The Solarts

John Herrick and Bethia Solart married in 1684 in Beverly, Massachusetts. They were destined to be linked to the Salem Witch Trials, because Bethia’s sister, Sarah, would become one of the victims and several of John's uncles would be involved in the arrest and/or the trials.

Below are short biographies of two couples:

John Solart (1581-1672) and Elizabeth Bedingfield (abt 1858-aft 1614)

More research is required on this couple, Bethia Solart’s grandparents, as very little information has yet been unearthed. There may even be a mistake as to whether this is the John Solart who married Elizabeth or another John Solart.

John Solart is believed to have been born in 1581, probably in Massachusetts. He met and married Elizabeth Bedingfield, probably before 1614, and probably in Wendham, Massachusetts. He would have been 33. Her age is uncertain, but perhaps five years younger.

Elizabeth Bedingfield was probably born in Massachusetts, around 1585.

John and Elizabeth had at least one child, John, born in 1614 in Wenham, Essex County, Massachusetts (See below for more information about John Solart Jr). It is not known if they had any other children.

Since so little information is known about John and Elizabeth, one can only speculate about whether they married others and whether perhaps Elizabeth died after giving birth to one child and John went on to marry someone else.

In any event, it is known that John died on 24 May 1672 in Wenham, Massachusetts. He was 91 years old.

John Solart (1614-1672) and Sarah Cocke (ABT 1620-AFT 1678)

John Solart was born in 1614 in Wenham, Essex County, Massachusetts. He was the son of John Solart and Elizabeth Bedingfield. The Solarts become a part of the Herrick Line when their daughter, Bethia, married John Herrick in 1684. Like many of the Herricks, the Solarts spent much of their time in the Essex County area, including Beverly and Wenham. Wenham was settled in 1635 and incorporated as a town in 1643 — at about the same time when John and Sarah married. Wenham is less than ten miles north of Beverly.

John married Sarah Cocke in about 1643. She is believed to be the daughter of William Cocke and Sarah Perrin. The dates of her birth and death (ABT 1620 - AFT 1678) are clearly guesswork, based on her marriage and the dates of the birth of her children. She may have come to Massachusetts from England as a child with her parents, but very little is known about her.

John and Sarah had at least eight children (there may have been another girl child not listed here):

John was a well-known innkeeper in Wenham. In the fall of 1672, at the age of 58, he drowned himself; this was considered a sin by the Puritans so his suicide tarnished the Solart name. He left his estate to his wife and their two sons, Joseph (age 12) and Michael (a newborn). Part of the estate was to go to, according to his will, his “seven daughters”. However, Sarah Cocke Solart married again and her new husband took possession of the estate as well as the daughters’ inheritance; as a result, the daughters never saw any of their father’s estate.

It is believed that Sarah and her second husband had two children: Peter (b. 21 Aug 1674 in Beverly, Essex, Massachusetts; he may have died on his birthday), and John (28 May 1678 in Wenham, Essex, Massachusetts). If these dates are accurate, then Sarah was 58 when her son, John, was born. This seems unlikely, so it’s possible that she was much younger, thus changing her birth date considerably.

John Solart did not live to see his daughter, Sarah Poole Good, hanged as a witch on 19 July 1692. His wife, Sarah Cocke, may also have already died before her daughter was hanged, but the exact date of her death is not known. It may have been in 1678, after her son was born.

Partly because John’s daughter, Sarah, never received any financial help from her father’s estate, she was left in desperate straits. Sarah was 17 when her father committed suicide. She married a former indentured servant, Daniel Poole who died sometime after 1682, leaving Sarah only with debt which Sarah and her second husband, William Good, were held responsible for paying. A portion of their land was seized and sold to satisfy their creditors, and shortly thereafter they sold the rest of their land, apparently out of dire necessity.

By the time of the infamous Salem witch trials, Sarah and her husband were homeless and destitute; she was reduced to begging for work, food, and shelter. Some took her in, briefly, but she was apparently very difficult to live with. She was refused help by at least one sister, and by Zachariah Herrick, her sister Bethia’s uncle-by-marriage.

Sarah was apparently not well-liked by her relatives and neighbours. Her habit of scolding and cursing neighbours who refused to help her was mentioned by at least seven people who testified at her trial. Even worse, however, was that her own four-year-old daughter, Dorcas Good, was also arrested and “confessed” to both her and her mother being witches. At the time of her trial, Good was described as "a forlorn, friendless, and forsaken creature, broken down by wretchedness of condition and ill-repute."

Sarah was executed on July 19, 1692. It is not known if any of her sisters or brothers came to her execution. She never confessed and “showed no remorse” at her execution. She is said to have said at the scaffolding, "You are a liar. I am no more a witch than you are a wizard, and if you take away my life God will give you blood to drink."

Although he testified against her at her trial, William Good (Sarah’s husband) was given one of the larger sums of compensation from the government in 1711. Little Dorcas, Sarah’s daughter, was eventually released from prison, but her father claimed she was never the same and “never useful for anything.”

This page written and researched by Susan Overturf Ingraham, wife of Robert Philip Ingraham, a descendant of the Solarts. This page last updated February 3, 2012.

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