Primary Resource

The Deaths of Elizabeth Abbott and Elias Hinton (1624)

In these depositions, delivered to the General Court on October 10, 1624, various indentured servants, masters, and other witnesses testify about the deaths of two servants—Elizabeth Abbott and Elias Hinton—at the hand of their master and mistress, John and Alice Proctor. Some spelling has been modernized and contractions expanded.

Transcription from Original

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Thomas Gates aged 40 (or thereaboute) sworne and examined sayeth, that unto Elizabeth Abbott A maid servant of Mr. Proctors, one whom the saide maide called will did give 500 lashes which this Examinate did counte, and thereupon he called to Mr. Proctor beinge abroade A woorminge of plaints and said he were best to kill the maide, wherto he answered it were no matter if shee were hanged, which said wench after that beatinge ran Away into the woods but retourned againe and went away the second tyme and ther died, and about 14 dayes after this examinat seking for her found her aboute two stones cast of the houses within the forte.

John Burrowes gent sworne and examined sayeth that about 2 moneths last past beinge in his grounde there cam to him Elizabeth Abbott made servant to Mr. Proctor. and this Examinate did aske her what she made there, And she said that she was so beaten that she could not tell what to doe, & so shewd this Examinat divers parts of her body which he sayeth was grievous to behold, and that this examinat sent woorde by Mr. Proctors people that he were best send for A Surgeon to looke to her otherwyse she must needs perishe.

Nicholes Goldsmith servant to Mr. Burrow sworne and Examined saieth that he beinge in place with his Master did se when the said wench did shew his Master how grevosley she had beene beaten and sayeth that her fflesh in some places was raw and very black and blew and sayeth she said she was whipt with fishookes.

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Alice Bennett sworne and Examined sayeth that she did finde the said servant maide by the well, and this examainat asked her what she made there, and the made answered that shee was so beaten that she durst not tarry at home, and this examinat serchinge of her fownd she had been sore beaten and her body full of sores and holes very dangerously raunckled and putrified both above her wast and uppon her hips and thighs and this examinate asked her who did soe beat her she said her misteris, And after that this examinat fownd her by the watersid by Mr. Bourows Plantacon lyinge behind the boate wrapped in A ruuge, and fownde her body raw and Runinge with sores from her wast upwards whereupon this examinat with her husband & Ric: Richard Caryed her whom [home] and delivered her to her Master entreating him to pardon her for that fault and not to Corect her but he said he would nott pardon her.

Richard Grove servant to Mr. proctor sworned and Examined sayeth that the said wench hath often tymes rann away and that shee was some tymes Corected for it, but that she never hadd above 20 or 30 lashes at atyme and that with smale lyne or whip corde that he knoweth of and that when Mr. Richards and Thomas Bennett brought her home last she receved no Corectione, but when they two and the wiefe of the said Thomas Bennett brought her h[ome] last then shee receved Corectione by Willia[m] Nayle servant to Mr. Procter.

And touching Elyas Hintone servant to Mr. Procte[r] this Examinat sayeth that about the midst of July las[t] the said Elyas and this Examinate were goinge to John Smiths: but the said Elias was not able to goe throw with him and this Examinat retorninge asked him whether he wold goe home with him which he refused to do, then this Examinate said that he wold tye him there and cale some of his fellow[s] to fech him home whereupon with much persuation he gott him home, and about some 3 or 4 dyes after he beinge Rakinge of weeds Mr. Procter for some offenc did strike him with a rake some 3 or 4 blows, whereupon the said Elias went home and one Tho: Cross demanded of him how he did and he answered never worst for my Master hath beaten me and I think he hath killed me and yf I dye I will take my death [because he] killed mee, but Ther was no signe of any bodily hurte as this exam could perceave, After that the same night the said Elyas went away but was noe more seene till he was fownd dead.

Thomas Cross sworne and examined sayeth that his Master sent him over the water, and beinge put in by a gust he went into Mr. Procters house where Elyas was and he asked him how hee did, who answered he was not very well his Master had so beaten him that he should hardly recover it

Phetiplace Close sworne and Examined sayeth that the said wench hath divers tyme been Corected, but never ymmoderately to his knowledge, and demanding of her privatlee what cause she had to run away she would make noe answer thereunto

Mr. Anthony Barram sworne and Examined sayeth that he once saw Mr. Procter give Elyais a box one the eare and at another tyme beinge in the ground at woorke he did se Mr. Procter faule upon some body but knew nott whom, but at night demanding of one of the boyes who it was he said it was Elyas, and the next morninge Elias was gone, and further sayeth that the said Elyas was a very stubborne and desperat fellowe and would oftimes say he wold shoote himselfe with a pistol when he was in health, whereuppon his pistol was taken from him

And Concerninge the wench he sayeth that he hath harde her many tymes beaten and hard her crye, but never saw the manor of her Corectione, nor her bodie after she was Corected, but sayeth shee was a very lewd wench & such a one as noe good perswations nor moderate corection could reclame her, and thinketh that by her lyinge in the woods some tymes 8 or 10 days together, was the occasione of her death

Daniell Watkins sworne and Examined sayeth that he never saw that said wench Corected nor did ever see her bodie but knoweth that she hath divers tymes run Awaye & hath layne in the woods some tymes 8 or 10 dyes together and whether she was pardoned or corected she woold run away againe.

Ann Wood sworne and examined sayeth that she did see about 2 moneths ago 2 boys

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whip the said wench, the one named Will the other John Skinner each of them havinge a whip of smale corde and caused her body to bleed downe to her waste and further sayeth that Mrs. Procter once Called her to looke upon the wenches thighs, which she sayeth had one great sore but how it should com shee knoweth nott And forther sayeth that in respect the wench had Complayned that she had been grevously beaten with fishhooks therefore Mrs. Procter requested this Examinate to Come and vew the bodie of her, which she did and fownd one great sore in her thigh which this Examinat rather thinketh to come by lyeinge owt in the woodes then by any Corectiones

William Bullock sworne and Examined sayeth that he was in the ground at woorke where he saw Mr. Procter beate Elyas with a Rake and gave him some 12 or 16 blowes but what hurte he had this Examinat doth not knowe And after Cominge into Mr. Procters howse he harde Mr. Smiths man aske the said Elias how he did, and he said he was very ill and that his Master had so beaten him that he shuld dye, and that he wold laye his death to his Master if he did die.

John Skynner aged 16 years servant to Mr. Procter beinge Examined sayeth that once himself and Mr. procters boy Will did whip the said wench their Master standing by at which tyme he sayeth that both gave her about 100 stripes untill she did bleede

Mr. Thomas Bunn Chirurgione sworne and Examined sayeth that Mr. Procter sent for him to Come over and to see A sore that the wench had in her foote & which he did, and left thinkgs for to dress it with. and further sayeth that Mr. Procter many tymes sent for this examinat to Com over to looke to his servants when any of them were sick and deseased, And that Mr. Procter was always very Carefull for the preservinge of his servants healths, and that he hath had 3 or 4 of his servants at tymes 4 or 5 dyes together and at this present hath one of his men at his howse in Cure

Will Nayle Mr. Procters boy aged 16 years Examined sayeth that he hath whipt the said wench some six tymes by the Appoyntment of his Master and once he thinketh he gave her about 200 stripes and some tymes less. but that his Master did never appoynt him how many strokes he should give her and that one tyme his Master bidd him should whip her from the waist to the hand wrists & fleay her or ells his Master wold flay him