Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: EUNICE COLE AGAIN

Back to previous section -- Forward to next section -- Return to Table of Contents


William Salter, the keeper of the prison at Boston , brought a demand against the town for boarding Eunice Cole at the prison to which she had been sentenced by the court; and, to secure payment of the debt, he arrested Thomas Marston, one of the selectmen, July 14, 1664. Marston having laid the case before the town, the following votes were passed: "The towne doth order and agree thatt whatt remaines of old Cole's estate in the hands of the selectmen, according to yeorder of the County Courtt, shall bee payd to Salter with as much speed as may bee." "Thatt the Rest yt is due to him, ye sd Salter, shall by the selectmen be payd out of the fines yt are due to the Towne from those that are delinquents in making staues upon the Comons contrary to the Town order, to make up the full some [sum] due to the sd Salter."

In order that these proceedings may be the better understood, it is necessary to give a brief account of some previous transactions.

While Eunice Cole was lying in prison after her trial for witchcraft in 1656, her husband, William Cole, on the third of November, 1659, sent a petition to the General Court, in which he represented that he had, on some former occasion, made over his estate to his wife, "to keep her from going away from him;" that he was not able himself to perform the labor that was needful to gain a subsistence from this estate, and that, as he could not make payment from it to any persons whom he might wish to employ to assist him, he had sometimes come near perishing, and had been obliged to call upon the town for aid, which had been furnished; but that the town could recover nothing for the assistance rendered, without having recourse to a lawsuit. He therefore prayed the court to provide some relief in the case.

The petition having been considered, the court ordered: "That the town of Hampton should take into their possession all the estate belonging to the said Cole, or his wife--as was pretended--and out of said estate, or otherwise, as they should see cause, supply the said Cole's and his wife's necessities during their lives, and afterward account for what should remain unspent--if anything--after being paid for their trouble."

The town, in compliance with this order of the General Court, had taken possession of Cole's estate, and in consequence had become liable for his own and his wife's maintenance, though she was still a prisoner in Boston. In 1662, Goody Cole herself prayed the court for release, pleading pathetically her own age and weakness, and the infirmities of her husband, "being 88 yeeres of Age," and needing the care which none but his wife could render. Petitions were also presented by the inhabitants of Hampton and the keeper of the prison, and the court ordered that she pay "what is due on arrears" to the keeper, and "depart wthin one month after her release, out of this jurisdiction, & not to returne againe on poenalty of hir former sentenc being executed against hir." At the time of Marston's arrest by Salter, William Cole was dead. The towne continued to maintain his widow at the prison several years afterward at an expense of eight pounds a year.

In the latter part of the spring of 1665, another petition from Goody Cole was presented to the General Court, praying that she might be released from prison. The court ordered that she might have her liberty upon her security to depart from, and abide out of, their jurisdiction, according to the former order of the court. She, however, still remained in prison, unwilling, perhaps, to leave the colony, and probably unable to give the security required.

Back to previous section -- Forward to next section -- Return to Table of Contents