This post was written by Jacqueline T. Lynch, who publishes New England Travels and also blogs at Another Old Movie Blog and Tragedy and Comedy in New England. The photo is Fly, My Pretties by moi.
photo: My Pretty, by writerjax 2010
Some forty years before the infamous Salem Witch Trials, a husband and wife were put on trial for witchcraft in Springfield, Massachusetts. They were innocent of witchcraft, but one of them was guilty of murder.
It happened in 1651. Hugh Parsons was a bricklayer on lower Main Street, who by his neighbors’ accounts, could be a bit moody at times. A neighbor woman, named Blanche Bedortha, criticized Mr. Parsons in some manner, and he retorted with the threat, “I shall remember you when you little think of it!”
The ruffled Goodwife Bedortha blamed Hugh Parsons for the sudden zing of static electricity she felt on her nightgown, since no one knew what that was or had a scientific explanation for it. She claimed he hexed her.
Then his second child, Joshua, died, and Mrs. Parsons’ went insane. The neighbors accused Mr. Parsons of having murdered the child. Mrs. Parsons did not help much when she, by now hysterical, confessed that she and her husband both were witches. Hugh was her third husband. I don’t know what she thought of her earlier two husbands.
Hugh got it from all sides now, as neighbors blamed everything from a cow’s having no milk, to cuts, nightmares, and minor illnesses on him being a witch.
Hugh was arrested and marched by the constable through the streets, and taken to Boston where the trial was held. The court found him guilty of witchcraft.
Fortunately for Hugh, about this time, Mrs. Parsons pulled herself together and confessed that she killed her son. They sent her to Boston for trial. Hugh was set free in May 1652. Mary was convicted of murder. All charges of witchcraft were dropped, possibly because things had just gotten too complicated and everybody was probably sick of the Parsons by now.
On the morning she was to be hanged, Mary was found to be too ill to be taken from prison. She died in her cell the next day.
Hugh never returned to Springfield, and may have left Massachusetts. He probably couldn’t wait to leave.
‘A visitor‘ left this comment on 21 Nov 10
A interesting slice of history Jax. Thank you .