Tuesday, October 07, 2014

More "Witches" in the Family

Lydia (MNU) Dustin/Dastin (1626?-1693) - Accused as a witch during the Salem hysteria, Lydia was found not guilty, but, died in prison before she could be released. Thought to have been born about 1626, little is known of Lydia Dustin, but, at the time that she was arrested she was a widow, her husband, Josiah, having died in 1671. Though her husband had been one of the founders and leading land owners of Reading, a complaint was filed by Captain Jonathan Walcott and Thomas Putnam alleging that she had afflicted Mary Walcott, Ann Putnam, Mercy Lewis, and Abigail Williams. She was arrested in Reading, Massachusetts on April 30, 1892, and examined on May 2nd by magistrates Jonathan Corwin and John Hathorne. She was then sent to Boston's jail. Later, her daughters, Sarah Dustin and Mary Colson were also arrested. Though a warrant was issued for her granddaughter, Elizabeth Colson, she had fled and couldn't be found. It is unknown why Lydia was not immediately tried; but, she remained in prison throughout the year. Both Lydia and her daughter, Sarah, were later found not guilty by the Superior Court of Judicature in January, 1693. However, they could not be released until they paid jail fees. Unable to pay the fees, Lydia died in jail on March 10, 1693.

Lydia is my 9th great-grandmother on the Flint side of the family. Her daughters, Mary is my 8th great-grandmother, were also accused.

Mary Dustin Colson (1650-??) - Accused of witchcraft, Mary Colson was the last in her family to be examined. Her mother, Lydia Dustin and sister, Sarah Dustin, were both sitting in jail awaiting trials. An arrest warrant had been issued for her daughter Elizabeth Colson, who had escaped. Mary was brought in and examined before the justices on September 5, 1692. She was accused of afflicting Mary Swayne Marshall, who would say that Mary Colson had afflicted her ever since her mother, Lydia Dustin had been imprisoned. She was also accused by Elizabeth Booth and Alice Booth and it was insinuated that she may have had a hand in the deaths of William Hooper and Ed Marshal. Mary Colson was one of the lucky ones. Though she was accused, she was not indicted and was later released. Nothing more is known of her.

Sarah Dustin/Dastin - The unmarried daughter of Lydia Dustin, Sarah was arrested shortly after her mother. Her father was Joshia Dustin, who had been one of the founders and leading land owners of Reading, Massachusetts. She was arrested for witchcraft shortly after her mother (who was arrested on April 30, 1892). She was accused of afflicting Elizabeth Weston, the daughter of John Weston of Reading. Neither Sarah or her mother were immediately tried, and both remained in prison throughout the year. In January, 1693, they were found not guilty. Her mother died in jail, unable to pay the prison fees. However, Sarah, must have found a way to pay and was released. Nothing more is known of her.

Elizabeth Colson was Mary's daughter. Elizabeth Colson of Reading (Redding), was accused by spectral evidence; her specter supposedly visited "Mary Walcott Mercy Lewis and others," according to the May 14 arrest warrant signed by John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin. She was accused by Malden resident Mary Swayne Marshall and charged with witchcraft against Susannah Sheldon. But a May 16 statement by Redding constable John Parker stated that Elizabeth Colson had escaped and was likely in Boston preparing to leave the country. Two more warrants were issued, the last on September 10; sources disagree as to whether she was ever captured.

Then there was John Durrant. John is my 5th great-grandfather in the Thayer branch of the family. John Durrant (1650-1692) - Though no legal documents remain for Mr. Durrant, he was known to have lived in Billerica at the time of the witchcraft trials and died in the Cambridge prison on October 27, 1692. On November 16, 1670, John Durrant married his neighbor, Susanna Dutton, the daughter of Thomas Dutton. Just months after his wife, Susannah, died on August 27, 1684, he married a widow named Ruth Hooper on November 10, 1684. Ruth's step-daughter was Sarah Hooper Hawkes Wardwell, of Andover, who was accused of witchcraft in August, 1692. Sarah's husband was Samuel Wardwell, Sr., who was hanged for witchcraft on September 22, 1692. Sarah and Samuel's daughter, Mercy Wardwell was also accused of witchcraft. Because of the timing and family ties to other alleged "witches", historians believe that John Durrant was imprisoned for the charge of witchcraft.

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