14 August 2010

My Salem Witch



One of the most incredible events in US history, an almost unbelievable event surrounded by mystery and intrigue and which has been the basis of many theories as to its cause, is the infamous Salem Witch Trials.

Most of us are aware of the story. Some 150 people or so were arrested and many more accused of witchcraft in several Massachusetts towns in the years 1692-1693. Twenty-nine were convicted and nineteen of those were hanged and one crushed to death by stone. Several died in prison awaiting their trial. In fact, 2 dogs were also executed as accomplices to the witches!

The real reason it happened is probably not a simple answer and one that I am not speculating on here in this post. There are countless articles, books, websites, etc on this subject and are a fascinating read and I encourage their study. Here is one link to a website that has some interesting information related to this terrible event: http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/salem/salem.htm
and here is a website that is involved with identifying and preserving the names of those accused and locating the living female descendants of those accused: http://www.adeaw.us/

The subject of this post is my very own Salem Witch ancestor, Sarah Clark(e) Davis Rist/Rice. And, of course, I think that there could be others in my ancestry, which have yet to be identified. Here is a little background on Sarah and her family starting with her first husband George Davis.


George DAVIS was born about 1616 in Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts, United States. He died on 14 Jul 1667 in Reading, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States. He was buried at sea. George married Sarah CLARK  BY 1642 of Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts, United States.

Other marriages:
AUDLEY, Mrs. Edmond 
May have had a first wife named Mary Audley and then married Sarah who he mentions in his will.
George Davis.___ I, George Davis, beinge bound for Cape Feare, doe now dispose my outward estate as followeth, in case I die before I come againe or shall hear after make any other will; being in health, My whole estate, that I leave in New England, I do bestow vppon my wife and Children, and doe make my wife executrix, and my son, Benjamin, executor Joyntly. My estate to be divided into five parts, two parts I give to my wife and my son Benjamine equaly, the other three parts I give to my five daus to be divided equaly, and to be paid vnto them when they come to age, or when they may, as their mother shall Judg best, and their mothers part she has power to dispose it to her she dies to those or to all of my Children, soe it be to my Children, that are most Loving and dutifull unto her. My house and land I do dispose to my wife and my sone Benjamine, provided my daughters have their portions, though it be in other things. To my sone, Joseph, I give all that I have now in the shipp, and that we cary with us to Cape Feare, with the weavers loome; but in Case it does Miscary before it come ther, and he corn agen to new England, my executors out of the whole estate shall pay him ten pound farther, becaus my Daughters, som of them, are young, and to be brought vpp in the feare of God and well educated, is my desire, which I hope my wife will not be wanting in, therfor their portions shalbe responsable for theire bringinge upp and left to the discresion of my wife what to pay them when they come to age, or when she
dies. I have chosen for one overseer of this my last will, my brother, William Clark, of hun, and doe you chuse another whome you think fit, and give them 40s apeece, and trust to their faithfullnes and care for my poor Chilldren. Dec. 7, 1664. GE0RG DAVIS.
Printed from NEHG Register, Volume 16, January 1862, New England Historic Genealogical Society & Broderbund Software, Inc., Banner Blue Division, March 6, 2001

Soon after George Davis's death, certainly before 1672, Sarah was married for a second time, to Nicholas Rist of Reading [Eaton, 109 110). The will of Sarah Rist of Redding, written 20 Sept. 1697, probated 15 May 1698, touching the worldly estate that my former husband George Davis and my son Benjamin Davis gave to me by their last wills for to dispose of, give and devise the same as follows: to grandson Joshua Davis all ye Homestead.... that is ye same that I now dwell in.. with all the lotts, divisions and dividents. . . .thereto belonging, Joshua to pay to my daughters the legacies hereafter mentioned: to daughter Sarah Cole, to daughter Hannah Boutell, to son-in-law Timothy Wylye [mentioned as William Clarke's nephew and son of Thomas Clarke's neighbor], to daughter Mary Damon, to Susannah Richardson. Executor: Joshua Davis, grandson. Witnesses: Benjamin Burnap, Doroas Burnap, Elizabeth Arnold. [Middlesex Co. Prob. 9:399.] This last witness was the orphaned granddaughter of Thomas Clarke of Readingl Elizabeth Arnold was born at Reading 17 June 1079, daughter of William and Elizabeth (Clarke) Arnold; she married in Woburn, 22 Dec. 1699, James Richardson. At the time she signed this will both her parents and both her Clarke grandparents were dead. Was she then living with her next of kin, her grandfather's sister Sarah Rist? On 11 Aug. 1701 Joshua Davis of Boston, Joyner, and wife Rebecca sold to William Bryant of Reading, blacksmith, inter alia, a houselot bounded by land of William Arnold deceased [Thomas Clarke's son in law]; also a meadow bounded by William Eaton and Major Swaine [Thomas Clarke's stepson); also a parcel of meadow and swamp-land whioh lyeth undivided between Nicholas Fist and me Joshua Davis, arain bounded by land of William Arnold deceased. All these lands were located in Reading. Witnesses:  Jeremiah Swayne, Jn0 White, Joshua Eaton. [Middlesex Deeds, 13:12.1 This grantor, Sarah Rist's grandson, Joshua Davis son of Joseph Davis, was born at Reading 29 Jan. 1673, married there 29th May 1697 Rebecca Peirce, daughter of John and Ruth (Bishop) Peirce [TAG, supra, 25:163j. The grantee, William Bryant, blacksmith, of Reading, had married there on 5 May 1701 Rebecca Arnold, Thomas Clarke's granddaughter, born at Reading 6 Dec. 1661, daughter of William and Elizabeth (Clarke) Arnold. The property described was a part of George Davis's estate as a proprietor of Reading, which estate had passed to Joshua Davis by his grandmother's will, and which he thus conveyed to his second cousin's husband, probably because William Bryant had already or was about to come into possession of adjoining lands which had belonged to his grandfather in law, Thomas Clarke. It's all in the family~ George Davis and Sarah Clarke had eight children, the last six recorded at Reading:

i. Benjamin, d. at Reading in October 1679 (probably on 31 Oct. rather than on 13 Oct. as shown in the printed vital records of Reading). During King Philip's War he Was a soldier in Capt. Poole's Company (George M. Bodge, Soldiers in King Philip's War, 1906, 420). The will of Benjamim Davis, dated the 29th of Oct. 1679, proved 6, 8, 1682, gave his whole estateTo his mother Sarah Rice (or Rist), except two acres to his sister Mary Grover to help her bring up her children while she remains a widow. Executors: Goodwife Rice and John Damon, who was also a witness. Inventory of the estate of Benjamin Davis who departed this life the last of October 1679 taken 5, 9th, 1679, by Jeremiah Swayn and Benjamin Fitch, totaled 158.01.00 Including housing, lands, orchard, neadow, swamp and divident, oxen, cows, steer, horse, bridles, saddle, pistols, cutlash and other acooutemts, guns, one pair Sandiliers, joiner's tools and household equipment very evidently the same coproperty enumerated in their father's estate (Middlesex Co. Prod. 5:171.).

ii. Joseph. d. at Reading 28 Jan. 1676; im. Hannah  On  3 Apr.1677 administration on the estate of Joseph Davis was granted to his widow, Hannah Davis. Inventory amounting to about forty pounds included house, homelot and swamp lands (ibid. 3:166; b:259). Six children, born at Reading, one of these was the ubiquitous Joshua Davis who settled his grandmother Rist's estate.

iii. Hannah, b. 31 May 161.8, d. at Woburn in 1719; m. at Lynn 10 May 16o9, John Boutwell, b. there in 161.5, d. at Reading 3 Dec. 1719 aged 71. years, son of James and Alice Boutwell. Nine children, born at Reading.

iv. Sarah, b. 1 Oct. 1651; m. at Salem, 11 June 1670, Abraham Cole, b. ca. 1638, d. autumn 1715, son of Thomas and Ann Cole. Re was a tailor at Salem; eight children born there (Perley, 2:131.).

v. Elizabeth, b. 16 Jan. 1651., d. at Reading 21 July 1695; m. there 22 Jan. 1678, Timothy Wiley, b. there 21. Apr. 1653, d. there 19 Dec. 1777 son of John and Elizabeth Wiley. Four children, born at Reading. He m. (2) in 1696 Susanna  , who probably d. at Reading 31 Aug. 1732 (Eaton, 126).

vi. Mary, b. 16 Jan. 1657/8, d. at Reading 27 Nov. 1727; m. (1) Matthew Grover, who d. in 16W. Two children. She m. (2) Sammiel Damon, b. at Peading 23 June 1656, d. there 12 Jan. 1723/1., son of Dea. John and Abigail
Source: Book area US/CAN 973 D25 aga v.39
DEATH: Actually died at Cape Fear, N.C.
Sarah CLARK was born in 1620. She died on 3 May 1698 in Reading, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States. Sarah married George DAVIS BY 1642 of Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts, United States.

Sarah had a will on 20 Sep 1697 in Reading, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States. Her will was probated on 16 May 1698 in Reading, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States.

Other marriages:
RICE, Nicholas 
Sarah married Nicholas Rist or Rice after the death of her first husband George Davis.

(Warrant for Arrest of Sarah Rice)

To: To the Constables in Reding
You are in theire Majesties names hereby required to apprehend and bring before us Sarah Rice the wife of Nicholas Rice of Reding on Tuesday next being the 31't day of this Instant moneth. at the house of Lt Nathan'l Ingersalls at Salem Village aboute ten of the Clock in the forenoon, who stand charged with haveing Committed. sundry acts of Witchcraft on the Bodys of Mary Walcot and Abigail Williams & others, to theire great hurt: &c in order to her Examination Relateing to the premises aboves'd faile not Dated Salem May 28'th 1692
[fig=BS30719a][/fig] us *John Hathorne [unclear: ] Assis'ts
*Jonathan. Corwin
(Reverse) In obedence to this warant I have brought the Body of Sarah Rice the wife of Nicolas Rice of Redding to the house of Leut nathanal Ingersons in Salem Viledg the: 31 of this Instant May: 1692
Atest *John Parker Constable of Redding
( Essex County Archives, Salem -- Witchcraft Vol. 2 Page 52 )

( George Herrick v. Mary Bradbury , Sarah Rice , Wilmott Reed , and Elizabeth Fosdick )
May 26'th 1692 Beeing at Salem village w'th Constable Josp Neale the persons under written was afflicted much and Complained ag'st viz Mary Walcott Ann Putnam upon Capt Bradberys wife of Salsbury & Mary Walcott Ann Putnam : mrs Marshall upon Goodwife
Rice of Reding & Mary Walcott ann Puttnam Marcy Lewis upon Goodwife Read of Marblehead & Mary Walcott Marcy Lewis Ann Puttnam upon Goody Fosdick the same woemen tells them that shee afflicts mr Tufts Negro
attest *Geo Herrick Marshall
( Essex County Archives, Salem -- Witchcraft Vol. 2. p. 35 )

(Complaint v. Martha Carrier, Elizabeth Fosdick,
Wilmott Reed, Sarah Rice, Elizabeth How, John Alden,
William Proctor, John Flood, Mary Toothaker and
daughter, and Arthur Abbott)
Salem May the 28'th 1692
Joseph Houlton and John Walcot both of Salem village Yeomen made Complaint in behalfe of theire Majes'ts against Martha Carrier  of Andover the wife of Thomas Carrier of s'd Towne husbandman  Elizabeth Fosdick of Maulden or charlstown William Reed of Marble- head the wife of Samull Reed of s'd place Sarah Rice of Reding  the wife of Nicholas Rice of s'd Towne Elizabeth How the wife of  James How of Topsfeild Capt John Alden of Boston Mariner, William  procter of Salem farmes, Capt John flood of Rowley marsh on  boston Mary Toothaker, the wife of Roger toothaker of Belrica,  and Mary Toothaker the daughter of s'd Roger Toothaker Arthur  Abott that lives between Ips. Topsfeild & wenham for sundry acts  of Witchcraft by them and Every one of them Committed on the  Bodys of Mary Walcot, Abigail Williams Marcy Lewis Ann putnam  and Others belonging to Salem Village or farmes Lately, to the hurt  and Injury of theire bodys therefore Craves Justice.
*Joseph houlton
*John Walcutt
Carrier of Andover -- -Marshall Essex
Reed of Marblehead -- Const --
Rice of Reding -- Const -- -
How of Topsfeild -- -Const
Wm procter -- -Const --
( Essex County Archives, Salem )


(Petition of Nicholas Rice)
To the honoured Generall Court now Sitting in Boston
The humble Petition of Nicholas Rist of Reading Sheoweth that whereas Sara Rist wife to the petition'r was taken into Custody the first day of June last and ever Since laine in Boston Goal for witchcraft, tho in all this time Nothing has been made Appear for w'ch shee desur'd Imprisonment or death, the petition'r has been a husband to the Said woman above Tweinty years, in all w'ch time he never had reason to accuse her for any Impietie or witchcraft, but the Contrary Shee lived w'th him as a good Faithfull dutifull wife and alwise had respect #[to the respect] to the ordinances of God while her Strength Remain'd and the petition'r on that Consideration is Obliged in Conscience and Justice #[oblige] to use all lawfull means for the Support and preservation of her life, and it is deplorable that in old age the poor decriped woman should ly under Confinment so long in a Stinching Goal when her Circumstances rather requires a Nurse to Attend her

May it therefore please yo'r hon'rs  to take this matter in to yo'r prudent  Considerations.and derect Some  speedy Methods whereby this ancient  decriped person may not for ever ly  in such Miserie wherein her life is  made more afflictive to her than death,  and the petition'r Shall as in dutie bound  Ever pray
Dated the 19'th october 1692
(Reverse) 1692 The humble petition of Nicholas Rist of Reading
( Mass. Archives Vol. 135 No. 63 )
And here is how it works out for me:
Sarah>Joseph>Joseph>Benjamin>Benjamin>Patten>Lewis>Sarah>
Walstein Tyrrell>Fitz Tyrrell>my Mom>Me

I have yet to contact the above mentioned organization to become a member and have my ancestry noted by them. It is a work in progress.

12 comments:

Rose Reid said...

I found this story really interesting, especially since I am related to Sarah Rist too! Would love to chat with you about our relation. Please email me at reidstreasure@yahoo.com. Thanks!
Rose Reid

Richard Lynch said...

Hiya, according to family history I am related too...

Brian D-L said...

Just found out some of this information about Sarah in the past week. Richard, how did you come by your info?
Here is my/our line back to Sarah:
Sarah >Joseph Davis >Joseph Davis> Benjamin Davis> Benjamin Davis >Benjamin Davis> Nathan Davis> Caroline Elmira Davis > Pearson E. Tooker >Phoebe Lynch

A Devil with Unity said...

Sarah Rist is an ancestor of mine as well. Found the page when researching her for my son's 6th grade presentation.

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I am also a descendant of Sarah and her husband George Davis. BTW, There is no way George Davis was born in MA in 1616. I see this info all over the web and it is patently incorrect. Both he and Sarah were certainly born in England and likely married there. According to his will proved 9/30/1667 they also had a son Benjamin, likely born in England also. All the girls were minors at the time of their father's death at sea in 1667.

Anonymous said...

I am related too, from Sarah's daughter Mary. I tend to agree with "anonymous". I also have other ppl in my tree supposedly born in Lynn at that time...and were not. If you are related to one family, you're likely related to most of the ppl who lived in the area at the time; the families inter-married quite often. Putnam, Boutwell, Emerson,Nurse, Nichols,among others.

S. Valentine said...

It seems that we are all distant cousins. Sarah is my 11th great-grandmother through she and George Davis' son Joseph(wife: Elizabeth Saywell) My research has indicated that Sarah's grandfather, John Clarke, was the First Mate on the Mayflower. I can not find any evidence that she was born in England. I am curious to know where "anonymous got his information. Perhaps I need to look a bit further..

Terry Brennan said...

My line is William, Rees, Ichabod, Nicholas, George, Joseph, Joseph Jr., Joshua, Benjamin, Joseph, Sylvester, George, Orrin, Walter and my mother, Janet. Would love to exchange info with anyone with connected lineage.

Terry Brennan said...

My lineage is William, Rees, Ichabod, Nicholas, George, Joseph, Joseph Jr., Joshua, Benjamin, Joseph, Sylvester, George, Orrin, Walter and my mother, Janet Davis. Would love to exchange info with anyone connected.

Sunday Girl said...

I agree that George was most likely not born in MA, but in England.

I merely transcribed the record as I saw it.

Judy said...

Another "cousin" here. I am descended from Sarah through her son Joseph. To the commenter who questioned why George and Sarah could not be born in Massachusetts, it is because there were no English/European settlements in Massachusetts before 1620. Funny how those earlier family histories sometimes did not take that fact into account when guessing on birth places. Nice to find a bunch of family members here, especially those who claim ancestry from a victim of the famous witch trials.

Patricia Collura said...

Another cousin here, Decendant of daughter Mary Damon. I also live in Massachusetts in the North shore area that includes Salem, Reading and Lynn. Anyone else in this area?