Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My 9th Great-grandmother; The Witch

I do a lot of genealogy and this person has been one of the most fascinating to study. Winifred King. She was born in 1640 and died sometime after 1697. Daughter Winifred was born in 1684 but I don't have a death date on her.

Two possibilities for Winifred's mother: Goody Bassett and Mary Hale.

John Parker's wife, Hannah (Bassett) Parker accused Winifred of witchcraft. Although it hasn't been proven, there is a possibility that Hannah's mother might have been Goody Bassett who had been executed for witchcraft. John Benham pulled out a gun in court and threatened to shoot Hannah if she didn't stop harassing Winifred.

From "The Devil In The Shape Of A Woman", Witchcraft in Colonial New England by Carol F. Karlsen (Professor of History at the University of Michigan ), W. W. Norton & Company, New York, London, 1987.

"Chapter 1, New England's Witchcraft Beliefs, p. 43 - 44.

After the Salem and Fairfield outbreaks, only two people in New England were sent by local officials to the higher court to be tried as witches: Winifred Benham of Wallingford and her 13-year old daughter and namesake. The elder Benham, possibly the daughter of an earlier Boston witch, Mary Hale, originally came under suspicion in 1692, but the New Haven County court had dismissed the case for insufficient evidence. Her husband's threat to shoot her accuser did not end the rumors, and the following year she was in court again on the same charge. She was released again, this time required to post bond of 20 pounds for her good behavior. The church soon after added their censure by excommunicating her. When she was accused a third time in 1697, this time of possessing several of her neighbor 's children, she was sent to Hartford for trial, along with her daughter, who was by now implicated in her crimes. But the Grand Jury refused to give credence to the accusation and the cases were dismissed without trials. The court's actions failed to clear the Benham's of suspicion, however, and the family moved to the less hostile environment of New York. (137)

The Benham cases were unusual. To be sure, some people still believed that witches plagued their communities, but in the aftermath of the Salem outbreak witch trials were no longer countenanced by either ministers or magistrates, nor would it seem the larger community. "

From: "harold l fitzmeyer"
Subject: [SALEM-WITCH-L] Winifred (King) Benham
Date: Sun, 8 Aug 1999 14:06:17 -0400


Jane's Fabrics and Quilts said...

wow, now that is a story!!! very interesting! Does your nose ever twitch!!!!

Melissa said...

Two summers ago my family vacationed in Massachusetts and spent a night in Salem. My son and husband thought it was such a ridiculous joke, but I think they feel differently now after learning about what really went on. It was very eye opening.

Yarni Gras! said...

so neat! My mother studied geneology back in the 70's and we have so many neat things. Lots of civil war letters. etc. My family goes back to William Wallace and to Thomas Jefferson (through his sister)

Anonymous said...

Winefred was acquitted and is buried in the Center Street Cemetery in Wallingford, CT. However her stone was stolen once people found out that she was accused of being a witch. My 4 year old likes to bring her flowers since we live up the street.

linda stephenson said...

Hi Carla, I ran across your blog while searching Winifred Benham. My friend has been researching ancestries, and texted me last night that I am one of her descendants. If you would like to contact me, my email is texasislandgirl1@gmail.com. Look forward to chatting. regards. Linda

Seth Benham said...

Hello...My name is Seth Benham,Winifred married my 11th great grandfather.I find this so interesting,Ive been searching all over and came across your post.Seems we're related.....!

Anonymous said...

Hello....My name is Seth Benham,my 11th great grandmother was Winifred Benham.Seems we're related!!!!!

Tami Eldridge said...

Winifred is my 11th great grandmother. Any additional information would be greatly appreciated. Seth Benham. ..

Seth Benham said...

Winifred King Benham and Joseph are my far back grandparents.I am a direct descendant of Joseph.Does anyone have any info/pics etc on them?Thank you...Seth Benham from Iowa