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Rebecca NURSE

American Rebecca NURSE

born Rebecca TOWNE

Executed for witchcraft in the Salem witch trials

Born: on February 21, 1621 in Great Yarmouth, England, United States
Died: on July 19, 1692 in Danvers (Salem Village), Massachusetts


Biography

The daughter of William and Joanna Towne (née Blessing), Nurse was born in Great Yarmouth, England in 1621. Her family settled in Salem Village in 1640. She had one older sister, Susan (baptized 26 Oct 1625 – died 29 Jul 1630) and two younger sisters, Mary Easty (baptized 24 Aug 1634) and Sarah Cloyce (born ca. 1642), both of whom were also accused of witchcraft. She also had four brothers: John (baptized 16 Feb 1622/23), Edmund (baptized Jun 1628), Jacob (baptized 11 Mar 1631/32) and Joseph (born abt 1639).

Around 1645, she married Francis Nurse, also born in England. Her husband was a "tray maker" by trade, who likely made many other wooden household items. Due to the rarity of such household goods, artisans of that medium were considered esteemed. Nurse and her family lived on a vast homestead which was part of a 300-acre (1.2 km2) grant given to Townsend Bishop in 1636. Francis originally rented it and then gradually paid it off throughout his lifetime. Together, the couple bore eight children: four daughters and four sons. Their names were Rebecca Nurse (born 1642), Sarah Nurse (born 1644), John Nurse (born 1645), Samuel Nurse (born 1649), Mary Nurse (1653 - 28 June 1749), Elizabeth Nurse (born 1656), Francis Nurse (born 1660/1661), and Benjamin Nurse (born in 1665/1666). Nurse frequently attended church and her family was well respected in Salem Village; Francis was often asked to be an unofficial judge to help settle matters around the village. In 1672, Francis served as Salem's Constable. It was later written that Rebecca had "acquired a reputation for exemplary piety that was virtually unchallenged in the community," making her one of the first "unlikely" persons to be accused of witchcraft.

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