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John Batcheller & the Salem Witch Trials

November 2, 2011
"The witch no. 1" lithograph

Image via Wikipedia

Two days ago, the MetroDailyNews featured the story of a married couple with an ancestor on opposing sides of the Salem Witch Trials, and it reminded me of the Adams connection to those events.

One oral family story tells of our lineage containing one juror and one victim during the Salem Witch Trials. These individuals would have been from different families, well before joining lines.

Geraldine’s book documents our juror as John Batcheller, however, no-one is identified as the accused.

We may be connected to Alice or Mary Parker (both executed) through Thomas Rand and Elizabeth Parker, however, I cannot make a clear connection at this time. Research pending.

Our family is directly related to John Batcheller (1637/38-1698, Generation 3) through David Batcheller (1781-1822, Generation 7) & Elizabeth Collins Bowler (1783-1858).

Notes for John Batcheller from a copy of the material in Batchelder-Batchellor Genealogy by F. C. Pierce, 1898 pp 349, 350, and 351

John Batcheller  was born about 20 January 1637/38 in Wenham MA, and died 17 November 1698 in Wenham MA. He married (1) Mary Dennis 12 July 1661. She died 26 June 1665. He married (2) Sarah Goodale 04 May 1666, daughter of Robert Goodale. She was born in Salem, Essex, MA, and died 22 March 1728/29).

John Batcheller was one of the jury that tried the famous witchcraft cases in Salem. With the other members of the Jury, in 1692, he signed a statement asking forgiveness for the error of their judgement [below]. The Jury had acted in conformity with their obligation and honest convictions of duty in bringing their verdicts. They had sworn to decide according to the law and the evidence. The law under which they were required to act was laid down with absolute positiveness by the Court. They were bound to receive it and to take and weigh the evidence that was admitted, and to their minds it was clear, decisive, and overwhelming, offered by persons of good character, and confirmed by the great number of confessions. As the publication of this paper was highly honorable to those who signed it and cannot but be contemplated with satisfaction by all their descendants, I will repeat their names:

“We whose names are underwritten, being in the year 1692 called to serve as jurors in court at Salem on trial of many who were by some suspected guilty of doing acts of witchcraft upon the bodies of sundry persons, we confess that we ourselves were not capable to understand nor able to withstand, the mysterious delusions of the powers of darkness and Prince of the air, but were, for want of knowledge in ourselves and better information from others, prevailed with to take with such evidence against the accused, as, on further consideration and better information, we justly fear was insufficient for the touching the lives of any whereby we fear we have been instrumental, with others, though ignorantly and unwittingly, to bring upon ourselves and this people of the Lord the guilt of innocent blood; which sin the Lord saith in Scripture he would not pardon that is, we suppose in regard to his temporal judgements. We do therefore hereby signify to all in general, and to the surviving sufferers in special, our deep sense of, and sorrow for, our errors in acting on such evidence to the condemning of any person; and do hereby declare that we justly fear that we were sadly deluded and mistaken – for which we are much disquieted and distressed in our minds, and do therefore humbly beg forgiveness, first of God, for Christ’s sake for this our error, and pray that God would impute the guilt of it to ourselves nor others, and we also pray that we may be considered candidly and aright by the living sufferers, as being then under a strong and general delusion, utterly unacquainted with, and not experienced in, matters of that nature.

We do hereby ask forgiveness of you all, whom we have justly offended and do declare according to our present minds, we would none of us do such things again, on such grounds, for the whole world – praying you to accept of this in way of satisfaction for our offense, and that you would bless the inheritance of the Lord, that he may be entreated for the land. (Signed) Thomas Fisk, foreman; Thomas Pearly, Sr.; William Fisk; John Peabody; John Bacheler; Thomas Perkins; Thomas Fisk; Samuel Sayer; John Dane; Andrew Eliot; Joseph Evelith; and Henry Herrick, Sr.”

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ben permalink
    February 2, 2013 9:16 am

    Hi, I came across this blog post while searching my familial lineage. I too (from what I encountered) am a descendant of John Batcheller. From what I seen his father was Joseph Batcheller, born in 1608 in Canterbury, Kent, England in 1608. The males in the family stayed around MA until late 1700s, there was Consider Batcheller then later on in 1831 Alphonso Batcheller was born in New York. He ended up in Michigan. The last man to to carry the Batcheller name was Freeman Bacheller born 1886 in Michigan. He had a son in 1907 but died five years later in 1912. That son remained with his mother but took on step father’s name when she remarried.

  2. March 5, 2013 4:07 pm

    Wow! Very interesting back story.

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