Elizabeth Garlick

November, 2012 by Ray Bendici
Filed Under: 

Year: 1658
Town: East Hampton, Long Island, New York
Outcome: Acquitted

It's unusual that the witchcraft case of Elizabeth Garlick should be in the Connecticut historical record as she lived in East Hampton at the eastern end of Long Island, which is in New York. However, after her case was considered by the leaders of East Hampton, it was decided that she be remanded to a higher court for final judgement, and is turns out, the court that had jurisdiction over the area was based in Hartford, Connecticut.

According to The Witchcraft Delusion in Colonial Connecticut (1647-1697) by John M. Taylor and this well-researched article on Ancestry.com, the story of Elizabeth Garlick turns out to be a familiar one—an older woman is unjustly accused by ignorant locals as the source for all the settlement's ills and tragic events. Fortunately in this case, wiser heads prevail and no one ends up at the end of a rope for imagined crimes.

Elizabeth Blanchard Garlick and her husband Joshua arrived in East Hampton from Gardiner's Island, were both had worked as servants for prominent colonist Lion Gardiner. By this point, both were well into their 50s, and Elizabeth had gained a bad reputation for practicing "witchcraft and other black arts." Soon after their arrival in 1657, formal witchcraft charges were made against Goodwife Garlick.

Allegedly the case began in February of 1658 when Elizabeth Howell—the 16-year-old wife of Arthur Howell and the daughter of the aforementioned Lion Gardiner—fell ill, became delirious and claimed that she was seeing "a black thing" in her bedroom. She then supposedly told her mother and others that she also saw at her bedside Goody Garlick, who stuck her with pins." Sadly, the poor girl was dead soon after, and Goody Garlick was then accused of causing it via witchcraft.

The local authorities started taking depositions from the locals, and it soon became apparent that one neighbor, Goodwife Davis, was leading the testimony against Garlick. The other neighbors soon joined in, and accused Garlick of being the cause of all sorts of problems, including making other children sick, giving "threatening speeches," and even causing oxen to fall ill. She was also described as "a naughtie woman."

Advertisement

As the charges mounted against Elizabeth Garlick, her husband Joshua did not sit idly by. He filed a counter defamation suit against Goody Davis, and although there's no record of the outcome, it may have had some effect on the magistrates hearing the charges against his wife.

Declaring that they didn't have the legal authority or expertise to decide such a serious case involving the black arts, a committee was appointed to go "unto Keniticut [sic] to carry up Goodwife Garlick yet she may be delivered up unto the authority there for the trial of the cause of witchcraft which she is suspected for." Accordingly, she was sent to the General Court of Connecticut in Hartford for its May 1658 to stand trial for witchcraft.

According to the ancestry.com article:

The indictment against Elizabeth Garlick read: "Thou art indicted by the name of Elizabeth Garlick the wife of Joshua Garlick of East Hampton, that not having the fear of God before thine eyes thou has enteretained familiarity with Satan the great enemy of God and mankind and by his help since the year 1650 hath done works above the course of nature to the loss of lives of several persons (with several other sorceries) and in particular the wife of Arthur Howell of East Hampton, for which both according to the laws of God and the establish law of this commonwealth thou deservest to die."

The details of the trial are not available, but the outcome is: The jury acquitted Elizabeth Garlick, suggesting that there was not "sufficient evidence" to find her guilty. Her and her husband returned to East Hampton, Long Island.

There's no record of Elizabeth's death, but her husband Joshua died in 1700. Whatever happened to Elizabeth, we at least now that she didn't unnecessarily meet her fate at the end of a hangman's noose.

Comment with Facebook