Mary Towne Eastey (also spelled Esty, Easty, Estey, or Estye) (bap. August 24, 1634 – September 22, 1692) was a victim of the Salem witch trials of 1692. Mary's sisters, Rebecca Nurse and Sarah Cloyce, were also accused of witchcraft. Mary and Rebecca were executed, but Sarah was not.
Mary Towne was born to William Towne and Joanna (née Blessing) in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England. One of eight children, she and her family moved to America around 1640. Mary married Isaac Eastey in 1655 in Topsfield, Massachusetts; Isaac, a farmer, was born in England on November 27, 1627. Together the couple had eleven children: Joseph (1657-1739), Sarah (1660-1749), John (b. 1660), Isaac (1662-1714), Hannah (b. 1667), Benjamin (b. 1669), Samuel (b. 1672), Jacob (b. 1673), Joshua (b. 1678), Jeffrey (b. ca. 1680), and Mary.
Accusation and trial
Like her sister Rebecca, Mary was a pious and respected member of Salem, and her accusation came as a surprise. During the examination on April 22, 1692, when Eastey clasped her hands together, Mercy Lewis, one of the afflicted, imitated the gesture and claimed to be unable to release her hands until Eastey released her own. Again, when Mary inclined her head, the afflicted girls accused her of trying to break their necks. Mercy claimed that Eastey's specter had climbed into her bed and laid her hand upon her breasts. When asked by magistrates John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin how far she had complied with Satan, she replied, "Sir, I never complyed but prayed against him all my dayes, I have no complyance with Satan, in this....I am clear of this sin."
For reasons unknown, Eastey was released from prison on May 18 after two months. However, on May 20, Mercy Lewis claimed that Eastey's specter was afflicting her, a claim which other girls supported. A second warrant was issued that night for Eastey's arrest. She was taken from her bed and returned to the prison; Lewis ceased her fits after Mary was chained. Eastey was tried and condemned to death on September 9, and was executed September 22. The following is Mary's petition to the judges:
The humble petition of mary Eastick unto his Excellencyes S'r W'm Phipps to the honour'd Judge and Bench now Sitting in Judicature in Salem and the Reverend ministers humbly sheweth
That whereas your poor and humble petitioner being condemned to die Doe humbly begg of you to take it into your Judicious and pious considerations that your Poor and humble petitioner knowing my own Innocencye Blised be the Lord for it and seeing plainly the wiles and subtility of my accusers by my Selfe can not but Judge charitably of others that are going the same way of my selfe if the Lord stepps not mightily in i was confined a whole month upon the same account that I am condemned now for and then cleared by the afflicted persons as some of your honours know and in two dayes time I was cryed out upon by them and have been confined and now am condemned to die the Lord above knows my Innocence then and Likewise does now as att the great day will be know to men and Angells—I Petition to your honours not for my own life for I know I must die and my appointed time is sett but the Lord he knowes it is that if it be possible no more Innocent blood may be shed which undoubtidly cannot be Avoyded In the way and course you goe in I question not but your honours does to the uttmost of your Powers in the discovery and detecting of witchcraft and witches and would not be gulty of Innocent blood for the world but by my own Innocency I know you are in this great work if it be his blessed you that no more Innocent blood be shed I would humbly begg of you that your honors would be plesed to examine theis Afflicted Persons strictly and keep them apart some time and Likewise to try some of these confesing wichis I being confident there is severall of them has belyed themselves and others as will appeare if not in this wor[l]d I am sure in the world to come whither I am now agoing and I Question not but youle see and alteration of thes things they my selfe and others having made a League with the Divel we cannot confesse I know and the Lord knowes as will shortly appeare they belye me and so I Question not but they doe others the Lord above who is the Searcher of all hearts knows that as I shall answer att the Tribunall seat that I know not the least thinge of witchcraft therfore I cannot I dare not belye my own soule I beg your honers not to deny this my humble petition from a poor dying Innocent person and I Question not but the Lord will give a blesing to yor endevers.
Robert Calef, in More Wonders of the Invisible World, described Eastey's parting words to her family "as serious, religious, distinct, and affectionate as could be expressed, drawing tears from the eyes of almost all present." She was hanged on September 22, along with Martha Corey, Ann Pudeator, Alice Parker, Mary Parker, Wilmot Redd, Margaret Scott, and Samuel Wardwell. On the gallows she prayed for an end to the witch hunt.
In November, after Eastey had been put to death, Mary Herrick gave testimony about Eastey. Herrick testified that she was visited by Eastey who told her she had been put to death wrongfully and was innocent of witchcraft, and that she had come to vindicate her cause. Eastey's family was compensated with 20 pounds from the government in 1711 for her wrongful execution. Her husband Isaac lived until June 11, 1712.
Upham, Charles (1980). Salem Witchcraft. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 2 vv., v. 2 pp. 60, 128, 137, 200-5, 324-7, 480.