ALLEN, Martha 1
- Born: 1643, Andover, Essex, Massachusetts, United States
- Baptized: 1643
- Marriage: CARRIER, Thomas (Morgan) on 7 May 1664 in Andover, Essex, Massachusetts, United States
- Died: 19 Aug 1692, Salem, Essex, Massachusetts, United States aged 49
- Buried: 19 Aug 1692, Salem, Essex, Massachusetts, United States
Ancestral File Number: HNGL-10.
Martha Carrier was one of the women hung as a witch in Salem.
The Strange Story of Thomas and Martha Carrier,
Martha Carrier Accused of Being a Witch
By Kevin Tulimieri COLCHESTER - In a special session of the court of Oyer and Terminer, held on August 2, 1692, Martha Carrier stood in the Salem Village Meeting House, accused of being a witch. From the beginning, Martha vigorously maintained her innocence, but the Puritan magistrates had the visionary "Salem girls" on their
side. These young girls were believed to have the ability to detect the presence of the devil and provide "spectral evidence" to the court. Martha's response to the girls, "It is false and a shame for you to mind what these say, that are out of their wits!" only seemed to reinforce the magistrates' opinion of her guilt. Martha, her two oldest sons, and her seven and a half year-old daughter had been arrested and kept in jail for almost three months before the trial. All of the old disputes between Martha and her neighbors were brought up and reviewed for suspicious activity. At least four of Martha's neighbors from Andover came to testify that she had used witchcraft against them, killing livestock and causing illnesses. Martha's two teenage sons had been hung by their heels "until the blood was ready to come out of their noses," before they confessed to being involved with witchcraft. The magistrates didn't use the sons' confessions, but they did bring Martha's young daughter, Sarah, to testify against her mother.
Sarah's confession came six days after Martha was already convicted and sentenced to death. "It was asked by the Magistrates or Justices, John Hathorne, Esq., and others: How long hast thou been a witch? A. Ever since I was six years old. Q. How old are you? A. Near eight years old, brother Richard says I shall be eight years old in November last. Q. Who made you a witch? A. My mother, she made me set my hand to a book. Q. How did you set your hand to it? A. I touched it with my fingers and the book was red and the paper of it was so white....
Q. What did they promise to give you? A. A black dog. Q. Did the dog ever come to you? A. No. Q. But you said you saw a cat once; what did it say to you? A. It said it would tear me to pieces, if I would not set my hand to the book. Q. How did you afflict folks? A. I pinched them.... mother carried her thither to afflict. Q. How did
your mother carry you when she was in prison? A. She came like a black cat. Q. How did you know it was your mother?
A. The cat told me she was my mother. She said she afflicted Phelps child last Saturday and Elizabeth Johnson helped her do it. She had a wooden spear about as long as the finger of Elizabeth Johnson and she had it of the devil.... This is the substance. Attest: Simon Willard."
The trial prompted the well known Boston cleric, Dr. Cotton Mather, to report, "This rampant hag, Martha Carrier, was the person of whom the confession of the rest agreed that the devil had promised her, she should be the Queen of Hell."
On August 19, 1692, Martha was taken in the back of a cart to Gallows Hill in Salem. Jeering crowds lined the streets and gathered at the scaffold to witness the hanging of Martha and four men, also "convicted" witches. Screaming her innocence from the scaffold, Martha never gave up. A report from the time describes the treatment of Martha and two of the men, including a Mr. Burroughs: "When he was cut down, he was dragged by a halter to a hole or grave between the rocks about two feet deep; his shirt and breeches were pulled off and an old pair of trousers of one of the executed put on his lower parts; he was so put in together with Willard and Carrier that one of his hands and his chin and a foot of one of them was left uncovered."
In May 1693, Governor Phips of Massachusetts returned from the Indian Wars and revoked all death sentences and released all those still held. The Governor also revoked the acceptance of "spectral evidence" in court, effectively ending the witch trials. Martha Carrier's name appeared on a 1711 list of sufferers whose legal representatives received compensation for imprisonment and death of relatives. The Carrier family received seven pounds, six shillings.
Belief in witchcraft was universal in the 17th century and was considered a major problem for the leaders of the time. The devil was an active force, constantly on hand to recruit new helpers in his fight against good Christians everywhere. In western Europe, some estimates claim nearly two million men and women lost their lives under accusations of witchcraft. In the Salem area, over 200 people were accused of practicing witchcraft. Within three months of Martha Carrier's arrest, in Andover alone, 40 warrants had been issued, naming members of some of the most prominent families in town. At one point every woman in Andover was blindfolded and led before the Salem girls to prove their innocence or guilt. When Magistrate Dudley Bradstreet threw down his pen and declared he would sign no more warrants, he himself was accused of being a witch. He and his family had to escape the town, fearing for their lives. In Salem, the 23 people who were hung, tortured or died in jail were the ones who maintained their innocence. A testament to her courage, Martha Carrier was the only person, of all those accused, that maintained her innocence to the end, "I would rather die than confess a falsehood so filthy."
Thomas and his family remained in Andover for a few years after the trial. The first record of the Carriers in this area comes in 1701, when Thomas Carrier built a house and then opened a sawmill on the Jeremy River. Records indicate that Carrier owned almost all the land then called North Westchester, which would eventually become part of Marlborough. Later on Thomas' sons would join him in Connecticut. Land was taken in Richard's name in Westchester in 1703, and a little later Andrew was also granted a plot. Thomas, Jr. remained in Andover for a while longer, then joined his brothers and father in 1716 as a Colchester inhabitant.
Thomas became known as the "Tall Man," having reached an unusual 7' 4" tall, with his strength and agility his pride at 100 years old. The Carrier Genealogy reports that Thomas, about 80 years old when he moved to North Westchester, would frequently walk to a grist mill in Glastonbury, a distance of eighteen miles. He would carry a bag of corn on his shoulders, walking very fast and erect, stopping only once to shift his load. He would have his corn ground and then walk back.
Thomas Carrier died on May 18, 1735 at a ripe old age of 109. Some of the Carrier family members maintain he was actually 113 when he died. It is reported in the New England Journal on June 9, 1735 that, "His head, in his last years, not bald nor his hair grey. Not many days before his death he traveled on foot six miles to see a sick
friend, and the day before he died he was visiting his neighbors. His mind was alert until he died, when he fell asleep in his chair and never woke up." Thomas left five children, 39 grand children and 38 great grandchildren who would continue to fill the land with Carriers.
But even after Thomas passed away his remnants would be shrouded in mystery. The original Carrier burial ground was not in a regular church cemetery, but located near Thomas' property on the Jeremy River. This small piece of land became lost and forgotten in the woods of Marlborough until construction on Rt. 2 in the 1930s.
While the local road crews were looking for gravel around town, they discovered the bodies buried in the Carrier plot located at the corner of South Main St. and Kellog Rd. The remains of the Carriers were reportedly taken to the Marlboro Cemetery, in Marlborough center, and given another burial. The monument which was erected is also a mystery, the names of Thomas' sons are repeated and seem confused. The town of Marlborough has no record of the movement of which body went where and who is responsible for erecting the monument. The fact that there are also at least two other people buried in the Carrier plot that were not moved only raises more questions. It is also strange that there are tombstones for Richard, Andrew and their wives in the Colchester Congregational Church, even though Andrew is listed twice on the Marlborough monument. It was a hard life for Thomas Carrier and his family. They had the unfortunate luck of being at the center of some of their era's most horrifying episodes, and the mystery continues.
The Carrier Genealogy 1986
Remembering the Witch Hunt Victims by Laura Shapiro, Newsweek 1992
Martha married Thomas (Morgan) CARRIER, son of Unknown and Unknown, on 7 May 1664 in Andover, Essex, Massachusetts, United States. (Thomas (Morgan) CARRIER was born in 1626 in , , , Wales, United Kingdom and died on 16 May 1735 in Colchester, New London, Connecticut, United States.)