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By Samuel G. Drake, 1869

Eunice “Goody” Cole — 1656

[An Excerpt]

……. In Hampton, New Hampshire, a prosecution commenced against a supposed Witch in the year 1656; and although everybody in the town, or nearly everybody “and his relations” believed the accused a witch, she was “suffered to live.” Her name was Eunice Cole, wife of William Cole who died in 1662. From his Will made a few Days before his death, the inference is drawn that he was much younger than his wife; but if so, it is a somewhat of an anomalous case, as Eunice was old enough for a witch six years earlier, and as a general thing, only aged females were witches in those days.

According to the unvarying traditions in the town, Unice was a terrible character, who, in the imaginations of most of the people, could do superhuman things. The very mention of her name would hush crying children, and hurry truant boys to school. The historian of the town was disposed to give her no enviable character, averring that “she was a fruitful source of vexation for a long series of years; hated and despised for her ugly and malicious disposition, and feared on account of her supposed alliance with the Devil.” [Manuscript History of Hampton, by the late E. W. Toppan.] But the diligent Historian did not meet with her earliest prosecution. He informs us that soon after the death of her husband, the Deputy from the Town to the General Court was charged with a Petition to allow the Town to detain “Unice Coule att the House of Correction according to the Court Order.” About three years later, namely, October, 1665, William Salter acknowledged the receipt of eight pounds, “on account of the Town of Hampton, being due unto me for the maintainance of Eunice Cole, prisoner.” And, on the 8th of June, 1668, Mr. Salter acknowledged the receipt of another eight pounds, “in hogshead Staves, for keeping Goodwife Cole this Yeare.”

Eunice seems to have been alternately at large and in prison; and although represented as being a terror to the Town, owing to her supposed league with the Devil, she does not seem to have prevented mischievous youngsters from exercising their diabolical or some other propensity of playing all kinds of malicious tricks upon her. Hence she became a poor outcast, despised by the ignorant, and but faintly pitied, if at all, by the better part of the people. Hence the cry of Witch! Witch! was easily started at any time, and as late as September, 1680, she was up before a “Quarter Court” in Hampton, Maj. Richard Waldron presiding, “being by authoritie committed to prison on suspition of being a Witch; and from Examination of testimonys the Court vehemently suspects her so to be.” But the Court decided that “no full proof” appearing, ordered her to be imprisoned, and “a lock kept on her leg,” at the pleasure of the Court, and the Select Men “to take care to provide for her as formerly.” She must now have been very old, as it was twenty-four years after her prosecution in 1656. For some years, how many is not stated, she lived alone in a little hut which stood on a spot in the rear of that on which the Academy now stands. In that she died, with none to assuage her last sufferings. Some days having elapsed before her death was known, and then, according to the current tradition, it required no little bravery on the part of the inhabitants, to muster courage enough to break into her cabin; this was at length effected, and the remains dragged out, a hole dug near by, and the body tumbled in, and thus she was there buried; and then a stake was driven through the body agreeably to the superstition of the times.

So far as is known, the following depositions are the first acts in the tragedy of Eunice Cole. Thomas Colman or Coleman, on whose account an action was commenced, settled in Hampton before 1650. He came there from Newbury, in which place he is found as early as 1635. His children, born in Hampton, were Benjamin, 1640; Joseph, 1642; and Isaac, 1647. Abraham Drake was son of Robert, at whose house the meeting of the “celekte” Men was held, as mentioned in the deposition. Robert Drake and his family came from Colchester, in Essex, England. Coleman, is the same mentioned in the Founders of New England, came from Marlborough in Wiltshire, in 1635.

“The depoceshon of Thomas Coleman and Abraham Drake. These deponents saith, aboute a yeare and halfe agon, they being at Robert Drakes house at a metinge with the Celekte Men, Eunes Cooles cam in two the said houce and demand help of the Celkt Men for wood or other thinges, and the Celekt Men tould hur shee had an estate of hur oune, and neded noe help of the toune; whar uppon Eunes ancered, they cold help Good man Robe, being a luste man, and shee coolde hav none, but Eunes said all ould not, or should not doe, and about two or thre dayes after this, said Robe lost a Kowe and a Sheepe verry strangly, and one of the Men then presant tould Yunes Cooles shee shold looke at a hand of God in it, for withdrauing the Pepell Hartes from helping of hur. Eunes Cooles ancered, noe, twas the Devill did it. Deposed in Court, 5 September, 56.

“EDW. RAWSON, Secret.”

“Thomas Coleman and John Redman, deposed to ye evidence, and pticularly to ye words should not doe. 5th September, 56.

“EDW. RAWSON, Secrety.”

[The last sentence in the first paragraph, and all of the last paragraph are in the autograph of Secretary Rawson.]

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