Here, gathered in our beloved South Dakota, are a few members of our Williamson / Mattson Clan. Charles and Luella are to be blamed (be kind, they didn't know what they were doing). We're generally a happy bunch and somewhat intelligent (notwithstanding our tenuous grasp on reality). I'm also proud to say that most of us still have our teeth.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Our Cousin, Samuel Sewall. Magistrate of the Salem Witch Trials

Samuel Sewall

Hello All,
It’s getting late and time to post my evening’s research. Tonight we are privileged to meet Samuel Sewall, our 1st cousin, 12 times removed. He is known for his extensive diary detailing the live of his Puritan family. He attended Harvard University. He was an assistant magistrate in the Salem Witch Trials. In fact, he was the only magistrate that publicly regretted his role. Later in his life he became the Chief Justice of Massachusetts. Also remember from a previous post our 9th great grandparents from another line were accused of being a witch during that trial. So, our great grandparents were judged by our 12th cousin. Isn't it interesting the way our family lines twist and turn and, at times, intercept.

There is much more below in this person’s interesting life.

We begin with the Relationship Chart:

Henry Sewell and Margaret Grazebrook are my 12th Great Grandparents. The chart above takes us to my 7th Great Grandparents John and Harmon and Mary Hasty. From them the family line goes as follows:

Martha Harmon b. 1740 and William Williams B. 1740 Prince George Maryland.
Nancy Ann Williams and William Cantwell
Martha Cantwell and Jacob George
Frances George and Henry Fiddler
Eldora Elizabeth Fiddler Edwin Sherman Pierce
Walter Edwin Pierce and Vesta Althea Dennis
Violet Mae Pierce and Walter Albert Mattson
Luella Mae Mattson and Charles Ray Williamson

The information below is taken from Wikipedia on the life of this famous cousin.


The Life of Chief Judge Samuel Sewall.

Sewall was born in Bishopstoke, Hampshire England, on March 28, 1652, the son of Henry and Jane Sewall (née Dummer), and grandson of Henry Sewall, the mayor of Coventry, England. He emigrated with his parents from England to the Massachusetts colony in 1661 where they settled in Newbury, Massachusetts. It is there the young Samuel grew up along the Parker River and Plum Island Sound. Like other local boys he attended school at the James Noyes House, receiving his primary education from the Reverend James Noyes. A devout Puritan, he later moved Boston to attended Harvard University, (graduating in 1671), hoping to study for the ministry, but he eventually left to pursue a career in business. He also entered local politics, and was elevated to the position of assistant magistrate in the judiciary that in 1692 judged the people in Salem accused of witchcraft. Sewall was perhaps most remarkable among the magistrates involved in the trials in that he was the only magistrate who, some years later, publicly regretted his role, going so far as to call for a public day of prayer, fasting, and reparations. In Salem, Sewall's brother Stephen had opened up his home to one of the initially afflicted children, Betty Parris, daughter of Salem Village's Reverend Samuel Parris, and shortly afterward Betty's 'afflictions' appear to have subsided.

Apart from his involvement in the trials, Sewall could be very liberal in his views. In The Selling of Joseph (1700), for instance, he came out strongly against slavery, making him one of the earliest colonial abolitionists. There he argued:

"Liberty is in real value next unto Life: None ought to part with it themselves, or deprive others of it, but upon the most mature Consideration."

He regarded "man-stealing as an atrocious crime which would introduce amongst the English settlers people who would remain forever restive and alien," but he also believed that

"There is such a disparity in their Conditions, Colour, Hair, that they can never embody with us, and grow up into orderly Families, to the Peopling of the Land."

Although holding such segregationist views, he maintained that:

"These Ethiopians, as black as they are; seeing they are the Sons and Daughters of the First Adam, the Brethren and Sisters of the Last ADAM, and the Offspring of God; They ought to be treated with a Respect agreeable."

His 1725 essay "Talitha Cumi" refers to the "right of women." It is republished for the first time since 1725 in the appendix to the most recent biography of Sewall .

His Journal, kept from 1673 to 1729, describes his life as a Puritan against the changing tide of colonial life, as the devoutly religious community of Massachusetts gradually adopted more secular attitudes and emerged as a liberal, cosmopolitan-minded community. As such, the diary is an important work for understanding the transformation of the colony in the days leading to the American Revolution.

In 1717, Sewall was appointed chief justice of Massachusetts.

1 comment:

  1. Greetings from David Sewall, a cousin from Maine, descended from John Sewall, a younger brother of Sam's!