My 9th Great Grandmother
So, witches run in my family. Why doesn’t that surprise me?
Susanna (nee Clark) was the wife of Josiah Rootes (1613-1683). Josiah Rootes of Great Chart, Kent, England, was among the passengers on the Hercules of Sandwich, John Witherley, Master, bound for “the plantation called New England in America,” in the spring of 1634/5. He came over with his mother and brother and was one of the founders of Beverly Church.
He had taken the oath of allegiance and supremacy at Great Chart, and received his certificate from Robert Gorsham, curate of Great Chart, on 20 March 1634/35. The Hercules of Sandwich is probably the same as the Hercules of Dover mentioned by Winthrop as being here in the summer. ~~Samuel G. Drake, Result of Some Researches Among the British Archives for Information Relative to the Founders of New England: Made in the Years 1858, 1859 and 1860 (n.p.: H.W. Dutton and Son, Printers, Transcript Office, 1860; reprint Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1963), 84.
On June 25, 1678, Josiah made a sworn accusation of thievery against William and Elizabeth Hoar. He claimed the family had stolen (clothing, apples, wood and hay) from him for nearly twenty years, and he had only just discovered proof – in the form of Goody Hoar’s apron. When several neighbors came under suspicion of receiving stolen goods from Mr. Hale’s maid, Margaret Lord, Josiah Rootes complained to the court in a written statement that “for neare twenty years together we haue ben Aflicted by hauing owr goods stollen At sundri time And we not Abell To make due profe haue ben forsed To sufer owr seuellfes To be wrownged in estat And name: And god by his prouidens hauing latlie discouered sum of Theas wokes of darknes wee Judg yt. To be owre duty To speake in vindicasion of Truth and Conuictccion of sine…. He deposed in Salem Court that same month, aged about 65, and again, aged about 60, as did his wife “Susanah Roots, aged about forty-eight years…” Their son “Jonathan Rootes, aged about thirteen years, affirmed…” Among those who testified were Abigell Stone, jr., Abigall Ston, sr., John Lovet, jr. and Bethiah Lovet.
That same day, Susanna first appears on record: Susanah Roots, aged about fifty-three years, Mary, wife of Heugh Woodbery, aged about forty-eight years, and Sarah Roots, aged about twenty-four years, deposed that about two months ago they saw Mary, wife of Samuell Harres and Tabitha Slew carry a parcel of small linen into Samuell Harris’ house.
Five years after that, in the spring of 1683, Josiah Rootes died. He named Susanna executrix of his will and stipulated, “…my loveing wife Susanna [have] the use & improvement of all my small estate, what ever untill such time, as my son Jonathan cometh to the age…” and if she did not remarry, “[Jonathan] shall pay unto her, his said mother eight pounds, [yearly] duerring the terme of her widdowhood, or her natural life, and let her have the use of the west end of my now dwellinghouse, of a bed, beding, her firewood brought to the doare [door].”
For the period, this is an appropriate provision for a wife who worked land, maintained a household, bore and nurtured six children. Josiah’s specification that Susanna have the sunny west-facing room with cozy bed and fire burning is lovely and fitting after 40 years of toil at his side.
Inventory of the estate of Josiah Roots of Beverly, who deceased June 3, 1683, taken by Samuel Corning, sr., and Andrew Elliott: one coverlaide, lOs.; 1 bed ticking, iSs.; coverlaide, ili.; 4 yards of red Cloth at 6s. per yard, 21i. 4s.; 7 yards of Lining Cloth, ili. 8s.; 4 yards of Dowless, 8s.; 4 yards and 1-2 of kerzey, ili. 6d.; New England money, 71i. 8s.; old England money, 16s., 81i. 4s.; 2 yards of broad Cloth, ili. 2s.; 1 yard & 1-2 of broad Cloth, 18s.; 2 yards and 1 quarter of Red Cloth, 155.; 1 Carpet, lOs.; 11 yards of sarge, 21i. 4s.; 7 yards of white Cotten, 14s.; 1 Chest, 2s. and his woolling wearing Cloths, 51i. 5s.; and his wearing Linning, ili. lOs.; 61i. 17s.; 6 yards of kerzey, ili. 16s.; 4 yards and a quarter of kerzie, 31i. is. 6d.; 3 yards of Lining Cloth, 55. & 1 hatt, 45. 9s.; 8 pair of sheets for beding, 41i.; bed and its belongings, 41i. lOs.; 1 bed and 2 bed steads with other furniture, 5 li.; 1 bed with its furniture, 21i. lOs., and other Lumber, 31i.; 3 chests, ili. 2s.; 1 Table and 3 Joint stooles, 1 Table, 18s.; Cushions, 6s.; 1 Little Table, 4s. 21i. lOs.; 2 Chairs, 3s.; pewter, 21i.; brass & Iron, ili. 13s., 31i. 13s.; I Cart & wheels, plowghs & plowgh tackell, 41i.; 1 sled & 4 axes, 6s.; 3 hoes, 3s. 9s.; barrell, Tubs and other Lumber, 12s.; 3 other Tubs, 2s. & 2 spades, 55. 7s.; 1 horse, 2li. lOs.; parcel of shingles, ili. 55., 31i. 155.; 10 thousand of shingle nailes, ili. 105.; 2 oxen, 71i. & 4 Cows at 121i., 19 Ii., 2 Steeres, 41i. los.; 19 Sheep & Lambs at 3 Ii. 19s., 81i. 9s.; houses, land and orchard, 2601i.; 6 Acres of meadow, 301i.; 5 swine, lOs. per, 21i. lOs.; total, 3841i. 19s. Several debts, 191i. 8s. 3d.
In his will dated 15 May 1683, Josiah Rootes “of the towne of Beverly” leaves his entire estate to his son Jonathan after legacies are paid to his other children, Bethiah, John and Thomas. He leaves the use and care of his estate in the hands of his wife Susanna, who he names executrix, until Jonathan comes of age, after which, Jonathan is charged with his mother’s maintenance so long as she remains a widow.~~ George Francis Dow, Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, IX: 66. 67.
On 26 June 1683 Susanna Roots, widow of Josiah Roots, of Beverly, deceased, renounced the executorship of her husband’s will at court in Salem saying that she had “many weaknesses and infirmities of old age and [sic] could not serve as executor.”
The court appointed John Hill and Nehemiah Grover to bring in an inventory as soon as possible, and the inventory was sworn to on 6 July 1683. (Andrew Elliot who would, in 1692, accuse Susanna Rootes of witchcraft, was one of the appraisers).~~ George Francis Dow, Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, VIII: 66, 6
Nine years later, as she approached her 70th year, she would find herself carted into Boston and thrown into jail with irons on a charge of witchcraft, which carried a sentence of death.
Accusing neighbors of stealing is an ugly thing in a small community and perhaps, friends of William and Mary Hoars, Mary Harres and Tabitha Slew nursed enmity toward the Rootes family. Or perhaps jealousy of their wealth fueled the accusations.
(Warrant for Arrest of Susannah Roots )
Salem May 21-1692
To the Constables of Beverly.
Whereas Complaint hath been this day made before us, by Sergent Thomas Puttnam and John Puttnam: both of Salem village yeomen against Susannah Roots of Beverly widdow for sundry acts of witchcrafft by her Commited on the bodys of Mary wallcott Abigal williams Marcy Lewis Ann Puttnam and others.
You are therfore in their Majesties names hereby Required to apprehend and forthwith bring before us Susannah Roots of Beverly widdow, who stands charged with Committing Sundry acts of witchcraft as aboves’d to the wrong and Injury of the bodys of the above-named Persons, in order to her Examination Relateing to the aboves’d Premises faile not Dated Salem May the 21’st 1692
[Pbar ]r order of the Govener & Councell
To the Marshall of Essex or his Deputy vera Copia attest
May 21 — 1692
*Geor: Herrick Marshall of Essex
I doe apoint mr Jonathan Biles to bee my Lawffull Deputy to serve this warrant
*Geo: Herrick Marshall of Essex
(Reverse) I have prosecutted the within written warant and have apprehended the person of the within mentioned Suzannah Roots and Brought her befour awthority. 23: may 1692
By me *Jonathan Biles Constible of Beverly
( Andrew Elliott v. Susannah Roots )
An information if it might be any help in the examination of the person before you goode Roots I being in the house of Mr Laurence Denni’s some time since she was suspected for what shee is now before you & there was Likewise Leonard Austen of our Town of Beverly s’d Austen then s’d that he thought she was a bad woman, his reason was that he Living in the house with s’d Roots not Long since and when he went to prayer at any time with his wife & thought s’d Roots would acompany them in s’d Duty but Did not at any time but would withdraw & absent herselfe: & further when my self were gone to bed & she unto her bed. she would rise in the night & we Could hear her talk in the roome below I lying in the Chamber over s’d roome as if there #[there] were: 5: or six persons with her more s’d Austen might speak if caled thereunto as far as know more concer[n]ing Roots
Andrew Elliot ag’t G. Roots
( Essex County Archives, Salem — Witchcraft Vol. 1 Page 133 )
Susannah was eventually released, but while she was in prison her grandson John Lovett, III visited her and gave the following deposition about his conversation with Dorcas Hoar, another prisoner:
The depersision of John Lovet aged about 25 years this deponant tetifieth & say that he the s’d deponant sume time in June last past went into the prisan to see my gran mother then goodee hore asked me the s’d. deponant whether I knew of any witnesses that would Come in or be brought in against hear.&.I the s’d deponant told her I did not know of any and then the s’d. hore asked me whether goodman witreg would not Come in against her about his Cow I the s’d debonant tould the s’d whore I did believe he Would the s’d whore replyed she did not know that he had ara Cow, furder saith not
Supposedly Susannah was released due to insufficient evidence, but died less than a month later. Susannah ended up in the care of Ambrose Gale after Josiah died since she had no known family members who survived her. However, the arrangement was not without a business-like aspect. In June of 1684 the court ordered that Susannah’s inheritance should be given to Gale to reimburse him for expenses. It was agreed that with the transfer of her assets, Gale would care for her for the rest of her life. (Note: Susannah was the mother of Ambrose Gale’s deceased son-in-law, Thomas Rootes, husband of Elizabeth Gale. Not much is known about how she died. Maybe her decline in health and the conditions in jail made her too weak.
A student essay submitted in the UK states an interesting theory:
“Some of the witches like Susannah Roots were also accused for entertaining people late at night or adultery, but just because they did those kinds of things did not mean they were looking for power or attention from the whole town, but from the people they did it with. What we know now that did not know then is that the accused must have had been sick in some way or form. We can conclude this with the fact that the symptoms of witchery are the same symptoms as the Encephalitis Epidemic that accrued in the early 1900s to the mid-1900s.” https://www.ukessays.com/essays/history/salem-witch-craft-hysteria-history-essay.php
The entire case of the Witch Trials can be found here for anyone interested.
By the way, dear family members. This is on the Logan side of the family.
As always, if you see anything amiss, let me know.