Graves, William (17th century)

Graves, William (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
The Devil scourges witches, 17th century
Graves, William 145
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.