Witchcraft in New Hampshire - 1656

[N.H. Hist. Coll., I., pp.225-227.]

Complaint of Susannah Trimmings, of Little Harbour, Pascataqua.

On the Lord's Day 30th of March, at night, going home with Goodwife Barton, she seperated from her at the freshet next her house. On her return, between Goodman Evan's and Robert Davis' she heard a rustling in the woods, which she at first thought was occasioned by swine, and presently after, there did appear to her a woman whom she apprehended to be old Goodwife Walford. She asked me where my consort was; I answered, I had none. She said, thy consort is at home by this time. Lend me a pound of cotton. I told her I had but two pounds in the house, and I would not spare any to my mother. She said I had better have done it; that my sorrow was great already, and it should be greater - for I am going a great journey but should never come there. She then left me, and I was struck as with a clap of fire on my back, and she vanished toward the water side, in my apprehension in the shape of a cat. She had on her head a white linen hood tied under her chin, and her waistcoat and petticoat were red, with an old green apron and a black hat upon her head.

Taken upon oath, 18th April, 1656, before

Bryan Pendleton

Henry Sherburne

Renald Fernald

Her husband (Oliver) says, she came home in a sad condition. She passed by me with her child in her arms, laid her child on the bed, sat down upon the chest and leaned upon her elbow. Three times I asked her how she did, - She could not speak. I took her in my arms and held her up, and repeated the question. She forced breath, and something stopped in her throat as if it would have stopped her breath. I unlaced her clothes, and soon she spake and said, Lord have mercy upon me, this wicked women will kill me. I asked her what woman. She said, Goodwife Walford. I tried to persuade her it was only her weakness. She told me no, and related as above, that her back was a flame of fire, and her lower parts were as it were numb and without feeling. I pinched her and she felt not. She continued that night and the day and night following very ill, and is still bad of her limbs and complains still daily of it. Sworn as above.

A witness deposed, June 1656, that he was at Goodman Walford's 30th March 1656, at the time mentioned by Mrs. Trimmings, and that Goodwife Walford was at home till quite dark, as well as ever she was in her life.

Nicholas Rowe, testified that Jane Walford, shortly after she was accused, came to the deponent in bed in the evening and put her hand upon his breast so that he could not speak, and was in great pain till the next day. By the light of the fire in the next room it appeared to be Goody Walford, but she did not speak. She repeated her visit about a week after and did as before, but said nothing.

Elisa Barton, deposed that she saw Susannah Trimmings at the time she was ill, and her face was coloured and spotted with several colours. She told the deponent the story, who replied, that it was nothing but her fancy; her eyes looked as if they had been scalded.

John Puddington, deposed, that three years since Goodwife Walford came to his mother's - She said that her own husband called her an old Witch; and when she came to her cattle, her husband would bid her be gone, for she did overlook the cattle, which is as much as to say in our country, bewitching.

Agnis Puddington, deposes, that on the 11th of April, 1656, the wife of W. Evans came to her house and lay there all night; and a little after sunset the deponent saw a yellowish cat; and Mrs. E. said she was followed by a cat wherever she went. John came, and saw a cat in the garden -took down his gun to shoot her; the cat got up on a tree, and the gun would not fire, and afterwards the cock would not stand. She afterwards saw three cats - the yellow one vanished away on the plain ground; she could not tell which way they went.

John Puddington testifies to the same effect.

Three other deponents say, they heard Eliz. The wife of Nicholas Rowe, say, there were three men witches at Strawberry Bank, one was Thomas Turpin who was drowned; another, old Ham, and a third should be "nameless, because he should be blameless." Goodwife Walford was bound over to the next Court.

Court of Associates, June, 1656.

Jane Walford being brought before the court upon suspicion of being a Witch, is to continue bound until the next court, to be responsive.

This complaint was probably dropped at the next term. Goodwife Walford brought an action of slander in the County Court, 22d March 1669, against one Robert Coutch, and laid her damages at one thousand pounds. Declaration in an action of slander for saying that the said Jane was a Witch, and he could prove her one, which is very greatly to her damage. Verdict for plaintiff Walford, five pounds and costs of court.