Unrelated (2nd wife of 9th great grandfather) but what a story, Sarah Towne on RootsMagic tree.
Sarah Towne Bridges Cloyes, had 2 sisters Rebecca and Mary, who were tried and jailed during the Salem witch trials. After defending her sister Rebecca Nurse and being so frustrated by the implausibility or stupidity of the situation, she walked out of the church and purposefully slammed the door– most likely never, ever done before or since? After slamming the church door Sarah is also accused of being a witch.
All three sisters: Sarah Towne Cloyes, Rebecca Towne Nurse and Mary Towne Easty are put in jail. Rebecca, 71 and Mary, 58 were both hanged in 1692. Ann Putnam, age 13, had accused 62 women of witchcraft. In 1706 she publicly apologized for her lies, her actions and specifically the harm she caused for the Towne sisters and their families. The Towne family forgave Ann Putnam.
Sarah’s husband Peter either helped Sarah escape from jail or he paid for Sarah’s release, details are sketchy. Sarah and Peter went southwest to Danforth’s Plantation, now Framingham. They probably knew this was a safe place and later on received land from Deputy Governor Thomas Danforth who released 800 acres to families fleeing Salem. There is so much history to the Salem witch hysteria. A person could spend years reading the surviving primary documents and research on those involved.
Author Nathaniel Hawthorne’s book Young Goodman Brown refers to Sarah Cloyes. Word is the author changed the spelling of his name so he wouldn’t be associated with John Hathorne, his great great grandfather and the only judge not to apologize or question his role in the horror of the Salem witch hysteria.
The home of Sarah and Peter Cloyes built ca. 1690 is still standing and currently going through majors restoration. The house is at 657 Salem End Road, Framingham, MA; visit the restoration website. *update* The restoration site is still there but as of Feb 2019 this house is redone and on the market for $900,000. *update* On the outside the house looks about the same, inside it looks like any other newer home, bright and shiny, but maybe lacking character.
The episode is one of Colonial America’s most notorious cases of mass hysteria.
It has been used in political rhetoric and popular literature as a vivid cautionary tale about the dangers of isolationism, religious extremism, false accusations, and lapses in due process.