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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Margaret Stephenson Scott

Margaret Stephenson Scott is my nine times great grandmother. She is known for being hanged to death as part of the Salem witch trials.






According to various records and documents, Margaret was born in England somewhere around the year 1615.  In 1642 she married Benjamin Scott. Nine years later, the Scott family emigrated to Rowley, Massachussets, a small town north of Salem. 

The Scotts were not wealthy and never appeared in any positions suggesting importance or prominence. The Scotts lacked the money to purchase their own land. Instead, in 1664, the town donated land to Benjamin Scott. 

Benjamin died when Margaret was 56 years old, leaving an estate worth only 67 pounds, not much by the standards of that time. She lived on this meager estate for the next twenty-one years until her death, and must have been very poor.

Certain aspects of Margaret's character made her a likely candidate as a witch suspect. One such aspect was the high infant mortality rate among her children. Women in New England who had trouble raising their children were very vulnerable to witchcraft charges. Of Margaret's seven children, only three made it to adulthood. The residents of Salem would have been aware of this.

Also, Margaret was a widow for twenty-one years. The most dangerous aspect of being a widow was the lack of a husband for legal support and influence. She was forced to live off her husband's small estate for twenty-one years. Often poor widows were reduced to poverty and begging. By begging, Margaret would have been exposed to witchcraft suspicions according to what historians called the "refusal guilt syndrome". This phenomenon occurred when a beggar's needs were refused, causing feelings of guilt and aggression on the refuser's part. The refuser often projected this aggression onto the begger and grew suspicious of her. It appears that Margaret's accusations occurred at the hands of her town's most wealthy and distinguished citizens who had accused others of witchcraft as well.  

Margaret Scott was a victim of bad luck and bad timing. These two aspects, more than any supernatural forces, led to her demise. She must have suffered extremely from the time of her arrest until her death three weeks later. She was unjustly accused, tried, convicted, incarcerated and hanged on Gallows Hill on Sept 22,1692. Margaret was 75 years old at the time of her death, possibly the oldest woman tried and hung in the Salem witch trials.


In 1711, all those accused were exonerated and their relatives offered retribution; but none of Margaret's family turned up. Whether out of fear or shame, not all the families came forward to accept the apology. 

In 1993 the town of Rowley erected a monument to Margaret, calling the witch trials a "delusion". They dedicated this grassy area to her memory. 




Margaret’s name was finally cleared on Oct 31, 2001, 309 yrs after her death. 

Ancestral Line:  Janeal Kindred Smith...Kent Lewis Kindred...Chloris Hill...Jasper Hill...Lurancy Chase...Sisson Chase...Amy Scott...Amos Scott...William Scott...William Scott...William Scott...Margaret Kinsey Stephenson 

16 comments:

  1. I was soooo excited to fid this information, thank you for posting it! Margaret Kinsey Stephenson Scott is also my 9 times great grandmother! I was wondering if you had accurate information on who their children were? Thanks again!
    Teresa (Scott) Dockter
    tj0330@gmail.com

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  2. Margaret is my 10 times great grandmother through her son William Scott. This is very interesting history. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Margaret may be my 10 times great grandmother through her daughter Hannah. In some family trees Hannah is listed has her daughter and not in others. She married Benjamin in 1642 but Hannah shows as born in 1635. I'm trying to determine if Hannah and her brother John were from a previous marriage of either Margaret or Benjamin.

    In my research I have not found the name Kinsey. Was this her maiden name or middle name?

    Thanks for the great page.
    debschoeman@gmail.com

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  4. I have been researching my genealogy and have been to Salem to see the history there but did not know I was related in any way... then I found she is my 8th great grandmother through the Lowell-Decker lines. Thank you for such great information!! Jo P. S. My Line is through her daughter Mary Scott who married John Decker.

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  5. She's part of my family tree via the Graves line

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  6. This is an amazing story! I found out about Margaret by using Relative Finder, and she's my 9th Great Grandmother. I'm descended through Mary Scott, and Thomas Parish.

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  7. She is my 10th great-grand mother as well according to ancestry.com! haha were all cousins!

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  8. She is my 10th great-grand mother as well according to ancestry.com! haha were all cousins!

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  10. Benjamin Scott is my 12th generation grandfather.
    John Scott
    Joseph Scott
    Joseph Scott
    Abijah Scott
    Lemual Scott
    George Edmond Scott
    Moses Cook Scott
    Sanford McClain Scott
    Douglas Cummings Scott
    Douglas Gordon Scott

    Missing one?
    Dougyscott@gmail.com

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  11. 9th great grandmother as well. I not sure how got the info from relative finder part of Mormon research Frank Howes

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  12. I am looking for the source for the photo of the Margaret Scott Memorial Stone in Rowley, MA. I would like to reuse this photo in an ancestry book project I am working on. Any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated!

    mike.mail@comcast.net

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  13. Margaret is a relative of mine as well thorough my great grandmother! i live in Salem Ma and have visited the grave yard. Id love to see the stone in Rowley. where is it located?

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    1. The Margaret Scott Memorial Stone is located across the street from the Rowley Historical Society in the grassy triangle area — 233 Main St, Rowley, MA 01969. Here is the link in Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/MBAAPbey67T2

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