Mary Bradbury

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Mary Bradbury
Born Mary Perkins
bap. September 3, 1615
Hillmorton, County Warwick, England
Died December 20, 1700(1700-12-20) (aged 85)
Salisbury, Essex, Massachusetts
Known for Accused Salem Witch Convicted & Later Exonerated
Spouse(s) Thomas Bradbury
Parents John Perkins, Judith Gater
Relatives Ray Bradbury Terry Tonini

Mary Perkins Bradbury (baptized September 3, 1615 – December 20, 1700) was tried, convicted and sentenced to hang as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692, however, the sentence was never carried out.[1]

Early life[edit]

Mary Perkins was daughter of John and Judith (Gater) Perkins, baptized in 1615 at Hilmorton, County Warwick, England. Her family immigrated to America in 1631, sailing on the "Lyon" from Bristol.

In 1636 she married Thomas Bradbury of Salisbury, Massachusetts, considered one of its most distinguished citizens, land agent for his great-uncle Ferdinando Gorges and son of Elizabeth Whitgift, whose uncle John Whitgift was Archbishop of Canterbury under Elizabeth and James I.

Witch trials[edit]

In the notorious witch trials of 1692, Mary Bradbury was indicted for (among other charges):

"Certaine Detestable arts called Witchcraft & Sorceries Wickedly Mallitiously and felloniously hath used practiced and Exercised At and in the Township of Andivor in the County of Essex aforesaid in upon & against one Timothy Swann of Andivor In the County aforesaid Husbandman -- by which said Wicked Acts the said Timothy Swann upon the 26th day of July Aforesaid and divers other days & times both before and after was and is Tortured Afflicted Consumed Pined Wasted and Tormented..."

Witnesses testified that she assumed animal forms; her most unusual metamorphosis was said to have been that of a blue boar.

Another allegation was that she cast spells upon ships.

Over a hundred of her neighbors and townspeople testified on her behalf, but to no avail and she was found guilty of practicing magic and sentenced to be executed.

Through the ongoing efforts of her friends, her execution was delayed. After the witch debacle had passed, she was released. By some accounts she was allowed to escape. Others claim she bribed her jailer.

Another account claims that her husband bribed the jailer and took her away to Maine in a horse and cart. They returned to Massachusetts after the witch hysteria had died down.

Mary Bradbury died of natural causes in her own bed in 1700.

In 1711, the governor and council of Massachusetts authorized payment of £578.12s to the claimants representing twenty-three persons condemned at Salem, and the heirs of Mary Bradbury received £20. A petition to reverse the attainder of twenty-two of the thirty-one citizens convicted and condemned as a result of the trials was passed by the Massachusetts General Court in 1711, and in 1957 The Commonwealth of Massachusetts reversed the stigma placed on all those not covered by earlier orders.


Mary Perkins Bradbury and Thomas Bradbury had eleven children:

  1. Wymond Bradbury (1637–1669), married Sarah Pike, daughter of Major Robert Pike
  2. Judith Bradbury (1638–1700)
  3. Thomas Bradbury (1640–1718)
  4. Mary Bradbury (1642–1724)
  5. Jane Bradbury (1645–1729), married Henry True
  6. Jacob Bradbury (1647–1669, Barbados)
  7. William Bradbury (1649–1678), married Rebecca Wheelwright
  8. Elizabeth Bradbury (1651–unknown)
  9. John Bradbury (1654–1678)
  10. Anne Bradbury (1656–1659)
  11. Jabez Bradbury (1658–1677)

Her descendants include:

  • Ray Bradbury, American fantasy, science fiction, horror and mystery fiction writer.
  • Bradbury Robinson (1752–1801), a great-great grandson, fought for the patriots at the Battle of Concord (1775) and testified that the British fired first.[2][3]
  • Bradbury Robinson (1884–1949), threw American football's first legal forward pass.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson, transcendentalist, a fourth great-grandson of Mary Bradbury, descendant through her daughter Judith.
  • Victoria Bradbury, a 10th great-granddaughter, new media artist whose interactive artwork "Blue Boar"[4] is based on Mary Bradbury's trial.
  • John Gagon (1971–present), modern day occultist and polymath
  • Ken Paschen (1958-present), Librarian at city library in WA state
  • Maggie Cleveland (1976-present), Massachusetts poet

Mary's younger brother Jacob Perkins was an ancestor of Humphrey Bogart, Calvin Coolidge and Mary Aspinwall, Franklin Delano Roosevelt's paternal grandmother. Another brother of Mary, John Perkins, was an ancestor of Millard Fillmore and Endicott Peabody.


  • Bradbury, John Merrill, Bradbury Memorial: Records of Some of the Descendants of Thomas Bradbury of Adamenticus, York, 1634 also of Salisbury, Massachusetts, 1638, 1890
  • Perkins Family History (hand-written documents, written at various dates from the 17th century-present- Des Plaines, IL)


  1. ^ "The Salem Witch Trials 1692". Archived from the original on 2008-02-22. Retrieved 2008-03-22. 
  2. ^ Statements of American combatants at Lexington and Concord contained in supplement “Official Papers Concerning the Skirmishes at Lexington and Concord” to The Military Journals of Private Soldiers, 1758-1775, by Abraham Tomlinson for the Poughkeepsie, NY museum, 1855.
  3. ^ "Colonial towns, by the numbers". Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  4. ^ curatorialintern (November 22, 2011). "Media History Through the Eyes of a Blue Boar". New Britain Museum of American Art website. Retrieved 24 August 2013. 

Further reading[edit]