Goodwife Thorpe Testifies in Witchcraft Trial
07 August 1655
Elizabeth Godman is called before the Court to answer charges of witchcraft. Although she is not named, "Goodwife" Thorp is probably the first wife of William Thorp.
At a Court held at New Haven the 7th of Aug 1655 Mr. Goodyear's Charges Goodwife Thorpe's Charges Goodwife Hodgkins Withdraws Her Charges Mr. Goodyear Adds to His Charges Elizabeth Godman Responds to Mr. Goodyear's Charges Allen Ball's Charges Mistress Yale's Charge Goodwife Thorpe Adds Another Charge The Court Rules and Passes Sentence At a Court held at New Haven the 4th of Sep 1655 The Court Amends the Sentence Links Contact us
At a Court held at New Haven the 7th of Aug 1655
Elizabeth Godman was called before the Court, and told that she lies under suspicion for witchcraft, as she knows, the grounds of which were examined in a former Court, and by herself confessed to be just grounds of suspicion, which passages were now read, and to these some more are since added, which are now to be declared.
Mr. Goodyear's Charges
Mr. Goodyear said that the last winter, upon occasion of God's afflicting hand upon the plantation by sickness, the private meeting where of he is had appointed to set a day apart to seek God: Elizabeth Godman desired she might be there;
He told her she was under suspicion, and it would be offensive; she said she had great need of it, for she was exercised with many temptations, and saw strange apparitions, and lights about her bed, and strange sights which affrighted her:
Some of his family said if she was afraid they would work with her in the day and lie with her in the night, but she refused and was angry and said she would have none to be with her for she had her spiritual armor about her.
She was asked the reason of this: she answered, she said so to Mr. Goodyear, but it was her fancy troubled her, and she would have none lie with her because her bed was weak:
She was told that might have been mended: then she said she was not willing to have any of them with her, for if anything had fallen ill with them they would have said that she had been the cause.
Goodwife Thorpe's Charges
Goodwife Thorpe informed the Court that concerning something about chickens she had formerly declared, which was now read, after which she one time had some speech with Mistress Evance about this woman (Elizabeth Godman), and through the weakness of her faith she began to doubt that may be she would hurt her cows,
And that day one of her cows fell sick in the herd, so as the keeper said he thought she would have died, but at night when she came into the yard was well and continued so, but (the cow) would never give milk nor bring calf after that;
Therefore they bought another cow, that they might have some breed, but that cast calf also; after that they got another, and she continued well about a fortnight, but then began to pine away and would give no milk and would sweat so as she would be all of a water where ever she lay, without or within;
Then she thought there was some thing more than ordinary in it, and could not but think that she was bewitched; God helped her to examine herself, and to be humbled for her unbelief, and to seek him twice or thrice to deliver the beast, but upon the day that John Knight was executed (having more freedom than ordinary) she sought God earnestly to resist the evil spirit, and it the beast was ill by that means he would deliver it, and presently the Lord answered and the beast was well and continues so.
About a week after, she went by Mr Goodyear's, and there was Eliza Godman pulling cherries in the street; She said, "How doth Goody Thorp? I am beholden to Goody Thorpe above all the women in the Town; she would have had me to the gallows for a few chickens"; and gnashed and grinned with her teeth in a strange manner, which she (Elizabeth Godman) confesseth was true, but owned nothing about the cows.
Goodwife Hodgkins Withdraws Her Charges
Other passages there were about Goodwife Hodgkins churning and at Mr. Samuel Eatons also, who after some discontent which her or something spoke of her have met with many hinderances in their way, and Goodwife Hodgkins said many time, but saith she cannot charge her with it.
Mr. Goodyear Adds to his Charges
Mr. Goodyear further declared that about three weeks ago he had a very great disturbance in his family in the night (Eliza Godman having been the day before much discontented because Mr. Goodyear warned her to provide her another place to live in;
His daughter Sellevant, Hannah Goodyear, and Desire Lamberton lying together in the chamber under Eliza Godman; after they were in bed they heard her walk up and down and talk aloud, but could not tell what she said; then they heard her go down the stairs and come up again;
They fell asleep, but were after awakened with a great fumbling at the chamber door, and something came into the chamber which jumbled at the other end of the room and about the trunk and among their shoes and at the bed head; it came nearer the bed and Hannah was afraid and called father, but he heard not, which made her more afraid:
Their clothes were pulled off their bed by something two or three times; they held and something pulled, which frighted them so that Hannah Goodyear called her father so loud as was thought might be heard to the meeting-house (Mr. Goodyear's house was on Chapel street, near Temple), but the noise was heard to Mr. Samuel Eatons by them that watched with her (the wife of Mr. Eaton, son of the Governor, was then at the point of death);
So after a while Mr. Goodyear came and found them in a great fright; they lighted a candle and he went to Eliza Godman's chamber and asked her why she disturbed the family; she said, no, she was scared also and thought the house had been on fire,
Yet the next day she said in the family that she knew nothing til Mr. Goodyear came up, which she saith is true she heard the noise but knew not the cause till Mr. Goodyear came;
Elizabeth Godman Responds to Mr. Goodyear's Charges
And being asked why she went downstairs after she was gone up to bed, she said to light a candle to look for two grapes she had lost in the floor and feared the mice would play with them in the night an disturb the family, which reason in the Courts apprehension renders her more suspicious.
Allen Ball's Charges
Allen Ball informed the Court that one time Eliza Godman came to his house and asked his wife for some buttermilk; she refused, and bid her be gone, she cared not for her company; she replied, what, you will save it for your pigs, but it will do them no good; and after this his pigs all but one died, one after another, but the cause he knows not.
Another time she came into his yard; his wife asked what she came for; she said to see her calf; now they had a sucking calf, which hey tied in the lot to a great post that lay on the ground, and the calf ran away with that post as if it had been a feather and ran among Indian corn and pulled up two hills and stood still;
After he tied the calf to a long heavy rail, as much as he could well lift, and one time she came into the yard and looked on the calf and it set a running and drew the rail after it til it came to a fence and gave a great cry in a lowing way and stood still; and in the winter the calf died, do what he could, yet eat its meat well enough.
Mistress Yale's Charge
Some other passages were spoken of about Mistress Yale, that one time there being some word betwixt them, with which Eliza Godman was unsatisfied, the night following Mistress Yale's things were thrown about the house in a strange manner;
Goodwife Thorpe Adds Another Charge
And one time being at Goodman Thorpe's, about weaving some cloth, in which something discontented her, and that night they had a great noise in their house, which much affrighted them, but they know not what it was.
The Court Rules and Passes Sentence
These things being declared, the Court told Elizabeth Godman that they have considered them, with her former miscarriages, and see cause to order that she be committed to prison, there to abide the court's pleasure, but because the matter is of weight, and the crime whereof she is suspected capital, therefore she is to answer it at the Court of Magistrates in October next.
At a Court held at New Haven the 4th of Sep 1655
Elizabeth Godman was called and told that the Court have considered her case according as things have been presented, and find the suspicion of her lewd miscarriages exceeding strong, for which she had not been a prisoner since the last Court,
The Court Amends the Sentence
But considering her weakness and with respect to her health, they do now release her from the prison, but do order that she without any further warning and at her peril attend the Court of Magistrates the third Wednesday in October next to answer such things as shall be laid to her charge,
And seeing Thomas Johnson is willing to receive her into his family, she hath liberty to remain there, but must not go up and down among neighbors to give offense, or come to the contribution (the offering for the support of the ministry, made in a formal manner every Sunday by going up to the table before the pulpit) as she hath formerly done, and that she pay the Marshall for the charge and trouble he hath been at with her, during the time of her imprisonment.
Note: Elizabeth Godman died in 1660. The good people of New Haven spent 5 months arguing over the disposition of the estate she left behind.
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