Birth: ABT 1630 Wallingford, Connecticut
Marriage: 15 JAN 1656/57 New Haven, Connecticut
Birth of Daughter: Mary Benham
Birth of Son: 05 MAY 1659
Name: Joseph Benham
Place: New Haven, New Haven Co, Connecticut
Birth of Daughter: 1660
Name: Sarah Benham
Birth of Daughter: 25 JUL 1662
Name: Johannah Benham
Birth of Daughter: 13 SEP 1664
Name: Elizabeth Benham
Birth of Son: 28 DEC 1666
Name: John Benham
Moved to: 1670
Place: From New Haven to Wallingford
Birth of Son: 03 NOV 1671
Name: John Benham
Birth of Daughter: 18 MAY 1673
Name: Mary Benham
Birth of Son: Samuel Benham
Birth of Daughter: 06 SEP 1676
Name: Sarah Benham
Birth of Son: 1679
Name: James Benham
Birth of Daughter: 21 AUG 1684
Name: Winifred Benham
Death: 1702 Wallingford, New Haven Co, Connecticut
Click here to see parents: John Benham and ?
Winifred Benham accused of Witchcraft
“At a meeting of ye authority of New Haven, 25th of July, 1692.
Joseph Benham of Wallingford appeared according to summons before Authority this day And being Examined upon Complaint and evidence bei brought ag’ him that he had lately threatened to charge his gun with two Bui & shoot Goody Parker if she come into his house about such matters or things tip wch examination he ye sd Benham Confest ye sd threatning words in pl beings he sd provoked by ye sd Parkers casting some refleccons (in her speech) alxi witchcraft upon his wife yet not intending mischiefe to sd Parker & blaming hil self for his passion & such threatning expressions. The authority having cd sidered ye case & finding (besides his pl Confession) ye sd threatning wds clean proved by 2 witnesses viz1 Sarah How Sen1″ & Abigaile Atwater did order yerl Joseph Benham to acknowledge him selfe & his estate bound in a Recognizancel 50″ to ye County treasury that he shall keepe ye kings peace towards all thel \Jagties Subjects Especially ye sd Joseph Parker & Hannah his wife & theire faJ ily. And his sd Recognizance to stand good ag1 him untill November Court next and then he to appeare for his Release as ye Court shall see in ye meane tyme to pay just fees for ye psecution.”
Evidently Joseph did not relish the conscientious motives of his neighbors seeking to show that his wife was in league with the devil and guilty of the m strous crime of witchcraft. Conscious of her innocence and resenting this p ing into his domestic affairs, we can easily understand the wrath of outraged husband and his desire to plant two bullets in the body of the over-anxi Goody Parker. This Joseph Parker (whose wife was Hannah Gilbert) \va son of William Parker, of Saybrook, ancestor of all the Parkers in this vicini
But the gossip regarding Winifred Benham had now grown to the proport of a great scandal, and was the subject of anxious solicitude to Rev. Mr. Stn pastor of the Wallingford church, who, no doubt, \vas greatly disturbed to th the devil had gained possession of the body and soul of one of his flock. At t same court, viz. 25 July, 1692:
“The Revd Mr. Street appeared before Authority & he & Mrs. Street. Deac Hall & Goody Parker menconed many pcular things as grounds of suspicion Witch Craft reflecting upon Goody Winifred Benham then alsoe psent wherevp the Authority desired and advised Mr. Street and others of Wallingford conser to considr of ye matter being weighty & to prpare such evidences as could be col at for ye further discovery & conviction of ye p’ty suspected if guilt or clean if Innocent & ye sd suspected prson being a member of theire church twas left
t y* he & ye church should considr wl did or might belong to them hop,-old direct ym on theire seeking Council! from’him or wrds to yl purpose natter was dismist & left till next County Court.”
less the time until the Xovember session of the court was anxiously spent nham family. The whole of New England was stirred up by the ter:dies taking place at Salem and other towns. It was fortunate for Winham that the trial was postponed until November, for by that time a ilsion of feeling had occurred, and ministers and magistrates were retterly the awful horrors enacted in Massachusetts. Poor Winifred was i New Haven in November, and the record is as follows:
unty Court held at New Haven the 2d Wednesday in Nov 1692 t Robt Treat Esq. Gov. Wm Jones Esq. Dep. Gov. Andrew Leet Assist. >es Mansfield Mr. Thomas Trowbridge County Comr fred Benham of Wallingford being sumoned to appeare at this Court nacon upon suspicon of Witch Craft was now present. And ye wittre called to testify what they had to say in the case & accordingly gave estimonyes in writing \voh were Redd in ye hearing of the sd Winifred, icing called to say what she had to say for her selfe her generall Answer ;he knew nothing of ye matters testified and was not concerned therein, gave in some testimonies for her selfe woh were Redd. Court having heard & considered all ye evidences agl ye sd Winifred md not finding sufficient grounds of conviccon for further prosecution it) of ye sd Winifred Doe therefore at this tyme dismiss ye buissnes yet .he sd Winifred Benham solemnly to Reflect upon ye case and grounds m given in and alledged agl her. And told her if further grounds of if witchcraft or further evidences shold appeare agl her by Reason of don to ye bodyes or estate of any preternall acts prvd ag’ her she might re and exspect to be brought to her tryall for it.”
nably Joseph & Winifred breathed more freely on their return journey lought of the peril she had escaped. But her life in Wallingford could been pleasant thereafter. Her neighbors looked at her askance, and and word must have been scanned and twisted to suit the desires of 3 sincerely believed she spent her nights riding on a broomstick in comli the devil. They had a daughter, Winifred, who must have shared the unhappiness of her mother’s life. This strained situation continued ears with no outbreak. ,
rt human nature can stand it no longer. Her neighbors are convinced ieir misfortunes are due to Winifred’s intimacy with his satanic majesty. ‘ little Winifred, only thirteen years old, is now believed to ride tandem on the broomstick with her mother in her nightly peregrinations with the dev Just try to fancy what a life this poor child must have led! On Aug. 31, 1697, a her neighbors are again in Xew Haven, determined that Winifred and her daug ter shall surely pay the just penalty of their monstrous crimes and persecutions.
“A special County Court by order of the Govr held at New Haven the 3ist Aug1 1697.
Present Robt. Treat Esqr Govr Wm Jones Esq. D. Gov1′ Major Moses Mansfiel Assist.
“Complaint being made to the Authority by Ebenezer Clark Joseph Royse John Moss Junr all of Wallingford ag1 Winifred Benham Senr & Winifred Bci ham Junr her daughter that Sarah Clark daughter of Ebenezer Clark, Elizabet Lathrop and John Moss son of ye sd John Moss Junr were frequently and sore afflicted in the! re bodys by ye sd Benhams, mother & daughter or theire Appa icon and as they strongly suspect by theire means or procurance by ye Devil i theire shapes. And therefore desire ye Authority as Gods Ordinance for theii reliefe strictly to examine ye sd suspected persons. In order to a due tryall i them y1 a stop may be put to theire sufferings; prevention of such mischeift among them for the future.
“The Court having seriously considered the Accusations & Informations o good testimony given ag1 Winifred Benham Senr & \Vinifred Benham Junr upo suspicon of them for witchcraft, they or the devill in theire shapes afflicting sunilr young persons above named. As formerly accused & suspected in ye yeare i6c^ And finding clere & Sufficient ground of suspicon ag1 them after strict examina tion of ye sd persons apart & severally see just cause to bind over the said Bei hams mother & daughter to appeare at ye next Court of Asst8 in October next a Hartford in ordr to theire further examinacon & tryall personally. And the hu^ band of sd Winifred Senr gave 40* Recognizance for theire appearance accort ingly or that they be secured in person for theire sd tryall. And sd Benham to pa ye charge of this County Court, Charges 21s exem” granted for sd 21 shillings.
Also ye Death of sd young child to be inquired into wth w* ap peared of spotts on sd child and ye like spots on sd Benham quickly vanishing.”
What transpired between the date of this Court and that in Hartfon we do not know; but mother and daughter were quickly released when th< case came to trial, as appears by the following extract from records in the offici of Secretary of State in Hartford:
“Art a Court of Assistants Held at Hartford October 7th 1697 Capt Dan1 Clark also at this (Court) as attorney in behafe of our Soveraign Lord the Kins: appeared in Court and accused Winifred Benham Senr and Winifred Benham Tun’ \\~allingford for having familiarity with Sathan the enemy of God and and by his aid doing many preternatural acts by mischievously hurting s and Goods of Sundry persons viz1 of Jno Mosse Junr Joseph Roys and Clark with Divers others to the Great Damage and disturbance of the ea.ce, &c. This bill of charge with the testimonies Relating thereunto erred to the consideration of the Grand jury they Returned upon the bill us.” That is “not proven.”
Fortunately, a more enlightened feeling had grown up in the colony, and for on mother and daughter were henceforth not publicly persecuted, but the memory of these terrible experiences never forsook them. From Dr. Charles J. Hoadley, state librarian, the writer had the assurance that the last witchcraft trial in Connecticut.
Birth: 1637 Boston, Massachusetts
From “The Devil In The Shape Of A Woman”, Witchcraft in Colonial New England by Carol F. Karlsen (Professor of History at the University of Michigan ), W. W. Norton & Company, New York, London, 1987.
“Chapter 1, New England’s Witchcraft Beliefs, p. 43 – 44.
After the Salem and Fairfield outbreaks, only two people in New England were sent by local officials to the higher court to be tried as witches: Winifred Benham of Wallingford and her 13-year old daughter and namesake. The elder Benham, possibly the daughter of an earlier Boston witch, Mary Hale, originally came under suspicion in 1692, but the New Haven County court had dismissed the case for insufficient evidence. Her husband’s threat to shoot her accuser did not end the rumors, and the following year she was in court again on the same charge. She was released again, this time required to post bond of 20 pounds for her good behavior. The church soon after added their censure by excommunicating her. When she was accused a third time in 1697, this time of possessing several of her neighbor ‘s children, she was sent to Hartford for trial, along with her daughter, who was by now implicated in her crimes. But the Grand Jury refused to give credence to the accusation and the cases were dismissed without trials. The court’s actions failed to clear the Benham’s of suspicion, however, and the family moved to the less hostile environment of New York. (137)
The Benham cases were unusual. To be sure, some people still believed that witches plagued their communities, but in the aftermath of the Salem outbreak witch trials were no longer countenanced by either ministers or magistrates, nor would it seem the larger community. “
Death: 1697 Wallingford, New Haven Co, Connecticut
Click to see parents: John King and Mary Baker