Sarah Lord Wilson

Sarah Lord was born about 1648 in Ipswich, Massachusetts, daughter of Mary (Waite) and Robert Lord, a prominent resident of Ipswich who served as Town Clerk from 1645 until his death in 1683. In 1678 Sarah Lord married widower Joseph Wilson of Andover, son of William Wilson, the emigrant ancestor, and his wife Patience. Their children included daughter Sarah Wilson, Jr., born in 1678. In 1692 at the height of the infamous Salem witchcraft trials, Sarah, aged about 44, her husband, Joseph, a cooper, their daughter Sarah Wilson, Jr., aged 14, and their other children were living in the south part of Andover, MA. Joseph and his wife were both members of the Andover church.

On Wednesday morning, September 7, 1692, the Reverend Thomas Barnard called certain members of Andover's elite to the meeting-house. Some children were also invited. The majority of the congregation, however, was absent. When they arrived, they found the group of Andover's "afflicted" girls already present. After a short prayer, Rev. Barnard launched into a sermon describing the evils of witchcraft. "Perhaps there are few persons, ever allured by the Devil unto an explicit covenant with himself. If any among ourselves be so, my counsel is, that you hunt the Devil from you."

Five of the women present, Mary Osgood, Deliverance Dane, Sarah (Lord) Wilson, Mary (Lovett) Tyler, Abigail Barker, and one girl, Hannah Tyler, later made this statement about what followed. "After Mr. Barnard had been at prayer, we were blindfolded, and our hands were laid upon the afflicted persons, they being in their fits and falling into their fits at our coming into their presence, as they said. Some led us and laid our hands upon them, and then they said they were well and that we were guilty of afflicting them; whereupon we were all seized, as prisoners, by a warrant from the justice of the peace [Dudley Bradstreet] and forthwith carried to Salem. "And by reason of that sudden surprise, we knowing ourselves altogether innocent of that crime, we were all exceedingly astonished and amazed, and consternated and affrighted even out of our reason; and our nearest and dearest relations, seeing us in that dreadful condition, and knowing our great danger, apprehending that there was no other way to save our lives, as the case was then circumstantiated, but by our confessing ourselves to be such and such persons as the afflicted represented us to be, they, out of tender love and pity, persuaded us to confess what we did confess. "And indeed that confession, that it is said we made, was no other than what was suggested to us by some gentlemen, they telling us that we were witches, and they knew it, and we knew it, and they knew that we knew it, which made us think it was so; and our understanding, our reason, our faculties almost gone, we were not capable of judging our condition; as also the hard measures they used with us rendered us incapable of making our defense, but said anything and everything which they desired, and most of what we said was but in effect a consenting to what they said. Some time after, when we were better composed, they telling us of what we had confessed, we did profess that we were innocent, and ignorant of such things; and we hearing that Samuel Wardwell had renounced his confession, and quickly after condemned and executed, some of us were told that we were going after Wardwell."

Why were these particular people, the leading citizens of Andover, singled out to come together at the meeting house in Andover to be put to the touch test? In the settlement of Andover, those who came first obtained the most desirable and largest portions of land; latecomers were given the crumbs, small farms on marginal land. The controlling elite - those who gained their large land-holdings by the good fortune of being the town's first settlers - were now under attack.

In the eight weeks from July 15, 1692 until the touch test on September 7, Dudley Bradstreet, acting in his capacity as justice of the peace, had granted out arrest warrents against, and committed, some thirty Andover persons to prisons for supposed witchcrafts. Now, on September 7, Dudley Bradstreet dutifully wrote out the arrest warrents for the eighteen who were accused in the touch test. Torn from their homes without warning, stripped of their dignity and their rights, these women with terror in their hearts found themselves being carted off to Salem prison, accused of witchcraft. Sarah (Lord) Wilson and her 14 year-old daughter, Sarah, Jr. were among those imprisoned. Sarah was the sister of Ephraim Foster's aunt, Abigail (Lord) Foster. On September 14, Ephraim Foster testified against Samuel Wardwell, who was hanged on September 22, 1692.

The touch test was cunningly executed. The elite of Andover were caught off guard. Capt. Osgood, Deacon Frye, and others had urged their wives to confess. Apparently these men, pillars of the church, believed the message preached by Barnard that confession was the way to eternal life. They also may have hoped that confession would save the lives of their wives. And "confess" these women did. Those who did not were in danger of being tried and executed. Not until their wives and children were in prison did the minds of these men begin to clear. They then realized that they had been deceived by the fanaticism of their younger minister, Thomas Barnard.

Capt. Osgood, Deacon Frye and the other good men of Andover now began to comprehend the full implications of the storm raging in their midst. They turned to their older minister, Rev. Francis Dane, and formed a resistance movement. Under his guidance they started to take the strong steps required to free the imprisoned members of their families.

The officials were desperate for evidence to use against Abigail Faulkner in her forthcoming trail, as she had made only a partial confession. "Also, [the children] Martha Tyler, Johanna Tyler, Sarah Wilson [Jr.], and Joseph Tyler, confessing themselves witches, did all acknowledge that they were led into that dreadful sin of witchcraft by the means of the aforesd Abigail Faulkner." On October 15 the officials allowed Sarah Wilson, Jr. to be released on bail after six weeks imprisonment. The other imprisoned Andover children were also allowed to be released on bail about the same time.

The ministers visited the prisons to confer with the prisoners in an effort to elicit confessions. In October, Rev. Increase Mather visited the Salem prison and interviewed Sarah (Lord) Wilson. In his "Report of his Conversation in Prison with Sarah Wilson, Sr." he stated:

Goodwife Wilson said that she was in the dark as to some things in her confession. Yet she asserted that, knowingly, she never had familiarity with the Devil; that, knowingly, she never consented to the afflicting of any person, &c. However, she said that truly she was in the dark as to the matter of her being a witch. And being asked how she was in the dark, she replied, that the afflicted persons crying out of her as afflicting them made her fearful of herself; and that was all that made her say that she was in the dark.

On October 8, 1692, one month after the "touch test", Thomas Brattle wrote, "Deacon Frye's wife, Captain Osgood's wife, and some others, remarkably pious and good people in repute, are apprehended and imprisoned [at the touch test]; and that that is more admirable, the forementioned women are become a kind of confessors, being first brought thereto by the urgins of their good husbands, who having taken up that corrupt and highly pernicious opinion, that whoever were accused by the afflicted, were guilty, did break charity with their dear wives, upon their being accused, and urged them to confess their guilt; which so far prevailed with them as to make them say, they were afraid they were in the snare of the Devil; and which, through the rude and barbarous methods that were afterwards used in Salem, issued in somewhat plainer degrees of confession, and was attended with prison. The good Deacon and Captain are now sensible of their error they were in; do now grieve and mourn bitterly, that they should break charity with their own wives, and urge them to confess themselves witches. They now see and acknowledge their rashness and uncharitableness."

Dudley Bradstreet, the justice of the peace, had also come to his senses. His warrants had put in jail nearly fifty Andover citizens. After the touch test, he refused to grant out any more warrants. Soon after his decision, Dudley Bradstreet and his wife, Ann, were cried out upon. The afflicted claimed he had killed nine persons by witchcraft. In response, Bradstreet and his wife found escape their safest course and in short order they fled from Massachusetts. However, he later returned to Andover and his name appears first on the petition written in late December.

On 12 Oct Joseph Wilson, on behalf of his wife and daughter, petitioned, along with eight other men of Andover, for the release of their families on bail.


"To the Honoured Court now sitting in Boston this 12th of October 1692. Right Honoured Gentlemen and Fathers, We, your humble petitioners, whose names are underwritten, petition your honors as followeth: We would not trouble you with a tedious Diversion, but briefly spread open our distressed condition and beg your honour's favor and pity in affording what relief may be thought convenient, As for the matter of our Troubles it is the distressed condition of our wives and Relations in prison at Salem who are a company of poor distressed creatures as full of inward grief and trouble as they are able to bear up in life withall. And besides the agrivation of outward troubles and hardships they undergo and want of food; and the coldness of the winter season that is coming may soon despatch such out of the way that have not been used to such hardships.

"And besides this, the exceeding great charges and expences that we are at upon many accounts which will be Tedious to give a particular account of, which will fall heavy upon us, especially in a time of so great charge and expence upon a general account in the country, which is expected of us to bear a part as well as others, which if all put together our families and estates will be brought to Ruin, if it cannot in time be prevented. Having spread open our condition, we humbly make address to your Honors, to Grant that our Wives and Relations (being such that have been approved as penitent Confessors), might be returned home to us upon what bond your Honors may see good. We do not petition to take them out of the hand of justice, but to remove them as Prisoners under bonds in their own families where they may be more tenderly cared for and be ready to appear to answer further when the Honored Court shall call for them. We humbly crave your Honors favor and pitty for us and ours. Having set down our Troubled State before you, we hereby pray your honors:

John Osgood in behalf of his wife. John Ffray in behalf of his wife. John Marston in behalf of his wife Mary Marston. Christopher Osgood in behalf of his daughter Mary Marston. Joseph Wilson in behalf of his wife & children. John Bridges in behalf of his wife & children. Hope Tyler in behalf of his wife & daughter. Ebenezer Barker for his wife Nathaniel Dane for his wife."

On October 18, again Joseph Wilson and 25 other men of Andover petitioned for the release of prisoners on bail. On December 6, Joseph Wilson and seven other men of Andover petitioned a third time for release of the prisoners on bail, emphasizing the desperation and suffering of the accused, and their "extreme danger of perishing."

The efforts of the Andover resistance started to take effect. The authorities allowed a few of the imprisoned women to be released on bail. On December 20, Sarah (Lord) Wilson was released on bail after 15 weeks imprisonment, along with Mary (Clement) Osgood and Eunice (Potter Frye). Husbands and kinsmen had to post stiff recognizance bonds which would be forfeited if the released prisoners did not appear at the meeting of the Superior Court of Judicature scheduled of January 3, 1693. The rest of the Andover women had to remain in prison.

Recognizance for Sarah Wilson, Sr. and Sarah Wilson, Jr.


That on the Thirteenth day of January 1693 In the fourth year of the Reigne of our Sovereigne Lord & Lady Willam & Mary by the Grace of God of England &c: King & Queen defenders of the faith &c: Personally appeared before W'm Stoughton Esq'r cheife Justice of their Maj'ies Province of the Massachusets bay in New England John Osgood of the Town of Andiver in the County of Essex husbandman & Joseph Wilson of the Same Towne and acknowledged themselves to be Joyntly and Severally Indebted unto our s'd Sovereigne Lord & Lady and the Surviver of them their Heires & Successors in the sum of One Hundred Pounds to be levied on their or either of their Lands and Tennements, goods and chattles for the use of our said Sovereigne Lord & Lady the King and Queen or Survivor of them On Condition that Sarah Wilson the wife of Joseph and Sarah her daughter haveing stood committed for suspition of Witchcraft shall make their Personall appearance before the Justices of our s'd Lord & Lady the King & Queen at the next Court of Assizes & Generall Goale Delivery to be holden for the County of Essex then and there to answer to all such matters & things as shall in their Maj'ies behalfe be alledged against them and to doe & receive that which by the s'd Court shall be then & there injoyned them & thence not to depart w'th out license.

*Jona Elatson Cler --
(Reverse) Recognizance of Jno Osgood
Joseph Willson
Sarah Willson the wife of
Joseph Willson and Sarah her daughter
May the 10'th Appeared

In late December, Dudley Bradstreet, the Rev. Dane, the Rev. Barnard, thirty-eight other men, and twelve women drew up a petition that was presented to the Superior Court of Judicature at Salem at its opening session on January 3, 1693. The petition was on behalf of Mary (Clement) Osgood, Eunice (Potter) Frye, Deliverance (Haseltine) Dane, Sarah (Lord) Wilson and Abigail (Wheeler) Barker. These women, all church members and part of the Andover elite, had been arrested together at the Andover touch test. The petition affirmed the innocence of all, a bold step, indicative of the courage of the Rev. Dane.

Petition for Mary Osgood, Eunice Fry, Deliverance Dane, Sarah Wilson, Sr., and Abigail Barker

To the honoured court of Assize held at Salem,
The humble address of several of the inhabitants of Andover.

May it please this honoured court,

We being very sensible of the great sufferings our neighbours have been long under in prison, and charitably judging that many of them are clear of that great transgression which hath been laid to their charge, have thought it our duty to endeavor their vindication so far as our testimony for them will avail. The persons in whose behalf we are desired and concerned to speak something at present are Mrs. Mary Osgood, Eunice Frye, Deliverance Dane, Sarah Wilson and Abigail Barker, who are women of whom we can truly give this character and commendation, that they have not only lived among us so inoffensively as not to give the least occasion to any that know them to suspect them of witchcraft, but by their sober godly and exemplary conversation have obtained a good report in the place, where they have been well esteemed and approved in the church of which they are members. We were surprized to hear that persons of known integrity and piety were accused of so horrid a crime, not considering, then, that the most innocent were liable to be so misinterpreted and abused. When these women were accused by some afflicted persons of the neighbourhood, their relations and others, tho' they had so good grounds of charity that they should not have thought any evil of them, yet, through a misrepresentation of the truth of that evidence that was so much credited and improved against people, took great pains to persuade them to own what they were, by the afflicted, charged with, and, indeed, did unreasonably urge them to confess themselves guilty, as some of us who were then present can testify. But these good women did very much assert their innocency, yet some of them said they were not without fear least Satan had some way ensnared them, because there was that evidence against them which then was by many thought to be a certain indication and discovery of withccraft, yet they seriously professed they knew nothing by themselves of that nature: Nevertheless, by the unwearied sollicitations of those that privately discoursed them both at home and at Salem, they were at length persuaded publickly to own what they were charged with , and so submit to that guilt which we still hope and believe they are clear of. And, it is probable, the fear of what the event might be, and the encouragement that it is said was suggested to them, that confessing was the only way to obtain favour, might be too powerful a temptation for timorous women to withstand, in the hurry and distraction that we have heard they were then in. Had what they said against themselves proceeded from conviction of the fact, we should have had nothing to have said for them, but we are induced to think that it did not, because they did soon privately retract what they had said, as we are informed, and, while they were in prison, they declared to such as they had confidence to speak freely and plainly to, that they were not guilty of what they had owned, and that what they had said against themselves was the greatest grief and burden they laboured under; Now, though we cannot but judge it a thing very sinful for innocent persons to own a crime they are not guilty of, yet, considering the well ordered conversation of those women while they lived among us, and what they now seriously and constantly affirm in a more composed frame, we cannot but in charity judge them innocent of the great transgression that hath been imputed to them. As for the rest of our neighbours, who are under the like circumstances with these that have been named, we can truly say of them that while they lived among us, we have had no cause to judge them such persons as, of late, they have been represented and reported to be, nor do we know that any of their neighbours had any just grounds to suspect them of that evil that they are now charged with.

Dudley Bradstreet Samuel Ingolls
John Abbot, sen. Francis Dane, jun.
Elizabeth Rite Eliza. Barnard
Francis Dane, sen. Ephraim Stevens
Samuel Blanchard George Abbot
Wm. Peters Phebe Robinson
Thomas Barnard Daniel Poore
Wm. Ballard Wm. Chandler, jun.
Sam. Peters Hannah Chandler
Tho. Chandler, sen. John Ingolls
Thomas Hooper John Chandler
Walter Wright Hannah Dane
John Barker Henry Ingolls, jun.
John Hooper Joseph Robinson
Hooker Osgood Bridget Chandler
Henry Ingolls, sen. John Frie, sen.
Wm. Abbot Thomas Johnson
Benj. Stevens Mary Johnson
Wm. Chandler, sen. James Frie
James Russell Tho. Johnson, jun.
Ann Bradstreet Robert Russel
Samuel Martin John Aslebee
Oliver Holt Andrew Peters
Joanna Dane Mary Russel
Stephen Parker Samuel Holt
John Presson Mary Peters
Eliza. Stevens


Neither Sarah (Lord) Wilson nor her daughter, Sarah, Jr. were tried in January, 1693. On January 13, Joseph Wilson and John Osgood posted a recognizance bond of 100 for the continued freedom of Sarah (Lord) Wilson and Sarah Wilson, Jr. on bail. On 10 May 1693, mother and daughter appeared at the Superior Court of Judicature at Ipswich and were cleared.

The family remained in Andover after the witchcraft scare subsided. Joseph died April 2, 1718. Sarah died in Andover on May 21, 1727. Their daughter, Sarah, Jr. married Jacob Preston, a grandson of emigrant, Roger Preston, in Andover on June 17, 1702 and removed to Ashford, Connecticut.


I'd be happy to exchange family information.
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See lineage of Wilson Family

Read the Biography of Sarah's husband, Joseph Wilson

Read the Biography of Joseph's father, William Wilson

Read the Biography of Joseph's grandfather, William Wilson

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