Captain James (1617-1701)

As previously mentioned in the Parker history page, James Parker and his brothers were some of the first settlers to form the town of Woburn. They were still considered commoners at this time so their days were spent clearing pasture lands for cattle and crops, erecting crude buildings for church meetings and habitation, establishing highways and other fundamental tasks needed for survival. There was very little time left at the end of the day for relaxation. For three years, the brothers worked from sunrise to sunset to create a town out of the wilderness. In 1643, the twenty-six year old James, met Elizabeth Long, daughter of Robert and Elizabeth Long from Charlestown. James acquired the consent of Robert Long to court his daughter. To request permission to court ones daughter was the first step towards matrimony, so the happy couple “tied the knot” on May 23, 1643.

James continued toiling within the community while settling in matrimonial bliss with his new bride. His hard work paid off when he was finally accepted as a freeman in 1644. He could now begin to look towards building a homestead for his new family. It was not long thereafter when the newlyweds became parents and welcomed their first child, Elizabeth into the world on March 12, 1645. Three other children were born in Woburn while James and Elizabeth resided there. Hannah was born March 5, 1647: John born January/February 18, 1649; Sarah, born August 29, 1650 – died 1651; Joseph, born 1651; and James Jr., born April 15, 1652.

With more immigrants crossing the Atlantic, land was settled at a quick rate. The Parker brothers were anxious to settle into their own homestead now that they were well established in the Puritan community as freemen and raise their new families with the same religious devotion that they experienced. The new settlements of Billerica, Chelmsford, and Groton were requesting permission of the General Assembly to grant lands to become towns in the early 1650’s. It was decided amongst the brothers to relocate to Billerica, so once again the brothers found themselves creating a community out of the hostile wilderness. Since they had freeman status they were able to purchase land to build their homesteads. James was successful in his purchase of part of the Dudley farm which was considered prime real estate.

For some reason, Billerica did not seem like a good fit for James and his brother Joseph because he soon sold his land for a nice profit and continued his search for the right spot to lay down his roots. He found a spot in Chelmsford to set up his homestead. Again, he was part of the first wave of settlers there, which meant that he spent many hours of hard labor constructing new buildings for the frontier settlement. James and Elizabeth brought into the world four more children while residing in Chelmsford: Josiah, born in 1655; Samuel, born in 1656/1657; Joshua, born March 23, 1658; Zachariah, born January 14, 1659 and Eleazer, born November 9, 1661.

Every community established its own set of laws to deal with the issues at hand. Not only did the issues include the organization of land development, but also laws and punishment. James must not have liked how the community was shaping up, so he and his family, along with his brother Joseph set out to start a new community in Groton which was even more on the very edge of the wilderness.

James Parker House in Chelmsford
A print of James Parker’s house in Chelmsford, Massachusetts found on the Chelmsford Historical Society’s website.

The town of Groton, settled in 1655, is where James and Joseph finally decide to permanently reside. James, Joseph and other adventurous souls embarked on creating a utopia where family and friends would establish an environment conducive to their ideals. James, now thirty-eight years old, is already well established in the Puritan church and is therefore on his way to becoming a prominent citizen. On June 23, 1662, the freemen came together in their first recorded public meeting to discuss and settle questions of general interest. They chose town officers to delegate the power to manage their civil affairs. Plans were made and voted on where to build the meeting house, where the highways would go, what land is granted to freeman, where homesteads should be set, and where the public lands should be located. Later that year, on December 24, 1662, Deacon James is voted to become one of the first selectmen of the town and he is put in charge of surveying and laying out the highway.

"… no man having a large piece of this land in any one place, unless, perchance, he were possessed of so much money, as was the case with Captain James Parker, as to enable him to pay rates (taxes) upon a large tract of this valuable land. Captain Parker, being well off, owned a large portion of Half-Moon Meadow, and also a great part of Broad Meadow, but men of less means were obliged to content themselves with small lots of meadow in widely separated sections of the town. Some of those who lived in the village owned small pieces of Rock Meadow, the situation of which I have described, and were obliged to go haying at that long distance from home, and in an Indian country.” (“Old Highways and Landmarks of Groton, Massachusetts” by Francis Marion Boutwell, 1884)

"Captain James Parker lived on the Dr. Amos B. Bancroft place, where Captain Asa S. Lawrence now lives. His home estate occupied both sides of the present Main street, the northern boundary being James's Brook, probably named for him, and his southerly line was near, if not exactly upon, the line which now separates the land of George D. Brigham from the High School lot and the land of Andrew Robbins, known as the Loring estate. The southerly line upon the east side of the road was no doubt near the present line which separates the Dr. Joshua Green estate from the Brick Store lot. Captain Parker owned a large part of HaIf -Moon Meadow,and was the owner of a good deal of real estate in different parts of the town. He was for many years the richest, and in all matters of a secular character, the leading man in town." (“Old Homesteads of Groton, Massachusetts" by Francis Marion Boutwell, 1890)

Despite James’ prominence in the community, he and his family still worked very hard under the crudest conditions. In the book “Groton During The Indian Wars” by Samuel Green (1883) the harsh realities of life on the frontier are described:

"The early settlers of Groton encountered many trials and privations in planting the town. The men worked hard in felling trees and breaking ground, and the women toiled faithfully in their rude homes. They were used to hardships, and took them with Christian resignation.
Their daily life taught them the true principles of philosophy. They lived on the rough edge of civilization, and nothing stood between them and an unbroken wilderness. These pioneers were a devout people; and the strength of their religious belief is shown in no way so clearly as in the fortitude with which they met their lot in life. The prowling Indians were their neighbors, whose movements required careful watching. There were families of savages scattered along the interval land of the Nashua Valley, from Lancaster to the Merrimack River, who at times annoyed the settlers by killing pigs and stealing chickens."

Part of everyday life on the edge of the wilderness included communication and associations with the Native tribes. Up until this time, the Native habitants were willing to coexist with the immigrants. They intermarried; some converted to Christianity, traded with each other, learned to speak their language and shared friendships. Things were going great until the Puritans continued to increase in population and move further inland. The Native Americans were beginning to grumble about the seemingly endless amount of Puritans encroaching upon their prime hunting grounds. The Puritans also brought along small pox and other diseases which killed many of the native population. The Dutch and French did not help matters for they took every opportunity to instigate disputes and suspicions between the Natives and the Puritans. The French and Dutch traders also sold firearms and whiskey to the Natives which produced many volatile situations.

Exposed and isolated on the frontier, the need for defense was ever increasing. The following year, 1663, Selectmen James Parker was given the task of forming a militia to deal with the ever increasing Indian hostilities. He became known as Sergeant Parker and his responsibilities centered on drilling troops, dealing with insurgents and building garrisons and other fortifications. Five garrison homes were built, including one built by Captain James Parker, to defend the citizens from attack. The garrisons were surrounded by tall, strong walls made of timber or stone. The garrisons served about sixty families comprising of around three hundred people which made up the population of Groton.

As time went on, the Indians became more bold and aggressive with the acquisition of firearms and whiskey. They harassed the colonist at every opportunity by slaughtering animals, burning crops and homes. Disputes and quarrels occurred more frequently and the colonists became ever more vigilant and suspicious of any Indian movement in the area. Sergeant James Parker received a military promotion to Lieftenant on May 6, 1673 and another promotion to Captain several months later on October 15, 1673. The colonists were on the verge of what history called the King Philip’s War and Groton was right in the middle of the conflict.

King Philip’s War began in the summer of 1675 and left virtually no settlement unscathed. Captain James Parker provided an insight as to the intense circumstances his fellow colonists face in his letter written to the Governor of Boston on August 25, 1675 seeking aid:

"To the Honoured John Leveret Esquire Governour of the Massachusetts Colony.

Honoured Sir – with the rest of your Counsell I have made bold to enform your worships how the case stands with us that the Indians are approaching near to us our scouts have discovered several tracks very near the habitable parts of the town and one Indian they discovered but escaped from them by skulking amongst the bushes and some of the Inhabitants of our town have heard them in the night singing and halloing. Which doe determin to us their great height of insolency: we are in a very great strait our Inhabitants are very much discouraged in their spirits and thereby dissuaded from their callings.

I have received 20 men from the worshipful Major (Simon) Willard and Captain Mosselly(s) men to help secur(e) our town, but notwithstanding we are in a very weak capacity to defend ourselves against the insolency and potency of the enemy if they should appear in number and with that violence that they did appear at Quabog (Brookfield) the which the good Lord forbid if it be his good pleasure, much honoured and respected the good Lord be with you in your consultations that you may understand what to doe for your New England Israel as such a time as this and in particular ourselves and for our dear neighbours at Lancaster upon whom the enemy have made an inroad 6 persons are already found (dead) and buryed the 72 which they do expect is kild is not as yet found – you may be pleased to take notice that we shall want ammunition speedily by reason that we have parted with some to Captain Mosselly’s men and some we spent in the fight at Quabog – as also I have supplied the souldiers with ammunition that was sent to me that was imployed in the service they having spent their ammunition. If you could help us with 20 good muskets for our pikemen and I will return them again or else give a valuable price for them in such pay as we can produce among ourselves – not else at present but leave you to the guidance of the God of Heaven who is the only wise counselor – and (I) remain Your servant to command in any service to my power.


The situation soon went from bad to worse from this point on. In a letter written in the winter of 1675-1676 and co-written with Simon Willard, Captain James Parker’s pleads for assistance became more urgent.

To the Honored, the General Court of the Massachusetts Colony in New England,

The humble request of the inhabitants of the Town of Groton, humbly sheweth That wheras in this day of calimity & distresse, we are fellow-sufferers with our brethren & neighbors, in the sad & doleful consequences of the present unhappy war; though we have cause to adore and praise that mercy which hath preserved us from such desolation under which our near neighbors are now bleeding; yet our sufferings are such, as, except for the Lord's helpe, wee are sinking under.

Esteeming it therefore our duty to apply ourselves to your Honors, whom we account our publicke fathers and trust you will improve your wisdom & abilityes for us: wee doe earnestly crave our present state to be considered & weighed in a just balance; who are brought neere to utmost straights. The enemye, as we groundedly suppose, waiting an opportunity against us; the season of the year calling to employment, and hasting to pass away from us: ourselves brought into a narrow compass, and ready to undergoe sore sufferings, by reason of necessary arising inconveniences; our provision near consumed and soldiers quartered amongst us hastening the expense of it; our wives and children, some removed, others removing; our cattel lying open to daily hazards of being seized; these things portend to us a famine and poverty, coming upon us with as great fury on the one hand, as the enemy on the other; and wee at the present time are unable to be beneficial to the publicke & private interest incumbent upon us. We humbly, and upon our knees crave your honors' direction and assistance in this case, as the Lord shall direct whither we shall go or stay, or what way we may be set in and whereas we were summoned to send our deputy, we did esteeme our present state required the presence of souldiery at home, especially men in place and office with us: wee therefore, being small in number & daily waiting the approach of the enemy, have (not in any despising of authority) refrained from choosing one: and withal have chosen our Reverend Pastor, Mr. Samuell Willard to present this, our humble request and further to expresse our minds and humble desires, as occasion may present and your honors shall see meet to enquire into.

Your humble supplicants, Simon Willard & James Parker.”

The people of Groton did not have long to wait before the Indians set their attention towards their settlement. Groton encountered hostilities on March 2, 1676 when a small band of Indians raided the town of Groton. They pillaged 8-9 houses and drove off some cattle. The rest of the population made it safely to one of the five garrisons built for such an emergency.

The second attack on the town came on March 9, 1676 at around 10:00 in the morning, when several Indians ambushed four men gathering hay for the livestock. The two men keeping watch yelled the alarm and managed to run to safety. Another man was captured and taken prisoner by the Indians; where he later escaped to the nearby town of Lancaster. The fourth man, Timothy Cotton was not so fortunate, he was brutally killed and his body was dragged to the road for all in the garrison houses to witness.

The townspeople were naturally scared and upset with the violence and brutality occurring in Groton and the surrounding areas. They settled into the garrisons not knowing when the next attack would take place. Scouts were sent out on the morning of March 13, 1676 and finding no indication that the enemy was in the area gave the all clear sign for some men to leave the garrison so they could tend to the necessary tasks of feeding and milking their cattle and gathering supplies. The lookouts from the John Nutting’s garrison spotted two Indians in the distance and John Nutting took most of his men and some men from the nearby garrison and set out in pursuit.

As this was happening, another group of Indians were lying in wait and as soon as John Nutting and his men abandoned the garrison they stormed the rear and took down the tall timbered wall surrounding the building and took possession of the garrison house.

John Nutting and his men realized they were being ambushed, retreated back to Captain James Parker’s garrison which stood very near to John Nutting’s garrison. Most of the men were able to dodge the volley of shots and fight off their attackers. They soon were close enough to the garrison to aid the women and children escaping from John Nutting’s garrison. On that day, over 400 Indians participated in the attack. They set about ransacking and then burning all but a few of the houses. The cattle were butchered and left rotting and the fields and crops were trampled and destroyed.

That night the garrisoned townspeople listened as the Indians danced and sang in triumph over their destruction. The Indians moved on the next day in fear of aid arriving from the nearby towns. As they were leaving, they could not pass-up the opportunity to taunt the townspeople. John Monoco, a.k.a One-Eyed John, the chief captain of the raid on Groton was known to Captain Parker. He described Captain Parker as his “old neighbor” and boasted that he burned down the towns of Medford and Lancaster and he had plans to burn others. He blasphemed the Puritan religion and lamented on the causes of the war. His parting remark to Parker was “What me want- will do”.

The casualty list was minimal; John Nutting was killed in the skirmish, 3 more were wounded, and the town clerk, John Morse, was taken prisoner. (He was later ransomed for 5 pounds and was released).

The townspeople were now faced with the utter destruction to their property, homes, and food. They were desolate over the brutality they have witnessed upon their own family and friends. They waited in the garrisons until scouts arrived to escort them to other towns where they stayed with family and friends.

Captain Sill was soon appointed to take his men to Groton to protect the remaining townspeople while they gathered their remaining possessions and prepared evacuation. It has been reported that on April 16th, “some Indians that came to hunt for swine - three Indians drew near the garrison house, supposing it to have been deserted - and two of them were slain by one single shot made by Captain James Parker's own hands and the third by another shot made from the garrison”. Shortly after this incident, the remaining citizens dispersed to other towns.

Groton was left abandoned for nearly two years after the attack on their settlement. Many residents were compelled to return to Groton and rebuild under the threat of forfeiture of their lands if they did not comply. Some former residents chose not to return to rebuild and left their land abandoned. It would be many years before Groton would regain its population.

The Parker’s were a very tenacious lot. They were one of the first families to return to Groton and pick-up where they left off. They worked through great hardships as noted in Captain James’ letters asking for aid from the General Counsel. While working through the arduous task of rebuilding his homestead and town, Captain James was still in charge of its protection. Scouts were set out daily to ensure the security of Groton and nearby towns. For many years Captain James worked tirelessly in the inhospitable land, working the farm, being a leading member of the church, and dealing with the occasional harassments from the Native People.

Of course these hardships did not mean much to the ones in power who resided across the pond. England and France were at each other throats, again. There is a nice little article about King William’s War (1690-1697) found at if you want to jog your memory. Anyway, the war poured over into the colonies with land expansion and the fur trade at stake. Groton was hit particularly hard during this conflict.

The hard life on the frontier was a heavy burden for anyone to bear. Life expectancy in the 17th century for an adult was fifty to sixty years old. The hardships finally took its toll on August 10, 1691 when James’ wife, Elizabeth succumbed to death. James and Elizabeth were married for nearly fifty years and now the seventy-four year old, James had to face life alone. He was able to do this by remaining active with town concerns. His adult children, still living in Groton, were supportive and looked after his needs.

As the war wore on, Groton endured its share of small invasions and attacks here and there, but the most serious trouble found Groton on July 27, 1694, when a band of around forty Indians gathered and attacked the outlying area of the town at the breaking dawn. They caught the townspeople unaware as they were waking up to start the new day. The attack began on the outskirts of town at the house of Lieutenant Lakin and it was swift and brutal. Lt. Lakin was fortunate to fight many off and even killing one attacker before finding safety. Other families were not so lucky to escape unharmed. Captain James Parker’s son and his wife, James Jr. and Mary, were killed and scalped in front of their children. Their children, Samuel, Mary, and Phineas, were quickly captured and taken prisoner along with ten other children. The Parker children would remain in captivity for four years. Phineas Parker returned permanently maimed in one leg and given into the custody of his Uncle Josiah after he paid the 6 pounds in ransom for his return.

When the raid was finished and the settlers ventured out of the garrisons, they found twenty-two people killed, most were adult men and women, and thirteen children missing. The militia immediately mounted their horses and searched the area for the missing children to no avail. The Indians took the captives to the rivers where they were able to escape quickly to Canada. The scalps of the victims were said to be given to Major Frontenac himself in Montreal in exchange for a reward.

The townspeople were given the task of burying the dead and cleaning up the destruction left behind by the attackers. Being the primary spokesman for the townspeople, it was up to Captain Parker to appeal to the General Courts to help with the rebuilding of the town and the pursuit of the captives. The General Courts deemed it too dangerous to send a task force to locate the captives and gave the order to sit and wait for the prisoners to be ransomed. In the meantime, the task of the burial of the victims and worrying about the captives preoccupied the settlers during these sad times.

James sought comfort from the loss of his son, James Jr. and his family with the widow Eunice (Brooks) Carter whom he married in 1696. James was nearing his seventy-ninth year and Eunice was forty-one years old. He stepped down from public office in 1699 and spent his remaining years in the care of his new wife. She must have taken very good care of him because they became proud parents of a baby girl named Sarah in 1697 when James was eighty years young.

James had only four years to spend with his young daughter until his weakened body succumbed to death on August 1,1701, at the age of eighty-four. He is buried in an unmarked grave along with his first wife and children in his beloved Groton. Captain James Parker made provisions for his surviving family after his death as stated in his will:

"In the name of God, Amen. I , James Parker of Groton, in the county of Middlesex, province of Massachusetts Bay, in New England, 25,May, 1700, being weak of body, but of good and perfect memory and understanding, thanks be to God for it, having arrived at the age of four-score and three years, or thereabouts, calling to remembrance the uncertainties of this life, and that all men must die when it shall please God, I make, constitute, ordain, and declare this my last will and testament, in manner and form following, revoking and un-ruling by these presents, all testaments, will and wills heretofore by me made, either by word or writing, and this to be taken only for my last will and testament, and no other.

First of all, I give and commit my soul to Almighty God, my Saviour, in whom I trust I shall be saved, and that my soul with my body shall rise again with joy, through the merits of Christ; and my body to be decently and Christianly buried, at the discretion of my executor hereinafter named and appointed.

And nextly, for the settlement of my estate and goods, as it hath pleased God t bestow upon me, I do order, give and dispose of the same in the manner and form following, that is to say-

First, I will that all the debts and liabilities to any person whatsoever, shall be well and truly contested and paid, within convenient time after my decease, by my executor hereinafter named, and all funeral charges.

I give and bequeath to my well beloved wife, Eunice Parke, 40 pounds in current money of New England, or equivalent to money, within the space of twelve months after my decease, or when she shall call for it; also to live in my house during my widow, (while she so remains.-Ed.) in the west end of the house, and also the household things now in that room, my widow, except the bed and furniture belonging to it to continue there, not to be made use of except it be upon special occasions; and also her own things, if of her former husband’s estate, to continue without interruption; also two acres of land and the orchard at the well gate, to make use of upon as reasonable terms as any person, during my widow.

I bequeath and give the improvement of all my house and land on the west side of the highway, for the bringing up of my daughter, Sarah, till she is eighteen years of age, or till marriage, and also half of my deer-hedge lot, for a wood lot for the above named house and land; and also the west end of Gibbet Hill, from the ten acres of land I bought of the widow Lawrence.

I will and bequeath to my daughter, Elizabeth Gary, 20 pounds in money, or in money’s equivalent, to be paid within the space of twelve months from my decease.

I give and bequeath to my daughter, Hannah Blood, 5 pounds in money, to be paid in five months after my decease.

I give and bequeath to Elizabeth Parker, the daughter of my son, Zachariah Parker, deceased, one ten-acre right of the land in the town of Groton in all divisions, or 30 pounds in money, which I promised in a writing to , all to be at the discretion of my executor.

I give and bequeathed unto Abiel Parker, the daughter of my son, Joshua Parker, deceased, 10 pounds in money, or equivalent thereto, to be paide her at eighteen years old, or at marriage day. Also, a grandchild’s portion.

I give and bequeath to my daughter, Sarah, 40 pounds in or as money, to be paid her at eighteen years of age, or at marriage, to be paid her out of my houses and lands on the west side of the highway, by Broad meadow, if she desire it, and the meadow that belongs to a ten-acre right of my meadow undisposed of. Also I give unto my daughter half of my deer-hedge lot on that side next to James Nutting’s land.

I give and bequeath to my grand children all the rest of my land and estate, in houses, movables, and whatever else, equally, according to the discretion of my executor, the former debts and legacies being paid.

And also, whereas, I have given to several of my sons, James, Joseph, Samuel, Zachariah and Eleazer Parker, my natural sons, three several portions in land and otherwise. I do ordain and will, that the ten-acre right, which I have given them, be reckoned as their full portions, neither one of them to make any further demand or charge for any poart of my estate.

I give and bequeath to my daughter, Sarah Parker, my best feather bed and the end curtains and green rug, and all tackling to it.

Finally, I do , by these presents, entreat and request, authorize and appoint my son, Josiah Parker, of Cambridge, in the county of Middlesex, in New England, in the province of the Massachusetts, my sole executor, hoping and trust he will honesty and equally see to it, that it be done according to my true intent and meaning, without partiality, and in special manner to have the oversight of my daughter, Sarah Parker.


One last comment before I end this chapter of the Parker saga. According to Augustus G. Parker’s book Parker in America 1630 – 1910, “This Sarah, so often named in the will, married Captain Jeremiah Shattuck of Pepperell, 1724. Jeremiah Shattuck’s mother was Elizabeth, a daughter of Nathaniel Blood, who married Hannah, second daughter of Captain James Parker; so that this same Sarah married her own father’s great-grandson." I think there is a country song in there somewhere.

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Letters by Captain James Parker

Letter written by Captain James Parker to the General Court during King Philip and King William’s Wars.

The circumstances the colonists faced surrounding their return after King Philip’s War are best described in a series of letter to the General Court written by James Parker

The humble petition and request of the greater number of the former inhabitants of ye Towne of Groton:

Humbly sheweth to the Honored General Court sitting in Boston: as followeth, viz: We who have been great sufferers, in the late wars by our heathenish enemyes, as is well knowne to all: etc by which we have been enforced to flye before our enemies; to our great & grievous loss, and trouble. By ye good hand of God to us, have had much repreaue & respitt, as we have many of us had ye liberty and oppertunity to returne to the places, though not ye houses of our former abode. And now being under & exercised with many & great difficultyes; apprehending it our duty, to address ourselves; not only to our heavenly Father; but earthly fathers also, in this our need: do humbly begg our case may be seriously considered and weighed & that some direction and releife may be afforded unto us.

Some of us, ye inhabitants have ventured: our lives, some while since, to returne againe, and many others have followed us, whose welcome company is rejoycing unto us. Yet our poverty & the non-residence of others, doth occasion us great unavoidable trouble. We have, through God's goodnesse & blessing our endeavours & attempts - procured & obtained the ministry of ye Word among us; & have been at some considerable charge about it. And are willing (God please) to keep, & maintaine it among us. But there is some discouragements, upon sundrey accounts. We have had several towne meetings to consult the good & the welfare of the towne & place and how things may be carried on, as to defraying publique charges, and it hath been, voted in our meetings (our visible estate being small) to lay it on ye hands, that so an equality in some respect might be reached unto. This by ye most judged to be the present best, yea, ye onley present possible way for us to proceed in which we desire your honoured selves to put the countenance of authority upon. As also that our late dreadfull suffering ruines, and impoverishments may by your honoured selves be so far mind-ed and considered, that we may for the present (until we a little recover ourselves) be released from Country charges. We would be rightly understood, as to our first request that the way by lands accomodations for the levying towne charges may be stated but for ye present few years, till God, by his providence may alter our capacity & condition.

Thus craving pardon for this boldnesse - that successe & a blessing may attend you in all your affaires; That God will accomplish his promises and build ye waste places, set up His House & Ordinances, whence they have been removed - delight to build & plant us againe and not to pull us downe & pluck us up that we may yett see this, our Jerusalem, a quiet habitation. Thus prayeth your humble & unworthy petitioner:

James Parker, Selectman & Clarke (clerk) in ye name of ye rest.
At a Towne Meeting at Groton
May 20th, 1679 - There read &
voted by the Inhabitants.
[Massachusetts Archves, LXIX 224]

During this time of unrest Groton would remain alert for any suspicious movements by the Indians. They endured skirmishes and raids from time to time unsettling the colonist’s peace of mind. In these brutal and uncertain times, Captain Parker and his men would be on constant alert and would continuously scout the area for marauding bands of Indians and help out neighboring towns in trouble.

The following letter is preserved among the (Lemuel) Shattuck Manuscripts, and shows that the condition of the town was still unsettled. It gives, in a few words, a good insight of the situation of affairs at Groton at that time just before King William’s War broke out:

Groton. July 16, 1689.

To the Honored Governor and Council and Representatives: These lines show the Request of your humble servants, the inhabitants of the Towne of Groton, and over present unsettled and almost deserted condition; we make bold to trouble you once more; craving your advice and assistance if it may be obtained, that we may go on with our business; to get in our harvest and do other necessary work: the barers hereof: James Knop and James Parker, Jun'r, are full able to aquaint the Honored Council over conditions both in military and other cases; in the Towne; our officers are by the new choice: (Military Officers at Groton at that time:)

James Parker, Sr., Captain.
Jonas Prescott, Lieutenant.
John Lakin, Ensign.
per Order of the Towne of Groton.
By Josiah Parker, Town Clerk.
James Parker and James Knapp.

The Governor’s Council responded with this letter to Groton:

July 17, 1689. The Commissioned Officers nominated as above, are allowed & confirmed by God and Council. And they do order Captain Prout to deliver unto James Knapp and to James Parker for ye use of said Town, forty pounds of powder and one hundred weight of lead (ammunition), their bill to repay it again into ye store, in some convenient time. And do also appoint the Major of ye Lower Regiment of ye Command, to order ye impressing of ten soldiers in a meet proportion out of ye severall Companies under his command. To be sent as soone as may be, for their relief.

By Order of ye Governor's Councill.
Israel Addington, Secretary.
Groton Military Officers. past July 17, 1689.

Groton's Military Co. under Command of Capt. Jacob Moore.

James Parker, Captain
Jonas Prescott, Lieutenant.
John Lakin, Ensign

According to papers collected by Samuel Green: “The military company of Groton was still kept up, and was known as "the Foot Company" and, during a part of the year 1689, was supported by some cavalry - the command of Captain Jacob Moore, Captain James Parker (senior) was appointed its Captain; Jonas Prescott, Lieutenant, and John Lakin, Ensign. And these appointments were confirmed by the Governor and Council at a convention held in Boston, July 13, 1689.

A month later, on August 10, 1689, Captain James Parker was ordered to supply Hezekiah Usher's garrison at Nonacoius, with "three men of the men sent up thither, or of Groton's town people, for ye defense of ye garrison being of publique concernment." Groton was one of the four towns that were designated, August 29, 1689, as the headquarters of the forces detached for the public service against the common enemy - Casco, Maine, Newichewanick, Maine (Berwick) and Haverhill, Mass., being the others.

The Middlesex Upper Regiment and the Suffolk Horse Company, were stationed here; and soon afterward is recovered as an order to send "to the head quarters at Groton for supply of the garrison there, one thousand weight of bread, one barrell of salt, one barrell of gun powder, three hundred weight of shot and three hundred flints - six quire of paper."

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Groton's Witch

During this time of hardship on the frontier settlements, the Salem Witch Trials were taking place towards the eastern part of Massachusetts, mainly in Salem Village and Andover. There were two Parker women, Alice and Mary, who were tried and sentenced to hang on September 22, 1693. I was not able to discern a connection with this Parker line with either Parker woman, so I will leave the research for others to undertake. Groton did not come out of the witch hunt unscathed. Back in 1671, Elizabeth Knap had a series of episodes with the devil. Reverend Samuel Willard documented the occurrences and the records could still be found in Boston.

Salem Witch Trials of 1692 – 1693

Samuel Willard, A briefe account of a strange & unusuall Providence of God befallen to Elizabeth Knap of Groton

Samuel A. Green, ed.,
Groton In The Witchcraft Times Groton, MA: [s.n.] 1883

A briefe account of a strange & unusuall Providence of God befallen to Elizabeth Knap of Groton, by me Samuel Willard.

THIS poore & miserable object, about a fortnight before shee was taken, wee observed to carry herselfe in a strange & unwonted manner, sometimes shee would give sudden shriekes, & if wee enquired a Reason, would alwayes put it off with some excuse, & then would burst forth into immoderate & extravagant laughter, in such wise, as some times shee fell onto the ground with it: I my selfe observed oftentimes a strange change in here countenance, but could not suspect the true reason, but coneived shee might bee ill, & therefore divers times enquired how shee did, & shee alwayes answered well; which made mee wonder: but the tragedye began to unfold itselfe upon Munday, Octob. 30. 71, after this manner (as I received by credible information, being that day my selfe gon from home).

In the evening, a little before shee went to bed, sitting by the fire, shee cryed out, oh my legs! & clapt her hand on them, immediately oh my breast! & removed her hands thither; & forthwith, oh I am strangled, & put her hands on her throat: those that observed her could not see what to make of it; whither shee was in earnest or dissembled, & in this manner they left her (excepting the person that lay with her) complaining of her breath being stopt: The next day shee was in a strange frame, (as was observed by divers) sometimes weeping, sometimes laughing, & many foolish & apish gestures. In the evening, going into the cellar, shee shrieked suddenly, & being enquired of the cause, shee answered, that shee saw 2 persons in the cellar; whereupon some went downe with her to search, but found none; shee also looking with them; at last shee turned her head, & looking one way stedfastly, used the expression, what cheere old man? which, they that were with her tooke for a fansye, & soe ceased; afterwards (the same evening,) the rest of the family being in bed, shee was (as one lying in the roome saw, & shee herselfe also afterwards related) suddenly throwne downe into the midst of the floore with violence, & taken with a violent fit, whereupon the whole family was raised, & with much adoe was shee kept out of the fire from destroying herselfe after which time she was followed with fits from thence till the sabbath day; in which shee was violent in bodily motions, leapings, strainings & strange agitations, scarce to bee held in bounds by the strength of 3 or 4: violent alsoe in roarings & screamings, representing a dark resemblance of hellish torments, & frequently using in these fits divers words, sometimes crying out money, money, sometimes, sin & misery with other words.

On wednesday, being in the time of intermission questioned about the case shee was in, with reference to the cause or occasion of it, shee seemed to impeach one of the neighbors, a person (I doubt not) of sincere uprightnesse before God, as though either shee, or the devill in her likenesse & habit, particularly her riding hood, had come downe the chimney, stricken her that night shee was first taken violently, which was the occasion of her being cast into the floore; whereupon those about her sent to request the person to come to her, who coming unwittingly, was at the first assaulted by her stranglye, for though her eyes were (as it were) sealed up (as they were alwayes, or for the most part, in those fits, & soe continue in them all to this day) shee yet knew her very touch from any other, though no voice were uttered, & discovered it evidently by her gestures, soe powerfull were Satans suggestions in her, yet afterward God was pleased to vindicate the case & justifye the innocent, even to remove jealousyes from the spirits of the party concerned, & satisfaction of the by standers; for after shee had gon to prayer with her, shee confessed that she beleeved Satan had deluded her, & hath never since complained of any such apparition or disturbance from the person. These fits continuing, (though with intermission) divers, (when they had opportunity) pressed upon her to declare what might bee the true & real occasion of these amazing fits. Shee used many tergiversations & excuses, pretending shee would to this & that young person, who coming, she put it off to another, till at the last, on thurdsday night, shee brake forth into a large confession in the presence of many, the substance whereof amounted to thus much:

That the devill had oftentimes appeared to her, presenting the treaty of a Covenant, & preffering largely to her: viz, such things as suted her youthfull fancye, money, silkes, fine cloaths, ease from labor to show her the whole world, &c: that it had bin then 3 yeers since his first appearance, occasioned by her discontent: That at first his apparitions had bin more rare, but lately more frequent; yea those few weekes that shee had dwelt with us almost constant, that shee seldome went out of one roome into another, but hee appeared to her urging of her: & that hee had presented her a booke written with blood of covenants made by others with him, & told her such & such (of some wherof we hope better things) had a name there; that hee urged upon her constant temptations to murder her parents, her neighbors, our children, especially the youngest, tempting her to throw it into the fire, on the hearth, into the oven; & that once hee put a bill hooke into her hand, to murder my selfe, persuading her I was asleep, but coming about it, shee met me on the staires at which shee was affrighted,the time I remember well, & observd a strange frame in her countenance & saw she endeavered to hide something, but I knew not what, neither did I at all suspect any such matter; & that often he persuaded her to make away with herselfe & once she was going to drowne herselfe in the well, for, looking into it, shee saw such sights as allured her, & was gotten within the curbe, & was by God's providence prevented, many other like things shee related, too tedious to recollect: but being pressed to declare whither she had not consented to a covenant with the Devill, shee with solemne assertions denyed it, yea asserted that shee had never soe much as consented to discorse with him, nor had ever but once before that night used the expession, What cheere, old man? & this argument shee used, that the providence of God had ordered it soe, that all his apparitions had bin frightfull to her; yet this shee acknowledged, (which seemed contradictorye, viz :) that when shee came to our house to schoole, before such time as shee dwelt with us, shee delayed her going home in the evening, till it was darke, (which wee observed) upon his persuasion to have his company home, & that shee could not, when hee appeared, but goe to him; one evident testimony wherof wee can say somthing to, viz. the night before the Thanksgiving, Octob. 19. shee was with another maid that boarded in the house, where both of them saw the appearance of a mans head & shoulders, with a great white neckcloath, looking in at the window, at which they came up affrighted both into the chamber, where the rest of us were, they declaring the case, one of us went downe to see who it might bee, but shee ran immediately out of the doore before him, which shee hath since confessed, was the Devill coming to her; shee also acknowledged the reason of her former sudden shriekings, was from a sudden apparition, & that the devill put these excuses into her mouth, & bit her soe to say, & hurried her into those violent (but shee saith feigned & forced) laughters: shee then also complained against herselfe of many sins, disobedience to parents, neglect of attendance upon ordinances, attempts to murder herselfe & others; but this particular of a covenant shee utterly disclaimed: which relation seemed faire, especially in that it was attended with bitter teares, selfe condemnations, good counsells given to all about her, especially the youth then present, & an earnest desire of prayers: shee sent to Lancaster for Mr. Rowlandson, who came & prayed with her, & gave her serious counsells; but shee was still followed, all this notwithstanding, with these fits: & in this state (coming home on fryday) I found her; but could get nothing from her, whenever I came in presence shee fell into those fits, concerning which fits, I find this noteworthy, shee knew & understood what was spoken to her, but could not answer, nor use any other words but the forementioned, money, &c: as long as the fit continued, for when shee came out of it, shee could give a relation of all that had been spoken to her: shee was demanded a reason why shee used those words in her fits, & signifyed that the Devill presented her with such things, to tempt her, & with sin & miserye, to terrifye her; shee also declared that shee had seene the Devills in their hellish shapes, & more Devills then any one there ever saw men in the world. Many of these things I heard her declare on Saturday at night:

On the Sabbath the Physitian came, who judged a maine point of her distempr to be naturall, arising from the foulnesse of her stomacke, & corruptnesse of her blood, occasioning fumes in her braine, & strange fansyes; whereupon (in order to further tryall & administration) shee was removed home, & the succeeding weeke shee tooke physicke, & was not in such violence handled in her fits as before; but enjoyed an intermission, & gave some hopes of recovery; in which intermission shee was altogether sencelesse (as to our discoverye) of her state, held under securitye, & hardnesse of heart, professing shee had no trouble upon her spirits, shee cried satan had left her: A solemne day was kept with her, yet it had then, (as I apprehend,) little efficacy upon her; shee that day again expressed hopes that the Devill had left her, but there was little ground to thinke soe, because she remained under such extreame sencelessenesse of her owne estate: & thus shee continued, being exercised with some moderate fits, in which shee used none of the former expressions, but sometimes fainted away, sometimes used some struglings, yet not with extremitye, till the Wednesday following, which day was spent in prayer with her, when her fits something more encreased, & her tongue was for many houres together drawne into a semicircle up to the roofe of her mouth, & not to be remooved, for some tryed with the fingers to doe it: from thence till the sabbath seven night following: she continued alike, only shee added to former confessions, of her twise consenting to travell with the Devill in her company between Groton & Lancaster, who accompanied her in forme of a blacke dog with eyes in his backe, sometimes stopping her horse, sometimes leaping up behind, & keeping her (when she came home with company) 40 rod at least behind, leading her out of the way into a swampe, &c.: but still no conference would shee owne, but urged that the devills quarell with her was because shee would not seale a covenant with him, & that this was the ground of her first being taken. besides this nothing observable came from her, only one morning shee said God is a father, the next morning, God is my father, which words (it is to be feared) were words of presumption, put into her mouth by the adversary.

I suspecting the truth of her former storye, pressed, whether shee never verbally promised to covenant with him, which shee stoutly denyed: only acknowledged that shee had had some thoughts soe to doe: but on the forenamed Nov. 26. shee was again with violence & extremity seized by her fits, in such wise that 6 persons could hardly hold her, but shee leaped & skipped about the house proforce roaring, & yelling extreamly, & fetching deadly sighs, as if her heartstrings would have broken, & looking wth a frightfull aspect, to the amazement & astonishment of all the beholders, of which I was an eye witnesse: The Physitian being then agen with her consented that the distemper was Diabolicall, refused further to administer, advised to extraordinary fasting; whereupon some of Gods ministers were sent for: shee meane while continued extreamly tormented night & day, till Tuesday about noon; having this added on Munday & Tuesday morning that shee barked like a dog, & bleated like a calfe, in which her organs were visibly made use of: yea, (as was carefully observed) on Munday night, & Tuesday morning, when ever any came neere the house, though they within heard nothing at all, yet would shee barke till they were come into the house, on Tuesday, about 12 of the clocke, she came out of the fit, which had held her from Sabbath day about the same time, at least 48 howers, with little or no intermission, & then her speech was restored to her, & shee expressed a great seeming sence of her state: many bitter teares, sighings, sobbings, complainings shee uttered, bewailing of many sins fore mentioned, begging prayers, & in the houre of prayer expressing much affection : I then pressed if there were anything behind in reference to the dealings between her & Satan, when she agen professed that shee had related all: & declared that in those fits the devill had assaulted her many wayes, that hee came downe the chimney, & shee essayed to escape him, but was siezed upon by him, that hee sat upon her breast, & used many arguments with her, & that hee urged here at one time with persuasions & promises, of ease, & great matters, told her that shee had done enough in what shee had already confessed, shee might henceforth serve him more securely; anon told hir her time was past, & there was no hopes unlesse shee would serve him; & it was observed in the time of her extremity, once when a little moments respite was granted her of speech, shee advised us to make our peace with God, & use our time better then shee had done, the party advised her also to bethinke herselfe of making her peace, shee replyed, it is too late for me : the next day was solemnized, when we had the presence of Mr. Bulkley, Mr. Rowlandson, & Mr. Estabrooke, whither coming, we found her returned to a sottish & stupid kind of frame, much was prest upon her, but no affection at all discovered; though shee was little or nothing exercised with any fits, & her speech also continued: though a day or two after shee was melancholye & being enquired of a reason, shee complained that shee was grieved that so much pains were taken wth her, & did her no good, but this held her not long: & thus shee remained till Munday, when to some neighbors there present, shee related something more of he converse with the devill, viz. That it had bin 5 yeers or therabouts, since shee first saw him, & declared methodically the sundry apparitions from time to time, till shee was thus dreadfully assaulted, in which, the principall was, that after many assaults, shee had resolved to seale a covenant with Satan, thinking shee had better doe it, then be thus followed by him, that once, when shee lived at Lancaster, he presented himselfe, & desired of her blood, & shee would have done it, but wanted a knife, in the parley shee was prevented by the providence of God interposing my father; a 2nd time in the house hee met her, & presented her a knife, & as she was going about it my father stept in agen & prevented, that when shee sought & enquired for the knife, it was not to bee found, & that afterward shee saw it sticking in the top of the barne, & some other like passages shee agen owned an observable passage which shee also had confessed in her first declaration, but is not there inserted, viz. that the devill had often proffered her his service, but shee accepted not; & once in ptic: to bring her in chips for the fire, shee refused, but when shee came in shee saw them lye by the fire side, & was affraid, & this I remarke, I sitting by the fire spake to her to lay them on, & she turned away in an unwonted manner: she then also declared against herselfe her unprofitable life she had led, & how justly God had thus permitted Satan to handle her, telling them, they little knew what a sad case shee was in. I after asked her concerning these passages, & shee owned the truth of them, & declared that now shee hoped the devill had left her, but being prest whether there were not a covenant, she earnestly professed, that by Gods goodnesse shee had bin prevented from doing that, which shee of herselfe had been ready enough to assent to; & shee thanked God there was no such thing:

The same day shee was agen taken with a new kind of unwonted fitt in which after shee had bin awhile exercised with violence, shee got her a sticke, & went up and downe, thrusting, & pushing, here & there, & anon looking out at a window, & cryed out of a witch appearing in a strange manner in forme of a dog downward, with a womans head, & declared the person, other whiles that shee appeard in her whole likenesse, & described her shape and habit: signifyed that shee went up the chimney & went her way: what impression wee reade in the clay of the chimney, in similitude of a dogs paw, by the operation of Satan, & in the form of a dogs going in the same place she tould of, I shall not conclude, though something there was, as I myselfe saw in the chimney in the same place where shee declared the foot was set to goe up:

In this manner was she handled that night, & the 2 next dayes, using strange gestures, complaining by signes, when shee could not speake explaining that shee was sometimes in the chamber, somet. in the chimney, & anon assaults her, sometimes scratching her breast, beating her sides, strangling her throat, & she did oftentimes seeme to our apprehension as if shee would forthwith bee strangled: She declared that if the party were apprehended shee should forthwith bee well, but never till then; whereupon her father went, & percured the coming of the woman impeached by her, who came downe to her on Thurdsday night, where (being desired to be present) I observed that she was violently handled, & lamentably tormented by the adversarye, & uttered unusual shriekes at the instant of the persons coming in, though her eyes were fast closed: but having experience of such former actings, wee made nothing of it, but waited the issue: God therefore was sought to, to signifye something. whereby the innocent might bee acquitted, or the guilty discovered, & 'hee Answered our prayers, for by 2 evident & cleere mistakes she was cleered, & then all prejudices ceased, & she never more to this day hath impeached her of any apparition: in the fore mentioned allegation of the person, shee also signifyed that somet. the devil alsoe in the likenesse of a little boy appeared together with the person: Fryday was a sad day with her, for shee was sorely handled with fits, which some perceiving pressed that there was something yet behind not discovered by her; & shee after a violent fit, holding her betweene two & 3 houres did first to one, & afterwards to many acknowledge that shee had given of her blood to the Devill, & made a covenant with him, whereupon I was sent for to her; & understanding how things had passed, I found that there was no roome for privacye, in another alredy made by her soe publicke, I therefore examined her concerning the matter; & found her not soe forward to confesse, as shee had bin to others, yet thus much I gathered from her confession:

That after shee came to dwell with us, one day as shee was alone in a lower roome, all the rest of us being in the chamber, she looked out at the window, & saw the devill in the habit of an old man, coming over a great meadow lying neere the house; & suspecting his designe, shee had thoughts to have gon away; yet at length resolved to tarry it out, & heare what hee had to say to her; when hee came hee demanded of her some of her blood, which shee forthwith consented to, & with a knife cut her finger, hee caught the blood in his hand, & then told her she must write her name in his booke, shee answered, shee could not Write, but hee told her he would direct her hand, & then took a little sharpened sticke, & dipt in the blood, & put it into her hand, & guided it, & shee wrote her name with his helpe: what was the matter shee set her hand to, I could not learne from her; but thus much shee confessed, that the terme of time agreed upon with him was for 7 yeers; one yeere shee was to be faithfull in his service, & then the other six hee would serve her, & make her a witch: shee also related, that the ground of contest between her & the devill which was the occasion of this sad providence, was this, that after her covenant made the devill showed her hell & the damned, & told her if shee were not faithfull to him, shee should goe thither, & bee tormented there; shee desired of him to show her heaven, but hee told her that heaven was an ougly place, & that none went thither but a company of base roagues whom he hated; but if shee would obey him, it should be well with her: but afterward shee considered with herselfe, that the terme of her covenant, was but short, & would soone bee at an end, & shee doubted (for all the devills promises) shee must at last come to the place hee had showne her, & withall, feared, if shee were a witch, shee should bee discovered, & brought to a shamefull end: which was many times a trouble on her spirits; this the Devill perceiving, urged upon her to give him more of her blood, & set her hand agen to his booke, which shee refused to doe, but partly through promises, partly by threatnings, hee brought her at last to a promise that shee would sometime doe it: after which hee left not incessantly to urge her to the performance of it, once hee met her on the staires. & often elsewhere pressing her with vehemencye, but shee still put it off; till the first night shee was taken when the devill came to her, & told her he would not tarry any longer: shee told him shee would not doe it hee Answered shee had done it already, & what further damage would it bee to doe it agen, for shee was his sure enough: she rejoyned shee had done it already, & if shee were his sure enough, what need hee to desire any more of her: whereupon he strucke her the first night, agen more violently the 2nd as is above exprest :

This is the sum of the Relation I then had from her: which at that time seemed to bee methodicall: These things she uttered with great affection, overflowing of teares, & seeming bitternesse: I asked of the Reason of her weeping & bitternesse, shee complained of her sinns, & some in particular, profanation of the sabbath &c: but nothing of this sin of renouncing the goverment of God. & giving herselfe up to the devill: I therfore, (as God helped) applied it to her & asked her whether shee desired not prayers with & for her, shee assented with earnestnesse, & in prayer seemed to bewaile the sin as God helped, then in the aggravation of it, & afterward declared a desire to rely on the power & mercy of God in Christ: shee then also declared, that the Devill had deceived her concerning those persons impeached by her, that hee had in their likenesse or resemblance tormented her, persuading her that it was they, that they bare her a spleen, but he loved her, & would free her from them, & pressed on her to endeavor to bring them forth to the censure of the law.

In this case I left her; but (not being satisfied in some things) I promised to visit her agen the next day which accordingly I did, but coming to her, I found her (though her speech still remained) in a case sad enough, her teares dryed up, & sences stupifyed, & (as was observed) when I could get nothing from her, & therfore applyed myselfe in counsell to her, shee regarded it not, but fixed her eye steadfastly upon a place, as shee was wont when the Devill presented himselfe to her, which was a griefe to her parents, & brought mee to a stand; in the condition I left her:

The next day, being the Sabbath, whither upon any hint given her, or any advantage Satan tooke by it upon her, shee sent for mee in hast at noone, coming to her, shee immediately with teares told me that shee had belied the Devill, in saying shee had given him of her blood: &c: professed that the most of the apparitions shee had spoken of were but fansyes, as images represented in a dreame; earnestly entreated me to beleeve her, called God to witnesse to her assertion, I told her I would willingly hope the best, & beleeve what I had any good grounds to apprehend; if therefore shee would tell a more methodicall relation than the former, it would be well, but if otherwise, she must bee content that every one should censure according to their apprehension, shee promised soe to doe, & expressed a desire that all that would might heare her; that as they had heard soe many lyes & untruths, they might now heare the truth, & engaged that in the evening shee would doe it; I then repaired to her, & divers more then went; shee then declared thus much, that the Devill had sometimes appeared to her; that the occasion of it was her discontent, that her condition displeased her, her labor was burdensome to her, shee was neither content to bee at home nor abroad; & had oftentime strong persuasions to practice in witchcraft, had often wished the Devill would come to her at such & such times, & resolved that if hee would, shee would give herselfe up to him soule & body: but (though hee had oft times appeared to her, yet) at such times hee had not discovered himselfe, and therfore shee had bin preserved from such a thing: I declared a suspicion of the truth of the relation, & gave her some Reasons; but by Reason of the company did not say much, neither could anything further be gotten from her: but the next day I went to her, & opened my mind to her alone, & left it with her, declared (among other things) that shee had used preposterous courses, & therfore it was no marvell that shee had bin led into such contradictions, & tendered her all the helpe I could, if shee would make use of me, & more privately relate any weighty & serious case of Conscience to me, shee promised me shee would if shee knew any thing, but said that then shee knew nothing at all; but stood to the story shee had told the foregoing evening: & indeed what to make of these things I at present know not, but am waiting till God (if hee see meet) wind up the story, & make a more cleere discoverye.

It was not many dayes ere shee was hurried agen into violent fits after a different manner, being taken agen speechlesse, & using all endeavores to make away with herselfe, & doe mischiefe unto others; striking those that held her; spitting in their faces; & if at any time shee had done any harme or frightened them shee would laugh immediately; which fits held her sometimes longer, sometimes shorter, few occasions shee had of speech, but when shee could speake, shee complained of a hard heart, counselled some to beware of sin, for that had brought her to this, bewailed that soe many prayers had bin put up for her, & shee still so hard hearted, & no more good wrought upon her; but being asked whither shee were willing to repent, shaked her head, & said nothing. Thus shee continued till the next sabbath in the afternoone; on which day in the morning, being somthing better then at other times, shee had but little company tarryed with her in the afternoon; when the Devill began to make more full discoverye of himselfe:

It had bin a question before, whither shee might properly bee called a Demoniacke, or person possessed of the Devill, but it was then put out of Question: hee began (as the persons with her testifye) by drawing her tongue out of her mouth most frightfully to an extraordinary length & greatnesse, & many amazing postures of her bodye; & then by speaking, vocally in her, whereupon her father, & another neighbor were called from the meeting, on whom, (as soon as they came in,) he railed, calling them roagues, charging them for folly in going to heare a blacke roague, who told them nothing but a parcell of lyes, & deceived them, & many like expressions. after exercise I was called, but understood not the occasion, till I came, & heard the same voice, a grum, low, yet audible voice it was, the first salutation I had was, oh ! you are a great roague, I was at the first somthing daunted & amazed, & many reluctances I had upon my spirits, which brought mee to a silence and amazement in my spirits, till at last God heard my groanes & gave me both refreshment in Christ, & courage: I then called for a light, to see whither it might not appeare a counterfiet, and observed not any of her organs to moove, the voice was hollow, as if it issued out of her throat; hee then agen called me great blacke roague, I challenged him to make it appear; but all the Answer was, you tell the people a company of lyes : I reflected on myselfe, & could not but magnifye the goodnesse of God not to suffer Satan to bespatter the names of his people, with those sins which hee himselfe hath pardoned in the blood of Christ.

I Answered, Satan, thou art a lyar, and a deceiver, & God will vindicate his owne truth one day: hee Answered nothing directly, but said, I am not Satan, I am a pretty blacke boy; this is my pretty girle; I have bin here a great while, I sat still, and Answered nothing to these expressions; but when hee directed himselfe to mee agen, oh! you blacke roague, I doe not love you: I replyed through God's grace, I hate thee; hee rejoyned, but you had better love mee; these manner of expressions filled some of the company there present with great consternation, others put on boldnesse to speake to him, at which I was displeased, & advised them to see their call cleere, fearing least by his policye, & many apish expressions hee used, hee might insinuate himselfe, & raise in them a fearlessenesse of spirit of him: I no sooner turned my backe to goe to the fire, but he called out agen, where is that blacke roague gon: I seeing little good to bee done by discorse, & questioning many things in my mind concerning it, I desired the company to joyne in prayer unto God; when wee went about that duty & were kneeled downe, with a voice louder then before something, hee cryed out, hold your tongue, hold your tongue, get you gon you blacke roague, what are you going to doe, you have nothing to doe with me, &c: but through Gods goodnesse was silenced, &, shee lay quiet during the time of prayer, but as soone as it was ended, began afresh, using the former expressions, at which some ventured to speake to him: Though I thinke imprudentlye: one told him, God had him in chaines, hee replyed, for all my chaine, I can knocke thee on the head when I please: hee said hee would carry her away that night. Another Answered, but God is stronger than thou, He presently rejoyned, that 's a ly, I am stronger than God: at which blasphemy I agen advised them to bee wary of speaking, counselled them to get serious parsons to watch with her, & left her, commending her to God:

On Tuesday following shee confessed that the Devill entred into her the 2nd night after her first taking, that when shee was going to bed, hee entred in (as shee conceived) at her mouth, & had bin in her ever since, & professed, that if there were ever a Devill in the world, there was one in her, but in what manner he spake in her she could not tell: On Wednesday night, shee must forthwith be carried downe to the bay in all hast, shee should never be well, till an assembly of ministers was met together to pray with & for her, & in particular Mr. Cobbet: her friends advised with me about it; I signifyed to them, that I apprehended, Satan never made any good motion, but it was out of season, & that it was not a thing now fiezable, the season being then extreame cold; & the snow deepe, that if shee had bin taken in the woods with her fits shee must needs perish: On friday in the evening shee was taken agen violently, & then the former voice (for the sound) was heard in her agen, not speaking, but imitating the crowing of a cocke, accompanied with many other gestures, some violent, some ridiculous, which occasioned my going to her, where by signes she signifyed that the Devill threatened to carry her away that night, God was agen then sought for her. & when in prayer, that expression was used, the God had prooved Satan a liar, in preserving her once when hee had threatned to carry her away that night, & was entreated soe to doe agen, the same voice, which had ceased 2 dayes before, was agen heard by the by-standers 5 times distinctly to cry out, oh you are a roague, and then ceased: but the whole time of prayer, sometimes by violence of fits sometimes by noises shee made, shee drouned her owne hearing from receiving our petition, as she afterwards confessed:

Since that time shee hath continued for the most part speechlesse, her fits coming upon her sometimes often, sometimes with greater intermission, & with great varietyes in the manner of them, sometimes by violence, sometimes by making her sicke, but (through Gods goodnesse) soe abated in violence, that now one person can as well rule her, as formerly 4 or 5: She is observed alwayes to fall into her fits when any strangers goe to visit her, & the more goe the more violent are her fits: as to the frame of her spirits hee hath bin more averse lately to good counsell than heretofore, yet sometime shee signifyes a desire of the companye of ministers.

On Thursday last, in the evening, shee came a season to her speech, & (as I received from them with her) agen disouned a Covenant with the Devill, disouned that relation about the knife fore mentioned, declared the occasion of her fits to bee discontent, owned the temptations to murder; declared that though the devill had power of her body, shee hoped hee should not of her soule, that she had rather continue soe speechlesse, then have her speech, & make no better use of it then formerly shee had, expressed that shee was sometimes disposed to doe mischiefe, & was as if some had laid hold of her to enforce her to it, & had double strength to her owne, that shee knew not whither the devill were in her or no if hee were shee knew not when or how he entered; that when shee was taken speechlesse, she fared as if a string was tyed about the roots of her tongue, & reached doune into her vitalls & pulled her tongue downe, & then most when shee strove to speake:

On Fryday, in the evening shee was taken wth a passion of weeping, & sighing, which held her till late in the night, at length she sent for me; but then unseasonablenesse of the weather, & my owne bodily indisposednesse prevented: I went the next morning, when shee strove to speake somthing but could not, but was taken with her fits, which held her as long as I tarried, which was more then an houre, & I left her in them: & thus she continues speechlesse to this instant, Jan. 15. & followed with fits: concerning which state of hers I shall suspend my owne Judgment, & willingly leave it to the censure of those that are more learned, aged, & Judicious: only I shall leave my thoughts in resp. of 2 or 3 questions which have risen about her: viz.

1. Whither her distemper be reale or counterfiet: I shall say no more to that but this, the great strength appearing in them, & great weaknesse after them, will disclaime the contrary opinion: for tho a person may counterfiet much yet such a strength is beyond the force of dissimulation:

2. Whither her distemper bee naturall or Diabolicall, I suppose the premises will strongly enough conclude the latter, yet I will adde these 2 further arguments:

  1. The actings of convulsion, which these come nearest to, are (as parsons acquainted with them observe) in many, yea the most essentiall parts of them quite contrary to these actings:
  2. Shee hath no wayes wasted in body, or strength by all these fits, though soe dreadfulle, but gathered flesh exceedinglye, & hath her naturall strength when her fits are off, for the most part:

3. Whither the Devill did really speake in her: to that point which some have much doubted of, thus much I will say to countermand this apprehension:

  1. The manner of expression I diligently observed, & could not perceive any organ, any instrument of speech (which the philosopher makes mention of) to have any motion at all, yea her mouth was sometimes shut without opening sometimes open without shutting or moving, & then both I & others saw her tongue (as it used to bee when shee was in some fits, when speechlesse) turned up circularly to the roofe of her mouth.
  2. The labial letters, divers of which were used by her, viz. B. M. P. which cannot bee naturally expressed without motion of the lips, which must needs come within our ken, if observed, were uttered without any such motion, shee had used only Lingualls, Gutturalls &c: the matter might have bin more suspicious:
  3. The reviling termes then used, were such as shee never used before nor since, in all this time of her being thus taken: yea, hath bin alwayes observed to speake respectively concerning mee;
  4. They were expressions which the devill (by her confession) aspersed mee, & others withall, in the houre of temptation, particularly shee had freely acknowledged that the Devill was wont to appear to her in the house of God & divert her mind, & charge her shee should not give eare to what the Blacke coated roage spake:
  5. Wee observed when the voice spake, her throat was swelled formidably as big at least as ones fist: These arguments I shall leave to the censure of the Judicious:

4. Whither shee have covenanted with the Devill or noe: I thinke this is a case unanswerable, her declarations have been soe contradictorye, one to another, that wee know not what to make of them & her condition is such as administers many doubts; charity would hope the best, love would alsoe feare the worst, but thus much is cleare, shee is an object of pitye, & I desire that all that heare of her would compassionate her forlorne state, Shee is (I question not) a subject of hope, & thererfore all meanes ought to bee used for her recoverye, Shee is a monument of divine severitye, & the Lord grant that all that see or heare, may feare & tremble: Amen.

S. W. 5

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1. Samuel Abbott Green, An Account of the Early Land Grants of Groton, Massachusetts (British Library, Historical Print Editions, 2010)

2. Samuel Willard, A Brief Account of a Strange and Unusuall Providence of God Befallen to Elizabeth Knap of Groton (Witches of the Atlantic World: A Historical Reader and Primary sourcebook (New York University Press, 2000)

3. William Montgomery Clemens, American Marriage Records Before 1699 (General Publishing Company, 1926)

4. Samuel Abbott Green, An Historical Sketch of Groton, Massachusetts, 1655-1890 (Nabu Press, 2011)


6. “Ancestral File v4.19”, database, FamilySearch

7. ( 15 January 2012), entry for James Parker

8. Francis J. Bremer, Biography of John Winthrop (Continuum Pub., 2009)

9. Eric Richards, Britannia’s Children: Emigration from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland since 1600 (Humbledon Continuum Pub., 2004)

10. P. Gifford Longley, Captive: Based on a True Story (Tate Publishing and Enterprises, 2011)

11. David Cressy, Coming Over: Migration and Communication Between England and New England in the 17th Century (Cambridge University Press, 1987)

12. Diane E. Foulds, Death in Salem: The Private Lives Behind The1692 Witch Hunt (Globe Pequot Publishing, 2010)

13. Dr. Samuel Green, The Early Records of Groton, Massachusetts (The British Library, 2010)

14. Douglas Richardson, The English Origin and Ancestry of the Parker Brothers of Massachusetts and of Their Probable Aunt, Sarah Parker, Wife of Edward Converse (NEHGR, Vol. 153, S129, 1999),81-96

15. Samuel A. Green, Epitaphs from Old Burying Ground in Groton, Massachusetts (Nabu Press, 2010)

16. Benjamin Hart, Faith and Freedom: The Christian Roots of American Liberty (Christian Roots American Liberty, 1997)

17. Douglas Edward Leach, Flintlock and Tomahawk: New England in King Philip’s War (Countrymen Press, 2009)

18. Katherine Brown, Freemanship in Puritan Massachusetts (American Historical Review, Vol 49, No. 4, Jul 1954)

19. Samuel A. Green, Groton During the Indian Wars (General Books LLC, 2010)

20. Samuel A. Green, Groton In the Witchcraft Times (Nabu Press, 2011)

21. John Warner Barber, Historical Collections: Being a General Collection of Interesting Facts, Traditions, Biographical Sketches, Anecdotes, etc Relating to the History of Massachusetts (Donn, Howland and company, 1841) pp 349

22. Henry Allen Hazen, History of Billerica, Massachusetts (H.A. Doyle, 1973)

23. Wilson Waters, History of Chelmsford, Massachusetts (Books On Demand Publisher, 1917)

24. Caleb Butler, History of Groton, Including Pepperell and Shirley, From the first Grant of Groton Plantation in 1655 (Nabu Press, 2010)

25. John Farmer, Historical Memoir of Billerica (Nabu Press, 2010)

26. Samuel Sewall, History of Woburn, Middlesex County, Massachusetts From Grant of its Territory to Charlsetown, in 1640 to the Year 1860 (Nabu Press, 2010)

27. Francis J. Bremer, John Winthrop: America’s Forgotten Founding Father (Oxford University Press, USA, 2005)

28. James Drake, King Philip’s War: Civil War in New England 1675-1678 (University of Massachusetts Press, 2000)

29. Eric B. Schultz and Michael S. Tougias, King Philip’s War: The History and Legacy of America’s Forgotten Conflict (Countrymen Press, 2000)

30. Hon. H.F. Andrews, List of Freemen of Massachusetts, 1630-1691 with Freeman’s Oath (Nabu Press, 2010)

31. Materials of Chelmsford Historical Society

32. Jill Lepore, The Name of War: King Phillip’s War and the Origins of American Identity (Vintage Press, 1999)

33. Francis Marion Boutwell, Old Highways and Landmarks of Groton, Massachusetts

34. George M. Bodge, Soldiers in King Philip’s War: Being a Critical Account of that War, With Concise History (General Books LLC, 2009)

35. Doris Parker Moffitt, Some Descendants of Captain James Parker of Groton (1986)

36. Marilynne K. Roach, The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-By-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege (Taylor Trade Publishing, 2004)

37. Augustus G. Parker, Parker Family in America (Bibliographical Center for Research, 2010)

38. Francis Marion Boutwell, People and Their Homes in Groton, Massachusetts, in Olden Times (Nabu Press, 1890)

39. Vital Records of Billerica, Mass. To the Year 1850 (University of Michigan Library, 1908)

40. Dale Taylor, The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in Colonial America from 1607-1783 (F & W Publications, 2002)

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