WilliamGraves (17th century) Connecticut man accused of witchcraft over a dispute with his daughter and son-in-law. Though no legal action was taken against William Graves, his case indicates how easily personal squabbles could be turned into serious witchcraft charges.
Graves’ daughter, Abigail, married a man named Samuel Dibble. Graves may not have approved of the match, for he refused to turn over his daughter’s “portion” or inheritance to her after the marriage. Angry, Dibble got an attachment against Graves. Graves responded by telling Dibble that he would repent this attachment for as long as he lived; it sounded like a Curse to Dibble. Graves also made angry remarks to Abigail, to the point where she and her husband were in fear that somehow Graves would harm them.
Abigail became pregnant and went into what became a difficult labor in February 1666. She reportedly experienced fits. Witnesses said that Graves told his daughter to prepare to meet the Lord; Graves claimed that his daughter looked so bad that he thought she was going to die.
After much suffering on the part of Abigail, the baby was finally delivered, but Abigail continued to have fits, and others feared for her life. Her tongue was black and protruding, and her eyes bulged. Graves reportedly remarked that Abigail would die and he would be hanged for her death.
The same month as the childbirth, Graves was brought to a hearing on charges of witchcraft. No legal action was taken. Whether Abigail and her husband ever got her inheritance is not known.
- Hall, David D, ed. Witch-hunting in Seventeenth-Century New England: A Documentary History 1638–1692. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1991.