Is it witchcraft?

When I re-read a letter I got from my Dad’s cousin Lainey in 1987, I encountered a family ghost. Well, not exactly, but a couple of family witches. So for the current Hallowe’en themed Carnival of Genealogy, I’ll post the excerpt of her letter.

Now (and here comes a genealogical “goodie”!) take a look at Chart #27. Fine person #1 … Rebecca Carrington. Boy, oh boy—what a discovery! Her parents were John Carrington, a carpenter by trade, and Joan [__?__]. John was charged with witchcraft 9and so was wife Joan) in 1650. His (and soon after, hers, too) trial was held in Hartford, Connecticut on Feb 20, 1650. the jury came in with a guilty verdict on March 6, 1650 and they were both hanged as witches shortly after in Wethersfield, Conn. where they resided. How their daughter Rebecca survived that awful tragedy, growing up to marry a well-to-do merchant, Abraham Andruss, and settling in Waterbury, Connecticut—would probably reveal a fascinating slice of life (the stuff of which “soaps” are made!)

OMG OMG OMG. I’m just getting hit by the twilight zone.

Twilight Zone #1:  After obsessing with Ken Burns and The War, I see it there, in cousin Lainey’s letter: Waterbury Connecticut (one of the four towns covered in the documentary).
Twilight Zone #2: And then I google the names container herein, and lo, there is a mention of Abraham Andruss in a history of Waterbury. Oh, and someone’s done a genealogy of this person. (Children on this page includes Sarah Andruss who married a man named Lewis. If you recall the other post where cousin Lainey’s letter came in, it was all about our mythical Scots connections via the Lewis line.) There’s plenty to find out about John Carrington and witchcraft.

Is this how you genealogists get hooked? This is kinda funny that this happens, right here, right now. I’ve been stuck in the 7th circle of Tax hell (er, nothing to do with the theme of this post, just describing my day), finally finish, and take my Archos GMini with me in the car to begin listening to the interview with my Mom from last month while I drive to the big area post office and back in rush hour traffic. On a recent visit, I had the recorder going while Mom and I looked through her aunt’s scrapbook (1915 Fenway Art Institute classmates, Montana cowgirl tricks, stuff like that). So immediately before pulling out Lainey’s letter, my mind is definitely in oral history mode. La la la, read read read, type type type and then (gulp!) google google google and now I see a whole bunch of avenues to pursue, as evidence corroborates.

Heck, I was just going to share this tidbit of a letter and shout “witch!” once or twice, and see if I could write something pretty and wistful over the vivacious tone of Dad’s cousin Lainey’s letters, and note my regret that I didn’t strike up a correspondence with her at the time. Dear cousin Lainey, you rock. Can I come to the east coast and just hang around you? Twenty years later, her words jump out on the page. Who knew that between them and search results, I’d find more tantalizing tendrils?


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Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on October 15, 2007 in • GenealogyPersonal History
9 CommentsPermalink

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You are so hooked and yes, it’s witchcraft.

Those fingers poised in google’s snare
Reading ‘till all I do is stare
Stripped my genea inhibitions bare
It’s witchcraft


footnoteMaven  on 10/16  at  03:54 PM

fM—thank you! I had the Frank Sinatra song in mind, vaguely. (i.e., heard a tendril of his voice and the It’s witchcraft signature line)

Here are the lyrics, to help me appreciate your adaptation.

Susan A. Kitchens  on 10/16  at  06:59 PM

Very interesting and exciting for a genealogist!

Nikki-ann  on 10/19  at  10:03 AM


Perhaps there is not a very big difference between witch “craft” and technology… Thankfully no more talented women will be killed as a result of those trials.

Since in some cases the accuser received all or some of the dead “witch’s” possessions, my personal belief is that witchcraft had a lot to do with greed.


Janice Brown  on 10/20  at  04:28 AM

Interesting, Janice. Craft and tech. Arthur C. Clarke would agree with you there: One of his three laws is “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

And what is witchcraft, but magic?

(p.s. sorry about the delayed response. This site’s software all of a sudden stopped sending me emails when anything interesting happens. Don’t know why. It must be advanced technology!)

Susan A. Kitchens  on 10/22  at  05:00 PM


  I am descended from John Carrington of Wethersfield, CT through his son John and his granddaughter, Hannah. My information to this point states that John Sr. and his first wife Mary had two children, John and Mary. Young John was about 10 years old at the time of the witchcraft trial. This is the first I have seen the idea put forth that old John and his second wife Joane (many different spellings) had a child by the name of Rebecca. That does not mean I do not accept that possibility. It is possible that John’s first wife died after giving birth to a daughter, Mary, about 1642. I am putting in that year, as most births occurred about 2 years apart, and young John seems to have been born in 1640. As old John was recorded as being married to Joan by 1644, that could indicate they wed about 1643, allowing a year for mourning. Joan was said to be a widow when she married John. If they had a daughter, then John Carrington, Sr. had three children. Have you found out anything about dates of Joan and/or Rebecca?

  Old John’s great granddaughter, Experience Holcomb, married the great grandson of Edward Griswold, who was on the panel of judges which convicted and condemned old John and his wife Joan. Experience (daughter of Hannah Carrington Holcomb, granddaughter of John Carrinton II and Elisabeth Clark, and g granddaughter of John Carrington and his first wife Mary)married Nathaniel Alford, whose line back was his mother Hannah Westover Alvord, his grandmother Hannah Griswold Westover, and his great grandfather Edward Griswold. I found it fascinating that the years brought about a healing for the great wrong which had taken place almost 75 years earlier. 

Delores Shade  on 11/09  at  08:05 PM

I’m descended from the marriage of Abraham Andrus and Rebecca Carrington. I’ve seen it stated in a few places that Rebecca was the daughter of John and Joan Carrington, but I have not found any solid evidence. If anyone has found documentation, I’d love to see it. Thanks.

Peter Fisk  on 01/23  at  01:12 AM

Rebecca Carrington had a daughter named Sarah Andrus (Andrews)who married Joseph Lewis. Joseph’s 2nd great granddaughter, Amanda Chittendon married Thomas Benham.Thomas is the 3rd great grandson of Winifred King and Joseph Benham born abt: 1634.
Winifred was on trial for being a witch in Wallingford, CT..3 times! There is alot of documented evidence on You may need to purchase a membership. If you buy the newest family tree maker, it comes with a 3 month subcription free.

Amy  on 05/27  at  06:35 AM

Hi Susan,

I’m am also descended from John Carrington, through both of his wives’ and children’s lines. David Carrington, Sr., the great grandson of John Carrington (II), the son of John Carrington (I) and his first wife, Mary, with whom he traveled to America; and Anne Gridley, the great granddaughter of Rebecca Carrington, the daughter of John Carrington (I) and Joan(nne) Clark (?), who was hung, along with her husband, after being convicted of witchcraft on March 6, 1651. The two siblings’ lines merged here with the marriage of David Carrington, Sr. and Anne Gridley and I’m descended from their son, Orvis Carrington, who was named for his great grandfather, Samuel Orvis. In fact, my great grandfather, Charles Orvis Carrington, carried on the Orvis family name as well. I’m confident that Rebecca was, indeed, the child of John and Joan, but I’ve also seen trees that include a third daughter named Rachel, born earlier, but with no date of death. She may have passed in infancy or simply lost to the ages. Anyway, I’ll keep an eye on your site and hope to hear from you. Sounds like we’re cousins. smile

Cristy Carrington Lewis

Cristy Lewis  on 07/06  at  04:10 PM

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