NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

March 27, 2013

Witch hunts almost claimed Salisbury victim

(Continued)

They claimed Mary’s voodoo butter made them ill and insisted that she had unleashed a storm that “lost our main mast and rigging and fifteen horses.” Her specter even haunted them on “a bright moonshining night.”

Mary was also accused of causing the death of John Carr by “dethroning his reason” and leaving him “weakened by disease, with disordered fancies.” The real skinny on the subject was that John had been slighted in love by Jane True, Mary’s daughter. He pined away for many years and lived a most dismal existence. Anne Putnam Jr. included spectral evidence provided by John Carr’s ghost confirming that Mary had killed him.

Though the ringmaster, George Carr, was long passed, his scorn with Mary was rekindled by his son Richard’s testimony. According to him, Mary transformed herself into a “blue boar” and attacked his father’s horse, causing George to fall outside her home one Sabbath. Zerubabel Endicott came forward to support the ridiculous accusation that Mary had sent her spectator to “dart at Carr.”

William Carr, apparently the only sane one from the tribe, came to Mary’s defense, giving testimony to diminish the manic fantasies of the Carr family’s plot, but it did not have much effect on the court’s noticeably partisan stance. In fact, all efforts to save Mary fell short. Mary’s husband gave a heart-wrenching plea for her innocence. He noted her “wonderful” abilities in industry and motherhood, the 11 children they lovingly shared, and her “cheerful spirit, liberal and charitable.” He asked for compassion for his aged wife who was “grieved under afflictions” and could not speak for herself, hoping the petition signed by 117 district members would speak for her.

There are no official records available to explain exactly how Mary escaped the rope, but there are many entertaining rumors among Bradbury descendants. Dr. Howard Bradbury passed on the story that Mary’s nephew from Boston appeared before Constable Baker in a phosphorescent devil’s costume, prompting him to release her. In Ancestry Magazine, Catherine Moore suggests that Mary’s husband bribed the jailers and staged a breakout with help from a muster.

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