Five members of the Cogswell family (including my 9th great, 10th great and 11th great grandfathers) were among the twenty prominent people who signed the petition drawn up by the Rev. John Wise on behalf of Goodwife Proctor, who stood accused of witchcraft. Mary Warren alleged that she had been threatened and abused by Goodwife proctor, and that she had seen apparitions of people who had long since been murdered by the wife of John Proctor. This evidence prevailed and the good woman was sentenced to death. She was burned at the stake and her husband John hung from the gallows as a wizzard.
The stories of witchcraft in old Salem, Massachusetts have been around for many years. The suffering and injustice that these people were put through has been made into movies and debated quite a bit. Thiry-one of the parishioners of Chebacco plus their minister John Wise signed the petition "judging them innocent of any crimes or evill" which John Proctor and his wife had been accused. The Proctor's had originally lived in the town of Ipswich. How extroadinary to live in those times of Puritan beliefs and have enough sense not to be caught up in the hysteria and instead believe them to be the good neighbors they had always remembered them to be and try to help them in their time of trouble. Below is the transcript of the petition and a list of the people who signed the paper as best as I can read. The original document is in posession of the Essex Institute of Salem, MA with the rest of the witchcraft papers.
Transcript of the Petition for John Proctor and Elizabeth Proctor
The Humble, & Sincere Declaration of us, Subscribers, Inhabitants, in Ipswich, on the behalf of o'r Neighb'rs Jno Procter & his wife now in Trouble & und'r Suspition of Witchcraft. Too the Hon'rable Court of Assistants now Sitting In Boston. -- Hon'red & Right Worshipfull! The foresd John Procter may have Great Reason to Justifie the Divine Sovereigntie of God under thos Severe Remarques of Providence upon his Peac & Hon'r und'r a due Reflection upon his Life Past: And so the Best of us have Reason to Adoar the Great Pittie & Indulgenc of Gods Providenc, that we are not Exposed to the utmost shame, that the Divell can Invent und'r the p'rmissions of Sovereigntie, tho not for that Sin fore Named; yet for o'r many Transgretions; for we Do at present Suppose that it may be A Method w'thin the Seveerer But Just Transaction of the Infinite Majestie of God: that he some times may p'rmitt Sathan to p'rsonate, Dissemble, & therby abuse Inocents, & such as Do in the fear of God Defie the Devill and all his works. The Great Rage he is p'rmitted to attempt holy Job w'th The Abuse he Does the famous Samuell, in Disquieting his Silent Dust, by Shaddowing his venerable P'rson in Answer to the harmes of WitchCraft, & other Instances from Good hands; may be arg'd Besides the unsearcheable footstepps of Gods Judgments that are brought to Light Every Morning that Astonish o'r weaker Reasons, To teach us Adoration, Trembling. & Dependanc, &ca but -- We must not Trouble y'r Honr's by Being Tedious, Therefore we being Smitten with the Notice of what hath happened, we Recoon it w'thin the Duties of o'r Charitie, That Teacheth us to do, as we would be done by; to offer thus much for the Clearing of o'r Neighb'rs Inocencie; viz: That we never had the Least Knowledge of such a Nefarious wickedness in o'r said Neighbours, since they have been w'thin our acquaintance; Neither doe we remember -- any such Thoughts in us Concerning them; or any Action by them or either of them Directly tending that way; no more than might be in the lives of any other p'rsons of the Clearest Reputation as to Any such Evills. What God may have Left them to, we Cannot Go into Gods pavillions Cloathed w'th Cloudes of Darknesse Round About. But as to what we have ever seen, or heard of them -- upon o'r Consciences we Judge them Innocent of the crime objected. His Breading hath been Amongst us; and was of Religious Parents in o'r place; & by Reason of Relations, & Proprties w'thin o'r Towne hath had Constant Intercourse w'th us. We speak upon o'r p'rsonall acquaintance, & observations: & so Leave our Neighbours, & this our Testimonie on their Behalfe to the wise Thoughts of y'r Honours, & Subscribe &c.
William Storey Sen'r
John Burnum sr
Tho Low Sanor
John Burnum Jun'r
William Cogswell sen
John Cogswell Ju
John Androws Jnr
John Chote Se'r