Greensmith, Rebecca (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.
146 Great Rite
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.