Around New England

Descendant of Accuser of Woman Hanged During Salem Witch Trials Leaves Apology

October 18, 2022

A descendant of an accuser of a woman hanged during the Salem Witch Trials left a note on a memorial stone apologizing.

“So sorry my 8th great uncle Benjamin Abbott accused you and had you hung for witchcraft – all over a property dispute!” said the note, which was reported by The Salem News.

A visitor spotted the unusual note, which was left during the weekend of Saturday, October 8 and Sunday, October 9, according to the newspaper.

Martha Carrier was in her 40s and a newly returned resident of Andover when she was accused of spreading smallpox.

In 1692, the four teen-age girls at the center of the Salem Witch Trials accused Carrier of witchcraft. Several neighbors also testified against her. One was Benjamin Abbott, who said she cursed him over a boundary dispute, “which led to his own illness and the loss of his cattle,” according to the Salem Witch Museum.

Cotton Mather, an influential Congregationalist minister of the era, called Carrier “This Rampant Hag.” Mather was impressed by the testimony of Carrier’s own children against her, “with great Shews of Repentance, and with much Demonstration of Truth,” including details he found “very credible.”

Carrier pleaded not guilty, and never confessed. She was convicted, and hanged on August 19, 1692, along with four men.

A memorial to those who died in the witch trials is on Liberty Street in Salem, near where they were hanged from a tree. The memorial includes a stone with each person’s name. Nineteen were hanged; one man who refused to plead either guilty or not guilty was pressed to death with stones on his chest.

 

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