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To Set the Record Straight on Mary (Perkins) Bradbury



The Crimson printed an article, "Salem Man Recounts 350-year Family Tree" by Abby Y. Fung (news story, March 5) which details the remembrances of William Russell Burns. The article is full of historical inaccuracies. As a reference librarian, genealogist and ninth-great-grandson of Mary (Perkins) Bradbury, I want the record set straight.

John Perkins arrived in New England in 1631 on the ship Lyon. He and his wife are recorded first in Boston. They settled in Ipswich by 1634 and he represented Ipswich at the General Court in 1636. He never lived in Salem. His descendants are prominent throughout Essex County, but he has no Salem connection. See The Great Migration Begins 1620-1633 (NEHGS, 1995) by Robert Charles Anderson '65.

Mary (Perkins) Bradury was accused and convicted of witchcraft in 1692. Her husband, Thomas Bradury, did not testify against her. His testimony can be read in the court files in the Essex County Archives as follows:

"Concerning my beloved wife, Mary Bradbury, this is what I have to say: We have been married 55 years, and she hath been a loving and faithful wife unto me unto this day. She had been wonderful, laborious, diligent and industrious in her place and employment about [bringing] up our family which have been 11 children of our own and four grandchildren. She was both prudent and provident, of a cheerful spirit, liberal and charitable. She being now very aged and weak, and grieved under many afflictions, may not be able to speak much for herself, not being so free of speech as some other might be. I hope her life and conversation among her neighbors has been such as gives a better or more real testimony than can be expressed by words."

Thomas then had 118 of the residents of Salisbury and Ipswich sign a statement verifying Mary's good character. Thomas was a man of prominence in the colony. He came from a landed family and his mother, Elizabeth Whitgift, was the niece of John Whitgift, the Archbishop of Canterbury under Elizabeth I. Thomas was the land agent for Sir Fernando Gorges, a relative, who controlled much of what is today York County, Maine. Thomas was the deputy to the General Court for seven years. Because of Mary's age (she was 77) and her high social standing, she was not executed, although the other four people convicted at the same time were hanged.

Most of the victims of the hysteria were of the lower echelon of society, with the notable exception of Rev. George Burroughs who was the erstwhile minister of Salem. People of prominence, such as Gov. Phip's wife, Captain John Alden, etc. were accused, but did not suffer death due to their high social standing. See Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft by Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum (Harvard University Press, 1974).

Some truly notable descendants of Thomas and Mary (Perkins) Bradbury include Ralph Waldo Emerson 1832 and the astronaut Allan Shephard. Notable descendants of John and Judith (Gater) Perkins of Ipswich include Franklin D. Roosevelt '04, Calvin Coolidge, Millard Fillmore, Max Perkins, Archibald Cox, the Harvard law professor, Lucille Ball, Montgomery Clift, Anthony Perkins and Tennessee Williams. --Martin E. Hollick,   reference librarian for the Widener   and Lamont libraries

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