Thursday, January 23, 2020

George Harland/Harlan, 1650-1714, Quaker Yeoman Farmer

Kennett Monthly Meeting, Pennsylvania, record of baptism of George Harlan
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George Harland, my 9th great grandfather, was the second son of James Harland, a yeoman* and a member of the Episcopal Church in Bishoprick, nigh Durham, England. James was born around 1625, and lived his entire life in that area of England. While he was likely married, I have no idea who his wife was as only James is listed in the baptism record of his three sons, Thomas, George, and Michael  -- I don’t know if there were any other children in the family. Thomas was born about 1649 (m (1). Katharine Bullock [?-1690], April 7, 1680 (7, 2 mo, 1680) by ceremony of Friends at Sego, Armagh, Ireland; m. (2) Alice Foster [?-1702], Armagh, Ireland, dd. ?). George was the second son, born in approximately 1650 and baptized on March 11, 1650 ** (11 First 1650) in the Episcopal Church; And Michael born about 1653 (m. Dina Dixson in Pennsylvania, dd. 1728). All three brothers were baptized in at the Episcopal Church at Monkwearmoth, Durham, England.

Climbing My Family Tree: St. Peters Church & Monkwearmouth Monastery, built 675 AD. Public Domain.
St. Peters Church & Monkwearmouth Monastery, built 675 AD. Public Domain.
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George lived with his parents in Bishoprick, nigh Durham, England until he reached adulthood. When he reached adulthood, he and his brothers moved, with some others, to County Down, Ireland. I have been unable to find anything that says definitively whether he converted to Quakerism while in England or after he moved to Ireland. I know that he was a member of the Quaker meeting in Ireland. However, the move to Ireland would make sense if they had converted to Quakerism while in England.

The Religious Society of Friends (commonly known as the Quakers), was founded by George Fox around the time that George Harland was born. By 1660, it is estimated there were 50,000 Quakers in England. Among the new and radical spiritual beliefs held by the Quakers were that a direct experience with God was available to all people without mediation through hired clergy; that God could move anyone to speak and that all Christians could and should be ministers, including women, but they had no official pastors or priest; and that the sacraments were purely spiritual and they did not take physical communion with wine and bread or baptize with water. These views were not popular with either Catholic or Protestant clergy. The Friends also annoyed civil authorities and the upper classes with their belief in the equality of all. The Quakers lived this belief by refusing to use honorifics in addressing others (addressing all simply by their name), refusing to salute others, and refusing to remove their hats before a social superior among other things. They also refused to take oaths, because they believed people should always tell the truth, which left the King doubting their loyalty since they refused to swear fealty to him. Additionally, the Quakers refused to pay tithes to the established church, which were required of all people.

The century before the establishment of the Quakers was a time of religious conflict between Catholics and Protestants, starting with Henry VIII’s creation of the Church of England and split from the Catholic Church, because he wanted to get divorced, and followed by alternating Protestant and Catholic monarchs who, supported by the Church of England (also known as the Anglican Church), encouraged persecution of religions other than their own, and culminating in the Thirty Years War and the English Civil War both of which were rooted in religious differences. It was not a time of religious tolerance. Between 1661 and 1664, Parliament passed a series of laws which basically made it illegal to be a practicing Quaker. For the next two decades Quakers were heavily persecuted, while they persevered in practicing their faith.  Fox stated that there were seldom less than a thousand Quakers imprisoned during these years (total imprisoned 13,562, plus 338 deaths and 200 deported as slaves to the West Indies); Fox himself spent five years in jail.

Quakers had been moving to Ireland since the 1650s, trying to escape the persecution by the Anglican church and Parliament, with a second wave occurring in the 1670’s. The first Quaker meeting in Ireland was held in Lurgan, in County Armagh, in 1655. It’s quite possible that George Harlan and his brothers chose to move to the Lurgan area because they knew of the number of Quakers already in the area. They moved to County Down, probably to the Parish of Donaghcloney,  which immediately abuts the neighboring parishes of Shankill and Seagoe in County Armagh in northern Ireland (at that point Ireland was unified, northern is just a geographical description). While I don’t know exactly when George moved to Ireland, I know he was there by 1678.

While living in County Down, George Harlan met Elizabeth Duck, of Lurgan, who was 10 years younger than him having been born in 1660. Elizabeth and George married, by ceremony of Friends, on November 27, 1678 (twenty seventh day of ninth month, 1678), in the house of Marke Wright, in the parish of Shankill, County of Armagh. Present among the witnesses was George’s brother Thomas.

Climbing My Family Tree IQuaker Marriage Record for George Harland & Elizabeth Duck (Nov 27, 1678))
Quaker Marriage Record for Geoge Harland & Elizabeth Duck (Nov 27, 1678)
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Part 1 -Transcription of
Quaker Marriage Record for Geoge Harland & Elizabeth Duck (Nov 27, 1678)
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Part 2 -Transcription of
Quaker Marriage Record for Geoge Harland & Elizabeth Duck (Nov 27, 1678), witnesses.
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George and Elizabeth had nine children, the first four of which were born in Ireland: Ezekiel [b.  August 16, 1679 (6, 16, 1679); d. June 15, 1731 (4, 15, 1731); m. Mary Bezer and Ruth Buffington]; Hannah [b. April 4, 1681 (2, 4, 1681); d. ?; m. Samuel Hollingsworth]; Moses [b. February 20, 1683, (12, 20, 1683); d. 1747; m. Margaret Ray]; Aaron [b. December 24, 1685 (10, 24, 1685); d. November 1732 (9 mo. 1732); m. Sarah Heald].

In moving to Ireland, George did not escape the official persecution of Quakers which also spread to Ireland. Many Quakers in the area had their goods and crops confiscated, or were imprisoned, for nonpayment of tithes to the Church of Ireland or other “failures to conform”. We know that George refused to pay the required tithe to the Church. The “tithe”, was essentially a church tax and was to be a tenth of one’s income; it was the main source of income for the official Church. Quakers objected to the tithe on two levels, believing in their own practices that spiritual guidance and worship should be free, and, believing that as non-Anglicans they should not have to support the Anglican Church. Because George refused to pay the required tithe, the government forcibly seized what they determined to be an equivalent amount of his crops in lieu of payment. Noted in A Great Cry of Oppression by William Stockdale, in 1680, “George Harland, of County Down had taken from him in Tithe, by Daniel MacConnell, twelve stooks and a half of oats, three stooks and a half of barley, and five loads of hay, all worth ten shillings and ten pence."  At FindMyPast(.)com I found the original Quaker Meeting record of that confiscation. I also found that George was subject to nearly yearly confiscations. In 1682, George Harland “had taken from him for a tithe by Thomas Usher & Donald McConnol four loads of hay, sixteen stooks and a half of wheat & twenty-four stooks of oats, all worth one pound thirteen shillings six pence.” In 1683, he “had taken from him for tithe by Donnoll Mark Connoll and Johns Spont, fishmongers, two loads of hay out of his hay fields, worth two shillings.” In 1684, George “had taken from him by Hugh MacConnoll for the said priest, one stook, two sheafs of [?], eighteen stooks, nine sheafs of oats, two stooks and a half of barley, and two loads of hay. All worth 15 shillings, four pence. All on account of tithe which for conscience’s sake they could not pay.” I’ve no reason to believe the tithe confiscations ceased in 1684 but these are the records that remain. It had to be aggravating to lose so much of his farming labor’s product every year to a support religion of which he was not a member. I don’t know whether he was ever imprisoned for his refusal but if he had been it could explain why there are no more confiscation records for the next two years.

Wheat sheaves near King's Somborne, England arranged into a stook.- Trish Steel [CC BY-SA ]

About this time George would have heard about William Penn’s new colony, Pennsylvania, in the New World. In 1681, King Charles II gave over 45,000 square miles of his American land holdings to Penn to pay the debts the king owed to Penn's deceased father, and in 1682 Penn obtained from the Duke of York both a 10,000 year lease and an absolute deed of Feoffment (sale of real property) for the town of New Castle and a 12-mile circle around it, and a 10,000 year lease and an absolute deed of Feoffment for all of the land south of the twelve mile circle down to Cape Henlopen. This land included the present-day states of Pennsylvania and Delaware. Penn planned to found a colony based on Quaker principles, a "Holy Experiment" as he called it, and implementing a new form of more egalitarian government. The colonial government, established in 1682 by Penn's Frame of Government, consisted of an appointed governor, the proprietor (William Penn), a 72-member Provincial Council, and a larger representative Provincial Assembly. Starting in 1681 broadsheets promoting the venture were distributed widely at Quaker meetings in Ireland. Quakers began moving to the colony.  As more people moved to the Colony, letters from the pioneers were sent home to Ireland, describing their life in America, were passed around at Quaker Meetings. The idea of a new start in a friendly land led George and Michael Harlan to think that their future lay across the ocean in the New World.

Some Irish Quakers went out to Penn’s Colony as indentured servants, selling themselves into temporary servitude usually for about four years in order to pay the costs of their transportation to Pennsylvania. Some, known as redemptioners, made agreements with the shipmaster to be sold after their arrival. The redemptioners could not be sold out of Pennsylvania without their free consent given before a judge. At the end of their service, if their behavior had been good, they received a suit of clothes, a set of tools for the field in which they were engaged, and a sum of money. Those that came over with the first purchasers of land in the colony were allowed by Penn to receive fifty acres of land at a rent, paid to Penn, of a half-penny per acre per year. Due to harsh treatment and dissatisfaction with the conditions of servitude, the redemptioners often ran away, and newspapers of the time were full of advertisements of rewards for the return of their indented servants, and much of the business of the provincial courts was hearing complaints of masters and servants. Unlike the redemptioners, the Harland brothers had enough money to purchase land in Penn’s colony before they left Ireland, but there are indications that George employed indented servants in his household in the New World.  

Province of PA - No machine-readable author provided.
Kmusser assumed (based on copyright claims). [CC BY-SA]

In early 1687, George Harland, his wife, his four eldest children, and his brother Michael left from Belfast on a ship for Pennsylvania (his brother Thomas remained in Ireland). In 1686, George had bought lands in the southeastern corner of Pennsylvania, known as the Lower Three Counties, in an area now belonging to New Castle, Delaware. Other land in the area was bought at that time in the name of his father James, and brother Thomas, although neither ever moved to America. They settled on the west side of the Brandywine Creek in the Christiana Hundred section of Newcastle county, near the current town of Centerville. After moving to Pennsylvania, George and his brother dropped the D from their last name. Here, George and Elizabeth had five more children: Rebecca [b. October 17, 1688 (8, 17, 1688); d. October 17, 1775 (8, 17, 1775); m. William Webb]; Deborah [b. October 28, 1690 (8, 28, 1690); d. ??; m. Joshua Calvert]; James [b. October 19, 1692 (8, 19, 1692); d. ??; m. Elizabeth  ??]; Joshua [b. January 15, 1696 (11, 15, 1696); d. July 1744 (5 Mo. 1744); m. Mary Heald].

Initially, they belonged to and, in the Summer, attended the Newark Meeting in the Lower Three Counties. However, George and his family were too far from the Newark Meeting for regular and punctual attendance, especially in the winter, given the dangerousness of fording the river and made a request on behalf of his neighbors and himself for a Meeting beyond the Brandywine to be established for that reason; the formation of the Centre Meeting was granted in what is now Centerville, New Castle county, Delaware but was then the southeastern corner of Pennsylvania. For several years they held a meeting in homes in their community, often at George Harlan’s home.  George was put on a committee with Thomas Hollingsworth, Alphonsus Kirk, and Samuel Groves “to take the oversight of the building of ye Centre Meeting House requesting ye with all convenient speed to let out ye work to some workmen in order it may be more speedily done and return an acctt to ye next meeting how they proceed.” However, the Meeting House was not built until 1711.

In 1695, George Harlan was elected to the Provincial Assembly from New Castle County. Provincial Assembly elections were held annually in colonial Pennsylvania, and Assembly representatives were elected to serve a one year term. When William Penn formed the colony’s government, he created the Frame of 1682, which described a parliament consisting of two houses. The upper house, or the Provincial Council, consisted of 72 members who were the first fifty purchasers of 5,000 acres or more in the colony and had the exclusive power to propose legislation. They were also authorized to nominate all officers in church and state and supervise financial and military affairs through committees. The lower house, or the Provincial Assembly, consisted of smaller landowners. It had no power to initiate legislation but could accept or reject the council's legislative proposal only. However, in the first meeting of the Assembly the Frame of 1682 was voted down. When the Assembly convened in 1682, the Assembly sought to enlarge its role and insisted that it be granted to power to initiate legislation, as it demanded when it rejected the Frame of 1682. A compromise frame of government, called the Frame of 1683, was eventually approved by the Assembly. It provided that all laws should be passed "by the Governor and the freemen in Council and Assembly met", and granted the governor a right to approve or veto. This 1683 Frame of Government was still in effect when George served his term as the representative from Newcastle county in 1695.

In about 1698, George bought 470 acres of land further up the Brandywine Creek, and moved his family and settled in Kennett Square, Chester County, Pennsylvania (the area is now in Pennsbury Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania). While living there, George’s neighbors were a settlement of Native Americans who lived across the river in the “Great Bend” of the Brandywine River. After the Native Americans abandoned their settlement, he obtained, in 1701, a grant of 200 additional acres of land in the Bend, which was given to him for the “charge great trouble and cost he had born” in fencing and maintaining the fence for the Native Americans while living there.

Climbing My Family Tree: Map of Chester County Meeting Houses
Map of Chester County Quaker Meeting Houses
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In 1712 George was again elected to the Provincial Assembly, this time from Chester County. This time the Assembly was more powerful than it had been during his last term. A new Frame of Government called the Charter of Privileges was granted in 1701. It permitted Assembly members certain privileges, liberties, or powers, never before granted by Penn, most particularly, the power to enact legislation. Penn had been called back to England and was afraid of the possibility of a takeover of his proprietary colony by the Crown, and reasoned that his colony could defend itself with this new power. Another provision elevated much of the Assembly’s power to that of the governor and judiciary, creating a tripartite government. The governor’s role was reduced to management status, but still retained veto power while the Provincial Council was reduced to an advisory body to the governor. Additionally, as of 1704, the Lower Counties of Pennsylvania had withdrawn from the state and formed their own state of Delaware.

On the first day of March 1713 (1, 1, 1713), George Harlan deeded 203 acres to his son-in-law, William Webb, husband of daughter Rebecca, for a consideration of 30 pounds. On the ninth day of the same month, for “consideration of the natural affection and fatherly love which he hath” and “for divers other good causes and valuable considerations” he deeded 200 acres each to his sons James and Joshua. George died in July 1714 (Fifth Month 1714). The date of death of his wife, Elizabeth, is not known, but I know she died before he did, because in his will he requested that he be buried beside his “deare wife in the new burying grounds.”

George left a will, dated April 20, 1714 (twentieth day of the second month called Aprill in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred & ffourteen) and an inventory was done of his property prior to distribution according to its terms. These documents give a good insight into the living conditions of a prominent Quaker family of the time. The will is how I learned that he had an indented servant. In it, he says that he “give[s] unto my servant woman named Mary Matthews at the expiration of her time one cow & calf & one young mare not less than three years old.” That’s a generous bequest that would help her set up her own household when the time came that her term of indenture was complete.

Transcription of Will of George Harlan

I George Harlan of Brandywine Creek and in the Township of Kennett and the County of Chester in the province of Pennsylvania, Yeoman. Being weak at this time in body but of sound and disposing mind and memory & calling to mind the certainty of Death & the uncertainty of the time thereof doe make & ordain this my last will & Testament in manner & form following, that is to say, first I yield my soul into the hands of Almighty God as unto a faithful Creator hoping through the merits sufferings resurrection & mediation of my blessed Savior Jesus Christ to find mercy & forgiveness with complete salvation & my body to be buried by my dear wife in the new bearing place on Alphonsus Kirk’s land at the discretion of my executors hereinafter named. Also my will is that all my just debts and funeral expenses be fully paid and discharged. Also I give unto my son Aaron my clock & my great brass cattle. Also I give unto my brother Michael Harlan the young Susquehanna mare. Also I give unto my servant woman named Mary Matthews at the expiration of her time one cow & calf & one young mare not less than three years old. And lastly I make nominate & appoint my sons Ezekiel & Erin Harlan executors of this my last will & testament & also appoint my brother Michael Harlan aforementioned & my son Samuel Hollingsworth trustees & assistance to my executors aforementioned in the performance & accomplishment of this my last will & testament. Also my will is that after my debts legacies bequests & expenses of words that are fully paid and satisfied that what shall then remain of my movable & personal estate if any so there be then it shall be equally divided between all my children sons & daughters share & share alike. In witness thereof I have two this my set will set my hand & seal this one & 20th day of the second month called April in the year of our Lord 1714 George Harlan (seal)

signed sealed & published & declared by the testator George Harlan to be his last Will & Testament in the presence of us who have subscribed our names as witnesses here unto his presence. Daniel McFarson, Nathan Maddock, Thomas Pierson [proven 8 Mo. 2, 1714]

The transcribed inventory of George Harlan's estate, from  History and Genealogy of the Harland Family in America, and particularly of the descendants of George and Michael Harlan, who settled in Chester County PA, 1687, compiled by Alpheus Harlan (The Lord Baltimore Press 1914)
The transcribed inventory of George Harlan's estate, from
History and Genealogy of the Harland Family in America, and particularly of the descendants of George and Michael Harlan, who settled in Chester County PA, 1687, compiled by Alpheus Harlan (The Lord Baltimore Press 1914)
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* In 17th & 18th century England, a yeoman was a free man who lived in the country and owned his own land and farmed but was not gentry – sort of equivalent to the middle class today). In 18th & 19th century America a yeoman was a non-slaveholding, small landowning, independent, family farmer.

** I’ve seen a lot of trees on Ancestry(.)com referring to George’s baptism date as January 11, 1650, relying on the same record I do, a Quaker record from later in his life from the Philadelphia Meeting, in which his baptism is noted as 11 First 1650. As I explained in the last post (DatingInduced Headaches for the Family Historian: Julian, Gregorian, and QuakerCalendars), before 1752 in England, the Julian Calendar was in use, not the Gregorian Calendar which is currently used today nearly everywhere, and in the Julian Calendar, the first day of the year was March 25. Further, while the Quakers followed the calendar commonly used in the British Isles, the Quaker Calendar had its own quirks. For the Quakers, who designated months by numbers, First month (or 1st mo.) was March. In writing dates, I’ll state what it would be in today’s calendar and then, in parentheses, I’ll include the date as I found it in the source used.

 I apologize for the spacing changes. Every time I tried to fix it it got worse. I gave up.

Quaker meeting records, 1681-1935,, Provo, Utah, USA; History and Genealogy of the Harland Family in America, and particularly of the descendants of George and Michael Harlan, who settled in Chester County PA, 1687, compiled by Alpheus Harlan (The Lord Baltimore Press 1914); Marriage Record, quicker records collection at FindMyPast(.)com, Ireland, Society of Friends “Quaker” marriages, Ulster Friends Trustees, LTD, marriage, 1674-1750, Ireland, Society of Friends (Quaker) marriages, Life Events (Birth, Marriage, Death), Parrish Marriages, Ireland; “A Great Cry of Oppression” by William Stockdale (London 1693); The History of Chester County, Pennsylvania, with genealogical and biographical sketches, by J. Smith Futhey and Gilbert Cope (Philadelphia, Louis H. Everts 1881); Immigration of the Irish Quakers in Pennsylvania, 1682-1750, with their early History in Ireland, by Albert Cook Myers, member of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (The Author, Swarthmore PA 1902); The Quakers in America, by Thomas D Hamm, The Columbia Contemporary American Religion Series (Columbia University Press New York 2003); The History of the Hunt Family by Roger D Hunt (copyright 2011) (; Quakers in Delaware in the Time of William Penn by Herbert Standing (; Quakers in Great Britain 1650s-1750s ( ; Stook (; YM Sufferings c. 1665-1693, for 1680, 1682, 1683, and 1684, YM-G1, Religious Society of Friends in Ireland Archives,; “Early Relations between Pennsylvania and Delaware” by The Hon. Richard S. Rodney, John Moll, and William Penn, The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 54, No. 3. pp 209-240 (1930) (found on; ; Charter of Privileges

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Dating Induced Headaches for the Family Historian: Julian, Gregorian, and Quaker Calendars

Calendar image from

Did you know that January 1 wasn’t always the first day of the year?

Did you know that Europe and Great Britain and their colonies used different calendars for several centuries?

Did you know that while the Quakers followed the English calendar tradition, they had their own way of expressing dates, since they did not approve of the commonly used names of the months and days in the calendar?

Do you have any idea of how hard this can make the job of the family historian in figuring out whether the person they are researching is their ancestor? For instance, if I knew the death date of the man I was researching was 12 months before the birth of a particular child, I would normally feel safe in the concluding he was not the potential father of that child; however, if it was before 1752 in England or its colonies it might not be impossible at all. For example, if the man died on March 24, 1650 and the child was born March 25, 1651, that isn’t twelve months apart; that child was born one day after the man died! In another example, trying to determine the probable birthdate of my ancestor, based on a gravestone that lists his death date and his age at death, “87 years, nine months, and six days” will differ depending on whether the given ancestor is from Germany or from England, and I have to remember to apply the differences to be as accurate as I can be. In fact, I may have to re-look at all my earlier German-born ancestors when I get back to that part of the family tree in my research plan because I did not know this when I was researching them. I learned it when trying to figure out the Quaker dating system for the branch of my tree I’ll be writing about next, which is rooted in England, Ireland and the British colonies. But before I try to explain the Quaker dating system, I have to go into a little history first.

Julius Ceasar bust in the Museum of Antiquities, Turin Italy [Public domain]
via Wikimedia Commons,
photo by Ángel M. Felicísimo from Mérida, España, CC by 2.0 

In ancient times, each major culture or civilization at its own calendar, each with their own problems. I’m not going into them as it is really complex and they are not really relevant to this discussion. However, in 46 BC, in an attempt to fix problems with the calendars already in use then, Julius Caesar ordered the Roman Empire to follow a calendar consisting of 12 months based on a solar year because he wanted a calendar that better reflected the planting and harvesting seasons of the largely agricultural economy in the Empire at that time. The calendar was used by all of the Empire, which eventually consisted of England and most of Europe. This Julian calendar was pretty much like the calendar we have today with a 12-month year equaling 365 days, the days having 24 sixty-minute hours each (with each minute being 60 seconds long) and divided into seven-day weeks. An extra day was added every fourth year. While the Julian calendar originally began the year on January 1, after the fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century, the calendar was gradually aligned with to coincide with important Christian festivals. By the ninth century, parts of Europe began observing the first day of the year on March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation (a celebration of the day that the angel Gabriel informed Mary that she would become the mother of the Messiah); the last day of the year was March 24. This new alignment spread throughout Europe and the British Isles over the next couple centuries with England adopting it in the 12th century.

Climbing My Family Tree: Cover of Pope Gregory's Papal Bull, in the Public Domain
Cover of Pope Gregory's Papal Bull, in the Public Domain

However, there was also a problem with the Julian calendar, in that it was about 11 minutes too long, which doesn’t sound like much but this slight inaccuracy added one day every 128 years. By the middle of the 16th century, the Julian calendar was about 10 days ahead of the natural events it was originally based on, including equinoxes, and some church holidays, like Easter, were not occurring in the proper seasons. In October 1582, Pope Gregory issued a papal bull (declaration) implementing a correction of the Julian calendar in which 10 days were dropped from October that year and the method of calculating leap years was changed in such a way as to prevent calendar drift. Additionally, January 1 was made the first day of the new year. The Gregorian calendar is the calendar we use today.

The change to the Gregorian calendar was adopted immediately by Catholic countries. But Protestant countries (including England and its colonies), which did not recognize the authority of the Pope continued using the Julian calendar. Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, France, Portugal, Luxembourg, Poland, and Lithuania adopted Pope Gregory’s new calendar that year. Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Hungary, and Prussia followed suit within fifty years. But England had split from the Catholic Church only 50 years before Pope Gregory’s declaration and was determined not to bow to the Catholic rule; England held out for almost two centuries.  (Some countries held out longer than England: Russia adopted it in 1918 and Greece adopted in 1922.)

Climbing My Family Tree: Lunario Novo, Secondo la Nuova Riforma della Correttione del l'Anno Riformato da N.S. Gregorio XIII, printed in Rome by Vincenzo Accolti in 1582, one of the first printed editions of the new calendar. Public Domain
Lunario Novo, Secondo la Nuova Riforma della Correttione del l'Anno Riformato da N.S. Gregorio XIII, printed in Rome by Vincenzo Accolti in 1582, one of the first printed editions of the new calendar. Public Domain

So between 1582 and 1752, there were two calendars in use in Europe and Great Britain, and their respective colonies. Moreover, because the Gregorian calendar was used in significant portions of Europe, those people in Great Britain and its colonies who were aware of the difference in calendars took to dating their documents with both dates between January 1 (the new New Year’s Day) and March 25 (the old New Year’s Day) to avoid misinterpretation, in a system known as “double dating”. The dates were usually indicated as February 14, 1650/1 or February 14, 1650-51. The first few times I saw dates like that on documents, before I was aware of this issue, I thought that the recordkeepers weren’t sure what year the thing had occurred and were giving approximate dates, not that they were being careful to clarify exactly when something occurred under two different legal calendar systems. As you might imagine, this caused difficulty for people who had business with other countries, and they put pressure on the English government to change to the Gregorian calendar.

Finally, Philip Stanhope, the Earl of Chesterfield, on 25 February 1750/1, introduced into the House of Lords an “Act for Regulating the Commencement of the Year and for Correcting the Calendars Now in Use”. The bill passed through Parliament and was signed by George II in May 1851. By this time, the calendar drift had grown to 11 days, and the bill provided that Wednesday, September 2, 1752, was to be followed by Thursday, September 14, 1752, and for New Year’s Day to move from March 25 to January 1 as was already the case in Scotland. In England and Wales, the legal year 1751 was a short year of 282 days, running from March 25 to December 31. 1752 began on January 1. Because 11 days were eliminated from September, the year 1752 was also a short year (355 days). (If anyone ever tries to tell you that something occurred on September 10, 1752, now you know that they are trying to con you as that date did not exist!}

Climbing My Family Tree: Page for September, in a 1752 Almanac
Page for September, in a 1752 Almanac 

In telling family history stories, it becomes necessary to know when the country I’m looking at converted to the Gregorian calendar and whether I must convert dates between the Julian calendar and the Gregorian calendar to figure out the ages of ancestors or just to make a story clear. If you are related to me or have worked with me, you know my math skills are not optimal. Fortunately, I don’t have to do that. I am eternally grateful to Stephen P Morse of San Francisco who has put a One-Step Julian to Gregorian Conversion Calculator on the Internet. The same page also has a section where you can enter a specific country from a drop-down list and be given the date they changed from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. (I have used his other webpages for years; he’s got a lot of very helpful one-step calculators and search tools. To explore them, click on the “my other webpages” button at the top of the calendar conversion page I linked above.)

One warning for family historians researching in early North America before I turn to the Quaker calendar. We need to be aware that certain groups in the early colonies of North America had already adopted the Gregorian Calendar before 1752, even in British controlled territory, and were using it in their civic and church records. The Dutch settlers along the Hudson River in New York and northern New Jersey were already using the Gregorian Calendar when they first came to America in the 1620s since most of Holland had been using the Gregorian calendar since 1583, and after 1660, when the English took over the Dutch colonies, the Dutch people were allowed to stay and keep their way of life. Civil and church recorders of the Dutch towns continued the use of the Gregorian Calendar, even though the British governed their settlements and had not adopted the Gregorian Calendar yet. In addition, Palatine German settlements, and some German Lutherans also used the Gregorian calendar as it had been in use in their home countries before they moved to the North American continent. Also, any French, Spanish, or Portuguese colony or settlement would have been using the Gregorian calendar from approximately 1582.

Climbing My Family Tree: Epistle sent by the London Yearly Meeting for Sufferings in 1751
Epistle sent by the London Yearly Meeting for Sufferings in 1751
Now to the Quakers! Quaker dates can be confusing because the Quakers use numbers in their dating system and not month names, and because there was no official day on which every Quaker switched to the Gregorian calendar. The Quakers used a numbering system because they objected to the names of the months and the names of the days of the week in the English calendar because they were based on pagan gods. For them, Sunday was First Day, Monday was Second Day, Tuesday was Third Day, Wednesday was Fourth Day, Thursday was Fifth Day, Friday was Sixth Day, and Saturday was Seventh Day. Until 1752 they had no problem with September through December as month names, because those names were derived from numbers, but after 1752 all months were referred to by Quakers by their number.  They sometimes used Roman numerals for this (i -xii) and sometimes used Arabic numerals (1-12).

In recording dates, in early meeting records the Quakers usually wrote the dates in year, month, day order, or 1687, 9th mo. [or ix], 28th day. After they made the change to the Gregorian calendar, they generally recorded dates in day, month, year order, or 28, 9th mo. [or ix], 1780.

Since the Quakers use a numbering system for their dates, I had to know which calendar they were using in order to know to which month they were actually referring, which sometimes meant reading quite a bit of the document in order to try to figure out from other dated events which calendar was in use.  Pre-1752, First Month was March, Second Month was April, Third Month was May, Fourth Month was June, Fifth Month was July, Sixth Month was August, Seventh Month was September, Eighth Month was October, Ninth Month was November, Tenth Month was December, Eleventh Month was January, and Twelfth Month was February. Starting in 1752, First Month refers to January, Second Month refers to February, Third Month refers to March, and so on. Fortunately, Rebecca Borden has done a handy chart for converting Quaker months to English months before and after 1752 (Julian & Gregorian calendars) and put it both on her own blog and as a post for the blog: Quaker Calendars and Dates: In Just Two Days, Tomorrow Will Be Yesterday. I printed it off and have used it so much in researching this branch of my tree!

In the course of writing my upcoming blog posts, where it is relevant, I will use the converted dates and put the dates as they are written in the original record in brackets immediately afterward, in an effort to make sure the story is clear and to reflect the original record.

Thanks for hanging in with me throughout this explanation. I hope you found it as interesting as I have (but not as frustrating).

------ ; ; ; ;  ;  ; ; ; ; ;

Monday, December 30, 2019

It's Alive!

Climbing My Family Tree: It's Alive!


As you may have noticed, I took an unplanned year-long break from blogging this year.  During my blogging absence, I dealt with some physical and mental health things, some stressful career (day job) stuff, and some stressful church board and committee stuff, and helped organize my parent’s 60th wedding anniversary party. Now, at the close of the year, I see that taking a year off blogging (however unintended) helped a lot. The 60th anniversary party weekend has been had and was a success. I’m in therapy for the mental health things and although it’s not remotely easy, it’s helping. Additionally, while the physical health things are painful, tiring, and chronic, my doctors and I are looking into possible different treatments and diets, and, the treatment of the mental health things may eventually help the physical health things too. The more proactive treatment of my mental and physical health is also helping with the work stress, too. And, as of January 14, I will be off of the church board and the church finance committee for the first time in four years, which I hope will give me more energy. 

Although I haven’t been blogging, I’ve still been researching my family tree. I’ve been exploring branches on my Mom’s paternal side which has led into an area of history I’d never really studied or read about before, other than a few paragraphs on the formation of Pennsylvania (which my ancestors don’t stay in). So, I’ve been doing a lot of reading trying to learn it well enough to explain it and our family’s place in it, and I got stuck in an attack of perfectionism and anxiety regarding getting it right when writing it up which contributed to no actual writing getting done. Then recently, I saw a quote from Dr. Jenn Hardy that broke the freeze, “It doesn’t have to be perfect for it to be finished.” I’m trying to learn to embrace the concept of “good enough” and just write. So, I will be blogging again next year.  However, I’m not going to make any resolutions on how many posts per week or per month as I don’t want to put any deadline pressure on myself this year. 

I’ve reviewed the branches I’ve been researching and I think I’ll be writing posts on eight or nine of people in these branches before moving on to do further research on Mom’s maternal side. But, unlike most family history stories this one doesn’t want to be told going back a generation at a time. It wants to be told from the top down to join the parts I’ve already written (it makes the social history parts easier to write).  Accordingly, I had to get back to a person who felt like a beginning, and I’m now there. I’ll be starting in January with my 9th great-grandfather, George Harlan, who emigrated to this continent about one hundred years before the U.S. Constitution was ratified. It's outlined, but not written yet, so it will likely go up after next weekend. 

But first I’m going to do a post (hopefully to go up on New Year’s Day) explaining some important (and interesting!) things about the change in the calendar before and after 1752, and in particular in the Quaker calendar, because it will help to understand this as we go through the next several posts and, rather than having to explain it each time it’s relevant, this way I’ll explain it once and just link to this post in later posts, where you can read it again if you need to.

May your 2020 be a better year than your 2019 was!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Remembering the Women Who Voted First (November 2, 1920)

Climbing My Family Tree: Sample Ballot for November 2, 1920 printed in the Youngstown  Ohio Vindicator on November 1, 1920
Sample Ballot for November 2, 1920
printed in the Youngstown  Ohio Vindicator on November 1, 1920
Click to make bigger

I knew that white women first got the right to vote, across the U.S.A., in 1920. But then, maybe because of the genealogy, I got to wondering what that meant in my family. Who were the first women in my family who could vote?

So I checked (click on their names to be taken to their life story posts).

In Lapeer and Sanilac counties, Michigan, Election Day 1920 dawned cold and clear, but with the threat of the first snowstorm of the year. According to local newspapers, in the morning hours to noon, women showed up to vote in double the numbers of the men.

On my Dad’s side, three generations of women were alive and eligible to vote for the first time.  I was astonished to realize that my grandma was one of them. The others died before I was born and I didn’t know them.

On Election Day, November 2, 1920, the first election in which women could legally vote nationwide:

My grandma, Anna Bennett Henn was 22 (1898-1977). She lived at home with her parents in Maple Valley, Michigan.

My great-grandma, Anna Gregor Bennett was 62 (1858-1928). She lived in Maple Valley, Michigan with her husband and four of their seven children: William (31), Anna (22), Margaret (20) and Thomas (14).

My great-grandma, Myrtie Wilcox Henn was 40 (1879-1953). She had eight children and lived in Burnside, Michigan with her husband.

My 2nd-great-grandma, Mary Jane Currier Wilcox was 77 (1843-1937). She lived in Brown City, Michigan, with her husband and her 17-year-old grandson.

My 2nd-great-grandma, Elizabeth O’Brien Henn was 67 (1853-1927). She was a widow and lived in Burnside, Michigan, with her son Floyd's family. 

Climbing My Family Tree: Stamp Commemorating the 19th Amendment
Stamp Commemorating the 19th Amendment

In Hancock County, Ohio, Election Day 1920 was cold and very rainy. Despite this, women were lined up outside the polls in many cities in Ohio at the start of the day for the opportunity to vote for the first time. According to Ohio newspaper accounts, women were asked to vote between 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM in many localities (some limited them to 9:00 AM to noon) so as to not tie up the polls when the men were getting off work and coming to vote. In Ohio, the total number of women voters outnumbered the total of men voters in many precincts on that day.

On my Mom’s side, only two generations of women were alive to witness the first time women were allowed to vote.

On Election Day, November 2, 1920:

My great-grandma, Fanny Hartman Hart Erwin was 48 (1872-1954). She was working as a live-in housekeeper for a man and his father in Pleasant, Ohio. Her two youngest daughters, one of whom was my grandmother, lived in the household with her and were listed as boarders on the census.  My grandmother, Mabel Erwin Snyder, was 10 on Election Day, which was too young to vote but she witnessed history being made. 

My great-grandma, Pearl Pauline Bailey Snyder was 29 (1891-1978). She lived with her husband and five children in Findlay, Ohio.

Warren Harding (Pres.) and Calvin Coolidge (VP) won that presidential election.

It’s hard to believe that I knew two women who saw that day. I have honored the memory of those women who fought for my right to vote by voting in every election since I first became eligible to vote.

This Tuesday, November 6, 2018, go 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Mary Towne Easty (1634-1692) – Hanged at Salem in the Witch Hysteria

Climbing My Family Tree: Salem Witch Hanging
Salem Witch Hanging Engraving
Click to make bigger

When I was researching for the post on Joshua Currey, I came across a mention in a biographical article on one of his sons' wife’s brothers that said that one of the reasons that there were so many lawyers in the Estey family was because of the injustice done to his great-grandmother at Salem. …I did a double take, “Wait! Salem?!” So, of course, I had to do more research to see if that implied connection was accurate. It is! I’ve found the first ancestor I have actually read about in a history book prior to finding out I was related to her!

Mary Towne Easty (a/k/a Eastey/Esty/Estey/Eastick/Estie – consistent spelling was not important in earlier centuries) is one of my eighth great-grandmothers on my father‘s side. Hers is a tragic story, but very interesting.

She was born in Yarmouth, Norfolk, England to William Towne and Joanna Blessing Towne and was baptized on August 24, 1634. William Towne and Joanna Blessing were married on March 25, 1620, at the church of St. Nicholas in Yarmouth, England; Mary was the sixth of eight children and the last one born in England. William and Joanna’s children were Rebecca (1621-1692; m. Francis Nurse), John (1625-bef.1672, Susannah (1625 – bef. 1672), Edmund (1628-?; m. Mary Browning), Jacob (1632- ?), Mary (1634-1692; m. Isaac Easty), Sarah (abt. 1638 – abt. 1704; m1. Edmund Bridges, m2. Peter Cloyce) and Joseph (1639 - ?; m. Phoebe Perkins).

William and Joanna Towne came to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, with their children, sometime between the years 1634, when Mary was baptized in England, and 1638 when their youngest daughter was born in Massachusetts. In 1640, William is on record in the town book of Salem as being granted "a little neck of Land right over against his house on the other side of the river." They first lived in Salem Village, and then in 1651, they moved to Topsfield, where William purchased land. Mary was 17 years old. They were considered a respectable family, with Goodman William Towne described as “a man of character, substance and social position.”

In 1656, Mary Towne (22) married Isaac Easty (29), a farmer and cooper (barrel maker) from Salem Village. He was born on 17 November 1627, in Freston, Suffolk, England and had come to Salem in 1636 with his parents when he was nine years old.  Isaac and Mary had nine children: Isaac (1656-1714, m. Abigail Kimball, my seventh great-grandparents), Joseph (1657-?), Sarah (1660-?, m. Moses Gill), John (1662-?), Hannah (1667-1741; m. George Abbott), Benjamin (1669-?), Samuel 1672-?), Jacob 1674-?), Joshua (1678-bef. 1718; m. Abigail ?).

Isaac and Mary moved to Topsfield somewhere around 1660, and in 1661, he was one of the commoners appointed to share in the Topsfield common lands on the south side of the Ipswich River. Isaac was one of the selectmen of the town in 1680, 1682, 1686 and 1688. He was also selected to serve on juries in 1681, 1684 and 1685. The local church register for 1684 shows that Isaac Estey, wife, and family, were members in full communion.

In 1670, Mary Easty’s mother, Joanna Towne, was suddenly accused of witchcraft by the Gould family after she angered them when she twice testified on behalf of a Topsfield minister, Rev. Thomas Gilbert, who had been brought to court after accusations by Gould family on a charge of intemperance. She was never tried in court, but the family spread rumors that she was a witch. According to Rebecca Brooks, writing for the History of Massachusetts blog in the entry “Mary Easty: the Witch’s Daughter”, the Gould family were close friends with the Putnam family of Salem Village, who later became the most active accusers in the Salem witch trials, and the main accusers against Mary Easty and her sisters.

Climbing My Family Tree: Salem Village Map, 1692
Salem Village Map, 1692
Click to make bigger

There were several years worth of ongoing land disputes between the Putnams and the town of Topsfield, between 1636 and into the 1680s. In 1680, the town of Topsfield appointed a committee to sue for bounds (boundaries) in the Putnams' countersuit. The general court heard the claims of the two parties and decided in favor of Topsfield. Throughout this suit and others that followed, the names of How, Towne, Estey, Baker, and Wildes appear frequently, either as a committee representing Topsfield, or as witnesses before the court, while on the other side the Putnam name appeared. In 1686, Isaac Easty, his son Isaac, and John and Joseph Towne testified in court that they had seen Capt. John Putnam and his sons harvesting trees within the Topsfield boundary and on Topsfield’s men’s properties. The court decided in favor of the Topsfield men which only made the Putnams more bitter. The Putnams were described as "strong-willed men, of high temper and seemingly eager for controversy and even personal conflict", in the article Topsfield in the Witchcraft Delusion (The Historical Collections of the Topsfield Historical Society, 1908, p. 23, 25), and they resented the Townes and Eastys.

In early 1692 the witch hysteria broke out in the fits and accusations of young girls in the community, including Ann Putnam, perhaps caused by boredom, perhaps by illness, perhaps by anxiety, or perhaps something they ate (one theory is that rye grown in Salem may have been contaminated with a type of fungus found in LSD). As noted in Hunting for Witches by Francis Hill, only three of the girls lived with both natural parents, the others were orphaned or semi-orphaned. The girls, like everyone else in the Puritan community, lived in fear of sudden attack from the Indians, of disease, of harsh punishment for minor transgressions, of God’s wrath and eternal damnation. It is not surprising that the girls might be influenced by the resentments, fears, and hatred of their elders, and named as witches those whom their parents and guardians saw as enemies. Given the ongoing land disputes involving the Townes, it is unsurprising now that among the first people accused, in March 1692, were Mary’s sisters, Rebecca Nurse* and Sarah Cloyce; they were jailed within a month of being accused. During the witch hunt at least one Putnam family member signed 15 of the 21 recorded complaints that survive. Approximately 150 people were accused of witchcraft in all.

Throughout April 1692, 21 people were charged with witchcraft, and every complaint was signed by a Putnam, either Thomas or John. One of those so accused, Mary Towne Easty, was my eighth great-grandmother, who had been known as a pious and respectable woman. Mary Easty was likely also a victim of the resentment carried by the Putnams as a result of the boundary disputes in which a number of her Towne and Easty family members were involved. There may also have been resentment against the family because her husband was a large landowner and farmer, and was town selectmen for at least four years. It also did not help that she was known to be related to too many accused witches, between her mother and her sisters, for there not to be suspicion cast on her.

Mary Easty was arrested on April 21, 1692, and examined by magistrates John Hawthorne and Jonathan Corwin on the next day.

Climbing My Family Tree: Notes of Examination of Mary Towne Easty, 1692
Notes of Examination of Mary Towne Easty, 1692
Click to make bigger

Transcription of the examination notes, in the picture above. Portions in brackets are my additions, for clarity:

The Examination of Mary Eastie.

At a Court held at Salem village 22. Apr. 1692

By the Wop. [Worshipful] John Hathorne & Jonathan Corwin.

At the bringing in of the accused severall fell into fits.

[Magistrate to girls] Doth this woman hurt you?

Many mouths were stopt, & several other fits seized them

Abig [Abigail] Williams said it was Goody Eastie, & she had hurt her, the
like said Mary Walcot, & Ann Putman, John Indian said her saw her
with Goody Hobbs.

[Magistrate to Mary Easty] What do you say, are you guilty?

[Mary Easty] I can say before Christ Jesus, I am free.

[Magistrate] You see these accuse you.

There is a God --

[Magistrate to girls] Hath she brought the book to you?

Their mouths were stopt.

[Magistrate to Mary Easty]: What have you done to these children?

[Mary Easty]: I know nothing.

[Magistrate] How can you say you know nothing, when you see these tormented, & accuse you that you know nothing?

[Mary Easty] Would you have me accuse my self?

[Magistrate] Yes if you be guilty. How far have you complyed w'th Satan whereby he takes this
advantage ag't you?

[Mary Easty] Sir, I never complyed but prayed against him all my dayes, I have no complyance with Satan, in this. What would you have me do?

[Magistrate] Confess if you be guilty.

[Mary Easty] I will say it, if it was my last time, I am clear of this sin.

[Magistrate] Of what sin?

[Mary Easty] Of witchcraft.

[Magistrate to girls] Are you certain this is the woman?

They made signes but could not speak, By and by Ann Putman said that was the woman, it was like her and she told me her name.

[Magistrate to Mary Easty] It is marvailous to me that you should sometimes think  they are bewitcht, & sometimes not, when severall confess that they have been guilty of bewitching them.

[Mary Easty] Well Sir would you have me confess that that I never knew?

Her {Mary’s] hands were clincht together, & then the hands of Mercy Lewis was clincht

Look now your hands are open, her hands are open.

[Magistrate to girls] Is this the woman?

They made signes but could not speak, but Ann Putman. Afterwards Betty Hubbard cryed out Oh. Goody Easty, Goody Easty you are the woman, you are the woman. Put up her head, for while her head is bowed the necks of these are broken.

[Magistrate to Mary Easty] What do you say to this?

[Mary Easty] Why God will know.

[Magistrate to Mary Easty] Nay God knows now.

[Mary Easty] I know He dos.

[Magistrate to Mary Easty] What did you think of the actions of others before your sisters came out, did you think it was Witchcraft?

[Mary Easty] I cannot tell.

[Magistrate] Why do you not think it is Witchcraft?

[Mary Easty] It is an evil spirit, but wither it be witchcraft I do not know.

Severall said she brought them the Book & then they fell into fits.

After examination, Mary was taken back to the Salem jail. It was very overcrowded in the jail and the conditions were terrible enough that four persons held in the jail, on witchcraft charges, died there. On May 18, Mary was released for reasons not recorded in the surviving records. However, one of her accusers, Mercy Lewis, continued to accuse Mary of sending her specter to torment her, and experienced extreme fits for a full day, claiming that Mary’s specter was threatening to kill her by midnight for her testimony.  As a result, Mary was arrested again only 48 hours after she had been released based on a complaint made against her on May 20 by John Putnam, Jr. and Benjamin Hutchinson, on behalf of Mercy Lewis, Abigail Williams, and Mary Walcott. However, Mercy Lewis continued to have fits and severe convulsions all night, until the Salem magistrates were informed of the situation, and put Mary in irons, at which point the girl’s fits subsided.  There is no remaining record of the examination pursuant to this arrest, but Mary Easty was indicted on two charges of witchcraft and first taken to the jail in Ipswich, then later moved to the jail in Boston.

The newly appointed Governor Phipps acted to try to control the hysteria by creating the Court of Oyer and Terminar (hear and determine) solely to hear witchcraft cases and appointing nine judges under a chief judge, the lieutenant governor. The Court of Oyer and Terminar allowed some weird evidence which we would never consider probative evidence today to be considered: the “touching test” (when the accused witches touched a girl during one of her fits and if the girl’s convulsions or fits stopped, then the accused was ruled guilty of witchcraft}; spectral evidence (testimony that a specter of the accused witches physically or mentally tormented the girls who were afflicted) and if one of the girls stated that the accused’s spirit was tormenting them, the court ruled the accused witch guilty of witchcraft; witch marks (the people of Salem believed the devil would find a teat, or mole, upon the accused body, and would suck the teat and leave blue and red marks on their body). Additionally, gossip, stories, and hearsay were treated as persuasive evidence. There was no presumption of innocence.

Climbing My Family Tree: The Wonders of the Invisible World by Cotton Mather, 1693
The Wonders of the Invisible World by Cotton Mather, 1693
Click to make bigger

The jury in Mary’s sister Rebecca Nurse* case initially found her not guilty at trial, but when the girls heard the verdict they went into such fits, the jury was sent back to reconsider their decision, and then they convicted her. Rebecca was hanged in July 1692, along with four others similarly convicted.

Mary and Sarah were still being held in jail when their sister Rebecca was executed. Their families visited them regularly, even though the trip from Salem to Boston took more than half a day on horseback, and provided much support, but it had to be a terrifying time for the women, and for the families who had to know that the association with the women might also place them under suspicion. Prior to her trial, Mary Easty and  her sister Sarah Cloyce jointly filed a petition, because they were “neither able to plead our owne cause, nor is councell allowed.” In the petition, they asked the magistrates to act as their legal counsel; requested that certain witnesses who had known them longest and best be called to speak on their behalf; and asked that spectral evidence not be allowed in the trials as it was not legal evidence, saying “…that the Testimony of witches, or such as are afflicted, as is supposed, by witches may not be improved to condemn us, without other Legal evidence concurring, we hope the Honoured Court & Jury will be soe tender of the lives of such, as we are who have for many years Lived under the unblemished reputation of Christianity, as not to condemne them without a fayre and equall hearing of what may be sayd for us, as well as against us.” The petition did not help much. Mary Eastey was tried on September 9, 1692. It is not known why Sarah was not scheduled for trial at that time.

The testimony against Mary was mostly stories from the girls about being afflicted by her specter and testimony from the girls’ relatives, such as Edward Putnam, describing how the girls appeared to be afflicted. Other people testified as well about interactions with Mary that they attributed to witchcraft, as is shown by this deposition of Samuel Smith below.

Climbing My Family Tree: Trial Deposition of Samuel Smith, Trial of Mary Easty, 1692
Trial Deposition of Samuel Smith,
Trial of Mary Easty, 1692
Click to make bigger.

Transcription of deposition of Samuel Smith, who testified at Mary Easty’s trial to this incident:

The deposistion of Samuell Smith of Boxford about 25 yers who testifieth and saith that about five years sence I was one night att the house of Isaac Estick sen'r. of Topsfeild and I was as farr as I know to Rude in discorse and the above said Esticks wife said to me I would not have you be so rude in discorse for I might Rue it hereafter and as I was agoeing whom that night about a quarter of a mille from the said Esticks house by a stone wall I Received a little blow on my shoulder with I know not what and the stone wall rattleed very much which affrighted me my horse also was affrighted very much but I cannot give the reson of it.

Before her trial, Mary Easty was subject to another humiliation, in that a delegation of men and women from the town searched her nude body for a “witch mark” or “devil’s teat”, and purported to find one. Several people also had the courage to speak up on her behalf, such as John and Mary Arnold, and Thomas and Elizabeth Fosse, who submitted depositions and testified to how well behaved Mary Easty was when in jail. At the end of her trial, she was condemned to death by hanging.

Before her execution, Mary Easty wrote another petition, which has been described: as ”one of the most moving historical documents to survive from the witch-hunt” by Francis Hill in Hunting for Witches; and in the book Puritans in America by  Andrew Delbanco, it states Hers is an expression of submission without servility. It is a statement of one person’s faith that New England can still be saved from itself.

Climbing My Family Tree: Mary Easty's Post-conviction Petition, 1692,  front
Mary Easty's Post-conviction Petition, 1692,  front
Click to Make Bigger

Climbing My Family Tree: Mary Easty's Post-conviction Petition, 1692,  back
Mary Easty's Post-conviction Petition, 1692,  back
Click to make bigger

Transcription of Mary's post-conviction petition, pictured above:

“The humbl petition of mary Eastick unto his Excellency's S'r W'm Phipps to the honour'd Judge and Bench now Sitting in Judicature in Salem and the Reverend ministers humbly sheweth

That whereas your poor and humble petitioner being condemned to die Doe humbly begg of you to take it into your Judicious and pious considerations that your Poor and humble petitioner knowing my own Innocencye Blised be the Lord for it and seeing plainly the wiles and subtility of my accusers by my Selfe can not but Judge charitably of others that are going the same way of my selfe if the Lord stepps not mightily in. i was confined a whole month upon the same account that I am condemned now for and then cleared by the afflicted persons as some of your honours know and in two dayes time I was cryed out upon by them and have been confined and now am condemned to die the Lord above knows my Innocence then and Likewise does now as att the great day will be know to men and Angells -- I Petition to your honours not for my own life for I know I must die and my appointed time is sett but the Lord he knowes it is that if it be possible no more Innocent blood may be shed which undoubtidly cannot be Avoyded In the way and course you goe in. I question not but your honours does to the uttmost of your Powers in the discovery and detecting of witchcraft and witches and would not be gulty of Innocent blood for the world but by my own Innocency I know you are in this great work if it be his blessed you that no more Innocent blood be shed  I would humbly begg of you that your honors would be plesed to examine theis Afflicted Persons strictly and keep them apart some time and Likewise to try some of these confesing wichis I being confident there is severall of them has belyed themselves and others as will appeare if not in this wor[l]d I am sure in the world to come whither I am now agoing and I Question not but youle see and alteration of thes things they my selfe and others having made a League with the Divel we cannot confesse I know and the Lord knowes as will shortly appeare they belye me and so I Question not but they doe others the Lord above who is the Searcher of all hearts knows that as I shall answer att the Tribunall seat that I know not the least thinge of witchcraft therfore I cannot I dare not belye my own soule I beg your honers not to deny this my humble petition from a poor dying Innocent person and I Question not but the Lord will give a blesing to yor endevers.”

On September 22, 1692, Mary Easty and five others were hanged, one at a time, on a small hill near Calais Hill. Robert Calef, the author of More Wonders of the Invisible World, described her last moments: “Mary Easty, sister also to Rebecca Nurse, when she took her last farewell of her husband, children and friends, was, as is reported by them present, as serious, religious, distinct and affectionate as could well be exprest, drawing tears from the eyes of almost all present.”

Climbing My Family Tree: More Wonders of the Invisible World, by Robert Calef, 1823
More Wonders of the Invisible World, by Robert Calef,  1823
Click to make bigger

It is not known where she is buried, although some believe that she was buried in an unmarked grave somewhere at the execution site.

It is possible that Mary’s petition had some effect on the minds of the leaders of the state as these were the last hangings of the witch trials. The last of the witch trials was on December 6, 1692, and by that time spectral evidence was no longer allowed. Only three people were convicted, and the governor granted reprieves so they were not hanged.  Mary’s younger sister, Sarah Cloyce, was set free in January 1693 after her jail and court expenses were paid, when the grand jury in her case returned a verdict of “ignoramus,” or “I don’t know,” on each charge. The family quickly paid the bills and Sarah’s husband moved their family to Boston, away from her accusers.

After January 1693, no more accused witches were found guilty at trial.  In May 1893 Gov. Phipps ordered all still held (150 people) released.  On January 14, 1697, the General Court ordered a day of fasting and soul-searching for the tragedy of Salem. In 1702, the court declared the trials unlawful.

Mary’s husband, Isaac Easty, continued to fight for the restoration of Mary’s good name throughout the rest of his life. It took almost twenty years and several petitions to the legislature.  In 1710, a committee was designated and met at Salem to consider the requests.  Six Women of Salem, by Marilynne K. Roach,  explained (and quoted from), that the committee reviewed a petition by Isaac Esty, age “about 82 years” who wrote of caring for his jailed wife Mary, saying that before her execution “my wife was near upon 5 months imprisoned all which time I provided maintenance for her at my own cost & charge, went constantly twice a week to provide for her what she needed.” Three of those weeks she was imprisoned in Boston “& I was constrained to be at the charge of transporting her to & fro.” He estimated his expenses “in time & money” worth 20 pounds sterling “besides my trouble & sorrow of heart in being deprived of her after such a manner which this world can never make me any compensation for.”

On Oct 17, 1711, the colony passed a bill restoring the rights and good names of some of those accused, stating that, “the several convictions, judgments, and attainders be, and hereby are, reversed, and declared to be null and void,” listing 22 people to whom it applied, including Mary Esty.  Further, on Dec 17, 1711, Governor Dudley issued a warrant awarding Isaac 20 pounds sterling in compensation for the injustice of the 1692 verdict against Mary (equivalent to rent for a farm for a year in 1710 Massachusetts).

Isaac died about six months later on 11 June 1712, in Topsfield, Massachusetts.

It was not until 1957—more than 250 years later—that Massachusetts formally apologized for the events of 1692.

Our line of descent is as follows:

Isaac Estey, sr – Mary Towne
Isaac Estey, jr -  Abigail Kimball
Richard Estey - Ruth Fisk
Zebulon Estey – Mary (Molly) Brown
David Currey, Sr – Dorothy Estey
George Currier – Eunice Phoebe Curry
George Butler Wilcox – Mary Jane Currier
Owen James Henn – Myrtle Wilcox
Owen Carl Henn – Anna Bennett
My parents
Me & my siblings

*Although I’m not going into detail as regards to the charges against, examination, and trial of Rebecca Nurse, or her execution, I note that Rebecca Nurse is the most famous of the three sisters and there are many books and articles written on her ordeal, including the play The Crucible by Arthur Miller. Additionally, her home survives as a Museum in Danvers, Massachusetts.

“England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," database, FamilySearch; Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Boston and Eastern Massachusetts, edited by William Richard Cutter, Vol 1 (1907),  Vol. 2 (1908) and Vol. 3 (1908); A Brief and True Narrative of Some Remarkable Passages Relating to Sundry Persons Afflicted by Witchcraft, at Salem Village: Which happened from the Nineteenth of March, to the Fifth of April, 1692 by Deodat Lawson; (1692);  “Mary Easty: the Witch’s daughter” by Rebecca Brooks, the History of Massachusetts’ blog, ; An American Family History blog, New England Families section, multiple pages, ; ; Currents of Malice: Mary Towne Eastey and Her Family in Salem Witchcraft by Persis MacMillen (P.E. Randall 1990); The Historical Collections of the Topsfield Historical Society, Vol. 14, Topsfield Historical Society, 1895 & Vol. 5 1899 & Vol 13 (1908); The Salem Witchcraft Papers, Verbatim Transcriptions of the Court Records In three volumes. Edited by Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum (Da Capo Press: New York, 1977.) Digital Edition, partially revised, corrected, and augmented by Benjamin C. Ray and Tara S. Wood, 2011,, Mary Towne Esty Executed, September 22, 1692, ; Hunting for Witches, by Frances Hill (Commonwealth Editions, an imprint of Applewood Books Inc., Carlisle Massachusetts, 2002); Six Women of Salem, by Marilynne K. Roach  (MJF Books, New York. 2013.) The Wicked Court of Oyer and Terminar, ; More Wonder of the Invisible World by Robert Calef, (printed in London 1700; reprinted in Salem by Cushing and Appleton 1823); The Puritans in America: a Narrative Anthology, by Andrew Delbanco (Harvard University Press. 2009);