Turell, Ebenezer. Account of a Witchcraft Case

Collection History

Please note that as of January 2022, the Ebenezer Turell account of a witchcraft case, 1728, and all future digital collections are now hosted on the library's new digital archive.

Rev. Ebenezer Turell (1701-1778) graduated from Harvard in 1721 and was subsequently ordained as the minister of the First Parish in Medford, Massachusetts in 1724, remaining there until his death. Rev. Turell published several works, including a memoir of his theological mentor, Rev. Benjamin Coleman, and his daughter, the poet Jane Coleman Turell (who was also Rev. Turell's first wife); as well as a sermon urging ministerial moderation.

This handwritten account contains a description of an alleged case of witchcraft in Littleton in 1720, including the reactions of local townspeople, and Rev. Turell's own commentary on the case. A transcribed version was published in 1823 as "Detection of Witchcraft" in the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Second series, Volume 10. The original manuscripts in this collection are owned by our project partners, the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Further information about the collection can be found in the NEHGS catalog.


Digital Materials

Account, 1728

Rev. Turell's account is organized into three parts: a description of alleged paranormal events besetting a family in Littleton in 1720, a summary of local opinion and reactions, and an advisory section in which he warns against deceitful children and encourages watchfulness and the application of corporal punishment by adults. He advises against the conflation of "tricks and legerdemain" with genuine Satanic covenants. An introduction to the material is included at the end of the volume.


Related Materials

Salem Witchcraft Trials, 1692


Special Thanks

These digital resources have been made possible in part by the Council on Library and Information Resources, through a Digitizing Hidden Collections grant.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this resource do not necessarily represent those of the Council on Library and Information Resources.