Ephraim Herrick and Mary Cross Life in Massachusetts in the 1600's

Ephraim Herrick (1638-1693) and Mary Cross (1640-1710)

Ephraim follows in his father’s footsteps

Ephraim Herrick was born in Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts on 11 Feb 1638. He was the fourth son born to Henry Herrick and Editha Laskin . Ephraim’s father had come to Salem, Massachusetts, in about 1629 with a large group of English settlers, probably including Francis Higginson, minister of the Salem Church in 1629-1630. Ephraim’s father was a landowner and a farmer; it is assumed that Ephraim did the same thing. Ephraim took the Oath of a Freeman in 1668, at the age of 30.

Marriage and Family

Ephraim married Mary Cross on 3 July 1661 in Beverly, Essex, Massachusetts. He was 23; she was 21. Mary Cross was born on 14 Jun 1640 in Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts.

Ephraim and Mary would live out their lives in Beverly, a small town across the water from Salem, Massachusetts. Originally part of Salem, Beverly was first settled in 1626 by Roger Conant, but because of religious differences with the governor, it would be set off and officially incorporated in 1668 when it was named after a famous Yorkshire minister.

Ephraim and Mary had at least eight children:

The Herricks and the Salem Witch Trials

The Herrick family was destined to become a significant part of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. At the time, Ephraim was 54 years old and Mary was 52. Their children ranged in age from twenty-years-old to nine. Their oldest son, John, was married to Bethia Solart, whose sister, Sarah Solart Poole Good, became one of the accused witches. Having Bethia’s sister accused of being a witch must have sent chills through all of the Herricks. Though not blood related to Sarah, she was an in-law, and they must have been concerned and possibly frightened: Who would be next?

Ephraim’s brothers were also heavily involved in the trials. His older brother, Zachariah, had refused to give aid to Sarah when she was down-and-out and in need of a home and food for her children. Another brother, Henry, was a member of the jury and would eventually sign the apology for their decisions. Finally, Ephraim’s brother, Joseph, was the local constable and arrested most of the people charged with witchcraft.

Four years after the last of the trials, the jury finally realized their folly. The following is the text of their signed "Confession of Error" (January 14, 1696), published after Ephraim’s death so he never knew of his brother’s apology:

“We whose names are under written, being in the year 1692 called to serve as jurors, in Court at Salem, on trial of many who were by some suspected guilty of doing acts of witchcraft upon the bodies of sundry persons:

“We confess that we ourselves were not capable to understand, nor able to withstand, the mysterious delusions of the Powers of Darkness and Prince of the Air; but were, for want of knowledge in ourselves and better information from others, prevailed with to take up such evidence against the accused, as on further consideration and better information we justly fear was insufficient for the touching the lives of any (Deut.xvii.6).

“Whereby we fear we have been instrumental with others, though ignorantly and unwittingly, to bring upon ourselves and this people of the Lord the guilt of innocent blood -- which sin the Lord saith in Scripture he would not pardon (II Kings xxiv.4), that is, we suppose in regard of his temporal judgments.

“We do, therefore hereby signify to all in general, and to the surviving sufferers in especial, our deep sense of, and sorrow for our errors, in acting on such evidence to the condemnation of any person. And we do hereby declare that we justly fear that we were sadly deluded and mistaken, for which we are much disquieted and distressed in our minds; and do humbly beg forgiveness, first of God for Christ's sake for this error, and pray that God would not impute the guilt of it to ourselves nor others. And we also pray that we may be considered candidly and aright by the living sufferers as being then under the power of a strong and general delusion, utterly unacquainted with, and not experienced in matters of that nature.

“We do heartily ask forgiveness of you all whom we have justly offended, and do declare according to our present minds we would none of us do such things again on such grounds for the whole world; praying you to accept of this in way of satisfaction for our offense; and that you would bless the inheritance of the Lord, that he may be entreated for the land.“

Signed by: Thomas Fisk, Foreman, William Fisk, John Batcheler, Thomas Fisk, Junior, John Dane, Joseph Evelith, Thomas Perly, Senior, John Pebody, Thomas Perkins, Samuel Sayer, Andrew Elliot, Henry Herrick, Senior.

Despite the Trials, Ephraim and Mary remained in Beverly

Ephraim Herrick died on 18 Sep 1693 in Beverly, Essex, Massachusetts. He was 55 years old and he and Mary had been married for 32 years. The cause of his death is unknown, but one can certainly speculate that the stresses of the trials may have placed a heavy burden on Ephraim’s heart. Shortly after his death, his son, John, and daughter-in-law, Bethia, would leave the area and try to start a new life in New York.

Mary lived for another seventeen years, apparently never leaving the area, and dying in Salem at the age of 70 in the year 1710.

This page written and researched by Susan Overturf Ingraham, wife of Robert Philip Ingraham, a descendant of Ephraim Herrick and Mary Cross. This page last updated on February 2, 2012.

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