New England Witch Trial Lines

Entries: 2708    Updated: Wed Aug 7 10:31:02 2002    Contact: Lisa Beth Darling

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  • ID: I2056
  • Name: John Peaslee
  • Sex: M
  • Note:
    Information on these lines was submitted by;

    The origin of the name Peaslee is unknown. Some claim that it comes from the name Peter, while others feel that it is a combination of the two words, peas and lea (pasture). Still others feel that it is a combination of the family names Pease and Lee.

    Joseph Peaslee, the first bearing that name, who came to New England, was originally from Gloucestershire, England. Peaslee "family tradition place Joseph's origin near the banks of the River Severn in Gloucestershire, England, which flows not far from the border of Wales. He is referred to as having been of Bristol, which is the metropolitan center of the area. A number of Peaslee families are known to have lived in Gloucestershire during that time period." He was born around 1600. His father may be a William Peaslee but as a yet I have found no documentation on this. This name was on a family pedigree I found.

    Joseph was married to Mary Johnson of Wales but may have been married previously. The reason for believing this is that Joseph's first three children; Jane (abt 1625), Mary (abt 1627), and Elizabeth (abt 1629) were born in England with the last being born in 1629. Joseph and Mary Johnson had two children, Sarah (1642), and Joseph (1646). Both Sarah and Joseph were born in Haverhill, Mass. This 13-year gap between Elizabeth, Sarah, and the fact that Mary Johnson was much younger then Joseph indicates that she may have been wife #2.

    Mary Johnson was born in Trevor Issa, Wales and was the granddaughter of Edmund Johnson. He, along with six of his children, drowned while on a boating trip in Ponty Pool, Wales, in 1600. The only surviving child was Mary's father, John who was 12 years old when this happened. He had stayed home with his mother during this family outing. John Johnson was a successful farmer in Wales. He had at least three children, Edmund, Mary and John. Edmund settled in Hampton, New Hampshire in 1635. Mary married Joseph Peasley and settled in Haverhill, Mass, while John remained in England where he became a noted Quaker and a companion of George Fox.

    Joseph Peaslee and his family might have traveled to New England with Rev. Thomas Parker whose group landed in Boston in May 1634, but there is no written record of this. It is thought that they settled in Newbury, Mass, around the year 1638, but it was not until 1641 that there was a written record of Joseph Peaslee in New England. In that year, Joseph was granted land in Newbury. His grant consisted of "two and a half acres stint of ox and cow common".

    In 1642, he was made a Freeman of the community. As a freeholder, he was entitled to a grant or to purchase land in Newbury. A Freeman in Newbury was entitled to a 4-acre home lot and at least 50 acres of additional land. The amount of land a freeman owned depended on how much he had invested into the community and how much land he could later buy. Sarah was born during their stay in Newbury.

    In 1645, Joseph Peaslee was one of 32 landowners who founded Haverhill, Mass. He was listed as a Freeman in Haverhill in 1646. He and his family lived in the "eastern part of the town near the head of what is now (1977) East Broadway on the side towards the Merrimack River". He was chosen to serve Haverhill as a Selectman in 1649, 1650 and 1653. Joseph was a farmer and a cattle rancher. He was also remembered as one who had much knowledge of herbs and roots and used them to aid people medically.

    In 1656, he moved to Salisbury, Mass. There he was granted 20 acres of upland and 10 acres of meadow. The section he settled in is now a part of Newton, New Hampshire. Early settlers of Salisbury were reluctant to take up their abode in the western half of the town and in 1642 30 families were either forced, or were "persuaded", to settle there. Once there the settlers felt that they should have their own church and not have to travel to the church in Salisbury. The settlers began to meet at "church" in their new settlement. Joseph Peaslee and Thomas Macy preached the sermons.

    The General Court ruled on November 6, 1646 that;

    "Any person living within the limits of the colony of Massachusetts Bay who shall without cause, neglect to attend public worship shall forfeit for his absence from every said published meeting, five shillings."

    Both Peaslee and Macy were warned about their preaching, but both continued to defy the General Court.

    The inhabitants of Salisbury petitioned the General Court seeking to be declared a separate town and have the right to have their own church. The court ruled against them on May 26, 1658;

    "Judged it not meete to grant ye inhabitants of the new town of Salisbury their petition but doe declare and order for the present, that they shall attend the worship of God together in the old town and that they contribute their several proportions for the maintainence and continuance of the same amongst them."

    The residents of Salisbury ignored this order and a warrant was issued ordering Joseph to appear before the court and answer for his disobedience to authorities. This warrant read:

    "That the recorder for the County of Norfolke, fforthwith issue out his warrrants requiring Joseph Peasley & the rest of the inhabitants of the new toune, being masters of families, or at their own dispose to make theire personall appearances before the next County Court to be held at Salisbury, to answer for their disobedjence to authorjtie in not complying wth said order and the said County Court is hereby empowered to procede agt all such of them as in their appearance shall not fully make it cleare they have since said order, performed their duty and repajred to the public worship of God on the Lords day at the ould toune, to fine them for every days absence there, five shillings".

    Joseph refused to stop preaching and in 1659 was fined 5 shillings per week by the court. The Court ordered him to stop preaching. A compromise was finally reached where the new residents would hire the preacher from the Salisbury church, Rev. Worcester, to travel to their church and preach. There were problems with this arrangement and after protests made, the residents were ordered by the court to attend Rev. Worcester's meetings. Joseph Peaslee and others decided to ignore this court order. The court then responded with a stronger order;

    "The Court, having considered of & given ansr to the petition of the inhabitants of Salisbury, calling to minde the affront that Joseph Peasley put upon this Corts judgement & order in the yeare fifty eight, not only by continewing his preaching amongst the inhabitants of the new toune of Salisbury notwithstanding this courts injunction to the country but refusing to come to ansr for his contempt of the courts order & understanding the County Court only fined him five shillings for his absence weekly, as they did others & that still he continews preaching there as frequently as before the courts order & that also as we have been informed against the advice of the church whereof he is a member, and that his preaching, (being very weak and unfitt for so great a work) doth rather encrease then lessen the contentions there, doe order, that the said Joseph Peasley be forthwith by order of this court forbidden to preach anymore in any part of this jurisdiction till he give full satisfaction to this Court for what have been past."

    This dispute was never solved during Joseph’s lifetime. He died on December 3,1660. He must have been sickly for he made out his last will and testament on November 11. His will was proved on Feb. 9, 1661.

    His will reads;

    "My debts shalbe payed out of my estate & ye remaynder of my estate wch is left my debts being payed I doe give and bequeath ye one halfe unto Mary my wyfe dureing her life and I doe give unto my daughter Sarah all my house & lands yt I have att Salisbury & I doe give unto Joseph my sone all my land yt I have upon ye playne att Haverhill & doe also give unto Joseph my sone all my meadow lying in ye east meadow att Haverhill & I doe give my sone Joseph five of ye common rights yt belong to ye playne. I doe give unto my daughter Elizabeth fower acres & a halfe of meadow lying in ye west meadow att Haverhill & doe also give to my daughter Elizabeth fower of ye common rights yt belong to ye playne & doe give unto my daughter Jane 10 shillings and to my daughter Mary 10 shillings & doe give unto Sarah Sawer (Sawyer) my grandchilde my upland meadow lying at Spickett River & I doe give unto my sonne Joseph all ye remaynder of my land att Haverhill wch is not deposed of here. I doe also make Mary my wyfe my sole executer & doe also leave my sonne Joseph & ye estate yt I have given him to my wyfes deposing till Joseph my sonne bee twenty years of age."

    Witnesses: Philip Challis

    Tho. Barnard

    Richard Currier

    The inventory of Joseph Peaslee's estate shows the following items;

    A grinding ston & crank & betle ringe- 12 shillings

    A smoothing iron,5 wedges & one Iron barr-1 pound 5shillings

    One payer Andirons & 2 spitts 4 axes & 2 sawes-2 pounds 6 shillings

    One Crane, 2 trammells, gridiron &Brandiron, Fireslice, tonges-1 pound 14 shillings

    One tow combe, parsell-10 shillings

    One iron pot & skillet, pot hooks 7 flesh Hooks & frying pan- 1 pound 4 shillings

    5 howes, 1 chaine & other iron worke- 1 pound

    peuter & brass- 5 pounds 8 shillings

    2 gunns & 1 sword- 2 pounds

    all his waring apparell, woolen & linen-8 pounds

    cloath & searge & tame-7pounds 13 shillings

    beds & bedding-10pounds 18 shillings

    yarn, wooll, flax & hemp- 5pounds 10 shillings

    chests, barrills, spinning wheels & other lumber-3 pounds

    Forty bushells of wheat-10 pounds

    Sixty bushells of Indian corn- 9 pounds

    3 cowes, 2 heffers & 1 calfe -19 pounds

    swine - 3 pounds

    howse & land & meadow - 50 pounds

    2 Bibles & other books - 1 pound 15 shillings

    Total 143 pounds 5 shillings

    The real estate owned by Joseph Peaslee was appraised by James Davis jr., and Theophilus Satchwell. This land consisted of;

    12 acres more or less within ye playne fenced as it is bounded in ye records 50 pounds

    18 acres without ye fence 40 pounds

    44 acres in ye 2d division over ye little river eastward 35 pounds

    4 score & 4 of ye 3d division on Spickett Hill 35 pounds

    4th division of upland not yet pfected altho granted by the town (app. 350 acres which lay beyond Spickett River) 5 pounds

    6 acres of meadow at ye east meadow 8 pounds

    6 acres of 2d division of meadow 9 pounds

    4 acres of 3d division of meadow bounded in the new found meadow 5 pounds

    4 ox commons & other cow commons 16 pounds

    Total 223 pounds

    Joseph's widow, Mary, received two further grants of land after Joseph's death. She was granted Lot #25 which bordered the river in Salisbury and in 1662 granted Lot #19. Lot 19 consisted of 108 acres.

    Joseph Jr. married Ruth Barnard on January 21, 1672 when he was 25 years old. The Barnard family was close to the Peaslee's as Thomas Barnard had been one of the witnesses to Joseph's will. He had also taken inventory of Joseph's estate.

    Sarah Peaslee married Thomas Barnard about 1666. Thomas had a sister, Ruth Barnard. Joseph Jr. grew close to Ruth. They were married in 1672. While there are many instances of siblings marrying siblings during the colonial era, Joseph and Ruth may have had to get married. On July 14, 1672, less then 6 months after the wedding, Joseph and Ruth had their first child. The leaders of the community were aghast. Some of this enmity may have been due to Joseph’s father having disputes with the establishment.

    "Consequently, at the quarterly court session at Salisbury on April 8, 1673, Joseph Peasley and Ruth, his wife, (were) presented for fornication, confessed and were sentenced to be whipped tomorrow or pay a fine of 6 pounds. The record does not state which they chose."

    Joseph may have been spoiled as he was the youngest of five children, and he was the only boy. He was only fourteen when his father died. His personal life was a rocky one as Joseph was in trouble for much of his early life. He was in court on numerous occasions both as a complainant and as a defendant.

    In 1673, he sued William Barnes for a debt he was owed. The Court ordered that he "be paid either in one barrel pork or 20 bushels of Indian corn and 5 C of nails as per bill".

    In 1674, there was the case, Thomas Barnard Jr. vs. Joseph Peasley. "Trespass. For felling and carrying away his timber from his land in Amesbury bounds, near a place called Hoult's Rocks and adjoining a lot which was formaly called Edward Cottle's, now nelonging to William Sargent, thereby claiming the land to be his. Verdict for plaintiff, the land in controversy."

    In 1674, Joseph Peaslee, Joseph Page and Timothy Swan were all on watch at the Haverhill garrison house. On November 9, 1674, Joseph Page made the following deposition concerning what took place there;

    "I being settling to sleep I lookt up and saw Joseph Peasely lay violent hand upon Timothy Swan & pulling him down & then composing myself to sleep I heard ye said Joseph strike and read copty upon him ye sd Timothy wth many hard blows and at last ye said Tim: cried out yt Joseph Peasley did hurt him & presently after John Keyzar comeing in Peasley did bid him being a Tanner look or sees on Tim's hide he had tanned."

    In April of 1677 he was convicted of assaulting Peter Bruer with a chain. He was ordered to pay restitution to Mr. Bruer in corn and money. He was also bound to good behavior.

    Also in April, 1677 he was convicted of abusing Timothie Swan and ordered to pay 20 shillings in corn to Timothy's father, Robert Swan.

    In 1681, he was charged with assaulting Peter Green on August 12. Peter Green made the following statement;

    "On ye 12th instant wc was Friday after the frame of James Davis his dwelling house and barns were both raised & ye company had been at dinner or supper; Joseph Peasley did so inhumanely and cruelly beat, strike and kick me, that by yt means and no other I have been forced ever since yt time as soone as I got home with much paine to keep my bed and wholly disabled from all manner of labor & necissated to send for a doctor from Newberry; and as yet doubtfull and fearfull what may be the event.

    Besides many base, unchristian and reproachful names yt he yn called mee & other words that he gave mee. In the time of this abuse offered me there were first & last present or near who heard it or saw it, John Whittier, Jotham Hendricks, Ephraim Roberts, Gregory Marks & John & Steven Davis. His actions toward me were in this manner. He on a suddaine, came up to me & gave me a violent chuck under ye chin and catcht hold of my throat & pincht me so yt it made my throat sore & to swell & then whilst I stood, he gave me a kick on ye bottome of my belly whereby I am much wounded & in much paine both night and day my flesh much disclored made black and blew & swelled with ye blows, that if I should ever recover so as to go about I feare I shall never be my owne man as formally.

    Wn he was thus in his rage & resolved & had me on ye ground abusing of mee, he often entreated & prayed some that were then present to turne away & not see & was very earnest wth them to do so.

    After this when his furious, murtherous passion was seemingly somewhat allaied & ye hurt I had received not viewed or known, he askt me whither I would goe home & would have persuaded me to havegone wth him through ye corne fields, wc was out of my way & ye being refused by me, I went my owne way & he went with mee & yn struck me so terrible a blow on the head wth wc he did dazzle &stound & fell me & when I was getting up as well as I could he struck me againe & laid me for dead & wt blowes after that he gave me I cannot relate otherwise yn by ye effects yt I find on my body; for yn Eph. Roberts, Joth. Hendrick, Steph. Davis, Jno. Davis,& Gregory Marks being in sight, came and took me for dead as they say & cried out fearing whither I would come to life or not. On wc report, Joseph Peasly then said, "Hang him dog or drunken dog. I did but touch him with my finger" or to that purpose.

    At ye first wn he had me downe & was upon me he put his hand or fingers into my mouth and wounded & in spetial my tongue (wc I doubt not but he had a will to pull it out) wc caused it so to swell that I could hardly eat for two dayes; & then he cried that I bitt him; and yn immediately he took my finger and putt it into his own mouth & bit it sorely, ye wound is yet apparent, besides other wounds & marks yt he gave mee on my nose, lipps, eye & face & head almost all over, wc is now weake & much pained.

    I do profess & truly believe that had not ye Good Providence of God by company being near prevented him, he at that instant had killed me in ye Highway. And I still feare that if he be not restrained by the Authority of ye country, he will privately & malisciously kill me, or mine, or both if not others alo. Since this abuse, one of my creatures is not not to be found, and to say positively yt it is gone by him, though I feare it, I cannot at present. This is not the 1st, 2d nor 3d desperste abuses & attempts yt he hath made upon ye persons of others, not to say how he carries it in his own family, to his many unsufferable cowardly tricks he hath plaid before towards others, wc tho hitherto hidden from Authority, shall wn called for, fully appear,by wc his temper & wt spirit of malice rules in him may be fully knowne. For one whereof he was formerly bound to Peace and Good Behavior but since yt p'cured ye release of it by his forbearing outrageous madnesse for feare of his bond for a small while, and to a good purpose indeed if this sore affliction which I feel & ly under by ye effects and fruites of his liberty."

    Ephraim Roberts testified that Peasley chucked Green under the chin, and then took an apple from a tree and stomped it to pieces saying; "I could do wth you as to this apple & deale with you & throw you into the river." Peasley then challenged Green to a fight to which Green refused and attempted to walk home. After a short walk Peaslee struck Green and then beat him till he was unconscious. He then told Ephraim Roberts that Green was drunk and told them to haul him under a log and leave him there. He was found guilty, fined and forbidden to bear any weapons.

    In March of 1681, a drunken Indian assaulted Joseph’s wife. He had obtained the drink at John Pages house. He was found, convicted and sent to Ipswich prison. John Page Jr. was ordered to appear in court to answer for serving this Indian with five pints of hard cider.

    About the time of the marriage, Joseph built a house in Haverhill where he then settled with Ruth. This house became known as the "Peaslee Garrison" and still stands at 790 East Broadway, Haverhill. It was constructed with bricks imported from England. (An interesting sidenote is that Robert Hastings, the mason who built the house, had a daughter, Elisabeth, who later married Joseph's son, Joseph.) The house is 2 stories high and has 3 rooms upstairs and 3 rooms downstairs. A chimney is located at each end of the house. During King Philip's War the home was used as a garrison house where soldiers were stationed and people could flee if need be.

    In 1956 the house was owned by a Reginald C. Bacon. He had extensive renovations done on the house to restore it to its original look. In an article written about the house Mr. bacon states:

    " Joseph Peaslee must have been a man of some means and artistic imagination, because by any standards, his dwelling was a fine house for the times .Its woodwork is in some details more elaborate than was customary in the late 17th century".

    The richness of this house indicates that Joseph was a very successful farmer and businessman. At this point in his life, Joseph seems to have settled down and become a respected member of the community. In 1687, he was chosen to be the town Constable. He was made a selectman in 1689, 1690 and 1696.

    In 1692, Joseph was granted "the privilege of erecting a sawmill at the head of East Meadow River upon the stream by or near Brandy Row." The mill was built in 1693 and the site later became known as ‘Peaslees Mills’. A ‘Peaslee’ occupied it until 1860. Joseph sold 25% of the mill to Simon Wainwright in 1693/4 for 110 pounds.

    In 1699, Joseph Peaslee petitioned the town for the right to worship, with other Quakers, in the public meetinghouse. When this was refused Joseph opened his house for these meetings.

    In 1701, a fire caused Joseph Peaslee serious property damage, so much so that the town voted to "give him his rates on that account."

    Joseph was a prosperous man. He was a millwright, a farmer, and was known locally as a ‘physician’.

    During his last years, Joseph divided 240 acres among his four sons and two of his daughters. He also sold his son Joseph much of his property and another 360 acres to his son, Nathaniel.

    On November 5, 1723 Ruth died. Joseph married the widow Mary Davis a short time later. He died on March 21, 1724.

    Joseph and Ruth had 8 children; Mary Whittier (1672-), Joseph (1674-) who married Elizabeth Hastings, Robert (1677-1741) who married Alice Currier and later Anne Sawyer, John (1679-1752) who married Mary Martin and later Mary Newbegin, Nathanial (1682-) who married Judith Kimball, then Abiah Swan, and finally Martha Greely, Ruth Clement (1684-), Ebenezer (1688-1689) and Sarah Eastman (1690-).

    John Peaslee married Mary Martin of Amesbury in May of 1705. Mary was the granddaughter of George and Susanna Martin. Susanna was tried and convicted of being a witch during the infamous Salem Witch trials in 1692. She was executed. Later, one of her descendents, John Whittier, the famous Quaker poet, wrote the poem "The Witch's Daughter" about Susanna's daughter. John moved to Newton, NH in 1713.

    The marriage was at the house of Thomas Barnard. There 47 persons witnessed the ceremony. They were as follows: Samll: Bownass, Samll: B[r?]owne, Mary Brown, Thomas Chalis, Elizebath Conner, Mary Dow, Hannah Dow, Charety Dow, Josias Dow, Jeremiah Dow, Joseph Dow, Henery Dow, John Dow, Abraham Green, Henery Green, Hannah Hoag, Joseph Hoag, Robart: Hunkins, John Jones, Samll Jones, Samll Joye, John Kezer, Ruth Martin, Hannah Martin, Abegall Martin, Deborah Martin, John Martin, Jacob Morill, Thomas Morel, James Mussey, Jane: Nicolas, Lydia Norton, Nathinel Peasley, Robart: Peaslee, Ebenezar: Parkins, Ludia: Puringtun, Joshua Puringtun, Jobe Rowell, William Shepard, Ann Stanyan, James Stanyan, Mary Swett, Margry Weede, Mary Whicher, Robart White, Judeth Whitehous, Ezekiel Worthen.

    John was a ‘millwright’. He was the owner/operator of a water-powered mill. These mills were used to cut lumber, grind grain, and weave cloth.

    John was also known as a devoted Quaker. The wedding party gathered for his marriage was composed of Quakers. After their marriage, John and Mary lived at a house built for them by John’s father. This house was located in Newton, NH, and was only a few miles northwest of ‘Peaslee’s Mills’.

    John and Mary had 9 children; Joseph (1705/6-) who married Martha Hoag, John (1707-), Sarah Morrill (1708/9-1801), Mary Hoyt (1709-), Jacob (1710-) who married Huldah Brown, Nathan (1711-) who married Lydia Gove, Ruth Chase (1712-1788), David (1713-1800) who married Rachel Straw, and Moses (1714-) who married Mary Gove.

    David Peaslee was married to Rachel Straw on Feb 9, 1742. The minister who married them was Orlando Bagley.

    David and Rachel had the following children; Dorothy (1744-), Samuel (1746-1821) who married Sarah Bean, Peter (1749-1839) who married Hannah Heath, David (1751-aft 1821) who served in the Revolution, Rachel (1754-), Abraham (1756-1815) who married Martha Brentwood, Issac (1760-1826) who married Mary Collins, Jacob (1760-), Timothy (1763-1831) who married Mary Andrew, Sarah Hildreth (1766-1856, and John (1768-) who married Olive Bailey.

    David Jr. served for five years in the Revolution, while his brother Abraham served for seven months. They were rare exceptions in the Peaslee family as most were devout Quakers.

    Issac Peaslee married Mary Collins on October 4, 1785. Issac and his brother Jacob were twins.

    Issac and Mary had the following children; Mary (1783-1794), Jonathan (1788-1876), Issac (1792-1794), Issac (1795-1884) who married Hannah Mastin, Thomas (1798-1871) who married Hannah Graves, and Mary Goodwin (1800-).

    Issac was a Reverend. He married first Hannah Mastin (Marston). Hannah was the daughter of Issac and Hannah Messer Mastin. Issac and his parents had moved to Perrystown (later Sutton, NH) las did some of the Peaslees. After her death in 1840, he married Nancy Andrew. She died in 1860 and he married Mary Clark who died a year later. He remarried again, this time to Sally Brown Johnson. She died in 1863 and he married for the fifth time, Lucy Russell Brook.

    Issac and Hannah had the following children; Elizabeth (1818-1889) who married Adin Milton Cummings on Dec. 5, 1843, Moses (1820-1893) who married Susan Lowe and second Maria Sewell, Elmina (1823-1843), Albert (1825-1851), Hannah Johnson (1827-), Louisa (1829-1847), Arthur (1832-1876) who married Sophronia Devoll,and Edwin (1840-1848).

    Sources; The Peaslee’s by E.Kimball (Press of Chase Brothers,Haverhill,Mass. 1899), and A Passel O' Peasleys by Fredrick Lamphere (Indianapolis, Indiana 1979) The History of Sutton, New Hampshire, by Augusta Worthen (Republican Pree, Concord, NH 1890)

    Marriage 1 Mary Martin
    • Married: 1 MAR 1705
    1. Has Children Ebenezer Peaslee
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