William and Eunice "Goody" Cole of Hampton, N.H.
Copied from the unpublished notebooks of Edmund Willoughby Toppan (1808-1845), an early Hampton historian, vol. 3, pp. 40-45
He died 26 May 1662, aged above 80 years, [Ipswich Records] having on the 21 May made a will, giving to his wife Eunice the clothes & some other personal property which she had left with him. His house & land he gave to Thomas Webster in consideration of his giving him a comfortable maintenance during his life. This house was situated little East from the Baptist Meeting House, in the same lot. Dea. Wm Godfrey & Thos Webster were Executors; Samuel Dalton & Wm Godfrey Witnesses to the will which was proved 14 April 1663. [Probate Office]
His widow Eunice Cole was a fruitful source of vexation to the good people of Hampton for a long series of years. Hated and despised for her ugly and malicious disposition, she was also feared by many on account of her supposed alliances with the Devil, who had given her power to inflict whatever punishment or injury she chose upon all who had the daring to in any way offend her. But notwithstanding her reputation of being a witch, it did not prevent the young people of that day from playing upon her many a trick, which the fact of her living solitary & alone afforded them a good opportunity. As the story is Peter Johnson, who was a carpenter, was a ringleader among her tormentors. At one time he was framing the second meeting house, when attempting to hew off a chip from a stick of timber while she was standing by, waiting to pick it up for her fire, he struck blow upon blow without producing any apparent impression upon the stubborn wood. This caused her to laugh at him and taunt him with his great skill as a carpenter, which so irritated him that he threw his axe directly at her. It however passed her & stuck in the gorund, with the handle upwards. He caught hold of the handle with the intention of taking it up, but in vain. After repeatred efforts without any success, at every one of which she would mock him, at length he requested her to give him his axe again and told her that he was very sorry for what he had done. She went immediately and pulled the axe out with the greatest ease. At another time some of the more daring of the young folks looked into her windows one evening when they saw her very busily engaged in turning a bowl with something in it, apparently in the shape of a boat ; at last she turned it over and exclaimed "There the Devil has got the imps." That night news came that Peter Johnson, carpenter, and James Philbrick, mariner, were drowned at the same hour from a boat in the river near the creek now known as Cole's creek. The drowning of these men, who were much lamented, increased the fear and hatred of the old woman. [Tradition]
Upon our Town record, I find the following. 15 August 1662. "It is agreed thatt Samuel Dalton the present deputie shall presentt a pettition to the next Generall Courtt to detaine Unise Coule att the House of Corection according to the court order, if the sd. deputie shall see need according to the petition yt is drawn up, and to proseed according to his discression. Voted."
Receipts taken of William Salter for Dietcing Eunice Cole prisoner. "I William Salter doe acknowledge that I have received of Mr. John Coffin the sum of eight pounds upon the account of the Town of Hampton being due unto me for maintainance of Eunice Cole Prisinor, to the truth of which I sett my hand ye October 1665.
Test: Peter Brackett, Saml Dalton
Received of the townesmen of Hampton for the keeping Goodwife Coale this yeare from June sixxty seven to June sixty eight, Eight pounds in Hogshead staves. I say received by me this 8 June 1668.
Witness my hand William Salter" [Town Records]
On the Rockingham County records is the following:
At a Quarter Court held at Hampton in the Province of New Hampshire 7 Sept 1680 Maj. Richard Waldron Presiding. "Eunice Cole of Hampton being by Authoritie committed to prisson on suspition of being a witch & upon examinacon of testymony, the Court vehemently suspects her so to be, but not full proofe is sentenced & confined to Imprissonment & to be kept in [durance?] untill this Court take further ords with a lock to be kept on her legg. In meane while the Selectmen of Hampton to take care to provide for her as formerly that she may be retained."
"The testimonys put on file"[Rockingham Records]
She must have been much younger than her husband William Cole, and I should judge from the tenor of the old man's will, that she separated from him before his decease. The animosity felt towards her was very great or otherwise the Town of Hampton would not have subjected her to imprisonment at intervals during a term of eighteen years neither would they have incurred the expense. How much later than 1680 she lived I have found no account. She had a little hut in the rear of where the Academy now stands [Tuck Museum grounds in 1999], when she died. The tradition concerning her death is, that just before her decease she fastened up her house all excepting one door which she used as long as her strength lasted. The neighbours not seeing her for two or three days plucked up courage enough to break into the house and found her dead. The people collected, and dug a hole near the house into which they dragged the body and covered it up with all speed & then drove a stake through it, with a horseshoe attached, to prevent her from ever again coming up. A little mound of earth was pointed out as the veritable grave of the once powerful Eunice Coles, when I attended the academy. Whatever may have been the old woman's crimes or misfortunes still many a mother has been indebted to her for hushing their crying children. The fear of her name would alarm the most courageous or subdue the worst-temper from generation to generation.
At one time she was present at the landing, where some carpenters were at work upon a vessel, there on the stocks. One of them was driving a bolt which he drove so hard that he said that the Devil himself could not haul it out. She looked up and laughed. The next morning the bolt was found laying by the side of the hold where it had been driven. [Tradition]