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From Accuser to Accused


Thomas Farrar (1614-1694)


Thomas Farrar is my 9th great-grandfather. He was born at Burnley, Lancaster 24 January 1613/4 son of Thomas and Athelred (-) Farrar. Thomas married Elizabeth perhaps just before their migration and they were in Lynn, Massachusetts about 1640. Thomas Farrar was a farmer who lived on Nahant Street in Lynn. He was familiarly called “Old Pharaoh.” His son Thomas was a selectman in Lynn. He was allowed to sit in the pulpit at the meeting house, perhaps as he was elderly, but this was typically an honored position. None of this stopped him from being accused of witchcraft at the age of 78.


The following testimony was given by Ann Putnam: On 8th of May, 1692, there appeard to me the Apperishtion of an old gray-head man with a great nose which tortored me and almost Choaked me and urged me to writ in his book: and I asked him what was his name and from whence he came for I would complaine of him: and he told me he came from linne and people used to call him old father pharoah and he said he was my grandfather: for my father used to call him father: but I tould I would not call him: grandfather: for he was a wizzard and I would complaine of him: and ever sence he hath afflected me by times beating me and pinching me and all most Choaking me and urging me continewally to writ in his book.




The jury hearing the testimony agreed: The Juriors for our Sovereigne Lord & Lady the King and Queen doe present that Thomas Pharoh -- of Linn In the County of Essex husbandman -- the 10th of May In the yeare aforesaid and Divers other Dayes and Times as well before as after Certaine Detestable Arts called Witchcraft and Sorceries wickedly malitiously & feloniously hath used practised and Exersised at and in the Towne of Salem in the County of Essex aforesaid in and upon and against one Ann Putnam of Salem. Singlewoman by which said wicked acts the Said Ann Putnam The day and year aforesaid and Divers other Dayes and Times both before and after was and is tortured afflicted Consumed wasted Pined and Tormented against the peace of our Soveraigne Lord & Lady the King & Queen their Crowne & Dignity and the law in that Case made & Provided.


After this testimony, a warrant was issued to have Thomas Farrar detained. He was transferred to prison in Boston on Wednesday 18 May 1692. He was released in November 1692, and on 12 January 1693 there was a formal dismissal of his case as being “Ignoramus” which was declared by proclamation.


There were periodic witch hysterias in Massachusetts during the 17th century. One of those included accusations against Ann Burt, a midwife in Lynn, in 1669. One of those giving testimony against Ann Burt was Thomas Farrar claiming that Burt caused the sickness of his two daughters. Ann Burt was not convicted.


Thomas died about a year after his release from prison on 23 February 1693/4. Thomas and his first wife Elizabeth were parents of seven children including my ancestor Susannah. At the time of his death, Thomas owned a house, orchard, and about 32 acres of land in Lynn valued at £225.




Friday, Sue. 1995. "Witchcraft and Quaker Convincements: Lynn, Massachusetts, 1692." Quaker History 84 (2): 89-115.


Lewis, Alonzo, and James Robinson Newhall. 1865. History of Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts: Including Lynnfield, Saugus, Swampscott, and Nahant. Boston, MA: J. L. Storey.


University of Virginia. 2018. Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive and Transcription Project. Accessed May 24, 2024.



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