Richard Brabrooke

m.Joane _______; Joane m.(2)Thomas Penny/Pinney

CHILD of Richard and Alice Ellis, servant girl:

  1. Mehitable Brabrooke m.John Downing

NOTES: from an 1997 email from / --...Carol F. Karlsen, The Devil in the Shape of a Woman (1987), pages 95-98, treats Salem accused witches Joan PENNEY/PINNEY, who turns out to the remarried Joan BRABROOK, wife of Mehitabel's father Richard, and Mehitabel (BRABROOK) DOWNING, both either acquitted or or freed after the panic faded. Karlsen says (knew?) nothing of the TAG article [TAG 36, pages 68-73 by Ruth Easterbrook Thomas and Ross Boothe Jr. re Downing, etc.] and doesn't list the DOWNING children, but shows that Mehitabel was the illegitimate daughter (b.1653) of Richard BRABROOK by a servant girl, Alice ELLIS, but brought up as their own by Richard and wife Joan. Richard's...will....probate (19 Jul 1694), nor that he wrote his will (and likely died) away from New England, on the Island of Nevis. [His death ca. 1690-91 would fit nicely with the witchcraft accusations of 1692.] But she does describe John & Mehitable in the 1670's and 1680's as in court several times for excessive drinking and neglect of their children. How that fits with John as son the estimable Emanuel and as a man with interests in the West Indies is hard to say, but Emanuel had another son James DOWNING who appears to have been a hopeless, alcoholic ne're-do-well, so perhaps it fits after all. It might also fit with John DOWNING at 29 marrying the 16-year old Mehitabel BRABROOK, who was something of a problem child, i.e., by some testimony a liar, a thief, and an "unchaste creature."

FROM: The Devil in the Shape of a Woman "Witchcaraft in Colonial New England", by Carol F. Karlsen: Pages 95-98 devoted to this family: Aged widow Joan Penney of Gloucester, Massachusetts, was one of the many women arrested but not prosecuted during the Salem outbreak, the trials having come to an end before the judges heard their cases. She had been accused of committing "severall acts of witchcraft" on the body of twenty-five-year-old Mary Hill, an unmarried Salem woman...[probably accused as Thomas Penney had left his estate to Joan and not his children by other marriages--Mary Hill was a dau. of one of his step-daughters]...In 1652...Richard [Braybrooke] appeared in local court, along with Alice Ellis [a servant working in his house], to answer charges of fornication...[they were both found guilty and ordered whipped] They also freed Ellis from her service and insisted that Richard bring up the child of their illicit union [Mehitable Braybrooke]. 1653, was brought before the court "for wearing a silk scarf" a crime in Mass. if her husbands property was valued less than L200. The charge was not his value must have exceeded that amount....Though no evidence remains about who accused her or of what crimes, the then forty-year-old Mehitabel Downing's name appears, along with the widow Penney, as one of ten witches petitioning for their release from the Ipswich jail in the fall of 1692.

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This page last updated on February 18, 2007