Person:Mary Towne (1)

m. 25 APR 1620
  1. Rebecca Towne1621 - 1692
  2. John Towne1624 -
  3. Susanna Towne1625 - 1664
  4. Sergeant Edmund Towne1628 - bef 1678
  5. Jacob Towne1630/31 - 1704
  6. Jacob Towne1633 -
  7. Mary Towne1634 - 1692
  8. Sarah Towne1635/36 - 1703
  9. Joseph Towne1639 - 1711/12
m. 1655
  1. Isaac Estey1656 - 1714
  2. Joseph Estey1658/9 - 1739
  3. Sarah Estey1660 - 1749
  4. John Estey1661 - 1720
  5. Abigail EsteyABT 1665 -
  6. Hannah Estey1667 - 1741
  7. Benjamin Estey1669 - 1750
  8. Samuel Estey1672 - BEF 1709
  9. Jacob Estey1674 - 1732
  10. Joshua Estey1678 - BEF 1718
Facts and Events
Name Mary Towne
Gender Female
Birth? 24 AUG 1634 Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England
Marriage 1655 Topsfield,Essex,Massachusetts,USAto Isaac Estey
Alt Marriage 1656 Salem, Essex, Massachusettsto Isaac Estey
Death? 22 Sep 1692 Salem, Essex, Massachusetts, United StatesSalem Witch Trials


the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Mary Towne Eastey (also spelled Esty, Easty, Estey, or Estye) (bap. August 24, 1634 – September 22, 1692) was a victim of the Salem witch trials of 1692. Mary's sisters, Rebecca Nurse and Sarah Cloyce, were also accused of witchcraft. Mary and Rebecca were executed, but Sarah was not.


Salem Witch Trials in History and Literature Written by Anne Taite Austin Considering the assumption that witchcraft was hereditary, Mary (Towne) Easty was certain to be accused of witchcraft after her sister, Rebecca (Towne) Nurse, was condemned for her unwavering appeal of innocence. Mary Easty was not a member of Salem Town or Village, but a resident of Topsfield, a settlement just north of the Village. Animosity had festered between members of Salem Village and Topsfield since 1639 when the General Court of Massachusetts granted Salem permission to expand northward in the direction of the Ipswich River, but then only four years later the same court authorized inhabitants of another Village, Ipswich, to found a settlement there. As land became scarcer, quarrels regarding boundaries between the settlement to become known as Topsfield and Salem went on for a century. The Putnams of Salem Village embodied this battle in their quarrels with the Nurse family, Mary Easty's brother-in-law. According to Boyer and Nissenbaum in Salem Possessed, considering the bitterness between these families, it can be seen as no coincidence that the three Towne sisters, Rebecca Nurse, Sarah Cloyce and Mary Easty, were all daughters and wives of Topsfield men eventually to be persecuted by Putnam women in 1692 on behalf of Putnam men.

More interesting than the accusations against Easty is her experience during the trials. She was accused on April 21, examined on the 22nd, and imprisoned after denying her guilt. During her examination, Magistrate John Hathorne aggressively questioned Easty, or more accurately, tried to lead her to a confession by the following line of questioning:

"How can you say you know nothing when you see these tormented [girls], & accuse you that you know nothing?" "Would you have me accuse myself?" "Yes if you be guilty." "Sir, I never complied but prayed against [the devil] all my dayes... I will say it, if it was my last time, I am clear of this sin."

In a surprising moment, Hathorne, clearly affected by the convincing manner with which Easty spoke, turned to the accusers and asked, "Are you certain this is the woman?" This question acted as a symbol for the accusers to release their full energy into tormented fits. Hathorne was now convinced and imprisoned Easty. The girls, however, seemed not to be fully convinced of their own accusations. Perhaps due to pressure from community around Easty, all of the accusers, except Mercy Lewis, began to back off their claims and Easty was released from jail on May 18.

The details of what happened next provide undeniable clues about the power of the accusers and the impossibility of conducting a fair juridical process. After Easty's release, Mercy Lewis fell into violent fits and appeared to be approaching death. Mercy Lewis later explained that Easty was tormenting her, and "said [Easty] would kill [Lewis] before midnight because she did not cleare hir so as the Rest did." (Salem Witchcraft Papers, I: 124) Mary Walcott, Abigail Williams and Ann Putnam were brought to her bedside in an effort to discover who was tormenting Mercy. Along the path to the Mercy's house, Ann and Abigail explained that they saw Easty's specter tormenting Mercy, strongly suggesting a collaboration effort had already taken place before Mercy began her torments. Frances Hill in A Delusion of Satan calls this episode a propaganda scheme to show doubting Villagers the dire consequences of freeing witches from jail. Mercy and four others cried out against Easty on May 20. Mercy's fits did not cease until Easty was back in prison in irons demonstrating the effective power of the accusers.

While Easty remained in jail awaiting her September 9 trial, she and her sister, Sarah Cloyce, composed a petition to the magistrates in which they asked, in essence, for a fair trial. They complained that they were "neither able to plead our owne cause, nor is councell allowed." They suggested that the judges ought to serve as their counsel and that they be allowed persons to testify on their behalf. Easty hoped her good reputation in Topsfield and the words of her minister might aid her case in Salem, a town of strangers. Lastly, the sisters asked that the testimony of accusers and other "witches" be dismissed considering it was predominantly spectral evidence that lacked legality. (Salem Witchcraft Papers, I: 303) The sisters hoped that the judges would be forced to weigh solid character testimony against ambiguous spectral evidence. The petition did not change the outcome of Easty's trial, for she was condemned to hang on September 17th. But together with her second petition, Easty had forced the court to consider its flaws.

Easty's second petition was written not as a last attempt to save her own life but as a plea that "no more innocent blood may be shed." (SWP I :304) She concedes saying that the court had the best of intentions, but only more innocent deaths would occur if the court continued its practices, for she like many others could not "belie [their] own soul." She proposes two strategies for the court in to use when determining witchcraft: First, she asks that the accusers be kept apart to see if under such circumstances they would all tell the same experiences. If they were able to give similar credible accounts of their spectral experiences then any doubt would be removed as to the guilt or innocence of the person on trial. This proposal brings to mind Thomas Brattle's observation in his famous Letter of October 8, 1692 that the accusers, when not claiming to be attacked by specters, were otherwise in good health. Easty was obviously not the only skeptic of the accusers' spectral torments. Secondly, Easty proposed that all confessing witches be brought to trial as well as those confessing innocence. Rosenthal writes in A Salem Story that in an atmosphere of rising doubt, "for the court to ignore Easty's challenge would be to acknowledge to the critics that the proceedings were fatally flawed - that the hunt was not really for witches after all but for validating the court."

Easty was hanged on September 22, 1692. Her demeanor at Gallows Hill is documented by Calef: "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 exprest, drawing tears from the eyes of almost all present." Easty challenged the court to no personal avail, but she exposed the weakness of the court for the benefit of others. Petition of Mary Easty The humbl petition of Mary Eastick unto his Excellency's S'r W'm Phipps to the honour'd Judge and Bench now Sitting in Judicature in Salem and the Reverend ministers humbly sheweth

That whereas your poor and humble petitioner being condemned to die Doe humbly begg of you to take it into your Judicious and pious considerations that your Poor and humble petitioner knowing my own Innocencye Blised be the Lord for it and seeing plainly the wiles and subtility of my accusers by my Selfe can not but Judge charitably of others that are going the same way of my selfe if the Lord stepps not mightily in i was confined a whole month upon the same account that I am condemned now for and then cleared by the afflicted persons as some of your honours know and in two dayes time I was cryed out upon by them and have been confined and now am condemned to die the Lord above knows my Innocence then and Likewise does now as att the great day will be know to men and Angells -- I Petition to your honours not for my own life for I know I must die and my appointed time is sett but the Lord he knowes it is that if it be possible no more Innocent blood may be shed which undoubtidly cannot be Avoyded In the way and course you goe in I question not but your honours does to the uttmost of your Powers in the discovery and detecting of witchcraft and witches and would not be gulty of Innocent blood for the world but by my own Innocency I know you are in this great work if it be his blessed you that no more Innocent blood be shed I would humbly begg of you that your honors would be plesed to examine theis Afflicted Persons strictly and keep them apart some time and Likewise to try some of these confesing wichis I being confident there is severall of them has belyed themselves and others as will appeare if not in this wor[l]d I am sure in the world to come whither I am now agoing and I Question not but youle see and alteration of thes things they my selfe and others having made a League with the Divel we cannot confesse I know and the Lord knowes as will shortly appeare they belye me and so I Question not but they doe others the Lord above who is the Searcher of all hearts knows that as I shall answer att the Tribunall seat that I know not the least thinge of witchcraft therfore I cannot I dare not belye my own soule I beg your honers not to deny this my humble petition from a poor dy ing Innocent person and I Question not but the Lord will give a blesing to yor endevers (Reverse) To his Excellency S'r W'm Phipps: Govern'r and to the honoured Judge and Magistrates now setting in Judicature in Salem.

EXAMINATION OF MARY EASTY, APRIL 22, 1692 The examination of Mary Eastie. At a Court held at Salem village 22.Apr. 1692 By the Hon. John Hathorne & Jonathan Corwin. At the bringing in of the the accused severall fell into fits. Doth this woman hurt you? [EXAMINERS' NOTE: Many mouths were stopt, & several other fits seized them Abig: Williams said it was Goody Eastie, & she had hurt her, the like said Mary Walcot, & Ann Putman, John indian said her saw her with Goody Hobbs.] What do you say, are you guilty? EASTY: I can say before Christ Jesus, I am free. You see these accuse you. There is a God-- Hath she brought the book to you? Their mouths were stopt. What have you done to these children? E: I know nothing. How can you say you know nothing, when you see these tormented, & accuse you that you know nothing? Would you have me accuse my self? E: Yes if you be guilty. How far have you complyed w'th Satan whereby he takes this advantage ag't you? E: Sir, I never complyed but prayed against him all my dayes, I have no complyance with Satan in this. What would you have me do? Confess if you be guilty. E: I will say it, if it was my last time, I am clear of this sin. Of what sin? E: Of witchcraft. Are you certain this is the woman? [EXAMINERS' NOTE: Never a one could speak for fits.By and by Ann Putman said that was the woman, it was like her, & she told me her name; It is marvailous to me that you should sometimes think they are bewitcht, & sometimes not, when severall confess that I never knew? Her hands were clincht together, & then the hands of Mercy Lewis was clincht Look now you hands are open, her hands are open. Is this the woman? They made signes but could not speak, but Ann Putman afterwards Betty Hubbard cryed out Oh, Goody Easty, Goody Easty you are the woman, you are the woman Put up her head, for while her head is bowed the necks of these are broken.] What do you say to this? E: Why God will know. Nay God knows now. E: I know he dos. What did you think of the actions of others before your sisters came out, did you think it was Witchcraft? E: I cannot tell. Why do you not think it is Witchcraft? E: It is an evil spirit, but wither it be witchcraft I do not know, [EXAMINERS' NOTE:Sevrall said she brought them the Book and then they fell into fits.] Salem Village March 24'th. 1691/2. Mr Sam'l parris being disired to take in wrighting the Examination of Mary Eastie hath delivered itt as aforesaid Upon heareing the aforesaid, and seeing what wee then did see, togeather with the Charge: of the persons then present Wee Committed s'd. Mary Easte to theire Majest's Goale John Hathorne Jonathan.Corwin

Mary Easty, a wife and a mother, was well respected in Salem. She was a kind, religious woman whose dignified demeanor fit the strict Puritan mold. But even she was not safe from the hysteria. In April 1692, she was accused of witchcraft. The accusation shocked the village. Unlike some of the other alleged witches, she was not a social outcast or an outspoken woman who may have offended the villagers. Perhaps the accusation was inspired by envy-the Eastys owned a valuable farm in Salem-or maybe Mary was a likely target after the conviction of her sister, Rebecca Nurse. Mary was calm and respectful during her examination, but the afflicted girls' cries were insistent, and she was sent to prison. She was set free a few days later, but Mercy Lewis cried out that Easty's apparition was strangling her. Her fit was so severe, Mary was put back into jail. On September 9, Mary Easty was tried and condemned despite her plea: “I never complied, but prayed against [Satan] all my days … I will say it, if it was my last time, I am clear of this sin.” Before her execution, she wrote a letter to the judges asking that “no more innocent blood be shed.” Her letter raised sympathy and doubt in Salem Village, but could not prevent the last round of hangings. Easty and seven others were carted to Gallows Hill on September 22. John Calef described the scene in 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 Estey tried as witch


BIOGRAPHY: Salem Witch Trials in History and Literature Written by Anne Taite Austin Considering the assumption that witchcraft was hereditary, Mary (Towne) Easty was certain to be accused of witchcraft after her sister, Rebecca (Towne) Nurse, was condemned for her unwavering appeal of innocence. Mary Easty was not a member of Salem Town or Village, but a resident of Topsfield, a settlement just north of the Village. Animosity had festered between members of Salem Village and Topsfield since 1639 when the General Court of Massachusetts granted Salem permission to expand northward in the direction of the Ipswich River, but then only four years later the same court authorized inhabitants of another Village, Ipswich, to found a settlement there. As land became scarcer, quarrels regarding boundaries between the settlement to become known as Topsfield and Salem went on for a century. The Putnams of Salem Village embodied this battle in their quarrels with the Nurse family, Mary Easty's brother-in-law. According to Boyer and Nissenbaum in Salem Possessed, considering the bitterness between these families, it can be seen as no coincidence that the three Towne sisters, Rebecca Nurse, Sarah Cloyce and Mary Easty, were all daughters and wives of Topsfield men eventually to be persecuted by Putnam women in 1692 on behalf of Putnam men.

More interesting than the accusations against Easty is her experience during the trials. She was accused on April 21, examined on the 22nd, and imprisoned after denying her guilt. During her examination, Magistrate John Hathorne aggressively questioned Easty, or more accurately, tried to lead her to a confession by the following line of questioning:

"How can you say you know nothing when you see these tormented [girls], & accuse you that you know nothing?" "Would you have me accuse myself?" "Yes if you be guilty." "Sir, I never complied but prayed against [the devil] all my dayes... I will say it, if it was my last time, I am clear of this sin."

In a surprising moment, Hathorne, clearly affected by the convincing manner with which Easty spoke, turned to the accusers and asked, "Are you certain this is the woman?" This question acted as a symbol for the accusers to release their full energy into tormented fits. Hathorne was now convinced and imprisoned Easty. The girls, however, seemed not to be fully convinced of their own accusations. Perhaps due to pressure from community around Easty, all of the accusers, except Mercy Lewis, began to back off their claims and Easty was released from jail on May 18.

The details of what happened next provide undeniable clues about the power of the accusers and the impossibility of conducting a fair juridical process. After Easty's release, Mercy Lewis fell into violent fits and appeared to be approaching death. Mercy Lewis later explained that Easty was tormenting her, and "said [Easty] would kill [Lewis] before midnight because she did not cleare hir so as the Rest did." (Salem Witchcraft Papers, I: 124) Mary Walcott, Abigail Williams and Ann Putnam were brought to her bedside in an effort to discover who was tormenting Mercy. Along the path to the Mercy's house, Ann and Abigail explained that they saw Easty's specter tormenting Mercy, strongly suggesting a collaboration effort had already taken place before Mercy began her torments. Frances Hill in A Delusion of Satan calls this episode a propaganda scheme to show doubting Villagers the dire consequences of freeing witches from jail. Mercy and four others cried out against Easty on May 20. Mercy's fits did not cease until Easty was back in prison in irons demonstrating the effective power of the accusers.

While Easty remained in jail awaiting her September 9 trial, she and her sister, Sarah Cloyce, composed a petition to the magistrates in which they asked, in essence, for a fair trial. They complained that they were "neither able to plead our owne cause, nor is councell allowed." They suggested that the judges ought to serve as their counsel and that they be allowed persons to testify on their behalf. Easty hoped her good reputation in Topsfield and the words of her minister might aid her case in Salem, a town of strangers. Lastly, the sisters asked that the testimony of accusers and other "witches" be dismissed considering it was predominantly spectral evidence that lacked legality. (Salem Witchcraft Papers, I: 303) The sisters hoped that the judges would be forced to weigh solid character testimony against ambiguous spectral evidence. The petition did not change the outcome of Easty's trial, for she was condemned to hang on September 17th. But together with her second petition, Easty had forced the court to consider its flaws.

Easty's second petition was written not as a last attempt to save her own life but as a plea that "no more innocent blood may be shed." (SWP I :304) She concedes saying that the court had the best of intentions, but only more innocent deaths would occur if the court continued its practices, for she like many others could not "belie [their] own soul." She proposes two strategies for the court in to use when determining witchcraft: First, she asks that the accusers be kept apart to see if under such circumstances they would all tell the same experiences. If they were able to give similar credible accounts of their spectral experiences then any doubt would be removed as to the guilt or innocence of the person on trial. This proposal brings to mind Thomas Brattle's observation in his famous Letter of October 8, 1692 that the accusers, when not claiming to be attacked by specters, were otherwise in good health. Easty was obviously not the only skeptic of the accusers' spectral torments. Secondly, Easty proposed that all confessing witches be brought to trial as well as those confessing innocence. Rosenthal writes in A Salem Story that in an atmosphere of rising doubt, "for the court to ignore Easty's challenge would be to acknowledge to the critics that the proceedings were fatally flawed - that the hunt was not really for witches after all but for validating the court."

Easty was hanged on September 22, 1692. Her demeanor at Gallows Hill is documented by Calef: "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 exprest, drawing tears from the eyes of almost all present." Easty challenged the court to no personal avail, but she exposed the weakness of the court for the benefit of others. Petition of Mary Easty The humbl petition of Mary Eastick unto his Excellency's S'r W'm Phipps to the honour'd Judge and Bench now Sitting in Judicature in Salem and the Reverend ministers humbly sheweth

That whereas your poor and humble petitioner being condemned to die Doe humbly begg of you to take it into your Judicious and pious considerations that your Poor and humble petitioner knowing my own Innocencye Blised be the Lord for it and seeing plainly the wiles and subtility of my accusers by my Selfe can not but Judge charitably of others that are going the same way of my selfe if the Lord stepps not mightily in i was confined a whole month upon the same account that I am condemned now for and then cleared by the afflicted persons as some of your honours know and in two dayes time I was cryed out upon by them and have been confined and now am condemned to die the Lord above knows my Innocence then and Likewise does now as att the great day will be know to men and Angells -- I Petition to your honours not for my own life for I know I must die and my appointed time is sett but the Lord he knowes it is that if it be possible no more Innocent blood may be shed which undoubtidly cannot be Avoyded In the way and course you goe in I question not but your honours does to the uttmost of your Powers in the discovery and detecting of witchcraft and witches and would not be gulty of Innocent blood for the world but by my own Innocency I know you are in this great work if it be his blessed you that no more Innocent blood be shed I would humbly begg of you that your honors would be plesed to examine theis Afflicted Persons strictly and keep them apart some time and Likewise to try some of these confesing wichis I being confident there is severall of them has belyed themselves and others as will appeare if not in this wor[l]d I am sure in the world to come whither I am now agoing and I Question not but youle see and alteration of thes things they my selfe and others having made a League with the Divel we cannot confesse I know and the Lord knowes as will shortly appeare they belye me and so I Question not but they doe others the Lord above who is the Searcher of all hearts knows that as I shall answer att the Tribunall seat that I know not the least thinge of witchcraft therfore I cannot I dare not belye my own soule I beg your honers not to deny this my humble petition from a poor dy ing Innocent person and I Question not but the Lord will give a blesing to yor endevers (Reverse) To his Excellency S'r W'm Phipps: Govern'r and to the honoured Judge and Magistrates now setting in Judicature in Salem.

EXAMINATION OF MARY EASTY, APRIL 22, 1692 The examination of Mary Eastie. At a Court held at Salem village 22.Apr. 1692 By the Hon. John Hathorne & Jonathan Corwin. At the bringing in of the the accused severall fell into fits. Doth this woman hurt you? [EXAMINERS' NOTE: Many mouths were stopt, & several other fits seized them Abig: Williams said it was Goody Eastie, & she had hurt her, the like said Mary Walcot, & Ann Putman, John indian said her saw her with Goody Hobbs.] What do you say, are you guilty? EASTY: I can say before Christ Jesus, I am free. You see these accuse you. There is a God-- Hath she brought the book to you? Their mouths were stopt. What have you done to these children? E: I know nothing. How can you say you know nothing, when you see these tormented, & accuse you that you know nothing? Would you have me accuse my self? E: Yes if you be guilty. How far have you complyed w'th Satan whereby he takes this advantage ag't you? E: Sir, I never complyed but prayed against him all my dayes, I have no complyance with Satan in this. What would you have me do? Confess if you be guilty. E: I will say it, if it was my last time, I am clear of this sin. Of what sin? E: Of witchcraft. Are you certain this is the woman? [EXAMINERS' NOTE: Never a one could speak for fits.By and by Ann Putman said that was the woman, it was like her, & she told me her name; It is marvailous to me that you should sometimes think they are bewitcht, & sometimes not, when severall confess that I never knew? Her hands were clincht together, & then the hands of Mercy Lewis was clincht Look now you hands are open, her hands are open. Is this the woman? They made signes but could not speak, but Ann Putman afterwards Betty Hubbard cryed out Oh, Goody Easty, Goody Easty you are the woman, you are the woman Put up her head, for while her head is bowed the necks of these are broken.] What do you say to this? E: Why God will know. Nay God knows now. E: I know he dos. What did you think of the actions of others before your sisters came out, did you think it was Witchcraft? E: I cannot tell. Why do you not think it is Witchcraft? E: It is an evil spirit, but wither it be witchcraft I do not know, [EXAMINERS' NOTE:Sevrall said she brought them the Book and then they fell into fits.] Salem Village March 24'th. 1691/2. Mr Sam'l parris being disired to take in wrighting the Examination of Mary Eastie hath delivered itt as aforesaid Upon heareing the aforesaid, and seeing what wee then did see, togeather with the Charge: of the persons then present Wee Committed s'd. Mary Easte to theire Majest's Goale John Hathorne Jonathan.Corwin

Mary Easty, a wife and a mother, was well respected in Salem. She was a kind, religious woman whose dignified demeanor fit the strict Puritan mold. But even she was not safe from the hysteria. In April 1692, she was accused of witchcraft. The accusation shocked the village. Unlike some of the other alleged witches, she was not a social outcast or an outspoken woman who may have offended the villagers. Perhaps the accusation was inspired by envy-the Eastys owned a valuable farm in Salem-or maybe Mary was a likely target after the conviction of her sister, Rebecca Nurse. Mary was calm and respectful during her examination, but the afflicted girls' cries were insistent, and she was sent to prison. She was set free a few days later, but Mercy Lewis cried out that Easty's apparition was strangling her. Her fit was so severe, Mary was put back into jail. On September 9, Mary Easty was tried and condemned despite her plea: “I never complied, but prayed against [Satan] all my days … I will say it, if it was my last time, I am clear of this sin.” Before her execution, she wrote a letter to the judges asking that “no more innocent blood be shed.” Her letter raised sympathy and doubt in Salem Village, but could not prevent the last round of hangings. Easty and seven others were carted to Gallows Hill on September 22. John Calef described the scene in 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.

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References
  1.   Mary Eastey, in Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. (Online: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.).