Saturday, September 5, 2009

Mary's Story

My mom's paternal family line in America goes back to the Puritan era. My first ancestor to arrive in the New World was John Osgood in 1638. He helped to found the town of Andover, Massachusetts. This is the story of his daughter in law, Mary Clement, who married his son, John Osgood, Jr. Mary is my 8th great grandmother.

Mary was born in England and came to the New World with her family, settling in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Her father was the local magistrate and united her in marriage to Captain John Osgood, Jr., in 1653. The Osgood's were held in high esteem by the town of Andover, which Captain John's father helped to found. Mary was described as, "remarkably pious and a good woman." She bore eleven children between 1654 and 1680, three of them dying as infants. Her last baby to die was Clement, in November of 1680.

In 1692, some girls in Salem village were supposed to have the power of detecting witches. The two supposed witch-finders, who were called "afflicted persons," were taken to the Andover meeting house, along with the accused. Mary Osgood had been arrested and was put before them. When Mary looked at them, they went into convulsions. On September 8, 1692, she was questioned before the magistrates.

Frantic from the endless badgering from the court, Mary confessed to being a witch. When pressed to admit an exact time when she began her covenant with the devil, her mind went back to about 11 years prior when she suffered from a "bit of melancholy" around the birth of her last child (which had died). Even her husband initially believed her confession. Mary recanted a month later, explaining that the confession "was no other than what was suggested to us by some gentlemen, they telling us that we were witches, and they knew it, and we knew it, which made us think that it was so. And our understandings, our reason, our faculties, almost gone, we were not capable of judging of our condition; as also the hard measures they used with us rendered us incapable of making our defense, but said anything and everything which they desired, and most of what we said, was but, in effect, a consenting to what they said."

Mary was imprisoned for fifteen weeks in Salem amid brutal conditions. It was so bad that some of the accused died in jail. Mary was released after her husband and other townspeople petitioned for her freedom and her husband posted bond in the sum of £100 for her freedom. Mary was indicted in January 1693 and was found not guilty by a jury later that month.

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