This weeks writing prompt is “Strong Woman”. I feel fortunate enough to have several women in my family tree that fit that category. I had a really hard time deciding which one I wanted to write about so, I would like to introduce you to my 8 times Great Aunt, Sarah Hood.
Sarah’s father Richard a was born in England in 1625, He, along with his parents, made the long voyage to the British Colonies sometime before 1650 and they settled in Salem, Lynn County, Massachusetts. He met and married Mary Newhall in 1652. Over the next several years they added 13 children to their family. Sarah was the 3rd child and their second daughter.
In 1675 Sarah Hood married William Bassett Jr who was the brother of Elizabeth Bassett Proctor, wife of John Proctor who came from a very influential family. In the spring of 1692, there was an increasing rise to accusations of witchcraft in and around Salem, Massachusetts. The hysteria had actually started over in England several years earlier and spread across the sea, brought over by the ever-increasing newcomers. Several young girls of the village began having “fits”. They screamed, threw things, uttered peculiar sounds and contorted themselves into strange positions, and a local doctor blamed the supernatural. As a result over 150 people were accused of being a witch, having supposedly signed their souls over to satan to obtain power.
On May 23, 1692, Sarah Hood Bassett was accused of witchcraft and was immediately sent to prison. She had to take her two-year-old daughter Ruth with her as she had no one to care for her. Her 5-year-old daughter Hannah stayed with her husband. Just being associated with Sarah was dangerous during this time. Food and clothing were brought to the prison for Sarah and Ruth on a weekly basis. It didn’t help that she was also about 2 months pregnant at this time.
The month before Sarah was accused; her husband’s sister Elizabeth and brother-in-law John Proctor had also been accused, arrested, tried and convicted of witchcraft. They were sentenced to hang. They all three spent the next few months together in the prison in Boston. Conditions were extremely harsh. On the 19th of August, despite no evidence to the charges and in spite of numerous testimonials to the character of John Proctor he was hung on Gallows Hill for the crime of being a wizard. This left Sarah and Elizabeth alone to care for each other.
It is impossible to say that I know how she felt. Here she was married into one of the best families in the region. Her husband and she attended church every week. Then she had to endure being falsely accused, sentenced, thrown into prison along with her child and being pregnant. She had to watch her brothers-in-law be hanged even though he was innocent. I can imagine that she spent a lot of sleepless nights thinking about her situation and praying for freedom. I am sure she also feared for the child she carried.
Sarah spent a total of 7 months in this prison and she was pardoned because the charges against her could not be proven. Elizabeth Proctor was also pardoned and released. Within 2 weeks after being released she gave birth to a son which they named Joseph. She was later granted payment of 9 pounds by way of compensation and her next child, a daughter, was named Deliverance. At the time of her death in 1721, she and William had been married for 46 years. She was an extremely strong woman to survive this ordeal and to carry on with life
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.