Page:Groton In The Witchcraft Times.djvu/33

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affirmed that she saw the apperition of John Willard aflicting him: quickly after came An Putnam. and she saw the same apperition and then my eldest daughter was taken in a sad manner & the sayd An: saw the sayd Willard aflicting her. at Another tyme mercy lewes and mary Walcott came to visit him, and they saw the same apparition of Willard aflicting him, and this not but a little tyme before his death.

Sworne in Court


John Willard was tried on the 5th of August and hung on the 19th. Three other men and one woman were executed at the same time for witchcraft; one of whom was the Reverend George Burroughs. They all were convicted on the same kind of absurd and flimsy testimony as that given in the depositions against Willard. They were allowed no counsel for defence, and their execution was nothing short of judicial murder. Under the gallows Mr. Burroughs made a speech, declaring his innocence, and also a prayer which he ended by repeating correctly the Lord's Prayer. This produced a great effect on the multitude, as it was then the common belief that a witch or wizard could not say it without blundering. The sympathy of the crowd was so much excited that the leaders of the wicked movement began to fear lest the executions would be prevented; and Cotton Mather, mounted on horseback, addressed the assemblage and told them that the punishment was a righteous one.

Mr. Upham, in his "Salem Witchcraft," says: -

John Willard appears to have been an honest and amiable person, an industrious farmer, having a comfortable estate, with a wife and three young children. He was a grandson of Old Bray Wilkins; whether by blood or marriage, I have not been able to ascertain. The indications are that he married a daughter of Thomas or Henry Wilkins, most probably the former, with both of whom he was a joint possessor of lands. He came from Groton; and it is for local antiquaries to discover whether he was a relative of the Rev. Samuel Willard of Boston. If so, the fact would shed much light upon our story. (ii. 321.)