Who Is Mary Bliss Parsons: Witch Or Bitch?

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Mary Bliss Parsons: Witch or Bitch? In colonial New England, the Puritans controlled almost every aspect of society and within the framework of that society there were many who believed in witchcraft as an explanation for maladies, misfortunes, and other forms of bad luck which today would be discounted to disease, poor judgement or other causes. Witchcraft, or maleficence as it was sometimes known, was the doing of evil or harm to another person. Many people in New England in the mid-to-late-17th century were strong believers in witchcraft and subscribed all kinds of abhorrent behaviors to being caused by it. Additionally, some were accused of being witches for being unpopular, not showing deference to the laws and customs of society, and …show more content…

It was known that Sarah had lost a child in childbirth about the same time as Mary had given birth to her son, the first English child to be born in Northampton (“Mary Bliss Hampton”) and Sarah had alleged that the reason she lost her child and Mary’s was born was that Mary had performed maleficence to cause Sarah’s baby to die. As was the custom of the time, the trial was in two parts, the first to gather testimonies, was held in Springfield in August 1656 and then proceeded to trial at Magistrate’s Court in Cambridge in October of the same year. Although the case had been brought by Joseph Parsons for slander against James Bridgeman and his wife, the proceedings quickly saw the roles of Plaintiff and Defendant change hands and Mary Parsons was on the receiving end of accusations by Sarah Bridgeman for being the “cause of a strange variety of problems for her neighbors” (University of Massachusetts, [UMass]). Chief among the accusations against Mary was the death of a cow belonging to William Hannum after an altercation with Mr. Hannum during a visit by Mary to the Hannum farm in the spring of …show more content…

There were also reports of Mary having had “fits” [not further explained], while the Parsons’ lived in Springfield, where she would run from her house in the middle of the night and run into the fields and swamps around their house accompanied by a woman who came back with her as well (Gibson 93). Gibson further noted that all these circumstances led the people of Northampton to conclude that Mary was “not right and a witch” (93). It is apparent to the modern reader, that Mary was undoubtedly, as Gibson puts it, “untamed” (93) by the patriarchal society of the Puritans and also that her late-night jaunts with the woman suggest lesbianism but that being extremely disturbing to Puritan sentiments of the 17th century, no mention of it could have been made in polite society. Add to this, in With respect to the trial however, this time, it was the Bridgeman’s who would be the Once again Mary Parsons found herself accused of practicing witchcraft. Testimonies were taken on September 29th, 1674 in Hampshire County

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