PETITION BY MARY ESTEY IN 1691
Taken from the Volume 36
Historical Collections of the Essex Institute.
Ameri-Cana encyclopedia said "In 1691 witchcraft
hysteria broke out and 19 persons were hanged as witches on Gallow Hill."
Mary Estey, wife
of Issac, daughter of William and Joanna (Blessing) Towne of Topsfield at Yarmouth,
Norfolk Co. England. Baptized at St. Nicholas Church, Aug 24, 1634. We know
very little about her life until 1692. (Obviously they came to Salem
right after the Mayflower-(-we have reason to believe)
Her sister Rebecca Nurse, (or Nourse) about 13 years older
had previously been found guilty and executed July 19, 1692. Mary Estey was arrested
April 21st, kept in jail until May 18 when she was released. On May 21, a second
warrant was procured and she was taken from her home at midnight hurried to the Salem jail
and placed in irons. She was tried, found guilty and condemned to death on the 22 of
September 1692. She was executed (hanged) with seven others. She was the
mother of seven children, a woman of sound judgement and of exalted Christian character.
In intelligence was far in advance for her age, as the following petition written
while in prison amply bears testimony.
" The humble petition of Mary Estey to
his Excellency Sir William Philps and to the Honored Judge and Bench now sitting in
Judicature in Salem and the Reverend Ministers. Humbly showeth that whereas your
poor and humble petitioner, being condemned to die, do humbly beg of you to take it in
your judicious and pious consideration that your poor and humble petitioner, knowing my
own innocency, blessed be the Lord for it; and seeing plainly the wiles and sublity of my
accuser, by myself cannot be judge charitably of others going the same way of myself, if
the Lord steps not mightily in. I was confined for a whole month up the same account
that I am now condemned for and then cleared by the afflicted P------- as some of your
Honours know, and in two days time I was cried out upon them, and have been confined and
now am condemned to die. The Lord above knows my innocency then and likewise now as
at the Great day will be known to men and angels. I petition to your Honors, not for
my own life, for I know I must die and my appointed time is set; but the Lord, he knows,
is that, if it be possible, no more innocent blood may be shed, which undoubtedly can not
be avoided in the way and course you go in. I question not Your Honours do it the
utmost of your powers in the discovery and detecting of witchcraft and witches and would
not be quilty of innocent blood for the world. I know you are in the wrong way.
The Lord, in his infinite mercy, direct you in this great work if it be His blessed
will that no more innocent blood be shed. I would humbly beg of you, that your
Honors would be pleased to examine these afflicted person strictly and keep them apart
some time and likewise try some of these confessing witches. I being confident there
is several of them has belied themselves and others as will appear, if not in this world,
I am sure in the world to come whether I am now going. I question not but you will
see an alteration of these things. They say myself and others having made a league
with the devil. We cannot confess I know and Lord knows as will----- appear, who is
the searcher of all hearts, knows as shall answer it at the tribuneral seat, witchcraft,
therefore, I cannot dare not belie my own soul. I beg your honours not to deny this my
humble petition from a poor dying innocent person. And I question not but the Lord
will give a blessing to your endeavors."
was passed Isaac Estey did not meekly submit to what appeared to be in invetable but with
a keen sense of justice and a recognition of his duties to his martyred wife He bore
in mind that upon him the responsibility of doing all in his power to rescue from reproach
and his children from disgrace. After nearly twenty long years had passed away, he
was in a measure successful. The petition which he presented to the court was
recognized, the verdict annulled and 20 pounds granted to him.
Isaac Estey m. Mary Towne (hung at Salem, Mass.
Isaac Estey jr. m. Abigail Kimball
Richard Estey m. Ruth Fiske
Mary Estey m. Rev. Samuel Hartt
Caroline Hartt m. Richard Syson
Florence Syson m. Donald Clark
As recently as yesterday, I was in contact with
a descendant of Mary Estey . Ruth lives in Mass. U.S,A. She told me some more
details which the Hartt side of the family never knew. I will add it here.
"Did you know that Sarah Towne
Bridges Cloyes , sister to Mary and Rebecca was also accused? She was in Church when
Reverend Samuel Parris was blasting her sisters, she became upset and left....as she was
leaving the door to the church slammed (whether SHE slammed it or the wind took it is
unknown) and that was a sign to the evil Rev. Parris that she must also be a witch....she
was imprisoned in Salem but was smuggled out by relatives shortly after Mary's
death. She hid with her family in caves in Framingham MA until the Spring when the
family was then given a tract of land in Framingham...I have an article published in the
Framingham Metro West Newspaper on this and I will send it to you. ...it is an
interesting story...I think her nephew (and my ancestor Joseph was instrumental in
smuggling her out but can not definitely prove it...he moved to Dorchester (Now
Canton/Stoughton) Massachusetts in 1698...along with several of his brother Isaacs
children. Isaac remained in Topsfield.
I am extremely proud to claim this
extraordinary woman as my ancestor? (Ruth Schaffer)
It took alot of faith to stay true to
the God she served and not to weaver under pressure! God will reward our
ancestor Mary Towne.