviously went beyond simple gossip to fairly serious charges
against people of some prominence--"Mrs." HOLGRAVE, the
Gloucester commissioner Christopher AVERY (both for
badmouthing this preacher Mr. PERKINS and for "living from his
wife" for many years--in relation to "an officer of the
church," Mr. PERKINS. It is notable that the plaintiffs in
the "witchcraft" suit reappear as witnesses against members of
what appears to be an "anti-Perkins" faction in the church and
town of Gloucester that was unhappy enough to include at least
one person (Edmond MARSHALL) who was willing to spread rumors
of witchcraft (a capital crime) against the wife of PERKINS

Citations follow. Hope this isn't too long, and that it's
of interest.

Bob Leutner
Iowa City IA

Essex Antiquarian 6 (1902), 161. Salem Quarterly Court
Records and Files. Court session of (date needs to be
checked--immediately following is session of 25: 10:
[Dec] 1649).

"William VINSON of Gloucester, being accused by
Anthony DAY of reproaching his servant Susan MATCHETT,
unto whom Day was contracted, saying she was not
virtuous, etc., confessed, and was discharged."

Essex Antiquarian 7 (1903), 133. Salem Quarterly Court
Records and Files. Court session of 10 mo: [December]

"Mrs. HOLGRAVE of Gloster presented for reproachful
and unbecoming speeches against Mr. William PERKINS, an
officer of the church, viz., "yt if it were not ffor the
Law, shee would never come to the meeting the Teacher was
soe dead, & accordinglye shee did seldome come & withall
pswaded Goodwife VINCENT to come to her house, on the
Saboth daye, & reade good bookes, affirming that the
Teacher was fitter to bee a Ladyes chamberman, than to be
in ye pulpit." [Wit: Sarah VINCENT, Grace DUCH and Will
VINCENT--Files.] Fined and to confess it at Gloster

Essex Antiquarian 10 (1906), 79. Ipswich Court Records.
Court session of 29: 1: [March] 1653.

"Sarah, wife of Wm. VINSON, deposed that Mrs.
HOLGRAVE asked he how she liked Mr. PERKINS now. Mrs.
VINSON answered, 'Liked him well.' Mrs. HOLGRAVE then
said: 'He was fitter to bee a Ladies Chambermad then a
Preacher; & if ye Church had knowne as much as shee, they
would not have Called him to office.' Sworn before
William STEVENS, Christopher AVERYE and Robert TUCKER,
commissioners of Gloucester, 30: 9: 1652."

Essex Antiquarian 10 (1906), 84. Ipswich Court Records.
Court session of 27: 7: [September] 1653.

"William VINSENT v. Edmond MARSHALL. Defamation.
Defendant to make acknowledgement in the meeting houses
in Salem, Ipswich and Gloucester within fourteen days.
[Writ: William VINCEN v. Edmon MARSHALL, for defaming
his wife, saying she was a witch, etc., dated Sept. 4,
1653; by the court, John WHIPPLE. Served by Clement
COLEDOM, deputy Robert LORD, marshall, by attachment of
house and land of defendant.--Files.]"

[The above item is followed by two identical cases with
Edmond MARSHALL as defendant, William EVANS and Ossmund
DUTCH as plaintiffs.]

"[Daniel BROADLEY witnessed that goodman MARSHALL
said at my house that mistris PIRKINS, goody EVENS, goody
DUCH and goody VINSAN were under suspicion of being
witches, etc. Sworn in Ipswich court 27: 7: 1653.--

Essex Antiquarian 10 (1906), 86. Ipswich Court Records.
Presentments of grand jury to Ipswich court 7 mo:
[September] 1653; all of the below entries are noted as
being from the "Files."

"Christopher AVERY of Gloster, for many years living
from his wife, she being in England. Witnesses: Robert
BROOKS of Gloster and his wife. Also, for speaking
against the person and ministry of Mr. Wm. PERKINS, their
teacher, in town meeting. Witnesses: William EVANS,
Richard BESORD, William VINCENT and Edward MILS.
"Robert TUCKER of Gloster, for speaking against Mr.
Wm. PERKINS, their teacher, and discouraging men from
contributing to his maintenance. Witnesses: Clement
"Robert DUTCH of Gloster, for speaking against Mr.
Wm. PERKINS in town meeting. Witnesses: Clement COLDHAM
and John PEARCE.
"John ROE of Gloster, for affronting Mr. Wm. PERKINS
in the time of his preaching of the word in public.
Witnesses: Jeffery PARSON and Grace DUTCH."

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