John Herrick and Bethia Solart Touched by the Salem Witch Trials

John Herrick (1662-1729) and Bethia Solart (1666-1729)

A Third Generation Herrick is born in Essex County

John Herrick was born 31 May 1662 in Beverly, Essex County, Massachusetts. His parents were Ephraim Herrick and Mary Cross. He could not know then that as a young man in his early 30’s, he would be a part of one of the most notorious moments in American history: The Salem Witch Trials.

Life as a Family Begins in 1684

John married Bethia Solart on 21 Apr 1684, also in Beverly. He was 22; she was 18. Bethia Solart was born on 28 Feb 1666 in Wenham, Essex County, Massachusetts. Her parents were John Solart and Sarah Cocke.

John and Bethia lived in Beverly early in their marriage. Originally part of Salem and the Naumkeag Territory, the area was first settled in 1626 by Roger Conant. But because of religious differences with Governor John Endicott, Beverly would be set off and officially incorporated in 1668, just six years after John’s birth, when it was named after an English bishop. (The map above — thanks to whomever drew it and I’ll gladly give you credit if you let me know who you are — clearly shows the area being discussed. I found it in a book years ago.)

John and Bethia had at least two children, two boys who were possibly twins, but one child did not survive beyond his first birthday:

A Personal Connection to the Salem Witch Trials

The infamous Salem witch trials began in 1692, two years after the death of their five-year-old daughter, Sarah, but before they moved to New London where both Hilkiah and John are said to have been born. It’s possible that during the time of the trials, things were too stressful for Bethia to get pregnant and/or to carry a child to full term.

Bethia’s older sister, Sarah, was charged with and hanged for witchcraft; her husband’s uncles helped to convict her. John’s paternal uncle, Henry Herrick, was a juror in the trial and eventually signed the apology that all jurors signed two years after the events. Another of John’s paternal uncles, Joseph, was a constable and testified at several of the trials, including against Bethia’s sister.

Between 1691 and 1693, over 100 men, women and children were charged with witchcraft. Ultimately, nineteen were hanged. John and Bethia must have suffered immeasurably during these terrible times. Bethia may not have been able to forgive the society that had hanged her sister. They left Massachusetts some time between 1695 and 1698 — three years after the first trials. Whatever their reasons for leaving, one can assume that the taint of the trials went with the Herricks.

Life in a Different Place

By 1699, John and Bethia’s son, John, was born in Preston, New London County, Connecticut. To get from Beverly, MA, to Preston, New London, would not have been impossible, as both the Boston Post Road and the Old Connecticut Path were open and being used by many. They remained in Connecticut for several years.

Later in their lives, John and Bethia returned to Massachusetts, settling in Wenham (where Bethia had been born) in Essex County and only five miles north of Beverly where they had married. They left behind their son, John, in the New London County area, but perhaps they had other children who returned with them. John Herrick died in Wenham on 4 Aug 1729; Bethia died there as well in the same year. He was 67; she was 63.

This page written and researched by Susan Overturf Ingraham, wife of Robert Philip Ingraham, a descendant of John Herrick and Bethia Solart. This page last updated on January 6, 2012.

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