Samuel Holly and Elizabeth Immigrants in the Line (One Was Accused of Witchcraft)

My 11x Great Grandparents, Samuel Holly and Elizabeth were the immigrants from England in this line of my ancestry. Samuel was born around 1590 and Elizabeth was born around 1599. They had one son, John around 1618. The family moved to Cambridge, MA and can be found in the records in 1636 having a house on the south side of the Charles river. He is considered one of the first settlers of Cambridge in 1639 and had 18 acres.

Samuel died in 1643 and his will is dated October 1643. He gave everything to his wife except 10 acres which went to his son. The will stipulated that all the land goes to his son after his wife died. His estate was appraised at only 15 pounds.

Elizabeth remarried to John Kendall and she can be found in a document that accused her of being a witch. A nurse, who was never named, accused Elizabeth Kendall of bewitching to death a child of Goodman Genings of Watertown. The child died a few hours after an encounter with Elizabeth. The court decided to execute Elizabeth but she denied her guilt to the death. It seems that after the execution, the matter was investigated further as Mr Brown, who was a deputy to the General Court in Watertown, and judged that the true cause of the child’s death was red gum. This cause of death is escaping me. I’ve looked at various sites that list old names for diseases but haven’t encountered this one. So, the nurse was charged with adultery, put in jail, gave birth and died. Mr Brown, the deputy, said “It was just with God to leave her to this wickedness as a punishment for her murdering goody Kendal by her false witness bearing”. Below is the text out of the John Hale book.



There is debate as to when she was executed. Some think as early as 1645 up to 1650. Considering that her son John sold 19 acres of land in 1645 and was then found in Stamford, CT by 1647, I would think that it is 1645. He received everything when his mom died. I have found no indication how she was executed and many sources say she was hung. It seemed to be the preferred method in America. There was a Gallows Hill in Cambridge, MA that has been renamed Avon Hill. It is thought that Elizabeth was the first person executed there. Elizabeth is listed in The Associated Daughters of Early American Witches which is a National Society. She is part of the Historical tour in Cambridge when they walk by Winthrop Park which is a border of the jailhouse where Elizabeth was held. Finally, her grandchildren, Increase Holly and Hannah Hait (Holly), signed a letter on 4 June 1692 in Stamford, CT attesting to the good character of a woman being accused of being a witch. She was subsequently released. Increase was born in 1643, so although he may not have memories of his grandma, he may have heard stories which helped form his opinion.

I do not know where Samuel or Elizabeth are buried but most likely in the Old Burying Ground, Cambridge, MA. It was established in 1635 but the oldest stone there in 1653.


Samuel Holly married Elizabeth their son,

John Holly married Mary their daughter,

Elizabeth Holly married Robert Turney their daughter,

Rebekah Turney married Timothy Wheeler their daughter,

Rebekah Wheeler married Joseph Bostwick their son,

Joseph Bostwick married Bette Hurd their son,

David Bostwick married Currence Hard their son,

Jabez Bostwick married Freelove Frisbee their son,

Jabez Bostwick married Sarah Jane Chase their son,

John Day Bostwick married Ida Shelby their son,

Charles Bostwick married Alpha Wilkins their daughter,

Florence Bostwick -my grandmother


History of Newton, Massachusetts: Town and City, from Its Earliest to Present Time
By Samuel Francis Smith

A History of the Early Settlement of Newton, County of Middlesex, Massachusetts
By Ellen Jackson, Francis Jackson

History of Cambridge Massachusetts: Supplement and Index
By Mary Isabella Gozzaldi

History of Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1630-1877. With a genealogical register
Paige, Lucius R. Publish 1877

Witch-Hunting in Seventeenth-Century New England: A Documentary History 1638-1695. David D. Hall page 25

Hale, John. A Modest Inquiry into the Nature of Witchcraft published 1702. pp 18-19





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