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IMG_0001The stories surrounding the Salem witch trials are well-known and retold, but not so for the nearby town of Gloucester. They had more accused witches than any other town in the area (aside from Salem.) Records have been lost, but the accusations began in 1692.

The accused witches were- Hester Elwell (which was on the show Who Do You Think You Are? in which Sarah Jessica Parker found out that Elwell is her ancestor.) Hester was accused, along with her mother Ruth Dutch. Also accused: Rebecca Dike, Rachel Vinson, Phoebe Day, Elizabeth Dicer, Joan Penney, and 3 generations of the Prince family- Margaret Prince, Mary Prince Rowe, and Abigail Rowe.

I’ve painted a portrait of Abigail, who was just 15 years old. Unusual, but not unheard of for a child to be accused, Abigail was brought on charges of witchcraft alongside her mother and grandmother for which was likely a case of animosity between the town’s elite- a fight that spiraled out of control and resulted in a trial. Fortunately, “spectral evidence” was banned in October of 1692 leaving the prosecutors with zero evidence.

There is a great article about these women here: http://historyofmassachusetts.org/the-accused-witches-of-gloucester/

and here: http://minerdescent.com/2011/11/18/witch-trials-victims/