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Sarah Towne Clayes
Birth: unknown
Massachusetts, USA
Death: unknown

For a very nice biography by Find A Grave member Ken Smith, please scroll to the end of this portrait.

"Then Sarah Cloyse asked for water, and sat down as one seized with a dying fainting fit, and several of the afflicted fell into fits, and some of them crief out, 'Oh! Her spirit is gone to prison to her sister Nurse!'"
"The Witchcraft delusion of 1692," NEHGR v 24, p 396

Sarah Towne, wife of Peter Clayes, was wrongly accused of witchcraft at Salem in 1692, and imprisoned. She escaped execution and moved to Danforth's Farms (incorporated in 1700 as Framingham). Her sisters, Rebecca Towne Nurse and Mary Towne Estey, were wrongly convicted of witchcraft, and were hanged.

The surname of Peter and Sarah is spelled Cloyce in many publications, including Nathaniel Hawthorne's story "Young Goodman Brown." Other spellings include Clayce and Cloys.

After Peter and Sarah moved to Danforth's Farms, they were known as Peter and Sarah Clayes. The Sarah Clayes house still stands in Framingham, but it is an endangered property. Efforts by the Sarah Clayes Museum Project are now under way to save the house.

In 1692, Danforth's Farms was owned by Thomas Danforth, one of the magistrates who imprisoned Sarah and deputy governor under Simon Bradstreet. Some historians believe that Thomas Danforth invited Sarah and members of her family to settle on his land as a gesture of reparation.

The third of three indictments against Sarah Clayes (Cloyce):

Essex in the Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England ss// Anno RR's & Reginae Gulielmi & Mariae Angliae &c Quarto Annoq'e Domini 1692

The Jurors for our Sover' Lord and Lady the King & Queen doe
present that Sarah Cloyce Wife of Peter Cloyce of Salem -- In the County of Essex Husbandman -- In & upon the Ninth Day of the Inst September -- In the yeare aforesaid and Divers other Days and times as well before as after Certaine Detestable arts called Witch-craft and Sorceries Wickedly Mallitiously and felloniously hath used
practised and Exercised At and in the Towne of Salem in the County of Essex -- aforesaid in upon and against one Rebeckah Towne of Topsfeild in the County of Essex aforesaid Single Woman -- by which said Wicked Acts the said Rebeckah Towne the Day & yeare -- aforesaid and divers other Days and times both before and after was and
is Tortured Aflicted Consumed Pined Wasted and Tormented, and also for sundry other acts of Witchcraft by the said Sarah Cloyce -- Comitted and done be fore and Since that time against the Peace of our Sov'rn Lord and Lady the King & Queen theire Crowne and Dignity and the forme of the Stattute In that case made and Provided.

*Robert Payne

(Suffolk Court Records Case No. 2677 Page 8)


The University of Virginia has excellent online records of the trials:

NEHGR v 8 pp 163, 252; v 11 pp 131, 134 (Danvers church records); v 21, p 21; v 23, p 24; v 24, pp 394-396; v 29, p 67

Thanks to Find A Grave member Ken Smith for this biography:

"Sarah was the fourth child of William Towne and Joanna Blessing of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England and Topsfield, Massachusetts. She was their first born in New England, on January 11, 1638, in Salem, Massachusetts, and baptised there on September 3, 1648, along with some siblings. Later, the family moved to Topsfield, Massachusetts, where Sarah married, on January 11, 1659/60, Edmund Bridges, Jr., the son of Edmund Bridges and his wife, Elizabeth. Edmund was born about 1637. Sarah and Edmund had three children in Topsfield by 1667, then moved to Salem, Massachusetts, before 1669, where they had two more children, including Hannah. Edmund died about 1682 in Salem. After the death of Edmund, Sarah married Peter Cloyes of Salem Village, and apparently had 2 children, Benoni, baptised September 2, 1683, and Hepzibah, who married February 3, 1708, Ebenezer Harrington. In 1692, Sarah, along with her sisters Rebecca Nurse and Mary Esty, were accused in the Salem Witch trials. Rebecca and Mary were hanged, but Sarah, who had also been condemned, escaped from the jail in Ipswich. In the spring of 1693, members of the Towne, Bridges, Barton, Cloyes and Elliott families moved away from Salem, no doubt because of the witch trials, and settled in the new community of Framingham, Massachusetts, where Sarah died about 1703. Information for this biography from the privately published book, The Bartons, by Ray Barton Jr.; NEHGR, v. 84, 'The Bartons of Oxford, Massachusetts'; New England Marriages Prior to 1700, by Torrey; Genealogical Dictionary of New England, by Savage; Early Settlers of Rowley, Massachusetts (1933), by Blodgett & Jewett, pg 42; the vital records of Ipswich, Topsfield, Salem and Framingham, Massachusetts." 
Family links: 
  William Towne (1598 - 1673)
  Joanna Blessing Towne (1594 - 1682)
  Peter Clayes (____ - 1708)
  Edmund Bridges (1636 - ____)*
  Hannah Bridges Barton (1669 - 1727)*
  Sarah Towne Clayes
  Susanna Towne Hayward*
  Rebecca Towne Nurse (1622 - 1692)*
  John Towne (1624 - 1672)*
  Edmund Towne (1628 - 1678)*
  Jacob Towne (1631 - 1704)*
  Mary Towne Easty (1634 - 1692)*
  Joseph Towne (1639 - 1713)*
*Calculated relationship
Created by: Mrs. Bee
Record added: Mar 20, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 49981410
Sarah <i>Towne</i> Clayes
Added by: Matthew J. Bridges
Sarah <i>Towne</i> Clayes
Added by: Mrs. Bee
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- quebecoise
 Added: Apr. 19, 2015

- Luke Stidman
 Added: Apr. 10, 2015
In love memory of Sarah Towne Clayes, my 10th great aunt. What a terrible tragedy she and her sisters endured in a time of ignorance and hysteria. PBS documentary Three Sovreigns for Sarah tells this whole story. May she RIP.
- Lolly Linton
 Added: Mar. 15, 2015
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This page is sponsored by: Matthew J. Bridges

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