Mary Easty

Mary Easty was the daughter of William Towne, of Yarmouth, Norfolk County, New England, where she was baptized on August 24, 1634. Two of Easty's sisters, Rebecca Nurse, and Sarah Cloyse were also accused of Witchcraft during the Salem outbreak, although there is ample evidence that all three were innocent.

At the time of her questioning, Easty was about 58 years old and was married to Isaac Easty, with whom she had had seven children. Isaac owned and lived upon a large valuable farm. Her examination followed the pattern of most in Salem: the girls had fits, and were speechless at times, and the magistrate expostulated with her for not confessing her guilt, which he deemed proven beyond doubt by the sufferings of the afflicted.

"How far have you complied with Satan?" "Sir, I never complied with him but pray against him all my days. What would you have Easty do?" "Confess if you be guilty" "I will say it, if it was my last time, I am clear of this sin." During the exam, when Easty clasped her hands together, the hands of Mary Lewis, one of the afflicted were clenched and not released until Easty released her hands, and when she inclined her head, the afflicted girls cried out to have her straighten her neck, because as long as her head was inclined their necks were broken.

Easty was committed to prison after her examination. For a reason not disclosed in any of the remaining records, Easty, after spending two months in prison, was discharged on the 18th of May. She and her family believed she would now be safe from further accusations. They were wrong. The release seems to have been very distasteful to the afflicted girls, they became determined to not let the matter rest, and redoubled their energies to get her back into prison. On the 20th, Mary Lewis spent the entire day experiencing fits of unprecedented severity, during which time she said she was being strangled, and claimed "they will kill Easty out right." Several of the other afflicted girls claimed that they could see the apparition of Easty afflicting her, and people came from all around to see the fits. That evening a second warrant was issued for Easty's arrest. At midnight, after experiencing two days of liberty and being reunited with her family, Easty was rousted from her sleep by the marshall, torn from her husband and children, and taken back to prison where she was loaded with chains. Once Easty was back in prisons with chains, Lewis's fits stopped.

Easty was tried and condemned to death on September 9th. She was executed on September 22, despite an eloquent plea to the court to reconsider and not spill any more innocent blood. The court had long since ceased to pay any attention to anything that was said by the condemned. On the gallows she prayed for a end to the witch hunt.

Easty's parting communications with her husband and children were said by those who were present to have been "as serious, religious, distinct, and affectionate as could be expressed, drawing tears from the eyes of almost all present."

In November, after Easty had been put to death, Mary Herrick gave testimony about Easty. Herrick testified that she was visited by Easty who told her she had been put to death wrongfully and was innocent of witchcraft, and that she had come to vindicate her cause. Easty's family was compensated with 20 pounds from the government in 1711 for her wrongful execution. --KS