Thomas Brattle was born 5 September 1657. He attended and graduated from Harvard College in 1676, later becoming treasurer of the college. He became a member of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts in 1672. He was the principal founder of the Brattle Street Church in Boston, with Dr. Coleman as the first minister.
In early October 1692 he wrote a letter to an English clergyman which was critical of the Salem witch trials. The letter was circulated widely in Boston at the time, and it continues to be studied for its reasoned attack on the witchcraft trials in Salem. Brattle presents a compelling argument against the legal premises and procedures involved in the afflictions, accusations, and executions, with a particular focus on the invalidity of spectral evidence in proceedings. He concludes by saying "I am afraid that ages will not wear off that reproach and those stains which these things will leave behind them upon out land."
Brattle died on 18 May 1713 at age 56.
- Bridgman, Thomas; Everett, Edward (1856). The Pilgrims of Boston and their descendants. New York: Appleton & Co. p. 249. Retrieved 30 April 2009.
"Thomas Brattle and the Provincialism of New England Science, 1690-1720," The New England Quarterly, 63 (1990): 584-600
"Thomas Brattle: A Mathematician-Architect in the Transition of the New England Mind, 1690-1700," Winterthur Portfolio, 24 (1989): 231-245.
Burr, George Lincoln, 1857-1938. "Letter of Thomas Brattle, F. R. S., 1692"; from Narratives of the Witchcraft Cases, 1648-1706. Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library.
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