Friday, February 28, 2014

The Jacobs Family & Salem Witch Trials 1692

From The Archives Salem Witch Trials

Warrant v. George Jacobs Sr.
To: The Constables in Salem.
You are in theire Majests names hereby required to apprehend and forthwith bring before vs. George Jacobs Sr of Salem, And Margaret Jacobs the daughter of George Jacobs Junr of Salem Singlewoman Who stand accused of high suspicion of sundry acts of witchcraft by them both Committed on sundry persons in Salem to theire great wrong and Jnjury and hereof faile not. Dated Salem May 10th. 1692.

From Salem Town Records, Volume II, page 269
Pasture of the Northfield Men. This tract of common land was leased for one thousand years to John Green, John Leach (son of Richard Leach) and John Bachilder, all of Salem, Feb. 1, 1677.1 John Tompkins, John
Waters, sr., John Foster and George Jacobs, all of Salem, husbandmen, appear to have been the owners in 1677.1 Though it is probable that some division of this tract of land was made in fact, a legal partition was not made until March 2, 1707, when John Leach, Samuel Leach, John Batchelder, Jonathan Batchelder, Josiah Batchelder, John Foster, John Waters, Richard Waters, Nathaniel Tompkins, Joseph Jacobs (in behalf of his father George Jacobs) and Samuel Foster agreed to divide it.2 This was done March 27, 1708.

With an Account of Salem Village and A History of Opinions on Witchcraft and Kindred Subjects

No account has come to us of the deportment of George Jacobs, Sr., (c.1620–1692) at his execution. As he was remarkable in life for the firmness of his mind, so he probably was in death. He had made his will before the delusion arose. It is dated Jan. 29, 1692; and shows that he, like Procter, had a considerable estate. Bartholomew Gedney is one of the attesting witnesses, and probably wrote the document. After his conviction, on the 12th of August, he caused another to be written, which, in its provisions, reflects light upon the state of mind produced by the condition in which he found himself. In his infirm old age, he had been condemned to die for a crime of which he knew himself innocent, and which there is some reason to believe he did not think any one capable of committing. He regarded the whole thing as a wicked conspiracy and absurd fabrication. He had to end his long life upon a scaffold in a week from that day. His house was desolated, and his property sequestered. His only son, charged with the same crime, had eluded the sheriff,—leaving his family, in the hurry of his flight, unprovided for—and was an exile in foreign lands. The crazy wife of that son was in prison and in chains, waiting trial on the same charge; her little children, including an unweaned infant, left in a deserted and destitute condition in the woods. The older children were scattered, he knew not where, while one of them had completed the bitterness of his lot by becoming a confessor, upon being arrested with her mother as a witch. This grand-daughter, Margaret, overwhelmed with fright and horror, bewildered by the statements of the accusers, and controlled probably by the arguments and arbitrary methods of address employed by her minister, Mr. Noyes,—whose peculiar function in these proceedings seems to have been to drive persons accused to make confession—had been betrayed into that position, and became a confessor, and accuser of others. Under these circumstances, the old man made a will, giving to his son George his estates, and securing the succession of them to his male descendants. But, in the mean while, without his then knowing it, Margaret had recalled her confession, as appears from the following documents, which tell their own story:—

"The Humble Declaration of Margaret Jacobs unto the Honored Court now sitting at Salem showeth, that, whereas your poor and humble declarant, being closely confined here in Salem jail for the crime of witchcraft,—which crime, thanks be to the Lord! I am altogether ignorant of, as will appear at the great day of judgment,—may it please the honored Court, I was cried out upon by some of the possessed persons as afflicting them; whereupon I was brought to my examination; which persons at the sight of me fell down, which did very much startle and affright me. The Lord above knows I knew nothing in the least measure how or who afflicted them. They told me, without doubt I did, or else they would not fall down at me; they told me, if I would not confess, I should be put down into the dungeon, and would be hanged, but, if I would confess, I should have my life: the which did so affright me, with my own vile, wicked heart, to save my life, made me make the like confession I did, which confession, may it please the honored Court, is altogether false and untrue. The very first night after I had made confession, I was in such horror of conscience that I could not sleep, for fear the Devil should carry me away for telling such horrid lies. I was, may it please the honored Court, sworn to my confession, as I understand since; but then, at that time, was ignorant of it, not knowing what an oath did mean. The Lord, I hope, in whom I trust, out of the abundance of his mercy, will forgive me my false forswearing myself. What I said was altogether false against my grandfather and Mr. Burroughs, which I did to save my life, and to have my liberty: but the Lord, charging it to my conscience, made me in so much horror, that I could not contain myself before I had denied my confession, which I did, though I saw nothing but death before me; choosing rather death with a quiet conscience, than to live in such horror, which I could not suffer. Where, upon my denying my confession, I was committed to close prison, where I have enjoyed more felicity in spirit, a thousand times, than I did before in my enlargement. And now, may it please Your Honors, your declarant having in part given Your Honors a description of my condition, do leave it to Your Honors' pious and judicious discretions to take pity and compassion on my young and tender years, to act and do with me as the Lord above and Your Honors shall see good, having no friend but the Lord to plead my cause for me; not being guilty, in the least measure, of the crime of witchcraft, nor any other sin that deserves death from man. And your poor and humble declarant shall for ever pray, as she is bound in duty, for Your Honors' happiness in this life, and eternal felicity in the world to come. So prays Your Honors' declarant,

Margaret Jacobs."

The following letter was written by this same young person to her father. Let it be observed that her grandfather had been executed the day before, partly upon her false testimony.

"From the Dungeon in Salem Prison.

"August 20, 1692.

"Honored Father,—After my humble duty remembered to you, hoping in the Lord of your good health, as, blessed be God! I enjoy, though in abundance of affliction, being close confined here in a loathsome dungeon: the Lord look down in mercy upon me, not knowing how soon I shall be put to death, by means of the afflicted persons; my grandfather having suffered already, and all his estate seized for the king. The reason of my confinement is this: I having, through the magistrates' threatenings, and my own vile and wretched heart, confessed several things contrary to my conscience and knowledge, though to the wounding of my own soul; (the Lord pardon me for it!) but, oh! the terrors of a wounded conscience who can bear? But, blessed be the Lord! he would not let me go on in my sins, but in mercy, I hope, to my soul, would not suffer me to keep it any longer: but I was forced to confess the truth of all before the magistrates, who would not believe me; but it is their pleasure to put me in here, and God knows how soon I shall be put to death. Dear father, let me beg your prayers to the Lord on my behalf, and send us a joyful and happy meeting in heaven. My mother, poor woman, is very crazy, and remembers her kind love to you, and to uncle; viz., D.A. So, leaving you to the protection of the Lord, I rest, your dutiful daughter, Margaret Jacobs."

A temporary illness led to the postponement of her trial; and, before the next sitting of the Court, the delusion had passed away.
The "uncle D.A.," referred to, was Daniel Andrew, their nearest neighbor, who had escaped at the same time with her father. She calls him "uncle." He was, it is probable, a brother of John Andrew who had married Ann Jacobs, sister of her father. Words of relationship were then used with a wide sense.
Margaret read the recantation of her confession before the Court, and was, as she says, forthwith ordered by them into a dungeon. She obtained permission to visit Mr. Burroughs the day before his execution, acknowledged that she had belied him, and implored his forgiveness. He freely forgave, and prayed with her and for her. It is probable, that, at the same time, she obtained an interview with her grandfather for the same purpose. At any rate, the old man heard of her heroic conduct, and forthwith crowded into the space between two paragraphs in his will, in small letters closely written (the jailer probably being the amanuensis), a clause giving a legacy of "ten pounds to be paid in silver" to his grand-daughter, Margaret Jacobs. There is the usual declaration, that it "was inserted before sealing and signing." This will having been made after conviction and sentence to death, and having but two witnesses, one besides the jailer, was not allowed in Probate, but remains among the files of that Court. As a link in the foregoing story, it is an interesting relic. The legacy clause, although not operative, was no doubt of inexpressible value to the feelings of Margaret: and the circumstance seems to have touched the heart even of the General Court, nearly twenty years afterwards; for they took pains specifically to provide to have the same sum paid to Margaret, out of the Province treasury.

She was not tried at the time appointed, in consequence, it is stated, of "an imposthume in the head," and finally escaped the fate to which she chose to consign herself, rather than remain under a violated conscience. In judging of her, we cannot fail to make allowance for her "young and tender years," and to sympathize in the sufferings through which she passed. In making confession, and in accusing others, she had done that which filled her heart with horror, in the retrospect, so long as she lived. In recanting it, and giving her body to the dungeon, and offering her life at the scaffold, she had secured the forgiveness of Mr. Burroughs and her aged grandfather, and deserves our forgiveness and admiration. Every human heart must rejoice that this young girl was saved. She lived to be a worthy matron and the founder of a numerous and respectable family.

George Jacobs, Sr., is the only one, among the victims of the witchcraft prosecutions, the precise spot of whose burial is absolutely ascertained.

The tradition has descended through the family, that the body, after having been obtained at the place of execution, was strapped by a young grandson on the back of a horse, brought home to the farm, and buried beneath the shade of his own trees. Two sunken and weather-worn stones marked the spot. There the remains rested until 1864, when they were exhumed. They were enclosed again, and reverently redeposited in the same place. The skull was in a state of considerable preservation. An examination of the jawbones showed that he was a very old man at the time of his death, and had previously lost all his teeth. The length of some parts of the skeleton showed that he was a very tall man. These circumstances corresponded with the evidence, which was that he was tall of stature; so infirm as to walk with two staffs; with long, flowing white hair. The only article found, except the bones, was a metallic pin, which might have been used as a breastpin, or to hold together his aged locks. It is an observable fact, that he rests in his own ground still. He had lived for a great length of time on that spot; and it remains in his family and in his name to this day, having come down by direct descent. It is a beautiful locality: the land descends with a gradual and smooth declivity to the bank of the river. It is not much more than a mile from the city of Salem, and in full view from the main road.

From New England Magazine Volume 6

                                   Site of Beadle Tavern

The Jacobs Family. The history of the Jacobs family in connection with the witchcraft persecutions is peculiarly interesting. George Jacobs, Sr., George Jacobs, Jr., and his wife Rebecca and daughter Margaret, were all accused. The old man must have been about seventy years of age or more, for he had long, flowing white hair. He lived on a farm in what was then known as Xorthfields, and in Salem rather than Salem Village, but on territory now included in the town of Danvers.
The exact site was near the mouth of Endicott or Cow House River, the first of the three rivers one crosses in driving from Salem to Danvers. Jacobs was evidently a man of some property, and probably a good average citizen; but, like most of the others who fell under suspicion of witchcraft, and for that matter, many of their neighbors, he had had a little trouble which brought him into court. The records show that in 1677 he was fined for striking a man. His son, George, Jr., three years earlier, was sued by Nathaniel Putnam to recover the value of some horses that he had chased into the river, where they were drowned. The court found against Jacobs. On the tenth day of May, 1692, Hathorne and Corwin issued a warrant "to the constable of Salem," directing him to apprehend George Jacobs, Sr., of Salem, and Margaret Jacobs, daughter of George Jacobs, Jr., of Salem, single woman. On the same day, Joseph Neal, " constable for Salem," returned that he had apprehended the bodies of George Jacobs, Sr., and Margaret Jacobs. They were taken to Salem that day, and the examination of the old man was begun at once.

After some preliminary questions and the usual " sufferings" of the afflicted, the report continues, Jacobs saying:

"1 am as innocent as the child born tonight. I have lived 33 years here in Salem. "What then? —If you can prove that I am guilty I will lye under it. Sarah Churchill said, last night I was afflicted at Deacon Ingersoll's, and Mary Walcott said, it was a man with 2 staves. It was my master.

"Pray do not accuse me. I am as clear as your worships. You must do right judgements. "What book did he bring you, Sarah? —The same book that the other woman brought. "The devil can go in any shape. "Did he not appear on the other side of the river and hurt you? Did not you see him? — Yes, he did.

"Look there, she accuseth you to your face, she chargeth you that you hurt her twice. Is it not true? — What would you have me say? I never wronged no man in word nor deed.

"Here are 3 evidences. — You tax me for a wizzard. You may as well tax me for a buzzard. I have done no harm.

"Is it not harm to afflict these?—I never did it. "But how comes it to be in your appearance? — The devil can take any license.

"Not without their consent.— Please your worships, it is untrue, I never showed the book I am silly about these things as the child born last night.

"That is your saying. You argue you have lived so long, but what then, Cain might (have) lived so long before he killed Abel and you might live long before the devil had so prevailed on you. — Christ hath suffered 3 times for me.

"What three times? — He suffered the cross and gal —

"You had as good confess (said Sarah Churchill) if you are guilty.

"Have you heard that I have any witchcraft?

"I know that you lead a wicked life.

"Let her make it out."Doth he ever pray in his family?

"Not unless by himself.

"Why do you not pray in your family?—I cannot read.

"Well you may pray for all that. Can you say the Lord's prayer? Let us hear you.

"He might [missed?] in several parts of it & could not repeat it right after many trials.

"Sarah Churchill, when you wrote in the book you was showed your master's name you said. — Yes sirr.

Trask House

"Well, burn me or hang me I will stand in the truth of Christ. I know nothing of it."

This examination, begun on the 10th, was suspended for some reason before completion, and finished on the nth. On that day the accusing girls were present in full force. Among them was Sarah Churchill, who gave positive evidence against the prisoner. Subsequently, Sarah Ingersoll deposed.

"That seeing Sarah Churchill after her examination, she came to me crying, and wringing her hands, seemingly much troubled in spirit. I asked her what ailed her. She answered she had undone herself. I asked in what. She said in belying herself and others in saying she had set her hand to the devil's book whereas she said she never did. I told her I believed she had set her hand to the book. She answered and said, no, no, no. I never, I never did. I asked her then what made her say she did. She answered because they threatened her, and told her they would put her into the dungeon and put her along with Mr. Burroughs, and thus several times she followed me up and down telling me she had undone herself, in belying herself and others. I asked her why she did not deny she wrote it. She told me because she had stood out so long in it, that now she durst not. She said, also, that if she told Mr. Noyes but once she had set her hand to the book, he would believe her, but if she told

the truth, and said she had not set her hand to the book a hundred times he would not believe her."

George Herrick testified that in May he went to the jail and searched the body of Jacobs. He found a tett under the right shoulder a quarter of an inch long. He ran a pin through it, but "there was neither water, blood, nor corruption, nor any other matter, and so we make return." The following document is also among the papers:

"wee whose names are under written having received an order from ye sreife to search ye bodyes of George Burroughs and George Jacobs wee find nothing upon ye body of ye above sayd Burroughs but wt is naturall but upon ye body of George Jacobs wee find 3 tetts wch according to ye best of our judgements wee think is not naturall for wee run a pinn through 2 of ym and he was not sincible of it one of them being within his mouth upon ye inside of his right cheak and 2d upon his right shoulder blade and a 3d upon his right hipp. Ed Welch sworne John Flint jurat Will Gill sworne Tom West sworne Zeb Gill jurat Sam Morgan sworne John Bare jurat. demnation the sheriff's officers went to his house and seized all his goods, and even took his wife's wedding ring. The jury found Jacobs guilty, and he was sentenced to the gallows, and executed on August 19.' After his con1 Jacobs was buried on his farm in Danversport, where his grave may be seen at this day. The remains were exhumed about 1864. examined, and redeposited in the earth, where they had lain for nearly two centuries.

In the mean time, warrants were issued, on May 14, for George Jacobs, Jr.

Site of John Procter's House, Peabody. and his wife Rebecca Jacobs escaped. When the constables took Rebecca she had four young children in her home. Some of them followed her on the road, but being too young to continue far, they were left behind, and cared for by the neighbors. Rebecca Jacobs was kept in irons eight months, then indicted and brought to trial on January 3, 1693. She was promptly acquitted. In the mean time touching petitions had been presented to the chief justice by the mother, and to Governor Phips, praying for her release. They were of no avail. The woman was kept in a dungeon, half fed and uncared for beyond what was necessary to sustain life, through the long winter months. Her treatment was in keeping with that of other victims. In cruelty and barbarity it must be frankly said that it finds parallel only in the acts of the savages of the forests.
Margaret Jacobs, to save herself from punishment, acknowledged that she was a witch and testified against her grandfather, and also against Mr. Burroughs. Find a Grave by Nareen


  1. Thanks for posting this. I'm a direct descendant of George Jacobs

  2. Excellent~ thank you, Melissa