Salem Witch in Bradbury’s Family Tree

A writer at the Huffington Post argues unconvincingly that witchcraft trials are a byproduct of exceptionally cold periods in climatic history. Read it at your intellectual peril.

Appropriate to such a cloudy subject there is a silver lining. Mr. John King Tarpinian, who sent me the link, surprised me by revealing that one of Ray Bradbury’s ancestors is a woman tried for witchcraft at Salem in 1692 — Mary Bradbury.

Transcriptions of documents from the trial of Mary Bradbury are available on a University of Virginia website. She was indicted for —

Certaine Detestable arts called Witchcraft & Sorceries Wickedly Mallitiously and felloniously hath used practiced and Exercised At and in the Township of Andivor in the County of Essex aforesaid in upon & against one Timothy Swann of Andivor In the County aforesaid Husbandman — by which said Wicked Acts the said Timothy Swann upon the 26th day of July Aforesaid and divers other days & times both before and after was and is Tortured Afflicted Consumed Pined Wasted and Tormented…

An outpouring of community support, reflected in a petition with numerous signatures, did not keep her from being convicted though it may be the reason she avoided execution. Nevertheless, she served time in jail and sources conflict over whether she died behind bars or was allowed to escape and died afterwards.

Her descendants are a diverse group – Ray Bradbury isn’t even the most famous writer among them, that claim belonging to Ralph Waldo Emerson. There is even a famous athlete — 19th-century football player, Bradbury Robinson, who threw the game’s first legal forward pass.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

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10 thoughts on “Salem Witch in Bradbury’s Family Tree

  1. Does Rachel Bloom know about this? “Turn Me Into a Frog, Ray Bradbury!”

  2. I have the same last name as John A. MacDonald, first prime minister of Canada… or arguably the first last name of Bruce Wayne, Batman — doesn’t prove a relation.

  3. DB – just idle silly speculation on my part. And there’s no mention of Walter Bradbury on Ray Bradbury’s wiki page tho there is one on Asimov’s wiki page. But no wiki page for Walter Bradbury.

  4. Michael Walsh – I wasn’t asking whether Ray Bradbury is related to Walter Bradbury: I’ve heard since long ago that they are not. I was asking if Ray Bradbury is related to Mary Bradbury, which was news to me. Is there any source for this relationship other than Mary Bradbury’s Wikipedia entry? Because I wouldn’t trust an unsourced statement like that from Wikipedia, nor the other names that Mike apparently pulled out of that entry.

  5. I got the basic story from Tarpinian, and since he knows Ray well I inferred that Ray believes it. However I will run it by him for sources.

  6. This is an example of what I find too many times. This will be used as a source by some even though it is not really sourced itself.

  7. Tarpinian answered that Bradbury and his family have been aware of the Mary Bradbury connection for generations.

  8. OK then. Family lore is not always reliable, but it’s not unsourced statements on Wikipedia either. I’m satisfied at least to the point of not wishing to query this any further.

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