Husband: Thomas Gilbert, Jr. (1)
Wife: Lydia (2)
Thomas Gilbert, Jr.:
From Richardson article:
Thomas2 bp. Yardley, co. Worcester, England, 16 Feb. 1611/2, d. Springfield, Mass., 5 June 1662; in. (1) All Saints, West Bromwich, co. Stafford, England, 17 Sept. 1639 MARY JAMES, (2) LYDIA ________ , executed for witchcraft, Windsor, Conn., shortly aft. 28 Nov. 1654, (3) Springfield, Mass., 30 June/1 July 1655 (marriage contract 23 May 1655) Katherine2 (CHAPIN) BLISS, bp. Berry Pomeroy, co. Devon, England, 1626, d. Springfield 4 Feb. 1712/3, dau. of Samuel1 and Cicely (Penny) Chapin (NEHGR 83:354-55) and widow of Nathaniel Bliss.
(Regarding Lydia's witchcraft trial)... Who Lydia Gilbert's accusers were is unknown. Whether ignorant gossip or private enmities brought this ghastly charge upon her, it is impossible to say. That the charge of procuring the death of Henry Stiles could be brought against her seems incredible, when everyone of mature age in Windsor must have known that Henry Stiles met his death by the carelessness of Thomas Allyn, three years before. But the charge was brought against her. She was charged with other witchcrafts besides this, and it may be that she was one of those unfortunate women to whom suspicion of witchcraft clung, for reasons which cannot now be stated. The evidence upon which Lydia was convicted, and the names of the witnesses against her, are unknown. The juror's oath, the names of the jury and the names of the magistrates who heard the case are on record, as well as the indictment and the verdict. 6 of the magistrates and jurymen were residents of Windsor, 5 of Hartford, and the rest belonged to Wethersfield. The Court considered the case in a special session beginning Nov 28, 1654. The jury brought in the indictment and the records seem to show that they brought in the verdict as well.
...It is doubtful if Lydia Gilbert escape (execution). She may have suffered the penalty either in the jail yard at Hartford or more probably on the lot at the corner of Albany Avenue and Vine Street in Hartford, where the public gallows is known to have stood a little later.
# : I1863
# Name: Lydia Unknown
# Sex: F
# Death: 28 NOV 1654 in Hartford, Connecticut
Tried and convicted of witchcraft 11/28/1654 in Windsor, Connecticut, sentenced to hang.
The practice of accusations brought forth, resulting trials and, if convicted, the execution by hanging of people(s) "... giving entertainment to Satan..." was started in 1647 in Connecticut. Lydia Gilbert was one of the unfortunate people so charged. It is believed that she was the 5th victim of this dreadful practice in colonial Connecticut history. The case was a travesty, as we might perceive the proceedings today, and records dramatically demonstrate this. There is no way, however, to compare, or to relate to, the society as it existed then without a thorough study of the psychology and/or sociology of those times.
In the autumn of 1651, in Windsor, Conn. an unfortunate 'accident' took place during training exercises by a group of local militiamen. One Thomas Allyn of Windsor, was carrying his musket in a cocked position and inadvertantly hit it against a tree causing it to fire. It struck another trainee and mortally wounded him - he being Henry Stiles an older gentleman of about 52 years of age.
Thomas Allyn was taken before the "particular court" of the colony and indicted for this accident. He confessed and was found guilty of "..homicide by misadventure.." He was ordered to pay a substantial fine and was 'bound to good behavior' for a period of one year plus was not allowed to bear arms for that period. We might think that would mark the end of the story.
Apparently the topic of the Stiles death continued on however as talk, rumors, assumptions and ultimately accusations persisted. As a consequence, three years after the accident, records of the Particular Court held at Pequott (now New Haven, Conn.) 24 March 1654 show that an attempt was made to fasten the blame for the accident on witchcraft and was followed by the indictment of Lydia Gilbert, of Windsor. She was accused, by her neighbors, of the practice of witchcraft and they put forth their charges that her abilities as such had enabled her to make the musket of Thomas Allyn discharge. A special session of the court was held starting 28 November 1654 to try the case of witchcraft against her. She was charged with '..procuring the death of Henry Stiles..'. One sole panel of jurors was named. They entered the indictment, heard the evidence and brought forth the verdict which reads: "Ye party is found guilty of witchcraft by the jury".
The indictment reads: "Lydea Gilburt thou art here indited by that name of Lydea Gilburt that not having the feare of God before thy eyes thou hast of late years or still dust give entertainment to Sathan ... and by his help has killed the body of Henry Stiles besides other witchcrafts .... thou deservest to dye".
Eventho no record of an actual execution has been uncovered it is doubtful that she escaped the gallows. The verdict "Thou deservest to dye.." was an unescapable sentance. It is felt that she may well have gone to her death either in the jailyard in Hartford but more likely on the lot at the corner of Albany Ave. and Vine St. in Hartford where the public gallows is known to have existed.
Lydia has been, and still today remains, a mystery in the ancestral lines of the early Gilbert's in the colonies. Her place in these lines has been heavily debated by researchers for many years. It has never been proven who, she was actually the wife of - Thomas Gilbert-1 the Father, or his son Thomas-2 - thus the long standing
In the writings and records of H. W. Brainard he states that there were four sons of Lydia who became substantial citizens of Wethersfield and Hartford and were frequent office holders. However no records of such people have been traced and 'proven' as connections to Lydia. J. Wingate Thorton's research, ca 1850, states that Jonathan Gilbert (brother of Thomas-2) b 8 June 1617 - Yardley, Worcestershire was Marshall of the Colony at the time of Lydia's trial, and as such was faced with a most difficult task when he was obliged to condemn his 'mother' to die. If this be true it would mean that she was the wife of Thomas-1 but land holdings records show that Thomas-2 bought , and lived on, lands of Francis Stiles, the father of Henry, and that there appeared to be animosity between Henry and Thomas and Lydia Gilbert. Henry had been a boarder in the the Gilbert household.
Anyone caring to debate, compare records and/or having information regarding this lady's familial background would be encouraged to contact me (email@example.com) I am a direct descendant of this Gilbert family.
Revised: November 26, 2016