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Benjamin Abbott and the Salem Witch Trials

Benjamin Abbott (1661-1703) and Sarah Farnum (1661-)

Benjamin Abbott (or Abbot) is my 7th great grandfather with this path:

RWA → Fred Pemberton Abbott → Arthur Merrill Abbott → Justin Abbott → Benjamin Abbott → Benjamin Abbott → Jonathan Abbott → David Abbott → Benjamin Abbott


Benjamin Abbott was the eighth oldest of the 13 children of George Abbot and Hannah Chandler. This family was among the very first settlers in Andover, Massachusetts. He married Sarah Farnum on 22 April 1685. Sarah Farnum was born at Andover 14 January 1661daughter of Ralph and Elizabeth (Holt) Farnum. Sarah Farnum was the granddaughter of Ralph and Alice (Harris) Farnum who emigrated from Rochester, Kent in 1635. Benjamin and Sarah were parents of four children. My ancestor is son David.

Benjamin Abbott had a relationship with Naomi Hoyt Lovejoy when he was about age 22 and she was a young widow about age 28.  There was a daughter born of this relationship recorded in the Andover vital records: “Abbot, Ben Naomie, d. illegitimate, Benjamin and Naomie Lovejoy, 1684.”  It is not known what became of this child.


Although Benjamin made a number of contributions to his community, he is also known as being the accuser of Martha Carrier for witchcraft. To be fair, he was not the only accuser of Martha Carrier, but his accusation illustrates some of the superstition that was endemic with the Puritans. Of course, there was a property dispute that may also have been a factor in the accusations of witchery.


Martha Carrier and her husband Thomas owned a property adjacent to Benjamin Abbott. There was dispute about the property line and in the course of an argument between Martha and Benjamin she cursed him for seven years. Some time following this, Benjamin developed a series of maladies including a swollen foot and a pustule on his side. He attributed this to Martha’s witchery. Martha was arrested and jailed, the first accused witch from Andover. She was also accused of witchcraft by the infamous Salem girls who fell in hysterics during her trial. Martha was tried, convicted, and hanged in Salem on August 19, 1692.


We have another family connection to the Salem witch trials. Hannah Chandler Abbot (Benjamin’s mother) married the Reverend Francis Dane after George Abbot’s death. The Reverend Dane was a vocal opponent of the witch trials. He was also the uncle of Martha Carrier. A total of six of his family members were accused of witchcraft, including two of his daughters. There has been some speculation that his opposition to the witch hunt contributed to his family members being accused of witchcraft.

Benjamin Abbott was the builder of what is now one of the two oldest houses in Andover located at 9 Andover Street.  The house was placed on the National Register in 1976.



Andover Historical Preservation,

Family group sheet for Benjamin Abbott and Sarah Farnum:


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