crystal ball with woman's face appearing and dissappearing.
WITCH TRIALS
Page 9

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


 dark red fancy bar

Mary (Bliss) Parsons
Part 2

Continued from Mary (Bliss) Parsons Part 1

 dark red fancy bar

"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."

 

 dark red fancy bar


The decision of the court was in favor of the
plaintiff and against Mrs. Bridgeman, and she was
ordered to make public acknowledgment of her fault
at Northampton and Springfield, and that her husband,
James Bridgman, pay to plaintiff 10 and cost of court.

 

 dark red fancy bar


But the charge of witchcraft against Mary Parsons
did not end with the judgment in the slander suit.
Her name was cleared, but only from a legal standpoint.
In the years that followed, her husband prospered ever
more greatly, her children grew in number and (mostly)
flourished, her mother and brothers sank the Bliss
family roots deep into the CT Valley. But her
reputation for witchcraft hung on.

 

 dark red fancy bar


In 1674 the whole matter was renewed in court with
the important difference that now Mary Parsons was
cast as defendant. Unfortunately, most of the
evidence from this later case has disappeared.
All that survives is the summary material from
the dockets of the two courts involved. In
August 1674, a young woman of
Northampton, Mary Bartlett, had died rather
suddenly. She was twenty-two, wife of Samuel
Bartlett and the mother of an infant son. More
importantly, she was a daughter of Sarah and
James Bridgman. Her husband and father jointly
believed, as they later testified in court, that
"she came to her end by some unlawful and
unnatural means, ... viz. by means of some evil
instrument." And they had distinct ideas about
the person most likely to have used such means.

 

 dark red fancy bar


On September 29, the Hampshire County Court received
"diverse testimonies" on the matter. Mary Parsons was
also there - on her own initiative: "She having
intimation that such things were bruited abroad, and
that she should be called in question..."the fact that
Mrs. Parsons voluntarily appeared before the court
desiring to clear herself of such an execrable crime,
and that subsequently she argued her own case before
the court must not be overlooked. On both these
occasions she met her accusers boldly, protesting her
innocence, and showing 'how clear she was of such a
crime.' In this trial Mrs. Parsons was called to speak
for herself and from the meager report upon record,
undoubtedly did so most effectively." The court
examined her, considered all the evidence, and deferred
further action to its next meeting in November. There
followed a second deferral "for special reasons"
(about which the court did not elaborate).

 

 dark red fancy bar


On January 5, 1675, the county magistrates conducted
their most extended hearing of the case. The previous
depositions were reviewed and (apparently) some new
ones were taken. Both Samuel Bartlett and Mary Parsons
were present in person once again.

Mary was "called to speak for herself, [and] she did
assert her own innocency, often mentioning ... how
clear she was of such a crime, and that the righteous
God knew her innocency - with whom she had left her
cause." The magistrates decided that final jurisdiction
in such matters belonged not to them but to the Court
of Assistants in Boston. Still, considering "the season"
and "the remoteness" [i.e., of their own court from
Boston] and "the difficulties, if not incapabilities,
or persons there to appear," they determined to do
their utmost "in inquriing into the case." Among other
things, they appointed a committee of "soberdized,
chaste women" to conduct a body-search on Mary Parsons,
to see "whether any marks of witchcraft might appear."
(The result was "an account" which the court did not
disclose.) Eventually, all the documents were gathered
and forwarded to Boston.

 

 dark red fancy bar


At the same court, and apparently as part of the same
proceeding, "some testimony" was offered "reflecting
on John Parsons." John was Mary's second son: he was
twenty-four at the time, and as yet unmarried. How
and why he should have been implicated in the charges
against his mother cannot now be discovered; but the
evidence was in any case unpersuasive. The court did
"not find...any such weight whereby he should be
prosecute on suspicion of witchcraft" and discharged
him accordingly.

 

 dark red fancy bar


Meanwhile, the case against Mary Parsons moved towards
its final round. On March 2, Mary was taken to Boston,
"presented" at the Court of Assistants, and formally
indicted by the grand jury. Thereupon the court ordered
her commitment to prison until "her further trial."
The trial came some ten weeks later (May 13, 1675).
An imposing roster of Assistants lined the bench: the
governor, the deputy-governor, and a dozen magistrates
(including her husband's old associate, John Pynchon).
However, her fate rested with "the jury of trails for
life and death" - twelve men, of no particular
distinction, from Boston and the surrounding towns.
The indictment was read one last time: "Mary Parsons,
the wife of Joseph Parsons...being instigated by the
Devil, hath...entered into familiarity with the Devil,
and committed several acts of witchcraft on the person
or persons of one or more." The evidence in the case
was also read. And "the prisoner at the bar, holding
up her hand and pleading not guilty, ...[put] herself
on her trial." The tension of this moment must have
been very great, but it does not come through in the
final, spare notation of the court recorder: "The
jury brought in their verdict. They found her not
guilty. And so she was discharged."

 

 dark red fancy bar


The jury gave her a full acquittal of the crime. Of
Mary's life subsequent to 1674 there is little direct
information. She and her husband would eventually
give up their home in Northampton and move back to
Springfield. Joseph would died in 1683, leaving a
substantial estate of 2,088,
and Mary would enter a very long widowhood.

 

 dark red fancy bar


She remained thereafter in Springfield, completed
the rearing of her numerous progeny, and saw her
sons - and then her grandsons - assume positions
of prominence in several CT Valley towns. Death
claimed her in January, 1712, when she was
about eighty-five years old. She was not again
tried for witchcraft, but neither was she ever
free from local suspicion.

 dark red fancy bar


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

a crystal ball with an open book inside.

E MAIL ME


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 8
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
LAWS


animated broom, sweeping.
THE MEN
animated flickering candle.
AWARDS
animated broom, sweeping.
WELCOME
animated flickering candle.
HOME
animated broom, sweeping.
PATRIOTIC
animated flickering candle.
GENPOEMS
animated flickering candle.
THE PRESIDENTS
animated broom, sweeping.
THE WOMEN
animated flickering candle.
PILGRIMS & PURITANS
animated broom, sweeping.
COOL LINKS
animated flickering candle.
GEN DICTIONARY
animated broom, sweeping.
BLACK SHEEP
animated broom, sweeping.
CIVIL WAR
animated flickering candle.
REV WAR
animated broom, sweeping.
WHAT AILED THEM
animated flickering candle.
PIRATES
animated broom, sweeping.
ENTERTAINERS
animated flickering candle.
WRITERS AND POETS
animated flickering candle.
POLITICALS
animated broom, sweeping.
FIRST LADIES
animated flickering candle.
FAMILY CREST
animated broom, sweeping.
EPIDEMICS
animated flickering candle.
HOW MANY
animated broom, sweeping.
LINEAGE GROUPS

animated broom, sweeping.
BRICK WALLS
animated flickering candle.
JOBS
animated broom, sweeping.
NICKNAMES
animated flickering candle.
ARTISTS
animated broom, sweeping.
NICKNAMES
animated flickering candle.
ARTISTS

 

OTHER EXCELLENT
SARAH ROSE SITES


the front cover of my poetry book, A Tribute To Life
POETRY
A TRIBUTE
TO LIFE

the front cover of my poetry book, A Tribute To Life
POETRY
FOR
THINKERS