Smith, Ron: Was Great Granny A Witch?

Was Great Granny A Witch?

by Ron Smith

In the year 1638, Job Tyler left his home in Shropshire England and came to the New World. However, things were not to his liking and he proceeded to upset the elders of Andover, Mass. by either breaking or ignoring the law. In 1650 he brought a charge of witchcraft against John Godfrey, who held his mortgage, claiming that “he saw a thing like a bird come in at the door of their house with John Godfrey and did fly about with Godfrey labouring to catch it and it vanished through a chink of a joynted board”.

Salem Witch Trial

Job also had apprenticed his son, Hopestill, to a blacksmith for nine and a half years and when the lengthy term of the apprenticeship did not please him, Job broke into the place where the records were kept and destroyed the apprenticeship papers.

After publicly admitting his guilt to the above offenses, he left Andover and moved southeast to Roxbury where his troubles continued. He was charged by the local Indian chief of stealing his hay and was found negligent by the local Selectmen for “refusing to worke aboute the selor at the Minister’s house ”.

When Job and his family decided to return to Andover, the local authorities decided to charge all his female relatives as witches. Job’s daughter-in-law Mary Lovett Tyler, wife of Hopestill, and my seventh great grandmother, was charged with witchcraft along with all of her daughters. Mary was charged as having “Malitiously and feloniously a covenant with the Devill did make and signed the Devills Book and promised to serve the Devill as long as she lived” and she must be a witch because “the afflicted were raised out of their fits by her touch”. She was then jailed in Salem. Her brother-in-law declared he could“ see the Devill before her eyes, whereupon with his hands, he proceeded to beat him off”.

Mary was so harassed by her persecutors that she “preferred a dungeon” to their presence and stated “I shall lie if I confess and then who shall answer unto God for my lie”. However, their unmerciful treatment forced her to “doubt her very life and reason” and she agreed to say whatever they should suggest.

The jury went out to agree on their verdict, who upon returning did then and there in open court say that “Mary Tyler was Not Guilty of the felony by witchcraft for which she stood indicted in & by said indictments, and each of them”. The court ordered her discharged and paid her fees.