Sarah Cloyce

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Sarah Cloyce (née Towne) (bap. 3 September 1648 – 1703) was accused of witchcraft but never indicted by a grand jury in the Salem Witch Trials.

The daughter of William Towne and his wife, née Joanna Blessing, she was the sister of Rebecca Nurse and Mary Easty who were executed as witches at Salem in 1692.

Her first husband was Edmund Bridges, Jr. of Topsfield and Salem, who she married in 1659/60. They had at least five children; he died in 1682.[1] Her second husband was Peter Cloyce; he was the father of six when they married, and they had three additional children together.

She was accused of witchcraft the day after she had defended her sister Rebecca against the same charge. A few days later she was named in warrants and arrested, and was transferred to Boston prison. She petitioned the court for an opportunity to present evidence which supported her innocence, and to exclude spectral evidence (which is testimony that the spirit of someone did something). Charges against her were dismissed on 3 January 1693. Her husband paid the fees demanded by the prison and she was released.

Subsequently, she and her husband relocated, first to Marlborough, and later to Sudbury.

In fiction[edit]

In the short story entitled Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne which is a social criticism of Puritan culture, a character named Goody Cloyse addresses the devil, confessing to practicing witchcraft. It is a shock to the protagonist as she taught him his catechism in youth. She makes a reference to "...that unhanged witch, Goody Cory...".[2]


  1. ^ Clara Barton was a descendant of this first marriage.
  2. ^ Hawthorne 3, a very possible reference to Martha Corey

Further reading[edit]

Upham, Charles (1980). Salem Witchcraft. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 2 vv, v. 2 pp. 60, 94, 101, 111, 326.