m. 25 APR 1620
Facts and Events
The daughter of William Towne and his wife, née Joanna Blessing, Cloyce was the sister of Rebecca Nurse and Mary Easty, both of whom were hanged as witches at Salem in 1692. Her first husband was Edmund Bridges, Jr. of Topsfield and Salem, who she married in 1659/60. They had at least five children; he died in 1682. Her second husband was Peter Cloyce; he was the father of six when they married, and they had three additional children together.
Sarah Cloyce was accused of witchcraft the day after she had defended her sister Rebecca against the same charge. A few days later she was named in warrants and arrested, and transferred to Boston prison. She petitioned the court for an opportunity to present evidence which supported her innocence, and to exclude spectral evidence (testimony that the spirit of someone did something). Charges against her were dismissed on 3 January 1693. Her husband paid the fees demanded by the prison and she was released. Subsequently, she and her husband relocated, first to Marlborough, and later to Sudbury.
BIOGRAPHY: Sarah Towne - born circa 1642, in Salem, MA. He married (1) Edmund Bridges (2) Peter Cloyes. Sarah Cloyes was accused of witchcraft, in 1692 [at age 53], and put into prison, and later released. She pressed charges for her unlawful arrest and the killing of her sisters. She received three gold sovereigns for each of them. The movie, Three Sovereigns For Sister Sarah is about this event.
Indictment v. Sarah Cloyce, No. 1) Essex in the Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England Anno RR's & Reginae & Mariae Angliae &c Quarto Annoq'e Domini 1692.
The Jurors for our Soveraigne Lord & Lady the King and Queen doe present That Sarah Cloyce Wife of Peter Cloyce of Salem -- in the County of Essex Husbandman upon or about the n'th Day of April -- In the yeare aforesaid and divers other Days and times as well before as after Certaine Detestable Arts called Witchcraft and Sorceries Wickedly Mallitiously and felloniously hath used practised and Exercised At and in the Towne of Salem in the Country of Essex -- aforesaid in upon and against one Abigail Williams of Salem -- aforesaid Single Woman -- by which said Wicked Acts the said Abi- gaill Williams the Day & Yeare -- aforesaid and Divers other Days and times both before and after was and is Tortured Aflicted Con- sumed Wasted Pined and Tormented against the Peace of our Sov'r Lord and Lady the King & Queen theire Crowne and Dignity and The Law In that case made and Provided
(Reverse) Ignoramus Robert Payne foreman
Suffolk Court Records Case No 2677 Page 7
"Edmund Bridges and a certain William Becket owned part of a wharf on the Salem waterfront. Edmund also procured a license to sell alcholic beverages." "Sarah became involved with running the waterfront tavern while her husband carried on with his legal practice, often appearing in Salem quarterly courts as attorney, arbitrator and witness." (Currents of Malice - Persis W. McMillen) May 1679; Selectman consented that Edmund Bridges could sit the seat in the gallery of the meeting house vacated by Sargeant Lake. Sarah could sit in the next seat behind the woman's pew, but of course, as female, was not allowed to speak. (Currents of Malice - Persis W. McMillen) September 12, 1682; "the widow of Edmund Bridges and her children were ordered out of Topsfield by the constable, September 12, 1682. She was Sarah Town, daughter of William, and had probably returned to Topsfield after the death of her husband which had occured a few months earlier. She soon became the second wife of Peter Cloyse and was accused of witchcraft but was not executed." (History of Topsfield) January 17, 1683; Petition for settlement of a small estate left the undersigned by their father, who died ten years ago leaving no will, but left his estate in the hands of their mother who was appointed administatrix and the estate remained unsettled until her death, and now they desire that the following division may be allowed: the land to be divided equally to his three sons, Edmond, Jacob, and Joseph and the moveables equally to the three daughters, Rebecca, Mary, and Sarah; also the three brothers to pay all debts now due and what charges shall arise in settlement of the estate to be equally borne by all six. Signed by Mary (her mark) Towne relict of Edmond, Jacob Towne, Joseph (his mark) Towne, Francis (his mark) Nurse with the consent of Rebecca, Mary (her mark) Esty formerly Mary Towne, Sarah (her mark) Bridges. Witness: John How, John Pritchet
Various Other Content
Allowed by the court at Ipswich April 10, 1683 (Ipswich Deeds, Vol 4 page 515) 1692; not attending church. (Salem Witchcraft Vol II by Upham) April 3, 1692; Sunday - left church during services, slamming door behind herself due to nature of sermon (devils). (The Devil Discovered by Enders A. Robinson) " April the 3d. Being Sacrament Day at the Village, Sarah Cloys, Sister to Goodwife Nurse, a Member to one of the Churches, was (tho' it seems with difficulty prevail'd with to be) present; but being entred the place, and Mr. Parris naming his Text, 6 John, 70. Have not I chosen you Twelve, and one of you is a Devil (for what cause may rest as a doubt whether upon the account of her Sisters being Committed, or because of the choice of that Text) she rose up and went out, the wind shutting the Door forcibly, gave occasion to some to suppose she went out in Anger, and might occasion a suspicion of her; however she was soon after complain'd of, examin'd and Committed." (Robert Calef's - More Wonders of the Invisible World) April 4, 1692; Monday - complaint of witchcraft brought against Sarah. (Salem Witchcraft Vol II by Upham: The Devil Discovered by Enders A. Robinson) Sarah Cloyes and Elizabeth Proctor were accused of witchcraft by Jonathan Walcott and Nathaniel Ingersoll. A warrant for their arrest was issued the same day. (Currents of Malice - Persis W. McMillen) April 8, 1692; Warrant issued for Sarah. (Salem Witchcraft Vol II by Upham) April 11 - April 12, 1692; Monday - examination before the highest tribunal in the colony. Sarah examined first. Refused to confess - sent to jail at Salem where her sister Rebecca awaited. Placed in hand and leg irons. Later was removed to Boston prison. (Salem Witchcraft Vol II by Upham: The Devil Discovered by Enders A. Robinson] Sarah was taken to the public meeting house in the town for examination. (Currents of Malice - Persis W. McMillen) "Sarah Towne Cloyce, formally charged alongside Goody Proctor on April 4 and examined with her a week later, was approximately twenty years younger than her sister Rebecca Nurse. Born in Salem, about 1641, she first wed Edmund Bridges Jr. of Topsfield. In the early 1680s, as an impoverished widow with five children, she married the widower Peter Cloyce. Both joined the Salem church, he as an original member in 1689, she the following year. Her second husband had been born in Watertown, but he and several of his brothers moved to Maine, where they lived until fleeing to Essex County during King Phillip's War. Peter remained in Salem Village thereafter, but his brother Thomas returned to Falmouth where he was killed in 1690. Thomas Cloyce's wife Susanna was the sister of Philip Lewis, Mercy's father. In other words, Sarah Cloyce and Mercy Lewis were closely related by marriage; Sarah was the sister-in-law of Mercy's paternal aunt. Probably for that reason, Mercy Lewis did not take an active role in accusing Sarah Cloyce, although she did participate in the prosecution of Rebecca Nurse and a third Towne sister, Mary Easty, who was accused later in April." (In the Devil's Snare by Mary Beth Norton) June 1692; a declaration by John Arnold and wife Mary, prison keepers at Boston reports no ill conduct but only sober and civil behaviors exhibited. (The Devil Discovered - Robinson) June 6, 1692; petitioned court with Mary to receive some sort of counsel as none had been allowed, and the right to have people testify in their defense. (The Devil Discovered - Robinson) Mid June 1692; Sarah and Mary moved to Ipswich prison. (The Devil Discovered - Robinson) According to In the Devil's Snare by Mary Beth Norton, Sarah was sent back to Salem prison on June 18, 1692. July 31, 1692; Account of blacksmith Robert Lord of Ipswich shows a charge of 1# 20.0 for four pairs of iron fetters and 2 pairs of handcuffs for Sarah, Mary and two others. (The Devil Discovered - Robinson) From; In the Days of The Salem Witchcraft Trials August 31, 1692; "......Brother Cloyse hard to be found at home being often with his wife in Prison in Ipswich for Witchcraft...." (Danvers Church Records) September 6, 1692; Mary and Sarah petition court to have some counsel for their case as none has been allowed, and ask that others be able to testify in their defense. (The Devil Discovered - Robinson) The humble Request of Mary Easty and Sarah Cloys stand now before the Honoured court charged with the suspition of Witchcraft, our humble request is first that seeing we are neither able to plead our own cause, nor is councell allowed to those in our condition, that you who are our Judges would please to be of councell to us, to direct us wherein we may stand in neede, Secondly that whereas we are not conscious to ourselves of any guilt in the least degree of that crime, whereof we are now accused (in the presence of ye Living God we speake it, before whose awfull Tribunall we know we shall ere Long appeare) nor any other scandalouse evill, or miscaryage inconsistant with Christianity. Those who have had ye Longest and best knowledge of us, being persons of good report, may be suffered to Testifie upon oath what they know concerning each of us. viz. Mr. Capen the pastour and those of ye Towne and Church of Topsfield, who are ready to say something which we hope may be looked upon, as very considerable in this matter: with the seven children of one of us, viz. Mary Easty, and it may be produced of like nature in reference to the wife of Peter Cloys, her sister. Thirdly that the testimony of witches, or such as are afflicted, as is supposed, by witches may not be improved to condemn us, without other Legal evidence concurring, we hope the honoured Court and Jury will be soe tender of the lives of such as we are who have for many yeares Lived under the unblemished reputation of Christianity, as not to condemne them without a fayre and equall hearing of what may be sayd for us, as well as against us. And your poore supplyants shall be bound always to pray ?c."" (Records of the Peabody Institute Library, Danvers, MA: Essex Co. Court Records) Summons for witnesses from Topsfield to testify versus Sarah Cloyce and Mary Easty. (Records of the Peabody Institute Library, Danvers, MA) "Both Sarah Cloyes and Mary Esty will be shown to have been suspected of bewitching their niece, Rebecca Towne, daughter of their late dead brother Edmund Towne, " (Currents of Malice - Persis W. McMillen) September 9, 1692; "On the following day an indictment was made out against Sarah Cloyes, wife of Peter Cloyes of Salem, in the County of Essex,, husbandman, that 'in and upon the ninth day of the inst September --- in the year aforesaid and divers other days and times as well before as after, certain detestable arts called witchcraft and sorceries, wickedly, maliciously and feloniously hath used practiced and exercised... in, upon and against one Rebecca Towne of Topsfield in the County of Essex aforesaid Rebecca Towne... was and is tortured, afflicted, consumed, pined, wasted, tormented, and also for sundry other acts of witchcraft by the said Sarah Cloyes." (Currents of Malice - Persis W. McMillen) "Sarah Cloyes name is not on the list of prisoners at Ipswich in December 1692." "All three indictments against Sarah are marked 'ignoramus', literally meaning 'we do not know'. The marking of an indictment ignoramus did not in itself mean that the judges automatically considered the person against whom the indictment was presented was not guilty. In fact, five of the persons executed had ignoramus written against at least one of the indictments against them." (Currents of Malice - Persis W. McMillen) It is extremely likely that Sarah Cloyes as a prime offender, her two sisters already having been hung, was examined in the early part of the trials in January of 1693 when her brother Jacob was part of the grandjury. "It is possible that Peter Cloyes may have petitioned for a recognizance for his wife on condition that she stand her trial, and have put down bail for her. There are many such recognizances scattered throughout the witchcraft documents, although Sarah Cloyes' name does not appear among them. The three indictments against Sarah Cloyes are all legal forms written in the same clerkly hand. They are for having performed witchcraft on the body of Abigail Walcott in April and for having performed witchcraft on the body of Abigail Williams during that month. The third indictment is for a much later date. It is for having performed witchcraft on the body of her niece, Rebecca Towne of Topsfield on, before and after September 1st. The words of Sarah Cloyes, wife of Peter Cloyes of Salem Village are evidently written in the same hand." Many indictments were written out in advance with the name of the accused written in later. "All three indictments against Sarah Cloyes have the word 'ignoramus' written in still another hand on the reverse. After the word ignoramus, in yet another hand occurs Robert Payne's distincitve signature on all three indictments." Robert Payne was the new jury foreman in January of 1693. (Currents of Malice - Persis W. McMillen) January 3, 1693; Superior Court of Judicature dismisses charges against Sarah. Peter pays the prison fees for her release. She and him eventually leave Salem and settle in Marlborough, Mass., then Sudbury. She spent the 10 years before her death trying to clear her sister's names. (The Devil Discovered - Robinson: Daily News Record - 8/19/1993) Tradition says she was conveyed by night to Framingham. (History of Framingham.) The best description of what happened to the witchcraft cases in early 1693 comes from Reverend John Hale of Beverly, MA; "Henceforth the juries generally aquitted such as were not tried, fearing they had gone too far before. And Sir William Phips, Governor, reprieved all that were condemned, even the confessors...And the confessors generally fell off from their confessions; some saying they remebered nothing of what they said; others said they had belied themselves and others. Some brake prison and ran away and were not strictly searched after, some acquitted, some dismissed and one way or another all that had been accused were set or left at liberty." (Currents of Malice - Persis W. McMillen) March 2, 1702-3; A Petition to the Governor and General Court requesting the reversal of Attainder "on thoses Executed and those Condemned in 1692" was made by "severall of the Inhabitants of Andover, Salem Village, and Topsfield." Among the signers were Peter Cloyes, senior, Isaac Easty, Isaac Easty, Junior, Samuel Nurse, and John Nurse. Summons for witnesses from Topsfield to testify versus Sarah Cloyce and Mary Easty. (Records of the Peabody Institute Library, Danvers, MA) The General Court on October 17th, 1710 passed an act that "the several convictions, judgments, and attainders be, and hereby are, reversed, and declared to be null and void." Governor Dudley, on December 17, 1711 issued a warrant which gave Isaac Estey ?20 for the loss of Mary. Mary's sister, Sarah Cloyse received 3 gold crowns (a gold coin each worth about a 1/4 of a pound or 5 shillings)." 1957; Massachusetts General Court resolved "that no disgrace or cause for distress" be borne by descendants of accused witches. (Daily News Record - 8/19/1993) See PBS movie Three Sovereigns for Sarah for the story of Sarah and her sisters. 1997; Place of burial has not ever been found, the earliest known gravestone of the Salem refugees at Framingham belongs to her son Benjamin Bridges. (Framingham Town Historian - Steve Herring) "On March 21st, 1692, the Magistrates met in Salem and Rev. Noyes opened with prayer. On the 24th they met at the village, and Rev. Mr. Hale prayed. On the 26th they met again in Salem, and kept the day in fasting and prayer. On the 23rd of March a warrant was issued for the arrest of Rebecca (Nourse) Nurse and Dorcas Good, of the village, and the former was examined on the 24th, the day when the Magistrates met there. John Proctor was arrested and examined on the 11th of April, his wife Elizabeth and SARAH CLOYES having been arrested on the 8th, and who were examined on the 11th, also. On the 12th of April John Proctor, his wife Elizabeth, SARAH CLOYES, Rebecca Nurse, Martha Cory and Dorcas (Dorothy) Good were sent to Boston jail in charge of Marshal George Herrick. On the 21st of April a warrant was issued for the arrest of William Hobbs and Deliverance, his wife, and for Nehemiah Abbott, Mary Esty, wife of Isaac Esty (who was a sister with Sarah Cloyes), Sarah Wilds, wife of John Wilds, all of whom were from Topsfield and Ipswitch, also of Edward Bishop husbandman and Sarah his wife, and many others. ................................. There is a disposition of one witness remaining on the Court Records, taken very probably after the confession of Mrs. Hobbs, stating that there were some three hundred of more witches in the country, and that their object was the destruction of Salem Village. The horror, alarm and rage which must have followed such confessions can only indeed be imagined by those who know the religious tendencies and convictions of the Puritans at that day. Such confessions, moreover were supposed to reveal the secret of the Devil's campaign in the war--his plan of attack--and consequently Salem Village became the very point and center of the battle. There the Devil and his emissaries were perhaps to wage their most furious fight--that was the place to strengthen against him, and his followers there as elsewhere must be exterminated at all hazzards. It was in this light, that Salem Village, and the witchcraft there, excited such a portentous interest in the religious fancies, imaginations and beliefs of our fathers. It accounts in good part for the frenzy and madness which scoured the land to secure the hellish conspirators against its safety and peace, and the safety in fact of the Colony. The accused of witchcraft had generally indeed many crimes for which to answer. They were often individual ones, but the destruction of the village was a systematic plot and plan--the beginning only of the destruction of the State--a grand conspiracy against man and God--with its agents and ramifications throughout the county, if not the whole state of Massachusetts. Silence, darkness, mystery, diabolism, all brooded over it and lent their aid. The delusion was widespread, and the burden of it was borne be the general opinion of man at that day. Salem Village, was indeed the center in 1692, but the circumference could alone be found on the borders of the Colony, even to the bordres of New England. ................The name of Nehemiah Abbott, Jr., weaver, of Topsfield and Ipswitch, who was arrested on April 21 (1692) does not appear on the warrant, only on the record. The next person named on the warrant of the day was Mary Easty wife of Isaac Easty (and sister of Sarah Cloyes). She was arrested and examined at a Court at Salem Village on april 22nd (1692) before Judges Hawthorne and Curwin. She behaved with great dignity and firmness and good character, perhaps the recommendations of her neightbors, evidently caused the magistrates to hesitate in her case, since on May 20th (1692) she was set at liberty, all of her accusers clearing her, save Mercy Lewis. Mercy said she was immediately so inflicted and tormented by Mary Easty for a period of two days and a night that she (Mary Easty) had to be arrested again. She was tried again, found guilty and sent to Boston jail. While arraigned Mary Easty and Sarah Cloyes her sister, also a prisoner for witchcraft--humbly petitioned the Court...................... Unfortunately for Mary Easty, the Court like the Public were beyond the Law and Evidence. Judges and Juries were alike engulfed in the sea of madness--saw in the prisoners only the destruction of the Church and State--and the petition (of the accused) was heard alone by great Judge of Judges, and the sufferer granted in his own time the perfect liberty of the children of God. On the 8th of April 1692, a warrant was issued for the arrest of the wife of John Proctor (Elizabeth Proctor), and for Sarah Cloyes, the wife of Peter Cloyes, both of the Village, for suspcion of witchcraft which it was said both women practiced upon Abigail Williams, Mary Walcott, Ann Putnam, and Mercy Lewis. It would seem from the records that Mrs. Proctor and Mrs. Cloyes were brought before a Council held at Salem April 11 (1692) and found guilty.* No one is really certain how Sarah Clayes escaped the gallows after the Salem witch trials of 1692. Without her good fortune though, historians believe Clayes would have been unable to play such a prominent role in the beginnings of Framingham. Eight years after she was convicted of being a witch, Clayes, who in the meantime had survived a winter in the caves of what is now the Ashland State Forest, built a house with her husband Peter. That house which today stands at 657 Salem End Road, also built a neighborhood....According the the book 'Framingham Historical Reflections,' Clayes was imprisoned in Ipswich and smuggled out along with friends who had come to visit her. But in a 1985 PBS miniseries, 'Three Sovereigns for Sarah,' Clayes was shown to have survived because, unlike her sisters, she was imprisoned privately. Historians agree though, that Clayes emerged from her confinement a sick and fragile woman - a woman lucky to survive a winter in the wilderness. Ironically, Thomas Danforth, one of the magistrates who had sentenced Clayes and a major landowner in the area that would become Framingham, allowed her and her husband to build a house on land he owned there in the spring of 1693. Soon afterward, her stepson (sic), Caleb Bridges, built a house near what is now Country Club Road. About 50 Salem emigres had joined the Clayeses in the area by the time Peter co-signed the Framingham township petition in 1700. The name Salem End Road, historians believe, stems directly from that migration. Historians have their theories about why Danforth allowed the Clayeses to live on his land. Stephen Herring, chairman of the Framingham Historical Commission, believes Danforth was secretly compassionate toward the accused women, but feared his colleagues would punish him if he made his views known. Herring said Danforth allowed Clayes and others fearing for their lives to live on his land as a reparation for their treatment in Salem... Sarah Clayes eventually visited Salem again. She journeyed there to pick up the three sovereigns (coins) the local judiciary had granted to each of the individuals whose lives were ruined by the witch trials..." By Jason Levine, Middlesex News, Framingham, Massachusetts; October 31, 1991. (About Towne, Volume XVII, No. 3, September 1997) Letter to the Editor: "Thank you for the copy of "About Towne" with my article on Clara Barton. For your members who might be interested in visiting some of the Salem End sites in Framingham, there are five homes from that era that are still standing: Peter and Sarah Cloyes House - 657 Salem End Road Caleb Bridges House - Gates Street near Country Club Lane Nurse Homestead - 890 Salem End Road John Towne House - 225 Maple Street Israel Towne House - 67 Salem End Road. All the houses have historical markers except the Nurse Homestead which has recently changed hands from an institutional owner to a private family, and will have a marker as soon as renovations are completed. A visit to our Old Burying Ground on Main Street will yield many memorials to family names such as Clayes/Cloyes, Nourse, and Bridges, although the Townes tended to move on to other towns. There is only one Towne grave marker there, for Louisa Towne (1814-1867), indicating that she was the wife of Joseph B. Towne. The earliest marker relating to the Salem End families is for Benjamin Bridges, Sarah Cloyes' son by her first marriage. It is of rough field stone, and the crudely cut epitaph says, "When he served his generation, by the will of God he fell asleep." He died in 1723. Stephen Herring Framingham Town Historian. (About Towne, Volume XVIII, No. 2 June 1998)
Per History of Oxford MA by George F. Daniels; Sarah and her sister Rebecca who married Francis Nurse and her younger sister Mary Easty were accused in the Salem Witchcraft delusion. Rebecca was hung on 19 Jul 1692 at age 70; Mary was also hung and Sarah came near to being hung also. She was "farmed out" to a private jailor who kept her in a drafty unheated wooden shed during the winter of 1692/93. She had been imprisoned for a whole year due to Church Politics, Superstition and Hysteria and bad blood feuds among the villagers.
Per "History of Framingham MA 1640-1885" by Josiah H. Temple; excerpt from page 125: "A romantic as well as tragic interest attaches to the colony that located at Salem End (in Framingham). . . these families came from Danvers, then called Salem Village, where they were involved in the strange complications and sad results of the witchcraft delusion. Rebecca (Town) Nurse, the wife of Francis, and mother of Benjamin, and Sarah (Town) Clayes, the wife of Peter, were sisters, and were among the earliest of the accused victims and sufferers. They were committed to the prison in Boston March 1, 1692. Mrs. Nurse was the mother of eight children and was an honored member of the old church in Salem. At her trial, the evidence against her was so weak that the jury twice failed to convict; but on a thirde return to Court, because she failed to give satisfactory answers to certain questions which they proposed, they brought her in guilty. It was afterwards shown that from deafness, she had failed to fully comprehend the proposed questions. She was executed July 19, 1692.
The wife of Peter Clayes was tried, and found guilty, and condemned to death. In August, she was committed to the jail at Ipswich, to await execution. Her husband was allowed to visit her in prison, and spent much of his time there. And in some way she found means to escape, and was concealed by her friends, till the removal to Framingham, the next spring. As the witchcraft frenzy abated in the fall of 1692, probably the authorities were not anxious to recapture the fugitive. Mrs. Clayes was the mother, by her first husband Edmond Bridges, of Benjamin and Caleb Bridges, who were of the Salem End part of Framingham. It should be said to his credit, that Governor Danforth was largely instrumental in allaying the witchcraft excitement, and stopping convictions by the Court.
Sarah CLoyce tried as Salem witch