Northeast North Carolina Family History – The North Carolina Historical and Genealogical Register and a Currituck witch…
By Irene Hampton.
“The North Carolina Historical and Genealogical Register” was the work of James Robert Bent (JRB) Hathaway, a native of and four times mayor of Edenton. Realizing the value of early North Carolina documents in the courthouse in Edenton he began to abstract them and publish them quarterly beginning in January of 1900. He published 10 issues before his death in 1904. His son published one final issue that was almost complete after his father’s death.
An article about him written by Herbert P. Paschal, Jr. for the “Dictionary of North Carolina Biography” states that Hathaway would go without the “necessaries of life” to see the magazine published. This striking statement is included, “A number of important primary source items that he published have since disappeared, and they are now known only because of their publication in his quarterly.”
I recently attended a Currituck County Historical Society meeting where the subject of a woman tried as a witch in Currituck in the 1700’s was mentioned. Not something I was aware of but a few people have written about the incident in recent years. I’m guessing most of you are also unaware of the story. It also appears in what I have always referred to as “Hathaway’s Register.”
Not the first charge of witchcraft in northeastern North Carolina as William S. Powell refers to a case brought in 1680 in Perquimans the year after a law was passed to investigate “felonies, witchcraft, enchantments, directors, and magic arts…” which is actually before the Salem witch trials of 1692 and 1693!
When Thomas Boucher/Bourtheir/Boutheir/Bowcher filed his grievance in August of 1703 he claimed that Susannah Evans/Eveans/Evanes somehow caused his wife, himself and others to have terrible pains in their feet and stomachs to the point of causing his wife, Deborah’s death. I include the findings of the sixteen men of the grand jury that had the case brought before them as found in “Hathaway’s Register.” I have kept the spelling and abbreviations as they appeared in his journal and note how they change throughout…
“Prsentmnt is made to ye Grand Jury that Susannah Evanes of ye precinct of Coratuck of ye County of Albemarle in ye province of North Carolina Not having the fear of God before her Eyes but being led by ye Instigation of Ye devill did on or about the twenty fifth day of July last past the body of Deborah Bourtheir being then in the peace of our Sovereign Lady the Queen Devillishly and Maliciously bewitch & by Assistance of ye Devill afflict with mortal Paynes the body of Deborah Bourtheir whereby the sd Deborah departed this life. And alsoe did Diabolically and Maliciously bewich severall other of her Maties Liege Subjects agt ye peace of our Sovereign Lady ye Queen and agt the forme of the statute in that Case made and provided And the Marshall was Commanded ’et And there Came Mr Robt Wallis James Farlow William Early Francis Beasley James Ward John Worly John Wattkins Zackery Keeton Robt Lowry Wm Simson William Luftman Hugh Pritchard Corns Jones Richd Stamp Rich Madran Cornelius Fitzpatrick were Impanelled and Sworn Saying we of Ye jury find No Bill and ye person Ignoramous and it is ordrd that ye sd Sussnh Evens be acquitted paying ye Charge.”
In finding her innocent, the jury referred to her accuser as “ye person Ignoramous.” She and her husband both petitioned the court on her behalf. I include Susannah’s petition.
“North Carolina–The Humble petition of Susanah Evans, most humbley Sheweth That Tho: Bouthier has put yor petitioner to great Charge & trouble by causing yor petitionr to be Comitted for a Witch And yor petitioner humbly prays yor Honrs will be pleased to grant an attachmnt agt the sd Bouthiers estate and she shall pray &c.”
“The North Carolina Historical and Genealogical Register” is available at local libraries or online. Have fun!
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