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The Story of William Phips . By: Sean-Jacob Harley Davidson. Birth and Childhood. I was born on February 2, 1651 near Kennebec, Maine. In Woolwich I was the youngest of twenty-six children. My father was a gunsmith and died when I was six years old.

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the story of william phips

The Story of William Phips


Sean-Jacob Harley Davidson

birth and childhood
Birth and Childhood
  • I was born on February 2, 1651 near Kennebec, Maine.
    • In Woolwich
  • I was the youngest of twenty-six children.
  • My father was a gunsmith and died when I was six years old.
  • Once my father died, my mother married our neighbor and her business partner, John White.
  • I was a shepherd until I turned the age of 18
  • At an early age I set off to Boston to fulfill my dream to be a carpenter.
    • Got sidetracked by many different expeditions that eventually landed me in Boston.
  • I did not attend school at a young age.
  • I then got a 4 year apprenticeship as a ships carpenter.
  • Although I did not attend school, I learned to read and write, but it was at a rudimentary level.
    • Later in life, I relied a lot on my “right hand man” to write everything down for me. I did not have him sign my name or read to me however, that much could be done on my own.
career as a ship captain and treasure hunter
Career as a Ship Captain and Treasure Hunter
  • In the year 1682, I went on an expedition as the captain of the Resolution to the Bahamas to seek treasure from sunken Spanish ships.
    • My major find was the ship Señora de la Concepción which had gold and silver doubloons, jewelry, and other precious artifacts.
    • I reported recovering upwards to 300,000 Euros.
    • Other smaller ships were scattered around with treasure only worth 10,000 Euros.
      • This was not worth my time, so I left and sailed for Boston.
career as a military leader
Career as a Military Leader
  • In March of 1790, I was appointed, by the General Court, to lead an expedition against the French in Acadia.
    • Leading a fleet of seven ships and over seven hundred men, I arrived at Port Royal in early June.
      • The governor and I had negotiated the terms of capitulation, but he had violated them so I ordered my men to destroy the town and the Church.
  • On August 20th, I set sail for another expedition against Quebec.
    • I had called for the governor to surrender, but he declined so we went to war.
      • The war ended in failure, and cost more than 50,000 Euros
      • Upwards of 230 casualties and a field cannon were lost.
      • Caused me to seek financial and political support for another expedition.
  • This did not happen.
family life as an adult
Family Life as an Adult
  • I married Mary Spencer Hull in the year of 1673.
    • She was the widow of the prosperous Boston merchant, John Hull
  • I did not have children.
returning to boston
Returning to Boston…
  • In May of 1692, I had arrived back in Boston to be the First Royal Governor of Massachusetts.
  • The Witch Trials in Salem had already started two months earlier and the people, who were not in prison for practicing witchcraft, were bantering me for trials on the accused.
  • I wasn’t sure what to do so I demanded that irons be put on the accused in prison.
  • I created the Court of Oyer and Terminer to have hearings and determine all the backlog cases.
  • I placed experienced men of Boston and Salem to be judges.
    • William Stoughton was to be the man in charge.
my involvement continued
My Involvement Continued…
  • William Stoughton was very keen on trying the accused witches with spectral evidence and being killed based on spectral evidence.
  • Once I realized that the trials were all being based on spectral evidence and not cold, hard facts, I shut the whole thing down.
    • I shut down the Oyer and Terminer courts.
    • I pardoned eight people whom Stoughton sentenced to death.
    • I wrote a letter to the King chastising Stoughton for his ruthless behavior on February 21, 1693.
      • I used this letter to defend myself from the fat that I did not realize the dangers and the stupidity of allowing the use of spectral evidence.
after the trials
After the Trials…
  • On July 4th 1694, I was summoned to appear before the Lords of Trade in London, England.
  • I spent much of my summer at Pemaquid overseeing frontier defenses while Stoughton gathered evidence for the hearing.
  • I arrived in London January 1, 1695 and was arrested on exaggerated charges.
    • Dudley had put a 20,000 Euro bail on my head which he hoped would prevent me from returning to Massachusetts.
    • This did not work, a man named Sir Henry Ashurst paid my bail and I was free for the time being.
late life and death
Late Life and Death
  • While preparing my arguments, I had fallen greatly ill with a fever.
  • I was never able to present my arguments fro the hearing, because I died on February 18, 1695.
  • I was buried in London in the yard of Church of St. Mary Woolnoth.
    • My original marker and my grave was moved with the church grounds during renovations in the 18th century.
  • “Salem Witch Trials Governor Sir William Phips” < ps.html>. 2001.
  • “Sir William Phips” Salem Witchcraft Trials 1692. < em/SAL_BPHI.HTM>