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Witches in Haverhill

Did you know that Haverhill can claim to have been the residence of one of New England’s earliest witches?

After coming to Massachuetts from England in 1622 John Godfrey spent much of his time moving around the areas of Newbury, Rowley and Andover, before settling in Haverhill in 1669. But no matter where he lay his head he was known as:

“a quarrelsome, bad-tempered braggart who enjoyed nothing so much as badgering his neighbors with lawsuits or frightening them with allusions to his occult powers”

Not his first time being suspected of being a witch, Godfrey once again was taken to Suffolk Court in 1670 after Haverhill’s first recorded house fire at the thatch-roofed cottage of Mathias Button in 1669, which is near the present site of Gale Park. Apparently Godfrey had been in the house the day before the fire and all assumed that through satanic or other means he had caused it.

 

In the early 20th Century, Alderman Albert LeRoy Bartlett made a discovery:

While looking over some rare manuscripts in the Lenox Library in New York City, Bartlett came across the contemporary manuscript report of the trial of Mary Clark of Haverhill on August 4, 1692 in Salem under Judge Hathorne. No previous Haverhill history had made a record of this trial and there is no account of it in Charles W. Upham’s Salem Witchcraft.

In Albert LeRoy Bartlett’s The Story of Haverhill in Massachusetts he makes mention of “The Haverhill Witchcraft Cases” and goes into great detail about Clark, who had been accused many times of “afflicting” other member of her community:

“But four women north of the Merrimack underwent trial for witchcraft, Susanna Martin of Amesbury, the “Goody Martin” of Whittier’s poem, “The Witch’s Daughter” who was executed July 19, 1692, Mary Clark of whom all that is known or reasonably conjectured is here told, Mary Green, and the venerable Frances Hutchins whose story is told elsewhere.”

Speaking of Mary Green…

In 1954, further details on the Haverhill witches are revealed in a correspondence between librarian Phyllis Pecci and the Bennett Book Studios in New York:

Do the names Mary Wolcott and Ann Putnam look familiar?

Well they should!

 

To see these unique artifacts and learn more about Haverhill’s involvement in the Witch Trials, visit Special Collections on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 12pm and 1pm to 3pm!

Happy Haunting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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