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Marthacarrier-memorial

Martha Carrier's stone in the memorial

Martha-testiony

Testimony from Martha Carrier's examination

Martha Carrier is a modern day powerhouse in Suffer a Witch who works in the background to keep the Salem Twenty safe.

Personality in Suffer a WitchEdit

In Suffer a Witch, Martha Carrier is a general counsel for the CIA. She works to keep the Salem Twenty off the government's radar. Known to be smart and driven, she is loyal to Em and the group. 

Historic Martha Edit

"This rampant hag (Martha Carrier) was the person of whom the confession of witches, and her own children among the rest, agreed that the devil had promised her that she should be the Queen of Hell." Dr. Cotton Mather as quoted in Salem Witchcraft, Upham p. 457

Like most of the people accused of witchcraft in Salem Village, we know very little about Martha Carrier. Here's a list of what we do know:

  1. She was born in New England. Her father was one of the original settlers of Andover.
  2. Her father was considered to be a "middling," not wealthy by any means. He owned a few properties which he gave to his sons upon their marriage.
  3. From what we can tell, her sisters and brothers marriage above their family station, while Martha married Thomas, a Welsh indentured servant.
  4. Martha was a teenager, possibly only 15 years old, when she fell pregnant with her first child. The child was about a year old when she was forced into naming Thomas as the child's father in either 1674 or 1664, depending on the source. (It's also important to remember that Andover was on the front of the Indian Wars and raids. We now know that sexual assault is a weapon of war, it is as likely that she was assaulted in an Indian raid as she had a romantic tryst with Thomas, the indentured servant  from Wales.)
  5. She returned to Andover in late 1680s or possibly early 1690. Martha had her fifth child soon after they arrived.
  6. Penniless, they were warned by the Andover selectmen that they should not stay. The selectmen later changed their mind (not recorded why) and Thomas Carrier was granted a small parcel of land.
  7. Martha Carrier and a few of her children came down with small pox in 1690. While she survived, the men in her family were hard hit. Small pox took the life of her father, both of her brothers, her brother Andrew's youngest son, her sister Hannah's husband and their son, as well as other relatives. The town believed that Martha had deliberately brought small pox to Andover. 
  8. Like many of the other women accused in Salem, Martha was said to have been angry, independent, and scolding. She was defiant in court.
  9. Martha's sister and brother-in-law, Mary and Roger Toothtaker, their daughter, and four of Martha's children were accused and landed in prison. Roger Toothtaker died in prison before he was tried. Everyone else confessed after torture.
  10. Two of her sons accused her of being a witch in court after they were tortured. According to John Proctor, her 7 and 10 year old sons were: "tyed... Neck and Heels til the Blood was ready to come out of their Noses." [1] There is no record of what was done to her daughter, who also testified against her. Remember that the witches were held together. Martha would have been forced to witness her childrens' torture.

Martha is the only woman who was hanged with Reverend George Burroughs , John Willard, George Jacobs, and John Proctor on August  19, 1962.

Martha was one of the few young women who were hanged. She is reported to be 33 or possibly 49. Because she had her fifth child in 1690, it's likely she was closer to 33 years old than 49 years old.

Why was Martha targeted?

According to Enders Robinson, Martha was persecuted as a way of diminishing the power and wealth of Andovers original settlers. "(A) group of ten accusers were in league with Andover's assistant minister Rev. Thomas Barnard in order to gain control over the town's affairs by discrediting the senior minister, Rev. Francis Dane, and the leading families through witchcraft accusations. Although the correspondence he finds between these groups is interesting, there is no strong evidence supporting such a conspiracy." [2]

Although Martha is on the young side, she fits the profile for the women accused of witchcraft throughout Europe. She was defiant to a male power structure, angry, and extremely poor. Further, either by choice or rape, Martha had some kind of sexual impropriety prior to marriage. 

In the end, Martha Carrier's defiance in court cements her into infamy.

"What black man did you see?" asked a magistrate.
"I saw no black man but your own presence," answered Martha.

and

"It's a shameful thing that you should mind these folks that are out of their wits." [3]

She was hanged on the day that Reverend George Burrough's word left the crowd in tears.

Martha Carrier's ancestors meet regularly and continue to have reunions.  You can find out more information about them here. 

ReferencesEdit

  1. Karlsen, Carol F. The Devil in the Shape of a Woman(New York: WW Norton & Company, 1987) pp. 101
  2. Murphy, Kate. "Martha Carrier" Web article, http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/people?group.num=G01&mbio.num=mb4
  3. Starkey, Marion L. "The Devil in Massachusetts" (New York: Anchor Books, 1949) p. 147

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