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Finding Aid for the Samuel Wyllys Papers

Dates in Old Documents: The 1752 Calendar Change

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The Samuel Wyllys Papers, 1663-1728, undated, are a group of 88 court documents also known as Depositions on Cases of Witchcraft, Assault, Theft, Drunkenness, and Other Crimes Tried In Connecticut 1663-1728. The papers include 6 cases of witchcraft (42 documents), 12 cases concerning assault and battery, theft, adultery and other crimes (35 documents), and 11 other documents.

Samuel Wyllys served as a magistrate in the General Court, 1654-1685, 1689-1692, and 1698, whose members also sat on the Particular Court and later the Court of Assistants on a rotating basis. Between 1658 and 1670 he sat on courts that tried witchcraft cases and as an Assistant in 1693 he was one of three judges that granted a stay to Mercy Disborough, who was later acquitted. Wyllys also was a Commissioner for the United Colonies in 1662, 1666, 1667, 1669, and 1671, a patentee and custodian of Connecticut's 1662 Charter.

Samuel Wyllys signature
Signature of Samuel Wyllys, from "Connecticut Archives" Finance and Currency, Series I, Volume V doc. 281

The spelling of names as given in the documents is used, and the Library of Congress authorized form of name is given in parentheses, as seen in the Case of Abigail Bets (Abigail Betts) & John Slead (John Slade). The modern or LC form of name is used in Subject and Contributor but the author's spelling is used in the Description.

Although the State Library has not prepared transcriptions of all of the documents, we do offer some suggestions for reading and interpreting old handwriting. When a transcription was made, established State Library conventions for making transcriptions are used. The author's own spelling is transcribed. Line breaks are indicated with a "/" forward slash.

The Connecticut State Library purchased the papers on July 10, 1907 from Mrs. Sophia Augusta Brown. The documents, of varying size, were then arranged, indexed, "preserved by the silk or Emery process", and "substantially bound." The resulting volume of Samuel Wyllys Papers is in the State Archives [CSL Call Number Main Vault 974.6 fW97]. Other Wyllys papers went to the John Hay Library at Brown University. In 1930, Photostats of these documents were made for the Connecticut State Library and are bound in a separate volume entitled Samuel Wyllys Collection Supplement, Depositions on Cases of Witchcraft Tried in Connecticut 1662-1693 [CSL Call Number Main Vault 974.6 fW97 Supp.] In exchange, a Photostat of the State Library's volume was sent to Brown University.

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