1615 - 1688
Thomas Barnes was born in Essex County, England about 1615 and immigrated to America. He set sail with his family from England to the West Indies on September 2, 1635 on the ship William and John, arriving in New England on a trading schooner. Thomas was settled in Farmington, Hartford County, Connecticut, where he died in 1688.
Thomas was one of many early colonists who fled England to escape religious persecution and enjoy freedom in the New World but, like others, ended up being one of the same perpetrators of the crimes form which he fled and, shockingly, one such person was his very own wife.
Read more about Thomas and Mary in the following links...
1620 - 1662
First wife of Thomas Barnes
Hanged as a witch in Hartford CT in 1662
Thomas Barnes was one of six who joined the Congregation on 30 January 1653; thereafter, two sons were baptized there, but the church records contain no mention of his wife. Mary (Barnes) was put to trial and hung at the gallows of Hartford Connecticut in 1662. From a history of "Thomas Barnes of Hartford and Farmington Connecticut," written by Frederick R. Barnes, the following is noted: Little is know of Mary or her parentage and childhood. She was apparently a free-thinker and not as devoted to church-going as other women in town, even though her husband was one of the church elders. Though there is record of only three children at the time of her conviction, it is likely that she and her husband had more, because large families were the norm for the time, usually for economic reasons. It is quite possible that other children died of one of the many epidemics of the time, because he had donated a plot of land for a burying-ground. Such a rapidly recurring series of deaths could have caused extreme emotional upset in a mother who was hysterically inclined and she may have begun to display behavior that, to her "captious neighbors would seem queer." Grief over the loss of her children and the unkind gossip of her neighbors ma y well have put her over the edge. She became even more reclusive and, probably , more bizarre in her behavior. In those times, the "Bible was taken literally, word for word, cover to cover," and those who did not believe and practice strong religious beliefs were suspect, perhaps even thought to be "on familiar term s with that old delucer, Satan." Of significance is that on December 1, 1642, t he General Court promulgated a list of ten capital crimes: idolatry, witchcraft, blasphemy, murder, sodomy, adultery, rape, kidnapping , false witness and treason. Stemming from the trials for witchcraft in England and Europe, suspiciousness mounted toward those who gave any sign of not being of the faith. The first witchcraft case resulted in a hanging in 1647 in Hartford and others were soon to follow. Mary Barnes was indicted for witchcraft on January 6, 1662. She pleaded not guilty and asked for a jury trial. Her husband, either too busy with work or believing in his wife's possession, apparently did not offer her strong support. A jury of her peers returned a verdict of guilty in early 1662 . Following this, on the same day, Elizabeth wife of Richard Seager was tried on the same charge and found not guilty. So it is unlikely the jury was caught up in witchcraft hysteria. Just a week before, a jury made up of ten of the same men, (the other two were replaced by others on the Barnes jury) had convicted Nathaniel Greensmith and his wife Rebecca of witch craft, and Rebecca had confessed her guilt in open court! [Coll. of Conn. Hist. Society, 22:259, 258]. There is no record of the actual execution of Mary Barnes, although a diary o f William Goffe, who was in hiding and under suspicion himself at the time, mad e notation in his diary ... "Jan. 20, 1662 , three witches were condemned at Hartford Feb. 24, 1662." It is believed one of these was Mary Barnes. It is also assumed that she was hung "up past Thomas Barnes old time Hartford home site, near a prolongation of a northwesterly road alongside the Cow Pasture. This site was about a mile from the jail and a little back from a main road into the country. This was perhaps the Via Dolorosa of Mary Barnes' last earthly journey for it was believed she had sold her soul to Satan. She left three children, undoubtedly in terror of these events. Her crime. .. she did not attend church. This verdict from those who had fled religious persecution in Europe. An irony to be sure!
(NOTE: Mary Barnes is not an ancestor of the Parker family, which descends from Thomas Barnes' second wife, Mary Elizabeth Andrews, twenty-eight years his junior, whom he hired as his housekeeper after Mary's death). However, the children of Thomas and Mary and the children of Thomas and Mary Elizabeth were half 1st cousins.