Female 1597 - 1671

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  • Name  Winifred  
    Born  1597  England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender  Female 
    Died  16 Oct 1671  Cambridge, Middlesex Co, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • "A relation of the passages between Mrs. Holman and her daughter Mary, and the wife of Charles Stearns, now living in Cambridge. The first thing that makes us suspect them is that after she had two extraordinary strange fits, which she never had the like before, Mary Holman asked her why she did not get some help for them, and she answered she could not tell what to do; she had used means by physicians, and could have no help. And the said Mary said that her mother said, if she would put herself into her hands, that she would undertake to cure her with the blessing of God. Our daughter telling us of it, and we not suspecting them, we wished her to go and to see what she would say to her. And she said her daughter was a prating wench and loved to prate; but yet she did prescribe some herbs to her that she should use in the spring. After this my daughter's child grew ill, and Mary Holman coming in often asked her what the child ailed; and she said moreover that her mother and she took notice of it, that the child declined ever since the 5 of January, and will till it come to the grave; but if you will put it into my hands I will undertake to cure it: I cured one at Malden that had the ricketts, and if you will take a fool's counsel, you may; if you will not, choose. She said also the child fell away in the lower parts, and yet she did not see the child opened. She said also that Mr. Metchelles child had the ricketts, and it was easy to be seen, for the face did shine; but since Mr. Metchell sent to Linn for a skilful woman to look on it, and she could not see no such thing. After this, Mary Holman borrowed a skillet of her, and when she brought it home, the child was asleep in the cradle, and a boy a rocking it, and the mother of the child was gone for water; and the boy said that Mary Holman came to the child as it was asleep, and took it by the nose, and made the blood come, and set it a crying, that the mother heard it; and before she came in Mary was gone out over the sill. When she came in and saw the child in such a case, she chode the boy for making the child cry ; and he said it was Mary Holman that did it and went away as fast as she could.
      "After this she was taken with her ordinary fits, two nights and two days and was pretty well again and sensible one day; and then she was taken with a strange raving and marvellous unquiet night and day, for three or four days and nights together, and took no rest; and it was observed that all this time Mrs. Holman was walking about by her rails, stooping down and picking of the ground along as she went, and both of them walking up and down, and to and again, that it was taken notice of by many; and all this time she raged, could not be quiet, till the last day of the week in the afternoon they were gone both from home; and then she was quiet and was fast asleep till she came home, and suddenly she sprung up out of her sleep, and cried out with such rage against Mrs. Holman that she was a witch, and that she must be hanged. Her mother being amazed, she went out and see her a coming towards the house; and the nearer she came the more she raged, and so she continued all night. And in the morning, Mary Holman came in for fire, as she did every morning, and sometimes twice in a day; as soon as she came in she cried out on her that she was a witch, so that we could not still her till my wife shoved her out of door; and when they were out, Mary asked my wife what her daughter ailed, and said she was a quiet woman. Another being by, my wife answered she thought she was bewitched. Then said Mary Holman, my mother said that she was not light-headed, nor her head did not ache; but she continued so still, and crying out to her mother, and said Mrs. Holman she was working wickedness on the Lord's day. With that, my wife looked out and saw Mrs. Holman a pecking by the rails, as she did of other days. When folks were gone to meeting, about half an hour after two of the clock, she went to meeting, that is, Mrs. Holman; and by that time she got to meeting as we guessed, she lay still about half an hour and then fell asleep. And of a sudden, she flings up and cried out of Mrs. Holman. My wife, not thinking they had been come home from meeting, looked out and saw her at home. Anon after, Mary Holman came to the house and said to my wife, your daughter had a sleep, had she not? and she answered her, Why do you ask? and she said, because she slept yesterday afore this time, and so she did, -but how she should come to know it, we cannot tell; for they were both times from home. On the second day in the morning, Mary came for fire; and she cried out on her as before, and continued raging almost all that day. On the third day, Mary Holman was a coming again for fire, and my wife prayed me that, if I saw her come, that I would not let her come in; and so I did; I met with her at the sill, with a bright skillet in her hand, and she asked me how my daughter did, and I said, she is not well, and I asked her whither she went with that; and she said, for fire. But I told her she should not have none here, but bid her go to some other house; upon which we took notice that that day she was very quiet, and there was such a sudden alteration to admiration to all that saw it, and so continued; but after she was more sensible of her weakness.
      "Some things were forgotten: - that my daughter, before she was taken with her fits, put a pair of stockings to her, and she kept them a great while; and upon the last day of the week at night she sent them home, and she wore them on the Sabbath, and that night she had her fits, being free from them a great while before; and, as was said before, when she had had them two days and two nights, she fell into this strange condition, as before mentioned. And all this time she cried out of Mrs. Holman and her daughter Mary, that they were witches, and they must be found out, and said, you must not suffer a witch to live; and she said Mr. Danford was chosen a magistrate to find out Mrs. Holman. And when my wife went to give her some refreshing, she would not take it in, she was so troubled with Mrs. Holman that she must be found out, that my wife told her that she would get the magistrate to find her out; and it was taken notice of by my wife and others, that her countenance was changed and did eat. Thus she lay, taking on against Mrs. Holman and Mary to all that came to her, that they were witches and must be hanged; and so she told them to their faces, and could not bestilled. And many times she flung up with such rage and cried out with exceeding earnestness that Mrs. Holman was at the rails, let me go out and I will show you her; and it was so, for my wife and others looked out, and saw her there. It seemed to us very strange; for it was not possible that she could see her, for she was kept so close on her bed, and a covering hanging before her, and another before the window.
      "The first great trouble that she had, she was affrighted with Satan, and thought that she saw him stand by the bed's side, so that she cried out with a loud noise, all night, to the Lord, for help, saying Lord, help me, Lord, help me, that she was heard a great way off. The second great trouble she had, she was likewise troubled with Satan appearing to her, that she was set of a great trembling that she shook the bed she lay on; and striving mightily with her body, and fighting with her hands, that two men were fain to hold her. We asked her why she fought so and she said she fought with the devil. And ever and anon she called out of Mrs. Holman, and would have her sent for; and one that sat by said, what would you say to her? And she said, I will tell her that she is a witch. We then not suspecting her so to be, we reproved her, and wished her not to say so; but the more we forbade her, the more violent she was in so calling her, and crying out of Mrs. Holman's black chest and Mrs. Holman's cake; but what she meant by them, we cannot tell. But this last time, she was troubled with Mrs. Holman and her daughter Mary. And concerning the child, it does decline and fall away daily, according to Mary's words; and yet we cannot perceive that it is sick at all, but will suck and eat; and in the time of the mother's trouble, the child is set quite crooked in the body, which before was a straight, thriving child. Also it was taken notice of that, in the time of my daughter's trouble, that her hands were set crooked, that her husband could not get them open.
      "A while after we were at the Court, she had another raging fit, wherein she was carried with rage against her parents, and her brothers and sisters, and we desired one of our brethren to pray with her; and she raged at him, and bade him get him home, or she would throw something at his head; and she was so outrageous that we were fain to tie her hands. And she cried out and said a snake stung her under her arms. And when she was out of her distemper, she said she saw a thing like a great snake come into the house, with a something like a turtle upon the back, and came upon the bed to her. And another time when one of our elders was at prayer, she barked like a dog; and though we held her mouth close with our hands, yet she would speak, saying that Mrs. Holman and Mary Holman were witches, and bewitched her and her child. And sometimes she cried oat against blood, that it cried and that it stunk; and we bade her hold her peace; but she said she must speak, and conscience must speak; and at last she said there was a hole of blood by the cradle." . . .
      "The last winter before this, I was afflicted with Mrs. Holman's hens, and could not keep them out of my barn from stroying my corn. I being much troubled at it spake of it to my wife; and she said, it may be the poor woman cannot keep them at home. I being thus afflicted with them, I flung a stone at one of them and killed it, and laid it upon a hovel that stood upon the common. When my wife saw it, she sent to Mrs. Holman, to see if it were one of hers, and her daughter fetched it home; and after that they troubled me no more, though they went abroad still, which we wondered at, being so constantly there every day before. After this, my wife had a brood of chickens of fifteen, which were like to do well, and did thrive for the space of one fortnight; and then they were taken with fits, and they would turn their heads upward, and turn round many times, and ran about the house as if they were mad; and sometimes picking towards the ground, but not touch the ground, and sometimes they would be pretty well and eat their meat; but they died, two or three at a time, till they came to four. Likewise Mrs. Holman had a white cock, that went a grazing about the common every day in the summer time, between the pond and the house, without any hens with him; and we taking notice of him asked Mary Holman wherefore that cock went so alone; and she said, that the hens did not care for him, nor he cared not for them; and she said, moreover, that he was seven years old. Then we asked her, why they would keep him; and she said, she could not tell; her mother would keep him. And soon after that, we saw him no more. Also there was a bird that was taken notice of, not only of us but of some others; such a one as they nor we ever saw before. It was all milk-white, save only a little gray on the wings. My son, being told of such a bird, did look to see if he could see it, and did see it, and threw stones at it, but could not hit it, although it were very near him. And when it rose up, it would fly to Mrs. Holman's house. So likewise when those that saw it first flung stones at it, it would always fly thither; and sometimes they said they saw it fly into the house. They had taken notice of it a week before we did; and when son and I went to mend up the fence that was before my daughter's house, the bird was skipping about the rails; My son said, here is the devilishest bird that ever I saw in my life; and I asked him why he did so; and he said, I never threw half so often at a bird in his life but he did hit it, but this I cannot hit; and he flung again at it, but could not hit it; and we both of us see it fly to Mrs. Holman's house. The same day my son and the other persons saw it again; and they hunted it about and flung stones at it; and it flying thither again, one of them called out, saying, the bird was gone home; and two of them resolved the next day to get their guns and see if they could shoot it. Mrs. Holman came out of her house, and looked on them, and in likelihood heard what they said, for they were near the house; but since that time the bird have not been seen. In this time, my daughter Starnes, going out of her house within evening, saw this bird under her house-sill. She thought at first it had been a cat; but she, going towards it, perceived it was a white bird, and it did fly along by the house-side, and so away to Mrs. Holman's. It was seen another evening, when it was too late for birds to be abroad, between my daughter's house and the rails.
      "My wife have been much troubled with her wheel, when she have set herself to spin, for the necessity of her family. Sometimes she could not make no work of it; she thought at first it might be out of kilter, and we both used what means we could with it; but it was never the better, but was fain to set it away, and go about some other work; and when she took it again, it would go very well, and thus it was very often; and sometimes, when she could make no work with it, she would set it away, and not so much as unhand it, and take it again and not alter it at all, and it would go very well. One time amongst the rest, she set herself to work, and was much troubled that she could make no work of it, she began to fear that there might be something that might be the cause of it; she set her wheel away, and went out, and saw Mary Holman at the oak, turning round; and when she saw my wife, she catched up a chip; and that caused her to fear that it might be by their means. Another time she was a spinning, and as it was wont so it did again, that she was so affected with it that she could have cried; and sitting still, with her wheel before her, saying thus to herself, 'Lord, thou hast commanded me to labor, but I am hindered; good Lord, if there be any hand of Satan in it, prevent it;' with some other words, and went to spinning again, and it went as well as ever.
      "At another time, when my daughter was not very well, my wife went out and saw Mary Holman sitting on her knees at a hole of water; she took up water in a dish, and held it up a pretty height, and drained into another thing. My wife went presently to her daughter and found her crying so immoderately that the tears fell so fast from her eyes that my wife was fain to stand and wipe, them off her face with her apron. And her mother asked her wherefore she cried; and she said she could not tell, but she said she could not forbear it. Concerning what our daughter have seen and felt in the time of her affliction, she can declare, if she be called to it."
      Following this long and tedious statement (with much more to the same purpose), is a recapitulation of the same facts, with the names of the witnesses by whom they might be proved. Their deposition is authenticated by the Recorder of the Court: "4 (2) 1660. Jno. Gibson, sen., Rebeccah Gibson, Jno. Gipson, jun., Rebecca Sternes, Martha Belsher, Bethia Michelson, Charles Sternes, Steven ffrances, sworn in Court to their respective evidences; as attests, TH. DANFORTH, R."
      In defence of her character as an honest, Christian woman, Mrs. Holman submitted two certificates, which yet remain on file, signed by two of the deacons, and several members of the church: "We, whose names are underwritten, we do here testify that Winifret Holman, we having been acquainted with her this many years, she being near neighbor unto us, and many times have had occasion to have dealings with her, and we have not indeed in the least measure perceived, either by words or deeds, any thing whereby we could have any grounds or reason to suspect her for witchery or anything thereunto tending. And this is evident unto us that she is diligent in her calling, and frequents public preaching, and gives diligent attention thereunto. John Palfery, Mathew Bridge, Richard Eccles, ffrancis Whitmor, John Greene, Nathaniell Green, William Diksone."
      "We, who have here subscribed our names, do testify that we have known this Winnefret Holman, widow, this many years, but never knew any thing in her life concerning witchery. But she hath always been a diligent hearer of and attender to the word of God. Mary Patten, Mary Hall, Jane Willows, Anna Bridge, Elizabeth Bridg, Elizabeth Green, Jeane Diksonne, Elizabeth Winship, Thomas Fox, Ellin Fox, William Towne, Martha Towne, Mary Eccles, Isobell Whittmor, John Bridge, Rebekka Wieth, Gregory Stone, Lidea Stone."
      The result of the trial is entered on the County Court Records: "Winifred Holman, Plt. against John Gibson sen. and his wife, in an action of defamation; the jury having heard their respective pleas and evidences presented in the case do bring in their verdict, finding for the defendants costs of court, fifteen shillings and ten pence. - Winifred Holman Plt. against Rebecca the wife of Charles Sternes, Deft., in an action of defamation; the jury having heard their respective pleas and evidences presented in the case, and it appearing to the court that the defendant was by God's hand deprived of her natural reason when she expressed those words charged on her, do bring in their verdict for the defendant, costs of court, eight shillings and four pence." The decision in the other else I copy from the original verdict, preserved on file, as it is more full and circumstantial than the record: "Concerning the case between Marye Holman, plaintive and John Gibson, junr., defendant, we find for the plaintive, that the said John Gibson shall make acknowledgement that he hath wronged and scandalously slandered Marye Holman, by speeches irregularly, rashly, and sudden spoken, for which he desire to be humbled and sorry for the same; and if be refuse to make this acknowledgement in the present court, that then we do enjoin John Gibson to pay to the plaintive the full sum of five pounds; and we also give the plaintive cost of court." To which the Recorder appended this memorandum: "John Gibson junr. acknowledged in court that, whereas he is legally convicted of a slanderous speech concerning Mary Holman, he is heartily sorry for his evil thereby committed against God, and wrong done to the said Mary Holman and her friends, and doth crave forgiveness of the said Mary Holman of this trespass."
      It does not appear that either of these persons was ever afterwards disturbed on suspicion of practising the diabolical arts of witchcraft. Mrs. Holman died Oct. 16, 1671, aged 74 ; her daughter Mary died, unmarried, in 1673, aged 43.
    Person ID  I12936  Bryant
    Last Modified  25 Aug 2002 

    Family  William Holman,   b. Abt 1593, Northampton, Northamptonshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 08 Jan 1653, Cambridge, Middlesex Co, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married  Bef 1626  probably, Northampton, Northamptonshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
     1. Hannah Holman,   b. 1626, Northampton, Northamptonshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 04 Jun 1685
     2. Jeremiah Holman,   b. 1628, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Nov 1709, Cambridge, Middlesex Co, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location
     3. Mary Holman,   b. 1630, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Bef 18 Dec 1673, Cambridge, Middlesex Co, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location
     4. Sarah Holman,   b. 1632, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 07 May 1672, Cambridge, Middlesex Co, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location
     5. Abraham Holman,   b. 1634, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Bef 24 Dec 1711, Stow, Middlesex Co, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location
     6. Isaac Holman,   b. Abt 1637, probably, Cambridge, Middlesex Co, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 12 Apr 1663, Cambridge, Middlesex Co, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location
     7. Seeth Holman,   b. 1640, Cambridge, Middlesex Co, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 05 Aug 1695, Billerica, Middlesex Co, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location
     8. Elizabeth Holman,   b. 19 May 1644, Cambridge, Middlesex Co, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Aft 1712, Medfield, Norfolk Co, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location
    Family ID  F582  Group Sheet

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 1597 - England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - Bef 1626 - probably, Northampton, Northamptonshire, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 16 Oct 1671 - Cambridge, Middlesex Co, Massachusetts Link to Google Earth
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