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Bartholomew and Hannah (Clarke) Gedney

Bartholomew Gedney was baptized on June 14, 1640. Bartholomew was a ship carpenter, judge of probate, member of the court of assistants and commander-in-chief of the military forces in the county of Essex. He was listed as a physician in 1662. Bartholomew was a freeman in 1669, representative in 1678, Assistant in 1680-1683 and made Andro’s Council by King James II. Yet he continued in the new charter one of the judges of the witchcraft delusion. He was a judge of the probably and the colony.

Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1627-2001 Essex County, Salem, Massachusetts list the marriage of Bartholomew to Hannah Clarke. Hannah was Bartholomew’s step-sister and she was the daughter of John Gedney’s second wife, Catherine, and William Clarke.

Vol. 1 Page 26-27
Bartholomew Gedney maryed to Hana Cleark ye 22:10mo:62
Had his first child Bartholomew born ye 4:2mo:64 & dyed 12 of Aug following
Son Jonathan born 14:4:6- & died 14:6:65. 2nd S: Bartholomew born 2:6:66 & died 22:7mo:66

In 1664 his father conveyed a lot on the corner of what is now Summer and High Streets. This lot had been purchased 2 years earlier from his nephew John Ruck and bordered on Ruck's Creek and a cove of the South River. Bartholomew was a ship carpenter by trade and it is here that he built his home and started his ship building business.

Salem Witchcraft - With an Account of Salem Village and A History of Opinions on Witchcraft and Kindred Subjects by Charles W Upham indicates that Bartholomew lived in C and the Gedney’s “Ship Tavern was in K (see below)

The same book has the following references:

i 271: At length, all attempts to settle their difficulties among themselves were abandoned; and they called for help from outside. At a legally warned meeting on the 17th of January, 1687, the inhabitants made choice of "Captain John Putnam" (he had been promoted in the military line since the affair in the meeting-house with Mr. Burroughs), "Lieutenant Jonathan Walcot, Ensign Thomas Flint, and Corporal Joseph Herrick, for to transact with Joseph Hutchinson, Job Swinnerton, Joseph Porter, and Daniel An[i.271]drew about their grievances relating to the public affairs of this place; and, if they cannot agree among themselves, that then they shall refer their differences to the Honored Major Gedney and John Hathorne, Esqs., and to the reverend elders of the Salem Church, for a full determination of those differences." Of course, it was impossible to settle the matter among themselves, and the referees were called in. William Brown, Jr., Esq., was added to them. They were all of the old town, and men of the highest consideration. Their judgment in the case is a well-drawn and interesting document, and shows the view which near neighbors took of the distractions in the village . . . ii 90: Its publication was forthwith called for. The manuscript was submitted to Increase and Cotton Mather of the North, James Allen and John Bailey of the First, Samuel Willard of the Old South, churches in Boston, and Charles Morton of the church in Charlestown. It was printed with a strong, unqualified indorsement of approval, signed by the names severally of these the most eminent divines of the country. The discourse was dedicated to the "worshipful and worthily honored Bartholomew Gedney, John Hathorne, Jonathan Corwin, Esqrs., together with the reverend Mr. John Higginson, pastor, and Mr. Nicholas Noyes, teacher, of the Church of Christ at Salem," with a preface, addressed to all his "Christian friends and acquaintance, the inhabitants of Salem Village." It was republished in London in 1704, under the immediate direction of its[ii.90] author. The subject is described as "Christ's Fidelity, the only Shield against Satan's Malignity;" and the titlepage is enforced by passages of Scripture (Rev. xii. 12, and Rom. xvi. 20). The interest of the volume is highly increased by an appendix, giving the substance of notes taken by Lawson on the spot, during the examinations and trials. They are invaluable, as proceeding from a chief actor in the scenes, who was wholly carried away by the delusion. They describe, in marvellous colors, the wonderful manifestations of diabolical agency in, upon, and through the afflicted children; resembling, in many respects, reports of spiritual communications prevalent in our day, although not quite coming up to them. These statements, and the preface to the discourse, are given in the Appendix to this volume. In a much briefer form, it was printed by Benjamin Harris, at Boston, in 1692; and soon after by John Dunton, in London.

Batholomew is listed as a judge in 1692 per History of Essex County. It also lists him as a selectman (like a councilman) in 1669, 1672, 1684, and 1685.

Bartholomew was a part of the Salem witch trials. History of Essex County, Massachusetts: With Biographical Sketches ..., Volume 1 says:

The regulation and management of probate matters were given to the Governor and Council, and delegated by them to judges in each county. Under this charter the General Court no longer possessed judicial power. The first court established under the charter was a special Court of Oyer and Terminer, organized by Governor William Phipps, the first Governor of the province, before any law had been passed authorizing it, for the purpose of trying, chiefly in Essex County, persons charged with witchcraft. On the 2nd of June, 1692, the Governor issued his commission appointing Wm. Stoughton chief justice and Nathaniel Saltonstall (who declined and was succeeded by Jonathan Curwin), John Richards, Bartholomew Gedney, Wait Winthrop, Samuel Sewall and Peter Sergeant associate justices …

Page 165h basically says the same thing but he refers to him as Major Bartholomew Gedney.

Page vi says: On the 18th of June, 1684, a judgement vacating the colonial charter was issued, and a copy was received by the colonial secretary, Edward Rawson, on the 2d of July in the next year. Joseph Dudley was there-upon appointed, by the King, President of Massachusetts Bay, Maine, New Hampshire and the Narraganset country, and received the commission May 15, 1686. The Council appointed by the King were Simon Bradstreet, Robert Mason, John Fitz Winthrop, John Pynchon, Peter Buckley, Edward Randolph, Wait Winthrop, Richard Wharton, John Usher, Nathaniel Saltonstall, Bartholomew Gedney, Jonathan Tyng, Dudley Bradstreet, John Hicks and Edward Tyng …..

From The Salem Witch Museum:

“Bartholomew Gedney. A native of Salem and a physician by profession, Gedney was present at several of the examinations and later served as a member of the Court of Oyer and Terminet. He was present at the examination of his friend John Alden (Note: see attached for account of this) on 31 May 1692 in Salem Village. When Gedney saw how Alden tormented the girls, he told Alden that he had "always 1ook'd upon him to be an honest Man, but now he did see cause to alter his judgment." Gedney is buried beneath a red sandstone table stone (Plate 22) located about sixty feet from the Charter Street entrance to the cemetery. The inscription on the table stone reads in part: "Here Lyes Interred ye Body of Colln Bartho Gedney Esqr. Actat 57 Obt 28 Febr 1697." ”

Slavery, Family, and Gentry Capitalism in the British Atlantic Page 98 says:

In Salem, the Clarkes and Gedneys grew wealthy as they combined trade with public and military service, a career path followed by many of early New England’s leading families. The highly successful Bartholomew Gedney held a series of administrative and military appointments between 1676 and his death in 1698, including that of judge in the Court of Special Oyer and Terminer during the 1692 Salem witchcraft trials. In addition, Gedney possessed numberous business interests, including shipbuilding, landowning, and saw milling, near Clarke’s Farm and in Casco Bay. The Gedneys’ social standing can be gauged from some superb matches: John Gedney Jr’s daughter became the first wife of Captain George Corwin, a man whose family ranked among the most prominent landowners and office-holders of New England, and after she died, Corwin took Bartholomew Gedney’s daughter as his second wife.

Witchcraft, Magic, and Religion in 17th-century Massachusetts says:

. . . The remaining three magistrates were only slightly less distinguished than their associates. John Richards and William Sargent were both wealthy Boston merchants, and Bartholomew Gedney – the only member from Salem Town – was a respected physician and a major in the militia. . . .

Wests in Essex County, Massachusetts: Connections to the Salem Witch Trials by Joy Ikelman states:

Bartholomew Gedney, Magistrate
Bartholomew Gedney was one of the magistrates during the Salem witch trials, with John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin.
Connections: In 1680, he signed the petition against a meeting house replacement, with Henry West, John Higgenson, and others. He appeared in court with Henry West several times. [13] Gedney lived a block away from Henry West.

Death in Salem: The Private Lives Behind the 1692 Witch Hunt by Diane E Foulds Page 188 says:

Bartholomew Gedney – He was a consummate specular; after suffering significant property losses in Maine, Bartholomew Gedney resolved to be more cautious. Henceforth, he decided to diversity his holdings, though it was all he could do to resist a tempting opportunity.

He had almost lost his shirt. Just before the first Indian war, he purchased thousands of acres in Westcustugo, today’s Yarmouth, Maine. A fur trader, Thomas Stevens, sold him the tract, having just bought it from a local Indian chief. Gedney erected a gristmill and two sawmills on the site, but the war broke out and all three were destroyed. At the war’s end in 1678, he rebuilt them and, in an added stroke of luck, received a grant for a house plot in nearby Falmount (now Portland).

Initially, few buyers seemed interested. Then in 1686, after the Spanish forced the English population from Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas, Gedney joined a partnership with the idea of selling them house lots there. In the end, he decided to play it safe, officiating at property closings and executing deeds. Many of the sales were between Massachusetts settlers and the descendents of the tribes who had relinquished them. More than a few interesting documents came his way, providing him with inside knowledge of lucrative deals.

One of them caught his attention in 1687. It was a deed for the purchase of what today in Lynn, Massachusetts, including portions of several surrounding towns. One of the buyers, Adam Hawkes, bequeathed his share to his son and daughter-in-law, John and Sarah Hawkes. Years later, that fortuitous detail would bear fruit.

By 1693, Sarah Hawkes had been widowed. She and her new husband, Samuel Wardwell, were then convicted of witchcraft. He was subsequently hanged. She would survive him, though she would not succeed in winning a reversal of her attainder, which stripped her of all civil rights, including the right to own and bequeath property.

By chance, Gedney would find himself among the trial judges (along with John Hathorne and John Corwin) assigned to handle the property of convicted criminals. The deed to the woman’s extensive Lynn holdings was swiftly confiscated, probably to be quietly divided between them.

Gedney may have inherited his entrepreneurial inclinations from his father, the prosperous owner of Salem’s Ship Tavern. For years the inn served as the venue for local court sessions. In one ruling reached there, a yoke of oxen was confiscated from a Quaker,John Small, to pay a fine.

Small’s wife, still fuming from the fine’s injustice weeks later, approached the two magistrates, Daniel Denison and William Hathorne. If her husband and the Friends were such accursed people, she asked, “how then did they [the magistrates] meddle with their goods? For they must be accursed also.” Denison assured her that the goods were given to the poor.

When Gedney’s father walked in, the woman turned again to the magistrates. “Is this man the poor you give it to?” she asked. “For it si this man that had my husband’s oxen.”

“Woman,” Hathorne replied testily, “would you have us starve, as we sit about your business?”

Whether Gedney witnessed the exchange is unknown, but in adulthood, he would not go hungry. Along with John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin, he established himself in Salem as a magistrate. Related by marriage to the Corwins and Winthrops, the trio was virtually inseparable, socializing, praying, and serving together on the Court of Oyer and Terminer. When not ruling on cases, Gedney tended his Salem shipyard, trained the militia, and practiced medicine. All three augmented his earnings.

His wealth and acumen must have imbued him with political clout, as William Stoughton would assign him as one of the three witch court justices required to constitute a quorum. He would be present at many interrogations, yet mostly as an observer, letting John Hathorne conduct the interrogations.

One notable exception might have been the May examination of his shipping collegue, John Alden in Salem Village. Alden, distress that this longtime acquaintance was not defending him, confronted the magistrate. But Gedney, who had just observed how Alden’s mere presence could throw the suffering girls into racking torments, offered no excuses. He had always look’d upon him to be an hones Man,” Gedney replied, “but now he did see cause o alter his judgement.”

After his father’s death, Gedney would inherit the tavern, now referred to as “Widow Gedney’s.” Two of his brothers had died. One of their widows, Susanna Gedney, worked in the tavern serving guests. His brother Eleazer’s widow, mary, was tethered to the house, as she had children to tend. But she too procured a liquor license, selling beverage from home. Here again, Gedney’s status would prove fruitful, as the witch trial participants were always in need of food and drink.

Later, the General Court received invoices from both of Gedney’s sister-in-law for “entertainment of jurors and witnesses.”

Vol. 1 Page 28 Salem Town Records reads:
Mr. Bartholmew Gidney his da., Hana borne ye 19:6:67 by Hana his wife Daughter Liddea borne 9 March 1669 Daughter Bethiah borne 27 May 1672 Debora borne 3rd of January 1673 & died 9 December 1674 their son Samuel, born at Salem November 2nd 1675.

To this union only one know children were: 1. Hannah born June 19, 1667 2. Lydia, born March 9, 1669 3. Bethiah born May 27 1672 4. Deborah born January 3, 1673 and 4. Samuel born November 2, 1675

Hannah died on January 6, 1695/6. After this time Bartholomew married a second time to Ann _____ Stewart, the widow of William Stewart.

Bartholomew Gedney died February 28, 1697/8. Bartholomew and Hannah are buried in the Gedney Tomb in the Charter Street Burying Point, Salem, Massachusetts.

Vol. 2 Page 26-27
Collo Bartholomew Gedney Esq Deceased February 28 1697/8
Mrs Hannah Gedney wife of Collo Gedney Deceased the 18th of September 1705

Genealogy Dictionary of New England – Savage
Hixson Trails – Margaret Madara Free
Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1627-2001 Essex County, Salem, Massachusetts
Essex County Massachusetts Deeds
History of Essex County – Duane H. Hurd
Slavery, Family, and Gentry Capitalism in the British Atlantic – S. D. Smith
Witchcraft, Magic, and Religion in 17th-century Massachusetts – Richard Weissman

Bartholomew Gedney Deeds