Saturday, May 24, 2014

52 Ancestors #22 - Sarah (Averill) Wildes

Sarah (Averill) Wildes is my 8th great-grandmother and she was accused, convicted, and hanged as a witch during the Salem Witch Trials. Some of the testimony involved old accusations by Mary (Gould) Reddington. Mary (Gould) Reddington's sister, Frances, is another of my 8th great-grandmothers. Sarah had been in trouble a few times before Mary brought her accusations. In November 1649, Sarah was sentenced to be whipped for fornication with Thomas Wordell and in May 1663, she was charged with wearing a silk scarf (see A Colonial Dress Code for further information about this colonial law). John Wildes had also testified against his first wife's brother in a treason trial. 

"I John Hale of Beverly aged 56 years beeing sumoned to appeare & give evidence against Sarah Wiles of Topsfeild July 2 1692; Testify that about 15 or 16 yeares agoe came to my house the wife of John Hirrek of Beverly with an aged woeman she said was her mother. Goody Reddington of Topsfeild come to me for counsel beeing in trouble of spirit. When the said Reddington opened her greifs to me thir was one that she was assaulted by witchcraft that Goody wiles her neighb'r bewitched her & afflicted her many times greiviously, telling me many particular storys how & when she troubled her, w'ch I have forgotten. She said allso that a son in law of said Wiles did come & visit her (shee called him an honest young man named John as I take it) & did pitty her the said Reddington, signifying to her that he beleived his mother wiles was a witch & told her storys of his mother. I allso understood by them, that this Goody Wiles was mother in law to a youth named as I take it Jonathan Wiles who about twenty yeares agoe or more did act very strangly Insomuch that I was invited to joyn with Mr. Cobbet & others at Ipswich & pray for the said Youth; whome some thought to counterfeit, others to be possessed by the devill. But I remember Mr Cobbet thought he was under Obsession of the devil. Goody Reddingtons discourse hath caused me to have farther thoughts of the said Youths case whether he were not bewitched." Apparently if a step-son acts strange, then it must be because his step-mother is a witch. 

Mary Reddington was the sister of John Wildes' first wife, Priscilla, so one could guess that might have played a part in her feelings toward John Wildes' second wife, Sarah. Mary's daughter, also named Mary, was the wife of John Herrick. John Herrick is my 9th great-grand-uncle.

It is interesting to me that Mary (Gould) Reddington died soon after these accusations and that fifteen or sixteen years later, her claims could be used against Sarah (Averill) Wildes. Mary's brother, John Gould also was allowed to give his account as evidence. Today these accusations would be considered hearsay and also deprive the accused of her ability to confront witnesses against her to call into question their motives and credibility.

John Gould's testimony:
"The Depotion [sic] of John Gould aged about 56 yeares or theire about Testifieth and saith that some time sence whether it be fivfteen or sixteene yeares agoe I am not sarting [sic: certain] but I take  it to be theire abouts sister Mary Redington tould mee as she was Coming from Salam With her Brother Redington that GoodWife Wilds did strive two or three times to pul her doune of her horse one time she did strive to pul her doune in a brook and soone after she was got out of the brooke she strenke she Could and did git out of the brook and soone after she was got out of the brooke she said that GoodWife Wilds did pul her doune bakwords of her horse and held her doune so as she Could not helpe her selfe tell her Brother Redington and Sarg't Edmon Townes did Come and helper, and my sister did desier mee to Come and Wright what she Could say how GoodWife Wilds did a flicte her for she would Leafe it in Wrighting so as it might be seene when she was dead and I did goe doune to wright it once or twice but when I was redy to wright it sister was taken so as she Could not declare any thing, ...

When these accusations were first aired in the 1670s, John Wildes threatened to sue John Reddington if he continued to defame Sarah. Sarah was also implicated in by the jailhouse confession of another accused witch, Deliverance Hobbs. Ephraim Wildes was the Constable and he was the one who arrested Deliverance Hobbs on the order of the Marshall, George Herrick. Ephraim testified that he believed Deliverance was making her accusation against his mother in retaliation for the arrest. 

Sarah (Averill) Wildes was hanged on July 19, 1692. She was sixty-five years old. On that day, Elizabeth Howe, Susannah Martin, Sarah Good, and Rebecca Nurse were also hanged. 

John Wildes & Sarah Averill
Ephraim Wildes
Jacob Wildes
Ephraim Wildes
Molly Wildes
Jacob Emmons
Laura E. Emmons
Estes Gilbert Yates
Linona Alice Yates - my maternal grandmother

Frances Gould - sister of Sarah's accuser, Mary (Gould) Reddington

Peter Shumway
Hepsibah Shumway
Sarah Walker
Dr. Timothy Carter
Elias Mellen Carter
Augustus Mellen Carter
Edward Mellen Carter
Thomas Richard Carter - my paternal grandfather

John Herrick - son-in-law of Mary (Gould) Reddington

Zachariah Herrick - brother of John Herrick 
Sarah Herrick
Luke Morgan
Luke Morgan
Samuel Morgan
Martha Morgan
Moses Yates
Gilbert William Yates
Estes Gilbert Yates - see above

Henry Herrick - another brother of John & Zachariah Herrick

Samuel Herrick
Joseph Herrick
Sarah Herrick
John Ellingwood
John Ellingwood, Jr.
Asa Freeman Ellingwood
Nina King Ellingwood
Annie Florilla Gibbs
Fern Lyndell Cotton - my paternal grandmother 

1 comment:


    Hi cousin, Priscilla is my 7th cousin 9 x removed. Rumour has it that Sarah's husband married his third wife Mary Jacobs who was the widow of George Jacobs who had been hanged as a witch about a month after Sarah. I suspect foul play.