Elizabeth PEREMENT

Female Abt 1631 - 1714  (~ 83 years)


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  • Name Elizabeth PEREMENT  [1, 2

    • Elizabeth (Perement) Clason of Stamford, Connecticut, Who Was Tried for Witchcraft, and her Clason Descendants
      Harlan R. Jessup

      In 1692, at the same time as the witchcraft hysteria in Salem, Massachusetts, Elizabeth Clason and Mercy Disborough were tried as witches at the county seat in Fairfield, Connecticut. The case against Elizabeth has been well documented and is briefly summarized in this article. In a booklet dated 1959, which does not mention the case, Robert W. Carder1 summarized the Clason descendants of Elizabeth and her husband Stephen Clason of Stamford. That family summary, somewhat amended, follows the trial summary.

      The Witchcraft Trial of Elizabeth Clason

      Katherine Branch, a seventeen-year-old servant of the Clasons?s neighbors Daniel and Abigail Wescot, was subject to convulsive and paralytic seizures, and in the aftermath of several of these she accused Elizabeth, along with Mercy Disborough and several others, of bewitching her. Elizabeth vigorously denied the accusation but acknowledged there had been an ongoing tension between her and Katherine?s mistress, arising from a dispute over the weight of a quantity of spun flax. On another earlier occasion Elizabeth had chastised Mary Newman whose children had stolen some fruit from the Clason orchard. That evening three of the Newman?s sheep had died, and, finding no other cause, some believed them to have been bewitched. In May of 1692 a Court of Inquiry began hearings in Stamford

      "Upon ye Information & sorrofull complainte of Serjeant Daniel Wescot in Regard of his maide Servant Katherine Branch whom he suspects to be afflicted pr witchcraft."

      While hearings continued, Elizabeth Clason and Mercy Disborough were held in the county jail at Fairfield until the October conclusion of the trial. In June both Elizabeth and Mercy were put to the water test, being bound hand and foot and pushed into a deep pond or millrace where the guilty were expected to float because of the devil?s aversion to water. This test was already being discredited by New England cleric Increase Mather and by others. Elizabeth being

      "bownd head & foote & put into the water she swam like a corck & one laboured to pry her into the water & she boyed up like a corck..."

      On 4 Jun 1692, in Elizabeth?s defense, some seventy-six of her neighbors and friends signed a petition assuring the court that


      "...we have not known her to be of a contentious frame nor giuen to use threatening words or to act maliciously towards her neighbors but hath bene siuil and orderly...and not to be a busybody..."

      The special court, headed by Governor Robert Treat, was convened in Fairfield on 14 Sep 1692, and their formal indictment reads in part:

      "Elizabeth Clawson is complayned of & accused as Guilty of witchcraft...for that on the 25th of Aprill ...& at sundry other times she hath by the Instigation & help of the divell...afflicted & don harme to the bodye & estates of sundry of [their Majesties?] subjects..."

      The court heard evidence for several days, but after long deliberation the jury was unable to reach a conclusion in either case. The court reconvened on 28 October and, after additional testimony and further examination for ?witchmarks,? the jury found Elizabeth not guilty and she was freed, returning to her family in Stamford where she lived another 22 years to age 83. The jury found Mercy Disborough guilty and maintained this conclusion even after reconsideration. Apparently alarmed by the possibility of an execution, Governor Treat appointed a special committee, which reported in May 1693 that they had reprieved Mercy Disborough. Their report admonished against further such trials stating that

      "...the miserable toyl they are in in the Bay [Massachusetts] for Adhereing to those last mentioned Litigious things is warning enof, those that wil make witchcraft of such things wil make hanging work apace...." [1]
    Born Abt 1631  [1, 2
    Gender Female 
    Died 10 May 1714  Stamford, Fairfield Co., Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2, 3
    Person ID I43915  Main Tree
    Last Modified 14 Mar 2016 

    Family Stephen CLASON,   b. Abt 1630,   d. Mar 1698/9, Stamford, Fairfield Co., Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 69 years) 
    Married 11 Jan 1654/5  Stamford, Fairfield Co., Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2, 3
    Children 
    +1. Jonathan CLASON,   b. 11 Feb 1655/6, Stamford, Fairfield Co., Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 10 Apr 1685, Stamford, Fairfield Co., Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 29 years)  [Birth]
     2. Stephen CLASON,   b. 17 Feb 1657/8, Stamford, Fairfield Co., Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location  [Birth]
     3. Rebecca CLASON,   b. 01 Mar 1659/60, Stamford, Fairfield Co., Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Bef 15 Mar 1700  (Age 40 years)  [Birth]
    +4. David CLASON,   b. 18 May 1662, Stamford, Fairfield Co., Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 29 Mar 1721, Stamford, Fairfield Co., Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 58 years)  [Birth]
     5. Elizabeth CLASON,   b. Abt 1665,   d. Aft 1728  (Age ~ 64 years)  [Birth]
    +6. Samuel CLAWSON,   b. Abt 1670, Stamford, Fairfield Co., Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 06 May 1723, Stamford, Fairfield Co., Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 53 years)  [Birth]
    Last Modified 14 Mar 2016 
    Family ID F09225  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Sources 
    1. [S3598] Connecticut Ancestry 2015 November Vol. 58 No. 2.

    2. [S03262] RootsWeb: World Connect - Stamford, CT Familes (1641-1935) by Barbara Kaye.

    3. [S03428] The Barbour Collection of Connecticut Town Vital Records: Stamford.