Monday, March 26, 2012

Literary Connections

Thomas Philbrick testified against his neighbor, Eunice "Goody" Cole (age 36) when she was accused of witchcraft in 1656. The court solicited testimony from two dozen witnesses. Evidence of the occult included strange scrapings on houses, fierce cats appearing and disappearing, and a private conversation that was somehow known to the accused. The charges against her included the death of an infant girl, illness of a man and the destruction of domestic animals. Thomas Philbrick's testimony revolved around a statement by Goody Cole that if his calves ate any of her grass "she wished it might poysen them or choke them." He continued to say that he never saw one of his calves again and "the other calfe came home and died aboute a weeke after." (Dow, History of Hampton)

The year after Thomas Philbrick testified against Goody Cole, his son John, John's wife Ann (Knapp), their daughter Sarah and five others drowned when their sloop sank just outside the harbor as they headed to Boston. The town records state, "The sad hand of God upon eight psons goeing in a vessell by sea from Hampton to boston, who were all swallowed up in the ocean soon after they were out of the Harbour."  Given the superstitious nature of the community, the blame was placed on Goody Cole. This event became the inspiration John Greenleaf Whittier's poem, "The Wreck of the Rivermouth."

In 1680 when she was buried, the men of the town were frightened by her witchcraft conviction so they put a stake through her heart with a horseshoe hanging on the end. This was supposed to prevent the Devil from releasing her spirit to bewitch the community. 

The Rock in the Foreground Marks the Spot Where Poor Old "Goody" Was Reputed to Be Buried,
Impaled With a Stake. The Shack She Lived and Died in Stood About Where the Log Cabin Is.
The Historic Town Hall is Shown in Center Background
Thomas Philbrick & Elizabeth Knapp
James Philbrick & Anna Roberts
James Philbrick & Hannah Perkins
Ebenezer Philbrick & Bethia Marston
Ruth Philbrick & Joshua Rand
Philemon Rand & Sarah Rand
Lazarus Rand & Elizabeth "Betsy" Clark  
Eunice Rand & Timothy Cox
Christiana Cox & John Cotton
Francis Llewellyn Cotton & Lizzie Philbrick
Ray Cotton & Annie Gibbs
Fern Lyndell Cotton

Second Line:
Lydia Rand (d. of Philemon) & John Lunt
Tryphenia Lunt & William Cotton 
John Cotton & Christiana Cox 



  1. Another cousin connection with you, Pam!
    Thomas Philbrick and Elizabeth Knapp
    Elizabeth Philbrick and John Garland
    Peter Garland and Sarah Taylor
    John Garland and Elizabeth Dearborn
    Elizabeth Garland and Richard Locke
    Simon Locke and Abigail Mace
    Richard Locke and Margaret Welch
    Abigail M. Locke and George E. Batchelder
    George E. Batchelder, jr. and Mary Katharine Emerson
    Carrie Maud Batchelder and Joseph Elmer Allen
    Stanley Elmer Allen and Gertrude M. Hitchings (my grandparents)

  2. And I'm a cousin of John Greenleaf Whittier and of you, Pam!

  3. Interesting story. Although buried in a very unnatural way, it appears she died a natural death..?
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)

    1. Yes, it appears she died a natural death. I did find one reference that noted how odd it was that she was imprisoned rather than put to death for witchcraft. She bounced in and out of prison in Boston and back to Hampton over about 30 years. I want to follow up on these and other aspects of the story but only had time to write up the part that involved my ancestor for now.