Rebecca Greensmith (17th century) Hartford, Connecticut, woman accused of witchcraft, who confessed and was executed.
Rebecca Greensmith and her third husband, Nathaniel, lived next door to Ann Cole. The couple were reasonably affluent, but Rebecca was considered a “lewd and ignorant” woman. In 1662, when Cole was brought up on charges of witchcraft, Greensmith was already languishing in prison on charges of witchcraft, which she denied.
Cole named several accomplices, including Greensmith. Rebecca was brought before a magistrate and was confronted with the accusations of Cole that had been recorded by reverend John Whiting and Joseph Haines. At first Greensmith was astonished and protested her innocence once again, but soon confessed that all Cole had said was true.
Greensmith said that she and others had familiarity with the Devil, but had not signed a Devil's Pact with him. However, she had gone with him whenever he had called her. The Devil told her that at Christmas the witches would have a fine celebration and would all sign the pact with him.
Greensmith was questioned again on the following day by Haines. She told him that she was in such a rage that she could have torn him limb from limb. Haines persisted in his interrogation, and Greensmith broke down again, saying that she felt as if her own flesh was being pulled from her bones. She again confessed to the accusations.
She said that the Devil appeared to her in the shape of a deer or a fawn and skipped around her until she was not frightened. The Devil began conversing with her and then frequently had sexual intercourse with her. “I liked it very much,” Greensmith stated.
She said she met with other witches at a place not far from her home. The witches all flew to the meetings in different animal shapes, one of them being a cow.
Greensmith was sentenced to death and was hanged in January 1663. Her husband, Nathaniel, was also accused of witchcraft by association and was executed, despite his lack of confession of guilt.
- Hansen, Chadwick. Witchcraft at Salem. New York: New American Library, 1969.
- Jameson, J. Franklin, ed. Narratives of the Witchcraft Cases 1648–1706. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1914.