Narratives of the Witchcraft Cases, 1648-1706

By George Lincoln Burr | Go to book overview

great violence in the motion, though several persons of the Family and others also were struck with the things that were thrown by an invisible hand, yet they were not hurt thereby. Only the Man himself had once his Arm somewhat pained by a blow given him; and at another time, blood was drawn from one of his Legs by a scratch given it. This molestation began soon after a Controversie arose between Desborough and another person, about a Chest of Clothes which the other said that Desberough did unrighteously retain: and so it continued for some Moneths (though with several intermissions). In the latter end of the last year, when also the Man's Barn was burned with the Corn in it; but by what means it came to pass is not known. Not long after, some to whom the matter was referred, ordered Desberough to restore the Clothes to the Person who complained of wrong; since which he hath not been troubled as before. Some of the stones hurled were of considerable bigness; one of them weighed four pounds, but generally the stones were not great, but very small ones. One time a piece of Clay came down the Chimney, falling on the Table which stood at some distance from the Chimney. The People of the House threw it on the Hearth, where it lay a considerable time: they went to their Supper, and whilest at their Supper, the piece of Clay was lifted up by an invisible hand, and fell upon the Table; taking it up, they found it hot, having lain so long before the fire, as to cause it to be hot.1

Another Providence no less Remarkable than this last mentioned, hapned at Portsmouth in New-England, about the same time: concerning which I have received the following account from a Worthy hand.2

____________________
1
These experiences of Nicholas Desborough were reported by the Rev. John Russell, of Hadley, in a letter of August 2, 1683, which may be found in the Mather Papers (pp. 86-88). Russell says he received the account from "Capt. Allyn, a neer neighbour to Disborough." John Allyn, long secretary of the colony, was one of the foremost men in Connecticut.
2
The "worthy hand" was again that of the Rev. Joshua Moodey, of Portsmouth. His earliest letter about the matter does not appear in the Mather Papers; but in a later one ( July 14, 1683--Mather Papers, pp. 359-360) he writes thus: "About that at G. Walton's; because my Interest runs low with the Secretary, I have desired Mr. Woodbridge to endeavour the obtaining it, and if I can get it shall send it per the first; Though if there should bee any difficulty there-

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