The Phillips, Weber, Kirk, & Staggs families of the Pacific Northwest

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  • ID: I00100
  • Name: Bray WILKINS 1 2
  • Sex: M
  • Birth: 1611 in Glamorganshire, Wales 2
  • Death: 12 JAN 1701/02 in Middleton, Essex, MA 2
  • Event: Bullet 1633 IMMIGRANT 2
  • Burial: Will's Hill, Middleton, Essex, MA
  • Note:
    Bray accused a grandson-in-law (John Willard husband of his grandaughter) of witchcraft and tried to have him hung in Salem, MA. The reason given was that Bray had a kidney stone attack when John Willard walked into his room--had to have been withcraft! Bray also accused him of being involved in the death of another of Bray's grandsons, Daniel Wilkins.

    Apparently after the first few witchcraft incidences, which were directed toward the weaker, less desireable people in Salem, many of the accusations had an economic gain involved in them. The family farm plots in Salem kept being divided among the many offspring and were getting too small to keep a family going. Agriculture was failing and Salem was on the ropes economically. Some people used the "witchcraft" trials to get the upper hand against cousins and other people that had desired property. I do not know if Bray Wilkins' accusation was for personal gain or not.

    John Willard was a successful merchant from outside the area. He was a land speculator and supposedly lost a lot of his in-law, the Wilkins, money. He married Bray's grandaughter Margaret. According to the University of Virginia, John Willard was executed for witchcraft on 19 Aug 1692.


    Testimony of Bray Wilkins against John Willard
    Copied from University of Virginia website:

    (Bray Wilkins v. John Willard)
    The Deposition of Bray Wilkins of Salem Village aged about eighty & one years with reference to John Willard of s'd Salem, lately charged with Witchcraft when he was at first complained of by the afflicted persons for afflicting of them he came to my house greatly troubled, desiring me with some other Neighbours to pray for him I told him I was then going from home, & could not stay, but if I could come home before night I should not be unwilling, but it was near night before I came home & so I did not answere his desire, but I heard no more of him upon that account. Whither my not answering his desire did not offend him, I cannot tell, but I was jealous afterwards that it did. A little after my wife & I went to Boston at the last Election, when I was as well in health as in many yeares before, & the Election day coming to my brother Lft Richard Way's house, at noon there were many friends to dine there, they were sat down at the Table, Mr Lawson & his wife & severall more, John Willard came into the house with my sone Henry Wilkins before I sat down, & s'd Willard to my apprehension lookt after such a sort upon me as I never before discerned in any, I did but step into the next room, & I was presently taken in a strange condition, so that I could not dine, nor eat any thing, I cannot express the misery I was in for my water was sodainly stopt, & I had no benefit of nature, but was like a man on a Rack, & I told my wife immediately that I was afraid that Willard had done me wrong, my pain continuing & finding no relief my jealousie continued: Mr Lawson, & others there, were all amazed, & knew not what to do for me: There was a Woman accounted skilfull came hoping to help me, & after she had used means, she askt me whither none of those evil persons had done me damage. I said, I could not say they had, but I was sore afraid they had, she answered she did fear so too, as near as I remember. I lay in this case. 3. or. 4. dayes at Boston, & afterwards with the jeopardy of my life (as I thought) I came home, & then some of my friends coming to see me (& at this time John Willard was run away) one of the afflicted persons Mercy Lewes came in with them, & they askt whither she saw any thing: she said yes, they are looking for John Willard but there he is upon his Grandfathers Belly (& at that time I was in grevious pain in the small of my Belly) I continued so in greivous pain & my water much stopt till s'd Willard was in chains, & then as near as I can guess I had considerable ease, but on the other hand in the room of a stoppage, I was vexed with a flowing of water, so that it was hard to keep my self dry. On the. 5. July last talking with some friends about John Willard some pleading his innocency & my self & some others arguing the contrary, within about 1/4 of an hour after that I had said it was not I, nor my son Benja Wilkins, but the testimony of the afflicted persons, & the jury concerning the Murder of my Grandson Dan: Wilkins that would take away his life if any thing did, & within about 1/4 hour after this was taken in the sorest distress & misery my water being turned into real blood, or of a bloody colour & the old pain returned excessively as before which continued for about 24. hours together

    (Reverse) Bray Wilkins Testimony ags't John Willard

    (Essex County Archives, Salem -- Witchcraft Vol. 1 Page 106)

    The following is Bray's information in "The Great Migration Begins".


    ORIGIN: Unknown
    MIGRATION: 1633
    FIRST RESIDENCE: Dorchester
    REMOVES: Lynn, Salem 1660

    CHURCH MEMBERSHIP: "Brave Wilkins" joined the second church at Dorchester on 9 June 1640 [DChR 5]. "Bray Wilkins [and] his wife" joined the Salem church 24 August 1654 [SChR 14]. Bray Wilkins and his wife and others received dismission "that they might be a church of themselves," 10 November 1689 [SChR 169]; this was a step in the formation of the church at Salem Village, later Danvers.
    FREEMAN: 14 May 1634 [MBCR 1:369].
    EDUCATION: He could sign his name [DTR 106].
    OFFICES: Salem tythingman, June 1678 [EQC 7:68]. Lynn constable, 24 June 1656, 1657 [EQC 1:424, 2:36]. Grand jury, 30 November 1658, 28 June 1659 [EQC 2:123, 157]. Petit jury, 24 November 1657 [EQC 2:59].
    ESTATE: On 2 October 1636 Bray Wilkins was given six acres of upland [DTR 19]. On 16 January 1636[/7] Bray Wilkins was granted one acre on the neck provided he remain in the plantation [DTR 21]. On 2 January 1637[/8] Bray Wilkins was granted an allotment at Mannings Moone [DTR 29], but he received nine acres in lieu of this land near Richard Rocket [DTR 32]. His proportion at the neck was two and three quarters acres and 32 rods and his proportion of cows pasture was 2 and 3/4 acres and 32 rods [DTR 30]. He was ordered to take his proportion at Tomson's Island and given permission to purchase more land convenient for fishing, provided he pay the standard amount to support the school [DTR 40]. On 12 March 1641[/2] Bray Wilkins was to fence fourteen rods at the great lots [DTR 46, 76, 78].
    On 9 March 1659[/60] Richard Bellingham of Boston and Penelope his wife sold to "Bray Wilkins of Lynn, husbandman, & John Gingeon of Lynn, taylor," seven hundred acres of land in Salem; on 10 March 1659[/60] Wilkins and Gingeon mortgaged the land back to Bellingham, and the mortgage was eventually cleared [ELR 2:1, 2, 16; see also MBCR 1:240 and ELR 3:182, 4:131]. On 28 November 1662 "Bray Wilkins & John Gingeon of Salem" sold to Major General Daniel Denison one hundred acres of upland and thirty acres of meadow from the above seven hundred acres [ELR 4:90].
    On 31 March 1673 "Braye Wilkins & Anna his wife & Jno. Gingell husbandman of Salem" deeded to "Aaron Way and William Ireland of Boston, husbandmen, ... a third part of the parcel of land commonly known as Wills Hill in Salem, 700 acres" [ELR 4:1], but waited until 11 April 1681 to divide the land [ELR 7:34]. On 26 February 1679[/80] Bray Wilkins of Wills Hill in Salem, planter, deeded to "my sons Sam[ue]ll, Thomas, Henry, and Benja[min] Wilkins" various parcels of land in Salem [ELR 9:136]. On 17 September 1696 "Bray Wilkins of Salem Village living at Wills Hill" deeded to "my son-in-law Phillip Knight of Topsfield" three acres of meadow [ELR 13:97].
    On November 1682 Bray Wilkins had thirty acres of unimproved lands at Salem [EQC 9:377].
    In his will, dated 9 January 1696/7 and proved 26 January 1701/2, Bray Wilkins of Salem, yeoman, "being ancient and sensible of the declining of old age and weakness and infirmities of mortality daily attending upon me," bequeathed to "my well-beloved wife Anna Wilkins" the house, barn and orchard, with all the movable estate for her life and charged "my son Benjamin Wilkins if he lives to take care of his aged mother"; to "son Benjamin Wilkins" the home lot after his death and the death of Anna, also thirty acres to "son Henry Wilkins" the lot of land at the head of the fifty acres of land given to "sons Samuel and Henry Wilkins"; to "son Benjamin Wilkins" a lot of land; to "grandson John Wilkins" ten acres and the remainder of that lot to "son Thomas Wilkins"; to "daughter Margeritt Knight, wife of Phillip Knight" three acres of meadow, the remainder of that land to "son Benjamin Wilkins"; to "daughter Lydia Nicholls, wife of John Nichols, 40s."; to "son Benjamin Wilkins all my meadow laying in Andover meadow so called"; to "grandson Bray Wilkins" meadow at Beachy Meadow; to "grandson Samuel Wilkins" a coat; residue of wearing apparel equally among "sons Thomas, Henry and Benjamin Wilkins"; to "son Benjamin Wilkins" household items and farm equipment; to "daughter Margaret Knight" his featherbed; remainder of bedding equally to "daughters Lydia Nicholls and Margerett Kneight"; "loving wife Anna Wilkins and dutiful son Benjamin Wilkins" executors; "loving friends Thomas Putnam and John Putnam Jr." overseers [TAG 60:7, citing EPR 307:254-57].

    BIRTH: About 1611 based on age at death.
    DEATH: Salem 12 January 1701/2 "in his 92 year ... and saw his children's children and their children" [EIHC 8:220].
    MARRIAGE: By about 1636 Hannah Way, daughter of HENRY WAY [TAG 60:3, 5]. She was living on 26 January 1701/2 when she received joint executorship of her late husband's will [EPR 307:254-57].
    i SAMUEL, b. about 1636 (d. Salem 20 December 1688, aged 52); bp. Dorchester 5 January 1639[/40] [DChR 151]; m. say 1673 Jane _____ [birth of son Samuel say 1673 and ELR 11:191].
    ii JOHN, b. say 1639; m. by say 1664 Mary _____ (eldest known child b. say 1664).
    iii LYDIA, bp. Dorchester 25 November 1644 [DChR 157]; m. by 1663 John Nichols (eldest child b. Topsfield 25 August 1663).
    iv THOMAS, b. say 1646; bp. Dorchester 16 May 1647 [DChR 158]; m. Salem May 1667 Hannah Nichols.
    v MARGARET, bp. Dorchester 10 February 1648[/9] [DChR 159]; m. by 1669 Philip Knight (eldest child b. Topsfield 27 December 1669).
    vi HENRY, b. say 1651; bp. Dorchester 7 March 1651[/2] [DChR 161]; m. (1) say 1673 Rebecca ______ (eldest child b. about 1673 [TAG 60:105]; Henry's wife may have been Rebecca Baxter, daughter of Daniel Baxter [TAG 60:104]); m. (2) by 1 July 1691 Ruth (Fuller) Wheeler [TAG 60:103].
    vii BENJAMIN, b. about 1655 (deposed 1692 aged about thirty-six [TAG 60:107]); m. Salem 3 June 1677 Priscilla Baxter.
    ASSOCIATIONS: John Willard, one of those executed for witchcraft at Salem in 1692, was called a grandson of Bray Wilkins; in 1984 David L. Greene demonstrated that Willard had married Margaret Wilkins, daughter of Thomas Wilkins, who was one of the sons of Bray Wilkins [TAG 60:16-17, 111-13]. Greene also discusses at length the possible connections between Bray Wilkins and John Gingell/Gingeon [TAG 60:3-9].

    COMMENTS: At the July 1657 court John Hathorne of Lynn was "admonished for contemptuous words against authority spoken to Bray Wilkins, constable of Lynn, while executing his office" [EQC 2:50].
    In court in March 1663 Bray Wilkins was accused of stealing hay of Mr. Bradstreet's and many neighbors came forward to depose in the matter. John Longley, aged about twenty-three deposed that he "lived with Bray Wilkins ... that said Wilkins' two or three sons with John Gingill went for the hay and the first day they mired their cart and came home without any hay. They went again the next day and the two days following and brought home some hay which deponent saw at night..." [EQC 3:46].
    At court June 1666 Nathaniel Putnam, aged about forty-six years, deposed that "the latter end of January 1664, Bray Wilkins having `by Providence his house burned and by that means being brought to a mean and low condition, I myself and some other neighbors taking the sad condition of the said Bray Wilkins and his family into our consideration, we were willing to contribute something to the help and assistance of the said Bray Wilkins in his sad and deplorable condition provided that the said Wilkins might have the benefit of it himself and then understanding that the farm he then lived on where his house was burned was entangled to Mr. Richard Bellingham our new honored Governor....'" Bellingham sued Bray Wilkins for failing to vacate the farm and the jury found for Wilkins, but the court did not accept the verdict [EQC 3:322-23].
    In March 1669/70 Bray Wilkins was among the men who refused to agree to contribute to the building of a new meetinghouse in Salem [EQC 5:273].
    About June 1680 Bray Wilkins "aged about sixty-eight years" deposed in the matter of the laying out of land by Lt. Thomas Putnam [EQC 7:392].

    BIBLIOGRAPHIC NOTE: In 1984 David Greene described the family of Bray Wilkins and his work is closely followed here [TAG 60:1-18, 101-13]. He concluded that James Wilkins of Salem was not a son of Bray Wilkins [TAG 60:109-11].

    Marriage 1 Anna GENGELL b: ABT 1616
    • Married: ABT 1635 in Salem, Essex, MA

    Marriage 2 Hannah WAY b: BEF 3 MAR 1615/16 in Bridport, Dorset, England
    • Married: BEF 1636 in Salem, Essex, MA 2
    1. Has No Children Samuel WILKINS b: 5 NOV 1636 in Salem, Essex, MA c: 5 NOV 1639 in Dorchester, Suffolk, MA
    2. Has No Children John WILKINS b: 22 MAR 1641/42 in Salem, Essex, MA c: 22 MAR 1641/42 in Salem, Essex, MA
    3. Has No Children Lydia WILKINS b: 25 NOV 1644 in Salem, Essex, MA
    4. Has Children Thomas WILKINS b: 16 MAY 1647 in Salem, Essex, MA
    5. Has No Children Margaret (Margery) WILKINS b: 10 FEB 1648/49 in Salem, Essex, MA
    6. Has Children Henry WILKINS b: 7 MAR 1651/52 in Salem, Essex, MA
    7. Has Children Benjamin WILKINS b: JUN 1652 in Salem, Essex, MA
    8. Has No Children Aquila WILKINS b: ABT 1657 in Salem, Essex, MA

    1. Title: New England Marriages Prior to 1700, Clarence Almon Torrey
      Page: 816
    2. Title: The Great Migration Begins, Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Vol I-II, Robert Anderson, NEHGS, Boston 2000
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