Taken from the Lowell Sun newspaper dated Tuesday March 16, 1999:
Billerica family's 323-year exile ends
by Pierre Comtois, Sun Correspondent
BILLERICA- The Carrier family won redemption last night-although it
years too late.
The Board of Selectmen, seeking to undo a wrong committed by their
predecessors during colonial times, voted last night to rescind the banishment
of the entire Carrier family.
In 1676, Thomas and Martha Carrier and family were told by selectmen to
leave town forthwith or pay a surety of 20 shillings per week if they wanted
Selectman Edward Hurd, who's wife is a descendant from the family, said town
records aren't clear but he believes that "a member of the family had the
smallpox virus" and town officials didn't want them to be a burden on their
This immediate family moved to Andover, only to see Martha accused of
witchcraft in the 1690's and sentenced to hang atop Gallows Hill in Salem.
Members of the family later moved to Colchester, CT, Hurd said, though some
stayed behind in Billerica.
In the early 1700's, said Hurd, the Massachusetts government apologized to
Thomas Carrier for the hanging of his wife and paid him a settlement.
Last night was the town's turn to make good. Hurd asked his colleagues to
rescind the banishment as an "appropriate gesture" to the Carrier family.
It was unanimously approved.
Most of following has been gleaned from the Web either commercial
sites or provided by distant cousins.
FROM: MH DATE: 04/11/1996 9:32 AM
I have some info on Martha Allen Carrier, who was hung as a Witch in
unfortunate Salem Witch Trials. Would like info on her husband, Thomas,
who seemed to be absent during those times.
As far as I know, Thomas Carrier was at home, working and probably taking
care of the two children that were not arrested with his wife. I know this
sounds silly but it's true.
A little background on Thomas MORGAN aka CARRIER. Thomas was born
about 1626 in Wales. There is evidence that he served in theRoyal Army. Some
have reported that Thomas, said to be over 7 feet tall, was one of the two regicides
who, while disguised by frock and visor, appeared upon the
scaffold before Whiltehall and executed Charles I. Thomas emigrated in 1655
to Cambridge Mass. The hostility with which Thomas and his family were
treated in Mass. lends color to the tradition that he was connected with the
Royal Army, but discredits the fact that he was the Executioner of Charles I.
From vital records - Billerica, Mass. Marriage "Tho. Carrier alias
and Martha Allin, May 7, 1674. p 217. Also p. 193 "Thomas Morgan alias
Carrier,and Martha Allin, May 7, 1674." The Carriers had at least six known
children. Others not documented, may have died of small pox and other causes.
Jane Carrier, born in 1680 died that same year. Other children were:
Richard, Andrew,Thomas, Sarah, and Hannah. As I remember, Richard,
Andrew, and Sarah were imprisoned with there mother. The boys were tortured
to make statements against their Mother.
Martha Allen's family was of moderate means in those years. The
married well in her family, faired well. Martha, did not marry well (part
of her sin..the economic reason for her trial), Martha was also a very
strong woman (she never stopped declaring her innocence or did she stop
declaring the system to be wrong..the political reason for her trial) and of
course, Martha Allen was a women (need I say more).
In 1710 Thomas Carrier appealed for reimbursement of expenses incurred
the trial. While other families valued their loss at something more than
expenses..Thomas asked only for what the trial and lodgings had cost
him...He was granted 50 shillings and the prison fee to the keeper for his
wife and children..4 pounds 16 shillings.
As a FYI on Thomas Carrier, a man name SAVAGE, who investigated many
tales of great age, stated that the New England Journal gave his age at death
as 109 and that he was not gray or bald and walked erect. It is stated that
the day before his death he walked 18 miles from Colchester to Glastonbury
with a sack of corn meal on his shoulder, making only one stop.
Hope this answers some of your questions. How is it that you are
with Martha Carrier? I have a Jacob Carrier, b. 1798, can't tie it to any
Carrier line. I believe the line is associated with the Thomas Carrier
line...maybe through Amariah Carrier, b. 1756, son of Richard Carrier, son
of Thomas. Amariah Carrier lived a long life. We know of only one
child..Jesse, b. near Albany, NY 1791/94, died Maple Grove, IN about 1876.
From letters in the early 1930's, there is a discussion of the black sheep
variety...I implies at least one more child of Amariah, a Robert....there
are probably more..
From: RM Date: 03/09/1997, 12:47 PM
Here is a interesting peice for your genealogy. So turn on your
printer because you may want to add it to your files.. about 4 pages
long!!..Source information; Carrier Genealogy, 1974-1976 ??? by Carl
Thomas Carrier was born in
Wales, England, about 1626 and
died in Colchester, Conn. May 18, 1735; Colchester records say in his
109th year although the family claimed his age to be 113 years.
Records of the town embody some remarkable traditions about him.
He was 7' 4" tall, was notorious for his fleetness of foot, and his
strength was his pride at one hundred years of age. He settled in
Colchester soon after the turn of the century, when his age was about
76 years. He would frequently walk from Colchester to the mill in
Glastonbury, a distance of eighteen miles, carrying a sack of corn on
his shoulder to be ground, walking very fast and erect, stopping but
once to shift his load and then walk back. The New England Journal
for June 9, 1735 stated: "His head in his last years was not bald nor his
hair gray. 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."
Tradition has it that he belonged to the bodyguard of King
Charles I and that he was the regicide of the King. It could be that
he was a member of the Royal Guard, Roundhead or Cavalier, as they
would be selected for size and strength, or he could have been a
member of the Rump Parliament which condemned the King, but these
possibilities would seem to call for an older man at the time, AD
However, the history of Thomas Carrier is a most colorful one even
if we omit all unproven facts.
Charles I, son of James I of England (VI of Scotland) succeeded
to his father's throne in 1625. His father was a firm believer in
the devine rights of Kings, believing that they were only responsible to
God, and he was in continual disagreement with Parliament;
parliament believing that the authority of the people was above that of
Charles I was of the same persuasion as his father, and soon after
he was crowned, conflict with his legislature began. Parliament would
not grant all the money he demanded, consequently he imposed excessive
taxes on people, which led to protest by Parliament. Hence in 1629
he dissolved Parliament and ruled without assistance for eleven years,
proceeding to get money by illegal means. Civil War resulted in 1642.
In 1646 Charles, defeated, gave himself up to the Scottish Army.
1647 the Scots surrendered him to Parliamentary Army. He was tried
before the English Parliament, and beheaded January 30, 1649. It
was probably during these two years that Thomas Carrier was one of the
Guards. The tradition cannot be disregarded as an impossible one
but means of verification are lacking.
Charles II, the lawful prince, escaped to the continent in 1648,
but in February, 1649, Scotland proclaimed him King and his
coronation took place January 1, 1651. Nine months later he was
vanquished by Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell was made Lord Protector
and Governor of the Commonwealth but he refused the title of King.
He died in 1658 and his son Richard proved incompetent to take over
his work. In 1660 Charles II was again made King. He agreed to a
pardon for all political offenders except the regicides and the
judges of Charles I, and in May, 1660 the House of Commons ordered the
arrest of all judges. Two of the judges, Major General William Goffe and
his father-in-law Major General Edward Whalley, under assumed names set
sail for America in May, 1660 on the Prudence Mary, the day before
the warrant was issued. With a bounty on their heads they were
forced to live in secrecy and concealment for over thirty years.
Dates for the arrival of Thomas Carrier in this country vary, but
he probably arrived about 1655 in Cambridge, and soon after in
Billerica where he was known as Thomas Carrier alias Morgan, and
vice versa. Some historians say he changed his name from Morgan to
Carrier to escape detection, however, if this is true an alias would
not have protected him. He obviously was not in hiding and his alias
may be due to the fact that in Wales it was customary for sons to carry
on the surnames of both parents, to wit: Morgan ap Carrier, ap being a
prefix signifying "son of." It is apparent that in America he
followed the custom of this country and used one name only, presumably his
From the book of tryals: Imprimatur: J. Backenhead 1660,
published immediately after the trials, one of the signers of the
sentence of Charles Stuart, King of England on January 29, 1648, was a
Thomas Wogan, Esquire. Dr. Stiles of Yale in his History of the Three
Judges of Charles I of England (found in the Library of American History, a
reprint of standard works edited by Samuel L. Knapp) printed a list
of names he copied from the Journal of Major General William Goffe who
had been in hiding in Hadley, Mass. One Sunday, while the people of
Hadley were at worship, Goffe discovered Indians were gathering to
commit massacre of the town's people, so he came out of hiding to
warn them and was thereafter known as the Good Angel of Hadley.
Goffe's original diary was not disclosed until death had put everyone
in it out of danger. In the diary were the names of nineteen men
"condemned and in the Tower, but" said Goffe: "Morgan was not in
the Tower." It seems probable that Goffe knew the men personally,
so perhaps Thomas (Morgan) Carrier was one who escaped before the
order for arrest was issued and owed his freedom to an indistinct
In November, 1667, Thomas Carrier was assigned to cutting
brush in Billerica with his comrade and employee, John Levistone.
He apparently was a man of means because he was next to the highest
taxpayer in town. Levistone may have come with him from England,
giving his services for passage and settlement, or he may have been
assigned later to help him. Thomas Carrier took the oath of Fidelity,
December 4, 1667, so he must have complied with the requirements of
"an inhabitant." He married Martha Allen May 7, 1674 and soon
after, perhaps because rumors of his political affiliations had
reached Billerica, the selectmen and constables gave notice to him that the
town was not willing that he abide there. They removed to North
Billerica from 1684-1690 and then to Andover. Again they were unwelcome
because of a smallpox epidemic in the family and authorities did not
want to be responsible for them. However, they remained in Andover
where Martha helped nurse the afflicted family, which did not add to
It is difficult to explain the Furore which swept Salem Village,
Mass. in 1692. For years learned men in the Christian church had
been trying to control witchcraft, believing that witches were
persons who received certain powers from the devil, notably to cause or cure
illness, or transfer it from one person to another. Some village
children, stimulated to hysteria by stories of the Barbados told by
Tituba, a West Indian servant, invented a game whereby they would
fall to the ground in fits. Confused parents, convinced that their
children were tormented by demons, brought charges of witchcraft
against more than two hundred persons and they were taken into
custody. Illness, land feuds and hatred for neighbors, provided
others with a chance to settle old scores. The accused could only gain
their freedom by confessing to an alliance with the devil. Martha Carrier
was one of those caught in this web, where guilt was established by
spectral or make-believe evidence, and she was arrested May 28, 1692.
She was then about thirty-three years old and confessions were
extorted from them by violence. Her sons would not confess until they had
been tied by their necks and heels. Eight year old Sarah, a
pathetic little figure too young to realize what it was all about, was versed
in a confession that her mother made her a witch when she was six years
old; that she came to her like a black cat and told her that she was
hermother. Eighteen year old Richard testified that he Rev. Henry Hazen,
A.M.; Historical Sketches of Andover by Sarah Loring
Bailey; other ref. in text.
August 28, 1957--265 years
later--a resolve was made relative to
the indictment, trial, conviction and execution of those found guilty,
sentenced and executed in the year1692 (Chapter 143 of the Acts and
Resolves of the General Court of Massachusetts) stating that "if
these proceedings were lawful under the Provincial Charter and the law of
Massachusetts as it then was--were and are shocking and are
superseded by our more civilized laws.....that no disgrace or cause for
distress attaches to the descendants by reason of said proceedings." It
further stated "that the passage of this resolve does not bestow on any
person the right to bring suit for redress, nor affect in any way whatsoever
the title or rights in any real or personal property...."
Thomas Carrier remained in Andover as far as is known until
soon after the end of the century. Taintor's Recordings of
Colchester associates the Carriers with Colchester in 1701. His name is on the
Andover list of 1702 with his sons. He probably returned to Andover
from time to time until his business there was finished. He was the
first settler in the valley of North Westchester (Colchester). Land
was taken there in Richard's name in 1703 and a trifle later for Andrew.
In his day he owned most of the land which comprises North Westchester
where he built a house and sawmill on Jeremy's River. Thomas, Jr.
did not remove from Andover with his brothers, as there are records
of his family in Andover until 1712, but in 1718 he was admitted to
Colchester as an inhabitant.
From "1676 The End of American Independence" 973.24
Jervis Library, Rome NY March 1995 p237-238 footnote
footnote 81 Coventry Ms 77,295 Topan and Goodrick, eds., Randolph, II 255
"It was soon understood in London that Bacon had applied to the New
England governments for assistance against the royal government and that
the laws of the Massachusetts Bay Company offered a refuge to Virginia
Just as they had to English regicides. (ibid.,233).
From Matthew Date: 98-01-20 18:31:50 EST
This is transcription of the death warrant of Charles I, which
was given to the army officers in charge of carrying out the execution.
Three are named, but there is no mention of a Bostock. Hacker was the
man in charge, and was executed at the Restoration.
At the high Court of Justice for the tryinge and iudginge of Charles
Steuart Kinge of England January xxixth Anno Dni 1648. Whereas Charles
Steuart Kinge of England is and standeth convicted attaynted and
condemned of High Treason and other high Crymes, And sentence uppon
Saturday last/was pronounced against him by this Court to be putt to
death by the severinge of his head from his body Of wch sentence
execucion yet remayneth to be done, These are therefore to will and
require you to see the said sentence executed In the open Streete before
Whitehall uppon the morrowe being the Thirtieth day of this instante
moneth of January betweene the houres of Tenn in the morninge and Five
in the afternoone of the same day wth full effect And for soe doing this
shall be yor sufficient warrant And these are to require All Officers
and Souldiers and other the good people of this Nation of England to be
assistinge unto you in this Service
Given under our hands and Seales
To Colonell Ffrancis Hacker, Colonell Huncks and Lieutenant Colonell
Phayre and to every of them
Tho. Grey Robert Tichborne J. Jones
O. Cromwell H. Edwardes John Moore
Edw. Whalley Daniel Blagraue Gilbt. Millington
M. Liuesey Owen Rowe G. Fleetwood
John Okey William Purefoy J. Alured
J. Dauers Ad. Scrope Robt. Lilburne
Jo. Bourchier James Temple Will. Say
H. Ireton A. Garland Anth. Stapley
Tho. Mauleuerer Edm. Ludlowe Greg. Norton
Har. Waller Henry Marten Tho. Challoner
John Blakiston Vinct. Potter Tho. Wogan
J. Hutchinson Wm. Constable John Venn
Willi. Goff Rich. Ingoldesby Gregory Clement
Tho. Pride Willi. Cawley Jo. Downes
Pe. Temple Jo. Barkestead Tho. Wayte
T. Harrison Isaa. Ewer Tho. Scot
J. Hewson John Dixwell Jo. Carew
Hen. Smyth Valentine Wanton Miles Corbet
Per. Pelham Symon Mayne
Frank Whalley -
let me explain that Whitehall is in Westminster, London. At the
time of Charles I, it was a palace, with residential quarters and
function rooms, including the Banqueting House, from which he stepped
for his execution. The palace was largely destroyed by fire in 1698,
except for the Banqueting House. Nowadays, Whitehall is the name of the
street which runs south from Trafalgar Square towards the Houses of
Parliament. The street is flanked by government buildings, including,
still, the Banqueting House. St James's Palace is about half a mile to
the west, across St James's Park and The Mall, near to Buckingham
FW Penarth, Cardiff, Wales, UK
==== CHESHIRE Mailing List ====
Cheshire Surnames Interest Directory:
I'm sorry if I've caused some confusion. What I posted to the
list is a
transcript of the Death Warrant of Charles I, signed by 59 of the judges
who condemned him to death. It was given to Colonel Hacker, and the two
other army officers named, as their authority to carry out the
execution. It was still in his possession when he was arrested at the
Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660 and is now in the House of Lords.
Note that the date on the document is Old Style, so we would now call it
January 29th 1649, not 1648.
Knowing the religious predilections of Oliver Cromwell and his
associates, it would seem very unlikely that any of the judges were
My particular interest in the document is that the fourth judge's
signature is Edward Whalley, who was first cousin of Oliver Cromwell.
In 1660, he saw the writing on the wall and fled with his son-in-law,
William Goff, another of the judges, to North America, where they lived
in hiding for several years. By this time nine of the judges were dead,
some were executed, and others fled to Europe - I don't have the
Date: Sat, 31 Oct 1998
Subject: Plenty more Billerica, MA, look-ups [long]
In his _History of Billerica, Massachusetts, with a Genealogical
Register_ (Boston, 1883, reprinted 1973), Henry A. Hazen included a
page-long entry on Thomas Carrier (2:22-23). Have you seen this?
If Carrier owned land in Billerica, he never recorded any of his deeds.
He certainly lived in Billerica (along High St., about 2000 feet short
of the present-day boundary with Tewksbury), and a pair of deeds from a
hundred years later (1781) mention his name in the description of their
bounds: "by the wall to the old line between Carrier's & Roger's lots"
(Billerica Deeds, 7:301) and "south 313.5' by the fence to the black oak
standing near the line between Carrier's & Roger's lots" (Billerica
The proprietors of Billerica granted to Enoch Kidder on 6 Dec 1708 2
acres 32 poles of land "at the east end of the lot that was Thomas
Carrier's" (Billerica Grants, Town Clerk's Office, 2:44), which followed
an early (Sept 1708) grant to John Rogers Sr of land "partly at the end
of Thomas Carrier's land" (Billerica Grants, 2:53). According to Hazen,
Carrier had left Billerica for the neighboring town of Andover some time
between 1684 and 1690.
The Strange Story of Thomas Carrier, Part 1
The Historic Adventures of Thomas Carrier
By Kevin Tulimieri MARLBOROUGH- One of the most bizarre stories in the history of Marlborough is the amazing tale of Thomas Carrier and his wife Martha Allen Carrier. Their story is full of many tragic twists of fate which put the Carriers at the center of more than one historic episode in their troubled times. Thomas was born in Wales, England, in about 1626. Carrier family tradition states that he was a member of the Royal Guard, the bodyguards to the King of England. Thomas would grow to reach 7' 4" and would have been a perfect choice for the Guards, who were chosen by size and strength. Later in life, Thomas' physical ability would become the subject of local legend.
The Carrier story actually begins in 1625, when Charles I, the son of King James I of England, succeeded to his father's throne. James I was a firm believer in the divine privileges of the Kingship and passed those beliefs onto his son. This philosophy created much conflict with England's Parliament, which believed more in the rights of the people. But the real trouble began in 1629, when Charles I dissolved the Parliament and continued to rule without its assistance for the next 11 years. The pressures on the country were too much and Civil War erupted in 1642. In 1646 Charles I fled to his ancestor's land in Scotland for protection. One year later, the Scottish Army turned Charles I over to the English Parliamentary Army. A trial was held by the Parliament and Charles I was sentenced to death. The former King was beheaded in public on January 30, 1649. The Carrier family tradition states that Thomas Carrier's work as a Royal Guard had led him to act as headman in place of the regularexecutioner.
The son of Charles I, Charles II, fled from England and was proclaimed rightful King and coronated in Scotland on January 1, 1651. Nine months later, the young King was defeated by Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell took the title of Lord Protector and Governor of the Commonwealth but refused the title of King. In 1658, Cromwell died and was succeeded by his son Richard. The demands of leading a country were too much for Richard and in 1660 Charles II was again crowned as King. Charles II agreed to pardon all political offenders except the regicides and judges of King Charles I. In May, 1660, the House of Commons ordered the arrest of all the judges. It is historical fact that the day before the warrant was issued, two of the judges, Major General William Goffe and his father-in-law Major General Edward Whalley, set sail for America. Under assumed names they boarded the Prudence Mary and headed to New England where they would spend 30 years in hiding.
Estimates on Carrier's arrival in New England vary, but it was sometime near 1665. His first stop was Cambridge, Massachusetts, although he would soon move to the village of Billerica. The public records of Billerica state that; "Carrier, Tho., 'vulgarly called Morgan' was in town in 1674.... 1676 the Selectmen ordered the constable to give notice to Thomas Carrier, alias Morgan Welchman, that the town was not willing he should abide here, as an inhabitant, and that he forwith depart with his family or give such security as shall be to the content of the Selectmen on peril of 20S per week, while he abide without leave, first had and obtained, which is according to an ancient towne order amongst us." The warning from the Billerica Selectmen was a standard response to newcomers, having the purpose of protecting the inhabitants against future responsibilities. There is no record that Carrier was ever forced to pay the 20 shilling fee either.
The records do not clearly indicate why Thomas bore the alias, an unusual activity at the time. The Carrier family genealogy states that he may have arrived with the traditional Welsh name, Morgan ap Carrier, ap being a prefix meaning "son of." However, a record of the trial of King Charles I, written in 1660, indicates that a "Thomas Wogan" was one of the signers of the King's death sentence. It is possible that Thomas (Morgan) Carrier escaped the order for arrest because of a messy signature, the 1660 author mistaking the last name Morgan for Wogan. The family genealogy goes on to state that, since he was known as Morgan to the English, he may have used the name Carrier to help him reach New England.
Another report which may make a possible connection between Carrier and the regicides comes from Dr. Stiles, President of Yale University in the 1700s. Stiles recorded from the diary of Major General William Goffe, a list of nineteen men "Condemned and in the Tower, but" reports Goffe, "Morgan was not in the Tower."
The next mention of Carrier comes in November, 1677, when he and his employee John Levistone were assigned to cut brush in Billerica. Finally, Carrier took the "Oath of Fidelity" on February 4, 1667-8 and was officially recognized as an inhabitant of Billerica. After Carrier was accepted into the community it is interesting that he was listed as being the second highest taxpayer in the community.
At this point it seems that Carrier moved three or four times between Billerica and Andover. In accordance with standard procedure, Carrier received the usual warning from the Andover Selectmen. In 1672, while in Andover, Carrier met Martha Ingalls Allen, who was 20 years younger than himself. In 1674, the couple was married and after the birth of their second child in 1677 they moved back to Billerica. There are conflicting reports about the couple's activity between 1684 and 1690. Some records have the Carriers paying taxes in North Billerica and others claim he was a taxpayer in Andover. A reference in "New England Families" by Wm. R. Cutter may shed some light on the unstable situation; "The Carriers found the Puritans of Massachusetts unfriendly, unkindly and eventually hostile."
After Martha's father died in October, 1690, the Carriers moved back to Andover to be with her elderly mother. What happened next would result in accusations of witchcraft and tragedy for the Carrier family. It was the beginning of the witch hysteria started in Salem and this dark episode of history would effect the Carrier family deeply. The details of this sad event and the lives of the Carriers in Marlborough will be the topic of next week's story, "The Strange Story of Thomas Carrier, Part 2."
Sources; Carrier Genealogy 1986
Remembering the Witch Hunt's Victims by Laura Shapiro, Newsweek, August 31, 1992
The Strange Story of Thomas Carrier, Part 2
Martha Carrier Accused of Being a Witch
By Kevin Tulimieri MARLBOROUGH- When Thomas Carrier arrived in New England,
he already had a mysterious and historic past. Carrier family tradition
maintains that Thomas was involved in the exicution of King Charles I in
1649. Eventually, Carrier found his way to New
England and married Martha Ingalls Allen in 1674. At first the couple lived in Andover, Massachusetts, then after the birth of their second son they moved to the nearby village of Billerica.
After what must have been a joyful time for the Carriers, now with three
sons and two daughters, tough times began in 1690. The next two Carrier
children died as infants from the common
17th century disease of smallpox. Although Boston had already been hit with several smallpox epidemics, the smaller villages had been spared so far. When Martha's father also died later
that year, the Carriers moved back to Andover to live with Martha's mother. They are noted in public records as receiving the standard, but ominous, warning from the Andover Selectmen to
"move on." Unfortunately for the Carriers, they brought the smallpox virus with them to Andover and it quickly spread to Martha's family. Within two months of the arrival of the Carriers, nine people had died from the illness. The victims included Martha's two brothers, her sister-in-law and a nephew, all living in Martha's mother's house when the Carriers arrived. Suspicion about Martha began to surface. The fact that her husband and children had been stricken with smallpox, but none of them died, would have been interpreted as proof that Martha possessed special powers.
To make her situation worse, after the death of her two brothers Martha took charge of her father's estate. In colonial New England, the ownership of land by women was seriously frowned
upon and considered improper behavior. She immediately ran into friction with her neighbors, threatening vengeance upon those she believed were cheating her or her husband. Martha was
described as "a woman of a disposition not unlikely to make enemies; plain and outspoken in her speech, of remarkable strength of mind, a keen sense of justice, and a sharp tongue."
Not far from Andover in Salem Village, the witchcraft hysteria was beginning to pick up momentum. The troubles in Salem started when some impressionable young girls began listening to stories told by the minister's servant Tituba, a slave from Barbados, West Indies. Soon the minister's daughter, Elizabeth Parris, became ill and refused to eat. Other Salem girls began throwing fits, having strange dreams and making animal-like noises. Some of them developed spots that looked like pin pricks and teeth marks. They were examined by Dr. William Griggs, who could not find any reason for the state of the girls and proclaimed, "The evil hand is upon them." When the girls were asked who was bewitching them, they named Tituba, an obvious pagan, and a couple old beggar women. As the women were dragged off to jail and put on trial, the girls' popularity rose and they became regarded as visionaries. The witch-hunt had begun.
Shortly thereafter in Andover, Joseph Ballard's wife came down with
an illness that the normal herb remedies failed to cure. He suspected witchcraft
and rode to Salem to enlist the help of the
now prestigious Salem girls. The girls arrived in Andover with great ceremony and announced that Ballard's wife was indeed bewitched, naming Martha Carrier and others as witches. A warrant was signed for Martha's arrest on May 28, 1692, the first person in Andover to be charged with witchcraft. She was taken to jail and placed in chains to keep her spirit from roaming. Three days later, Martha underwent the "examination" that preceded witchcraft trials. During the examination, most accused witches made confessions to avoid the extreme penalty of death. Not Martha, she maintained her innocence in the face of the scrutiny. She was then transported to the Salem Village Meeting House to face the notorious Salem girls. When Martha entered the Meeting House the girls fell to the floor writhing with cries of agony.
After the elders read the indictment, naming Mary Wolcott of Salem as
the victim, Martha responded with a plea of "not guilty." From the
floor of the Meeting House the Salem girls responded, "I would see the
souls of the 13 persons whom she murdered at Andover." Martha was also
confronted by five women and children from Salem who claimed to be suffering
from her. Susannah Shelden claimed that her hands were tied together with
a wheel band by Martha's specter. The magistrates asked, "Susannah, who
hurts you?" Her response was clear, "Goody
Carrier. She bites me, pinches me and tells me she would cut my throat if I did not sign her devil's book."
Witnesses in the court said they saw a "black man" whispering in Martha's ear as she stood at the bar in front of the magistrates. When they questioned her, "What black man did you see?" Martha replied sharply, "I saw no black man but your own presence." Pushed on by the confrontation Martha proclaimed, " You lie; I am wronged.... It is false and it is a shame for you to mind what these say, that are out of their wits!" Her defiance and confrontational attitude only helped confirm the magistrates' opinion of her guilt. The accusers persisted and Martha was formally indicted. She was bound in chains and taken to jail to await further trial while more evidence could be found. Martha's two oldest sons, Andrew and Richard, and her seven and a half year old daughter, Sarah, were also put in jail as suspected witches. During their stay, the children confessed that they were witches and it was their mother that made them witches. It is reported that Andrew and Richard were "tied neck and heel until the blood was ready to come out of their noses" before they confessed. Under the persuasive magistrates, the children related time, place and occasion of their "evil" behavior. They told the examiners about journeys, meetings and "mischiefs by them performed, and were very credible in what they said." However, the sons' testimony was never heard in court, the magistrates feeling there was enough other evidence.
On August 2, 1692 a special court of Oyer and Terminer was held in Salem
to deal with six accused witches, including Martha Carrier. When the witnesses
were brought before the court the
evidence against Martha was overwhelming. All of the past arguments Martha ever had were brought up and there were many facts which "looked greatly against her." Martha again pleaded
not guilty, but the proceedings continued, "there was first brought in a considerable number of the bewitched persons, who not only made the court sensible of an horrid witchcraft committed upon them, but also deposed that it was Martha Carrier, or her shape, that grievously tormented them by biting, pricking, pinching and choking them. It was further disposed that while this Carrier was on her examination before the magistrates, the poor people were so tormented that everyone expected their death on the very spot; but that upon the binding of Carrier they were ceased. Moreover, the looks of Carrier then laid the afflicted people for dead and her touch, if her eyes
were at the same time off them, raised them again. Which things were also now seen upon her trial. And it was testified that upon mention of some having their necks twisted almost round by
the shape of this Carrier, she replied, 'It's no matter, though their necks had been twisted quite off.' " The witnesses then came individually before the magistrates. Martha's neighbor Phebe Chandler testified that she heard Martha's voice over her head as she walked across a field. She
claimed that the voice told her she would be poisoned within two or three days. A few days later Chandler reports that her right hand and part of her face had become swollen and painful.
Another neighbor, Benjamin Abbott, testified that there were angry words
between them concerning a land dispute. Shortly afterwards Abbott became
ill with swelling in his foot and then
with a pain in his side. The sore in his side was lanced by the local doctor and released "gallons of
corruption." Abbott's pain grew worse and worse over six weeks, bringing him close to death.
Mysteriously, as soon as Martha was put in jail, Abbott began to regain his health.
The testimony continued with Andover resident John Rogers. He came before
the court to state that "one of his cows which used to give a good mess
of milk would give none... Carrier being a
malicious woman." Even Martha's own nephew, Allen Toothacker, stood in front of the magistrates and testified that he "lost a three-year-old heifer, next a yearling, and then a cow and knew not any cause of ye deaths... but I always feared it hath been ye effect of my Aunt Carrier's her malice." Toothacker also stated that during a fight with Richard Carrier he was held on
the ground by Martha's spirit. But the hardest part of the trials for Martha must have been when her young daughter Sarah was brought before the court. 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.
Sources; The Carrier Genealogy 1986
Remembering the Witch Hunt Victims by Laura Shapiro, Newsweek 1992