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WITCH TRIALS
Page 8

An animated picture of a crystal dangling from a necklace chain A woman with long dark hair, wearing a deep red cloak. An animated picture of a crystal dangling from a necklace chain

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Mary (Bliss) Parsons
Part 1


Mary was born about 1628 in England,
and died on 29 JAN 1711/12 in SPRINGFIELD, MA


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Mary (Bliss) Parsons and Sarah Elizabeth Rose

are tenth cousins 12 times removed,

through their shared ancestors,
William GASCOIGNE & Joan WYMAN

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Mary Bliss Parsons, wife of Cornet Joseph Parsons, daughter
of Thomas and Margaret Bliss of Hartford, Ct., both very
prominent families, was born in England about 1628 and
came to this country with her parents when she was about
eight years old. She was eleven or twelve when they decided
on still another move, to the rude little settlement of
Hartford. There for a time life stablized, and Mary grew
to womanhood as an average member of an ordinary New Engl
and community. In 1646 she married Joseph Parsons, a
successful merchant, and went to live in Springfield.
Henceforth, her life would be increasingly set apart from
the average.

 

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In 1654 the Parsonses moved to Northampton. The family,
which included eleven children, became members of the
church. Local tradition has remembered Mary as being
"possessed of great beauty and talents, but...not very
amiable...exclusive in the choice of her associates,
and...of haughty manners."

 

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In 1656, soon after the Parsons family moved to
Northampton, Joseph Parsons brought an action for
slander against Sarah Bridgeman, charging that Sarah
had accused Mary, his wife, of being a witch. On the
docket of the Middlesex County Court, for its session
of October 7, 1656, is found the following entry:
"Joseph Parsons, plaintiff, against Sarah, the wife of
James Bridgman, defendant, in an action of the case
for slandering her [Parson's wife] in her name. This
action, by consent of both parties, was referred to
the judgment of the Honored Bench of Magistrates." A
separate document records the magistrates' finding in
favor of the plaintiff and their order that the
defendant make "public acknowledgment" of the wrong
she had done. The acknowledgment was to be a dual
performance - once in the town of Northampton and
again at Springfield. Failure to fulfill either part
of this requirement would result in a fine of 10.

 

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The testimony against Mary Parsons was that following
hard upon the heels of any disagreement or quarrel
between Mary Parsons and any member of the Bridgeman
family, a fatal disease would seize upon some horse,
cow, or pig, belonging to the Bridgeman family and,
as the disease could not be accounted for in any
other way, it must be the result of Mary's uncanny
influence exercised by way of revenge
.

 

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The first set of testimonies was recorded at
Northampton on or about the 20th of June. For example:
Robert Bartlett testifieth that George Langdon told
him the last winter that Goody Bridgman and Goody
Branch were speaking about Mary Parsons concerning
her being a witch. And the said George told to the
said Robert that my [Langdon's] wife being there
said she could not think so - which the said Goody
Bridgman seemed to be distates with. As also
[according to Langdon] they had hard thoughts of the
wife of the said Robert [Bartlett] because she was
intimate with the said Mary Parsons."

 

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The other depositions in this early group enlarge on
the gossip theme. The same Hannah Langdon mentioned
in Bartlett's statement testified that "Sarah Bridgman ...
told her that her boy when his knee was sore cried out
of the wife of Joseph Parsons." Bridgman had also
alleged widespread "jealousies that the wife of Joseph
Parsons was not right." For a time Langdon herself had
entertained suspicions of Mary Parsons, but recently
"it hath pleased God to help her over them, ... and
[she] is sorry she should have [had] hard thoughts of
her upon no better grounds." These depositions converged
on the issue of what Goody Bridgman had said.

 

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The second major group of papers in the case carries
a date several weeks later. They were taken before
a different official, and probably in a different
place (Springfield). They expressed a different
viewpoint, as the recorder noted at the top of the
opening page: "Testimonies Taken on Behalf of Sarah,
the wife of James Bridgman, the 11th day of August,
1656." The Bridgmans themselves supplied lengthy
testimony on the events which had caused them to
suspect Goody Parsons.

 

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The previous summer the Bridgemans' eleven-year-old
son had suffered a bizarre injury while tending their
cows: "In a swamp there came something and gave him
a great blow on the had...and going a little further
he...stumbled...and put his knee out of joint."
Subsequently, the knee was "set" but it would not
heal properly - and he was in grievous torture
about a month." Then the boy discovered the cause
of his sufferings: "He cried out [that] Goody
Parsons would pull off his knee, [saying] 'there
she sits on the shelf.' ...I and my husband
labored to quiet him, but could hardly hold
him in bed for he was very fierce. We told him
there was nobody...'Yea," says he, 'there she is;
do you not see her? There she runs away and a
black mouse follows her.' And this he said many
times and with great violence...and he was like to
die in our apprehension." At about the same time
the Bridgmans had also lost an infant son:

 

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"I [Sarah] being brought to bed, about three days
after as I was sitting up, having the child in my
lap, there was something that gave a great blow on
the door. And that very instant, as I apprehended,
my child changed. And I thought with myself and
told my girl that I was afraid my child would die...
Presently... I looking towards the door, through a
hole...I saw...two women pass by the door, with
white clothes on their heads; then I concluded my
child would die indeed. And I sent my girl out to
see who they were, but she could see nobody, and
this made me think there is wickedness in the place."

 

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Continued on Mary (Bliss) Parsons Part 2

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This data came from Sam Behling. Thank you for sharing the data
for several of these women with us.

Sam's website is at: http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~sam/bliss/mary.html

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PAGE 1
WITCHTRIALS
MARY
(PERKINS)
BRADBURY
PAGE 2
WITCHTRIALS
MARY
BRADBURY
Part 2
PAGE 3
WITCHTRIALS
ELIZABETH
KNAPP
PAGE 4
WITCHTRIALS
ELIZABETH
KNAPP
Part 2
PAGE 5
WITCHTRIALS
SUSANNAH
(NORTH)
MARTIN
PAGE 6
WITCHTRIALS
REBECCA
(TOWNE)
NURSE
PAGE 7
WITCHTRIALS
MARY
(BLISS)
PARSONS
Part1
PAGE 9
WITCHTRIALS
MARY
PARSONS
Part 2
PAGE 10
WITCHTRIALS
SARAH
WILSON
SR. & JR.
Part 1
PAGE 11
WITCHTRIALS
SARAH
WILSON
Part 2
PAGE 12
WITCHTRIALS
MARY
(TOWNE)
ESTEY
PAGE 13
WITCHTRIALS
INFANT DAUGHTER
DEWOLF
PAGE 14
WITCHTRIALS
SARAH
(TOWNE)
CLOYCE
Part 1
PAGE 15
WITCHTRIALS
SARAH
CLOYCE
Part 2
PAGE 16
WITCHTRIALS
ELIZABETH
(HUTCHINS)
HART
PAGE 17
WITCHTRIALS
ANNE
PUTNAM
PAGE 18
WITCHTRIALS
EARLY
CT
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