Page 6 - Wallingford Magazine Holiday 2019
P. 6

  z in Wallingford, Connecticut s1630-1697 z by Barbara Borne
Wallingford Magazine – Holiday, 2019
INTRODUCTION: You may have heard the stories — Winifred, the Witch of Walling- ford; Benham Mother and Daughter Accused of Witchcraft; The Last Witchcraft Trial in New England.
I, too, read the ac-
counts and wondered
about the circumstanc-
es surrounding these
tales. I researched
the few facts that are
known, online and at
the Whitney Library
at the New Haven Mu-
seum, the Wallingford
Public Library, the Wall-
ingford Historic Preser-
vation Trust archives,
and the Connecticut
State Library in Hartford. I also extrapolated from sources detailing the history of our town and re- gion in an attempt to fill in a few of the many gaps. I felt it would be interesting to learn about the ori- gins of the Benhams from the time they left Eng- land in 1630 to the witchcraft period at the end of the 17th Century and attempt to understand the two Winifreds and what happened to them in that larger context. I used to create a Benham Family Tree which helped me with time- lines and generations. The following story begins with the first Benhams in America, and is based on the results of my research with a bit of creative li- cense to add flesh and bone to this ancient story that reaches back in time to before Wallingford ever came to be.
The first Benhams arrive
The year was 1630. The Great Migration had just begun with ships full of Puritans sailing from Eng- land and landing on New England’s shores. These immigrants were seeking freedom from religious persecution. One of the earliest in this wave was the ship Mary and John, a 400-ton sailing vessel carrying 140 passengers. It left Plymouth, England on March 20, 1630. Its three decks held passengers, cargo, and animals. Captain Squibb ably handled the vessel on its uneventful journey and landed at Nantaskut Point (later called Hull) at the entrance to Boston Harbor on May 30. Two weeks later the first of the Winthrop Fleet arrived. This group of 11 ships under the command of John Winthrop and funded by the Massachusetts Bay Company trans-

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