Sunday, August 12, 2012
Danes in the Salem Witch Trials
One of my birthday presents was the historical fiction novel 'The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane' by Katherine Howe which I'm now almost finished with. Despite the familiar last name, I was not aware that Deliverance Dane was a real person, but she was. As it turns out, I already had her in my own family tree files but didn't realize it until after I received the book.
I did know that one of my direct ancestors, John Dane, was one of the jurors in the Salem Witch trials, and I had a general sense that we had relatives who were accused as well but didn't know any of the specifics. This book got me started looking into the family history in the trials and I was able to find a great deal more just from searches on the internet.
The first Danes to arrive in New England were John Dane and his wife Frances Bowyer and their three grown children John, Francis, and Elizabeth. The Danes all lived in Andover and Ipswich, towns near Salem, north of Boston.
1. John Dane = Frances Bowyer
-- 2. Elizabeth Dane (later Howe or How)
-- 2. Dr. John Dane
-- 2. Revd. Francis Dane (Named but never officially accused or charged)
What struck me when I was researching all this is that once a family was accused, the entire household was typically either accused or actually charged. This was particularly true for the Reverend Francis Dane. He was the pastor at Andover for over 40 years and by 1692 he was 76 years old. He had a long-running dispute with the town because a younger pastor was brought in in 1682 and the two were splitting the typical salary of the town reverend. Two of his daughters and his daughter-in-law (Deliverance) were accused of witchcraft.
-- 2. Revd. Francis Dane = Elizabeth Ingalls
---- 3. Hannah Dane
---- 3. Elizabeth Dane (Johnson) - Found Not Guilty
---- 3. Phoebe Dane
---- 3. Abigail Dane (Faulkner) - Found Guilty, not executed because she was pregnant, later pardoned
---- 3. Nathaniel Dane = Deliverance Hazeltine - Accused
---- 3. Francis Dane
Following the theme, the children of these accused women were also arrested:
---- 3. Elizabeth Dane (Johnson) = Stephen Johnson
------ 4. Elizabeth Johnson (age 22) - Found Guilty/Pardoned
------ 4. Stephen Johnson (age 14) - Indicted/Not Tried
------ 4. Abigail Johnson (age 11) - Accused
---- 3. Abigail Dane (Faulkner) = Francis Faulkner
------ 4. Dorothy Faulkner (age 10) - Released on Bond
------ 4. Abigail Faulkner (age 8) - Released on Bond
I'm going to include a spoiler here regarding Deliverance and her family. In case you were unclear, Katherine Howe's novel is fiction and clearly the events in the book for Deliverance and her family and the names of the various players directly involved with her are composites. If you think finding out what really happened to Deliverance and her family will ruin the book for you, stop reading here.
Okay, for those still with me, the real-life Deliverance and Nathaniel actually had seven children, five of them born prior to 1692. In the book, they only have one. In any case, I haven't found any records indicating that they were involved in the trials. Deliverance's own story (like in the book) is obscured from the records and it's unclear whether she was ever arrested. She wasn't executed. She had two children after 1692 and lived until 1735.
Another family member wasn't so lucky, though. Revd. Francis's nephew James Howe's wife Elizabeth was one of the 20 people executed. Her granddaughter also accused along with several other family members (not mentioned here).
-- 2. Elizabeth Dane (Howe) = James Howe
---- 3. James Howe Jr. = Elizabeth Jackson (Howe) - Guilty/Executed
---- 3. Sarah Howe (Bridges) = John Bridges
------ 4. Sarah Bridges (age 20) - Not Guilty
By the way, in her bio, Katherine Howe indicates that she is a descendant of the unfortunate Elizabeth Jackson Howe, which means that she is also a Dane descendant.
Not to be forgotten is Dr. John Dane, whose son, John Jr. (my direct ancestor) was one of the jurors in at least one of the trials and signed a document several years later that apologized for their part in the trials. It is known that John Jr. was involved in the trial of Rebecca Nurse, but may have been involved in others as well.
-- 2. Dr. John Dane = Eleanor Clark
---- 3. John Dane - Juror / Declaration of Regret
There are several other connections to this family by marriage as well, particularly the families of Revd. Francis Dane's wife Elizabeth Ingalls. It's all quite remarkable. For more information on these other family connections, there's a great post on the Ancestry.com message boards by fellow Dane descendant Walter Crean (which I borrowed from, thank you Walter). A great deal of my recent research involved taking various internet sources and comparing against the Wikipedia entry for People Involved in the Salem Witch Trials, a great resource which I encourage you to use if you want to read more about those involved. When I get a chance, I am going to try to detail the other family connections. I will post here when I do.