Mary Easty Facts
Known for: hanged as a witch in the 1692 Salem witch trials
Age at time of Salem witch trials: about 58
Dates: baptized August 24, 1634, died September 22, 1692
Also known as: Mary Towne, Mary Town, Mary Esty, Mary Estey, Mary Eastey, Goody Eastie, Goody Easty, Mary Easte, Marah Easty, Mary Estick, Mary Eastick
Family, Background: Her father was William Towne and her mother Joanna (Jone or Joan) Blessing Towne (~1595 - June 22, 1675), accused once of witchcraft herself. William and Joanna arrived in America around 1640. Among Mary's siblings were Rebecca Nurse (arrested March 24 and hanged June 19) and Sarah Cloyse (arrested April 4, case dismissed January 1693).
Mary married Isaac Easty, a well-to-do farmer born in England, around 1655 - 1658. They had eleven children, seven alive in 1692. They lived in Topsfield, rather than either Salem Town or Village.
Mary Easty and the Salem Witch Trials
Rebecca Nurse, Mary Easty's sister and a well-respected matron, was denounced as a witch by Abigail Williams and arrested on March 24. Their sister, Sarah Cloyce, defended Rebecca, and was ordered arrested on April 4. Sarah was examined on April 11.
A warrant was issued for Mary Easty's arrest on April 21, and she was taken into custody. The next day, she was examined by John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin, as were Nehemiah Abbott Jr., William and Deliverance Hobbs, Edward Bishop Jr. and his wife Sarah, Mary Black, Sarah Wildes and Mary English. During Mary Easty's examination, Abigail Williams, Mary Walcott, Ann Putnam Jr., and John Indian said that she was hurting them, and that their "mouths were stopt." Elizabeth Hubbard cried "Goody Easty you are the woman...." Mary Easty maintained her innocence. Rev. Samuel Parris took the notes on the examination.
E: I will say it, if it was my last time, I am clear of this sin.
Of what sin?
E: Of witchcraft.
Despite her assertions of innocence, she was sent to jail.
On May 18, Mary Easty was set free; existing records do not show why. Two days later, Mercy Lewis experienced new afflictions and she and several other girls claimed to see Mary Easty's specter; she was charged again and arrested in the middle of the night. Immediately, Mercy Lewis' fits ceased. More evidence was gathered by deposition and during several days of examination of Mary Easty in late May.
A jury of inquest considered Mary Easty's case on August 3-4, and heard testimony of many witnesses.
In September, officials gathered witnesses for the trial of Mary Easty among others. On September 9, Mary Easty was pronounced guilty of witchcraft by a trial jury and sentenced to death. Also found guilty that day were Mary Bradbury, Martha Corey, Dorcas Hoar, Alice Parker and Ann Pudeator.
She and her sister, Sarah Cloyce, petitioned the court together for a "fayre and equall hearing" of evidence for them as well as against them. They argued that they had no opportunity to defend themselves and were not allowed any counsel, and that spectral evidence was not dependable. Mary Easty also added a second petition with a plea was focused more on others than herself: "I petition your honors not for my own life, for I know I must die, and my appointed time is set .... if it be possible, that no more blood be shed."
On September 22, Mary Easty, Martha Corey (whose husband Giles Corey had been pressed to death on September 19), Alice Parker, Mary Parker, Ann Pudeator, Wilmott Redd, Margaret Scott and Samuel Wardwell were hanged for witchcraft. Rev. Nicholas Noyes officiated at this last execution in the Salem witch trials, saying after the execution, "What a sad thing it is to see eight firebrands of hell hanging there."
In a quite different spirit, Robert Calef described Mary Easty's end in his later book, More Wonders of the Invisible World:
Mary Easty, Sister also to Rebecka Nurse, when she took her last farewell of her Husband, Children and Friends, was, as is reported by them present, as Serious, Religious, Distinct, and Affectionate as could well be expressed, drawing Tears from the Eyes of almost all present.
Mary Easty After the Trials
In November, Mary Herrick testified that Mary Easty's ghost visited her and said that she was innocent.
In 1711, Mary Easty's family received 20 pounds compensation and Mary Easty's attainder was reversed. Isaac Easty died on June 11, 1712.
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