The 1724 Courthouse in Chester the oldest one in Penna. The building still stands on Ave. of the States. AKA Edgmont Ave. In the 1870's the original steeple was replaced with a large one with a clock. This picture from about 1910 shows how it looked. In the 1930's the steeple was taken down and replaced with how it originally was built.
NOTES: Need some help. Does any reader have or know where I can use a good quality overhead scanner? I have been using one in Swarthmore but it is now tied up for months. I have the opportunity to scan a number of atlases for my website and I'm looking for a scanner to do so. Please let me know.
WITCHES AND THEIR ART IN THIS COUNTY
A Noted Trial That Took Place Long Ago
The Witch of Ridley Creek
Mention is often made of a trial for witchcraft in Pennsylvania, but, except the mere mention of the matter, no further information is given. The record of the trial is found in Volume 1 of the Colonial Records of Pennsylvania, in which all the proceedings of the Provincial council are recorded.
The two accused persons, old women, were Swedes, Margaret Mattson, wife of Noel Mattson, and Yeshro Hendrickson, wife of Hendrick Jacobson. While both persons were called before the Council, the first only seems to have stood a regular trial. Margaret Mattson lived on a plantation owned by her husband on the Delaware River, on the west side of Crum Creek, in Ridley Township, now Delaware County. She was long known in local legends as “The Witch of Ridley Creek.”
She was first brought before the Council on December 7, 1683, no provincial court having yet been organized in the colony, when her trial was set for December 27. On that day the accused appeared in the city of Philadelphia before William Penn, his Attorney General, a grand jury of twenty-one persons, all English apparently, and a petit jury of twelve persons, one of whom Albertus Hendrickson, was a Swede. One of the Council Lassse Cock was a Swede. The grand jury brought in a true bill, reporting in the afternoon. The indictment was then read to the accused. She pleaded not guilty, the petit jury was empaneled, the trial held, the Governor charged the jury, which retired, brought in a verdict, the prisoner was discharged, and THE WHILE BUSINESS WAS CONCLUDED THAT SAME AFTERNOON SO FAR AS PENNSYLVANIA WAS CONCERNED, THE VERDICT was as follows: “GUILTY OF HAVING THE COMMON FAME OF A WITCH, BUT NOT GUILTY IN MANNER AND FORM AS SHE STANDS ENDICTED.”
Nine years later, 1692, Massachusetts was for a whole year shaken with most horrible trains for this imaginary offense, until no person in that colony was safe from accusation, NINETEEN PERSONS WERE HUNG and one pressed to death under heavy weights, while a great number suffered intolerable imprisonment. The whole population became infected with a craze concerning “witchcraft,” the shame of which endures there to this day. In this matter the sober Quaker reached a righteous conclusion much quicker than the hasty Puritan.
SOME OF THE TESTIMONY – Henry Drystreet, attested, said he was told 20 years ago that the prisoner at the bar was a Witch and that several cows were bewitched by her; also, that James Saunderling’s mother told him that she bewitched her cow, but afterwards said it was a mistake, and that her cow should do well again, fir it was not her cow but another person’s that should die.
Charles Ashcom attested, said that Anthony’s wife being asked why she sold her cattle, was because her mother had bewitched them having taken the witchcraft of Hendrick’s cattle, and put on their oxen; she might keep but no other cattle, and also that one night the daughter of the prisoner called him up hastily, and when he came she said there was a great light but just before, and an old woman with a knife in her hand at the bad’s feet, and therefore she cried out and desired Jno Symock to take away his calves or else she would send them to hell.
The accused flatly denied all the allegations.
ASTROLOGERS AND NECROMANCERS – In 1695 John Roman and his two sons, residing in Chichester, were reported to be students of astrology and other forbidden mysteries. The public tongue had so discussed the matter that on the tenth of the tenth month, 1695, Concord Monthly Meeting of Friends gravely announced that “the study of these sciences bring a vail over the understanding and that upon the life.” John Kingsman and William Hughes were ordered to speak to the parties, and have them to attend at the next monthly meeting. The offenders were seen and stated that if it could be shown wherein it was wrong, they would desist from further investigation in these arts. For several months the matter was before the Concord Monthly Meeting without resulting in suppressing the evil.
Extracts from the records of Concord Monthly Meeting commencing September 11, 1695, are interesting: “Some friends having a concern upon them concerning some young men who came amongst friends to their meetings and following some arts which friends thought not fit for such as profess truth to follow, viz., astrology and other sciences, as Geomancy and Cliorvmancy and Necromancy, etc. It was debated and the sense of this meeting is that the study of these sciences brings a vail over the understanding and a death upon the life.
“And in the sense of the same, friends order Philip Roman be spoken too to know whether he have dealt orderly with his two sons concerning the same art; and that his two sons bespoke to come to the next monthly meeting; “friends orders John Kingsman and William Hughes to speak to Philip Roman and his two sons to appear at the next monthly.”
CONVICTED IN COURT – The ease finally reached a stage through the report of the committee that Robert Roman was arrested, tried at Chester for practicing the black art, was fined five pounds and the following books were seized and burned; Hidon’s Temple of Wisdom, which teaches Geomanycy, and Scott’s Discovery of Witchcraft and Cornelios Agrippos teach Necromancy.”