Salem Witch Trials | Elizabeth Howe, July 19, 1692

Today marks the 324th anniversary of the execution of my direct ancestor, my 9th great-grandmother, Elizabeth Howe. She was hanged on July 19, 1692 for the crime of witchcraft along side Rebecca Nurse - her sister-in-law, Sarah Good, Sarah Wildes, and Susanna Martin. Of course, none of these women were guilty of the crimes they were accused of, and the legacy of what was done to these women and men still haunts us today. And Elizabeth Howe's legacy, in particular, is something I hold close to my heart. I am of her flesh, after all.

Kan.del in Salem, Massachusetts (one of my favorite shops of all time) has created a series of Salem Witch Craft candles, each honoring individual victims. I have many of these candles, and was thrilled when they came out with the Elizabeth Howe candle.

Each of these candles comes with their own image on the front, picked to represent each victim, and the story of each individual is on the back.

Elizabeth Howe, at the time of the 1692 witch hysteria, was living in Topfield, Massachusetts, in an area known as Ipswich Farms. She was the mother to six children and the wife of a man who had become blind around the age of 50. Due to her husband's sudden disability, Elizabeth took charge of managing the farm. She took on responsibly that was beyond the limits of what was acceptable for her gender in a Puritan society. She was the boss of home and farm, and she made almost all of the decisions. I believe this was one of the main reasons she became an object of accusation. She had also been accused of witchcraft by a neighbor in 1682. This also made her vulernable to additional accusations, like so many others.

As the boss, for all intents and purposes, of the family farm, most of the first accusations made against her were the bewitching of neighbors' horses and other farm animals. This is the reason I display the candle in my family room, which was historically an extension of the horse barn on our property. This farm, boss lady belongs in an environment that reminds me, every day, of her strength, hard work, and accomplishments. She dealt with hard things and took charge. Society may not have been ready for her then, but she is an inspiration to me now. So, on this day that marks the taking of an innocent and strong woman, I burn my Elizabeth Howe candle in her honor.

A horse stands nearby to represent this farm boss!

Thanks so much for this special treasure, honoring an amazing woman, Kan.del! It has meant so much to me, especially on this day.


  1. Wow Alyson, how did you discover your relation to Elizabeth Howe? I think that is so awesome! I have always been intrigued by the Salem Witch Trials (as have a lot of people), and was wondering if you have a recommendation of one of the best books you have read on that time period.

  2. Wonderful article,Alyson! It was great that you could find a candle honoring your ancestor's memory.

  3. Love this so much!And I love glimpses of your new home!~!

  4. Alyson,

    First and foremost, I’m an avid reader of your blog (if that is what this is correctly called, I hail from the old school). This is quite a poignant post, as I am currently reading The Witches: Salem, 1692 ~ Stacy Schiff. As coincidence would have it, I happened to read the chapter on the hangings of Howe, Nurse, Wildes, Martin and Good on the 19th, it was very apropos. The absurdities, hypocrisy and downright lies that convicted these innocents is incomprehensible to the minds of the 21st century, accordingly as Schiff and others have pointed out, many in the 17th century thought likewise.

    I have read every tome written about the trials, and I must conclude thus far that Schiff’s work is a contender for one of the best, if not the best. My ancestor John Alden Jr. was also accused, but thankfully narrowly avoided the noose of collective madness.

    Alyson, thank you again for your lovely tribute. I unremittingly enjoy reading about your travels, and a few of your cocktail recipes have proven to be quite refreshing.


    J. Van Rensselaer Van Epps

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  6. Alyson,
    enjoyed your tribute to your ancestor, how wonderful you are able to have knowledge of that family history. I always wanted to visit New England and a couple of years ago I was able to do that with my sister who had made quite a few trips up there to Dartmouth where my niece was a student. It was the middle of April and we made it from Boston all the way to Bar Harbor stopping along the way. It was more beautiful then I imagined and would love nothing better then to go back! How lucky you are to live in such a gorgeous place!