Mary Towne Eastey (also spelled Esty, Easty, Estey, Eastick, Eastie, or Estye) (bap. August 24, 1634 – September 22, 1692) was convicted of witchcraft in the Salem witch trials of 1692 in colonial Massachusetts. She was executed by hanging in Salem.
Mary Eastey was born Mary Towne to William Towne and Joanna Towne (née Blessing) in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England. She was one of eight children, among them her sisters and fellow Salem defendants Rebecca Nurse and Sarah Cloyce (both née Towne). Mary Towne and her family moved to America around 1640.
Mary Towne married Isaac Eastey in 1655 in Topsfield, Massachusetts Bay Colony; 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. 1663), 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 Nurse, Eastey 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 Eastey 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 Eastey was chained. Eastey was tried and condemned to death on September 9.
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. Of her two sisters likewise charged with witchcraft, Rebecca Nurse was eventually hanged, but Sarah Cloyce was not.
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.
In popular culture
- Mary Eastey was referred to as a witch in the 2013 horror movie The Conjuring.
- "Petition of Mary Easty". The Salem Witchcraft Papers, Verbatim Transcriptions of the Court Records. Retrieved 10 December 2007.
- Boyer, Paul; Nissenbaum, Stephen, eds. (1977). "Petition of Mary Eastey". The Salem Witchcraft Papers. Revised, corrected, and augmented by Benjamin C. Ray and Tara S. Wood (2010). Charlottesville, Virginia: University of Virginia. Archived from the original on 19 March 2014. Retrieved 19 March 2014.
- "Examination of Mary Easty". The Salem Witchcraft Papers, Verbatim Transcriptions of the Court Records. Retrieved 10 December 2007.
- Boyer, Paul; Nissenbaum, Stephen, eds. (1977). "Examination of Mary Eastey". The Salem Witchcraft Papers. Revised, corrected, and augmented by Benjamin C. Ray and Tara S. Wood (2010). Charlottesville, Virginia: University of Virginia. Archived from the original on 19 March 2014. Retrieved 19 March 2014.
- Upham, Charles (1980). Salem Witchcraft. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 2 vv., v. 2 pp. 60, 128, 137, 200–205, 324–327, 480.