Painting associated with Martha Carrier

Martha, how do I share someone that has been written about over and over? I will share here as I see her: a BADASS!

When I started my family tree 9 years ago I discovered my 13th Great Grandmother Martha (Allen) Carrier, AKA “THE QUEEN OF HELL.” A slur given to her during the Salem Witch Trials. She was born in 1643 and executed on August 19, 1692 by the people of Salem, Mass.

Martha was the daughter of Andrew Allen, Founder of Massachusetts and Faith (Ingalls). Yes, as in Laura Ingalls Wilder, a story for another day, maybe?! Her husband was Thomas (Morgan) Carrier a Welsh indentured servant and know to be the executioner for King Charles the 1st.

She managed the dealings of her home and family. Not just women’s work, but such business that in the 17th century would have been overseen by the head of the household, her husband Thomas. She had been suspicious and had little trust in others. Especially neighbors who attempted to take her family’s land and cheat her husband out of dealings, met with the sharp tongue. Another unfortunate fact of the 17th-century, land seldom was given to women as an inheritance. It would have been willed to her husband or male children. The fact the land was in her name was progressive.

Martha’s family had moved back to Andover, Mass from Billericain the 1680’s to take care of her mother. Before their move, her family contracted Smallpox and brought it with them to Andover. Smallpox then killed her two brothers, sister-in-law, and nephew. Martha’s surviving family were her husband, son Richard, Andrew, Thomas and Daughter’s Sarah and Hannah. Because of this and her steadfast outspokenness, it gave her neighbors one reason too many to dub her a witch.

Shortly after what is known as the Salem Witch Trials began. Martha, her two oldest sons, Andrew, and Richard along with her daughter Sarah were all arrested in 1690 and tried as witches. Her three children confessed to being witches. As a mother, I can see Martha standing strong and allowing her children to confess to save them from the torture they endure along with whatever fate lied ahead for herself.

Martha never once confessed to being a witch instead pled “NOT GUILTY,” she was steadfast, angry, and belligerently defiant. Even while standing at the gallows Martha maintained her innocence, shouting, “I would rather die than confess a falsehood so filthy” Even at the point of the complete silence she was facing she stood tall and strong and showed us all what a true women would do for her family. I am guessing this extremely strong woman had remarkable genes and they have been handed down to her descendants, myself for one. To that I say Thank You Grandmother, your story will not be forgotten.

A discovery was made that Proctors Ledge, (currently someone’s backyard) is the location of the executions not Gallows Hill as was previously thought. Proctor’s Ledge Memorial has a small tree placed in the center as a reminder to us all that the “Witches” were hung from trees and not a wooden structure. After the hangings the “Witches” were forbidden a Christian burial and their bodies were to be left at the hanging site. It has been revealed that families would come in the dead of night and take down their family members and bury them. I believe this is what happens for Martha.

There is documentation that Thomas was given money as restitution for Martha’s death at this time Thomas and sons removed to Colchester, CT. in 1702, to land that is now on the corner of Kellogg Rd and S. Main St. When Route 2 was constructed 1950-1970, a family cemetery was discovered. When removing the graves some remains were not accounted for with headstones. One of a child, possibly the child that Thomas and Martha lost in 1680 and the remains of an adult woman. Could this be Martha? I would like to think so. I also would like to think that Thomas properly buried the wife he lost to torture and death in Salem. They are all now together in the (New) Marlboro Cemetery in Marlboro, CT.