The Salem Witch Trials took place all over Massachusetts colony. In Andover, almost everyone accused confessed, but, according to a petition mentioned in a TV show: “from the information we have had and the discourse some of us have had with the prisoners, we have reason to think that the extream urgency that was used with some of them by their friends and others who privately examined them, and the fear they were then under, hath been an inducement to them to own such things, as we cannott since find thay are conscious of;” I was familiar with that since some of my ancestors defended some of the accused, and more ancestors moved south after that nightmare.
Gretchen and I were watching Salem’s Lot, Season 9, Episode 2, of Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
An ancestor of guest Jeff Daniels signed a peition on behalf of their wives and daughters who had been accused of being witches. This petition was from Andover, to the Massachusetts General Court, October 18, 1692.
Petition of Twenty-six Andover Men on Behalf of Their Wives and Daughters 1692-10-18
I’ve been to Andover, because some of my ancestors came from there, before they moved to South Carolina after some of their relatives were accused of being witches.
Just below the name of Jeff Daniel’s ancestor, Thomas Chandler, is Christopher Osgood. Bingo, that’s my ancestor’s brother.
Captain Christopher Osgood was my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-uncle. Capt. Christopher remained in Andover, and has descendants there to this day. The show mentioned his daughter, “Mary Manston”. We have her as Mary Osgood married John Marston.
Christopher’s brother Thomas Osgood and family, including his son Thomas Osgood, moved to South Carolina after that unpleasantness. I’m not sure which of his relatives was accused. According to The Salem Witch Museum, More About Welcome to Andovver, “Altogether, 45 people from Andover were accused of witchcraft in 1692, more than any other Essex County town.” The show kept referring to North Andover. However, according to the Museum, “In 1692, Andover consisted of present-day Andover, North Andover, and the part of Lawrence that is on the south side of the Merrimack River.”
Also signing were Timothy Osgood, Samuel Osgoode, hooker Osgood, and John Osgood. I don’t know who Timothy, Samuel, or hooker Osgood were, probably because I didn’t follow lines that stayed in Massachusetts.
But John Osgood was an uncle of Capt. Christopher and Thomas Osgood.
Christopher signed two other petitions started by John Osgood, and was involved in Examinations of Mary Lacey, Jr. , Mary Lacey, Sr. , Ann Foster , Richard Carrier , and Andrew Carrier.
John Osgood was involved in or mentioned in fourteen petitions, examinations, records, and other documents, including about restitution many years later. John Osgood did not see many of those, since he died in 1963.
Christopher Osgood and his wife Susannah Lord were among the group who sent her nephew Joseph Lord to Harvard to become a minister, after which they went to South Carolina, where French Huguenots of a similar Calvinist persuasion were settling.
Two of Christopher and Suwannah’s children married Way siblings, children of William Way, who had defended accused relatives in Dorchester, Mass. Yes, that William Way was also my ancestor. As were a bunch of other people who defended the accused. For more about that, see Quarterman Family of Liberty County, Georgia and Relatives, by Jane Quarterman Comer, David Leon Quarterman, Stephen Patrick Quarterman, John Sinclair Quarterman. It includes a chart of the accused whom William Way defended.
Here is a transcription of the Petition mentioned in the TV show. Salem Witch Trials, Documentary Archive and Transcription Project, SWP No. 167.2,
(Petition of Twenty-six Andover Men on Behalf of Their Wives and Daughters )
[October 18, 1692]
To his Excellency the Governour, and Councill, & Representatives, now Assembled at Boston. The Humble Address of the ministers, and of some of the Inhabitants of Andover. We being deeply sensible of the heavy judgment that the Righteous God hath brought upon this place, thought it our duty (after our earnest prayers to the God of Heaven, to give us help from our trouble) to lay before this Honourable Assembly, our present distressed estate, and to crave a redress of our greivances. It is well known that many persons of this Town, have been accused of witchcraft, by some distempered persons in these parts and upon complaint made have been apprehended and committed to prison. Now though we would not appear as Advocates for any who shall be found guilty of so horrid a crime, but we heartily desire that this place, and the whole land, may be purged from that great wickedness: yet if any of our #[freinds] friends and neighbours have been misrepresented, as tis possible some of them have been; wee would crave leave (if it might be without offence) to speak something in their behalf, haveing no other desighn therein, then that the truth may appear. We can truly give this Testimony of the most of them belonging to this Town, that have been accused, that they never gave the least occasion (as we hear of) to their neerest relations or most intimate acquaintance, to suspect them of witchcraft. Severall of the women that are accused were members of this church in full Communion, and had obtained a good report, for their blameless conversation, and their walking as becometh woemen professing godliness. But whereas it may be alledged, that the most of our people that have been apprehended for witchcraft, have upon Examination confessed it. To which we Answer that we have nothing to plead for those that freely and upon conviction own themselves guilty; but we apprehend the case of some of them to be otherwise. for from the information we have had and the discourse some of us have had with the prisoners, we have reason to think that the extream urgency that was used with some of them by their friends and others who privately examined them, and the fear they were then under, hath been an inducement to them to own such things, as we cannott since find thay are conscious of; and the truth of what we now declare, we judge will in time more plainly appear. And some of them have exprest to their neighbours that it hath been their great trouble, that they have wronged themselves and the truth in their confessions.
We are also very sensible of the disstressed condition of severall poor familyes, on whom this great trouble is fallen; some #[more] of our neighbors are like to be impoverished & ruin’d by the great charge they are at to maintain such of their familyes as are in Prison, and by the fees that are demanded of them, whose case we pray may be considered.
Our troubles which hitherto have been great, we foresee are like to continue and increase, if other methods be not taken then as yet have been, for there are more of our neighb’rs of good reputation & approved integrity, who are still accused, and complaints have been made against them, And we know not who can think himself safe, if the Accusations of children and others who are under a Diabolicall influence shall be received against persons of good fame.
We thought meet also to Signifye that not only persons of good creditt among our selves, but some Honorable & worthy men of other places, do suffer in their names by the acusations of afflicted people in this Town
Thus haveing given your Honors some account of our present troubles, we crave pardon for our boldness in this Address, and humbly pray this Honored Court to take into their serious consideration our low and distressed estate: And that the only wise God may bless yo’r counsels & Endeavors for the welfare of his people, shall be the prayer of Your humble Petitioners
Dated at Andov’r 18’th Oct. 1692.
*Francis Dane sen’r
*Thomas Chandler Jun’r
( Mass. Archives Vol. 135 No. 61, Massachusetts State Archives,Boston, MA.)