More About Thomas and Martha Carrier Home, Site of

Thomas Carrier had a mysterious past. Was his last name Morgan, and did he change it for a nefarious reason? Rumor had it that Thomas Morgan had been one of the executioners of King Charles I in 1648, a theory pursued by Carrier descendant and author Kathleen Kent, who has written two historical fiction books on the subject. Says Kent, “It is widely believed that the official executioner at the time refused absolutely to cut off the head of an anointed king, and that Cromwell at the last minute had to find two willing axmen. This story, in the form of local gossip, seemed to follow Thomas throughout his life, both in Massachusetts and Connecticut.”  Physically, Thomas was described as unusually strong and over seven feet tall – so it is likely that his physical presence and the ongoing rumors made people uncomfortable.  In 1676, the Carriers were “warned out” of Billerica, as undesirable residents, perhaps due to their meager resources or a fear that they might be spreading small pox. They obviously did not leave, as the Billerica records note that “[Carrier] was assigned, ‘with his man, John Levistone,’ to brush-cutting in the south-east part of the town, and he took the ‘oath of fidelity,’ with twenty-four inhabitants, 1677-8, Feb. 4.” After their marriage, Thomas and Martha Carrier lived in north Billerica, near the Toothakers and another neighbor, John Rogers Jr., who would be called to testify against Martha in 1692.


The Carriers finally left Billerica, still unwelcome in the town, sometime between 1684 and 1689, moving to Andover and living with Martha’s parents. In 1690, a smallpox outbreak began in the Carrier household, killing thirteen Andover residents, among them Martha and Mary’s father and their two brothers. In the seventeenth century, before the cause of sickness and disease was understood, unexplained illness was often blamed on witchcraft. This was a significant factor in the many accusations against Martha two years later.


Ten days after the arrest of her brother-in-law, Martha too, was accused of witchcraft, the first in Andover to be targeted. Named on the same complaint were her sister Mary Toothaker and niece Margaret Toothaker. In time, four of the five Carrier children were also accused and jailed, as was another Carrier niece, Martha (Toothaker) Emerson of Haverhill. For more information about Martha Carrier’s trial and execution, and the Carrier family in Colchester, Connecticut, see the Andover online sites tour.


Additional note:  The following tragic account appears in John Farmer’s 1816 work, An Historical Memoir of Billerica, in Massachusetts, regarding John Levistone, previously mentioned as being in the employ of Thomas Carrier in 1677. During the native raid of August 5, 1695, in which Mary Toothaker was killed and daughter Margaret was taken captive, “The family of  John Levistone suffered most severely. His mother-in-law and five young children were killed and his oldest daughter captured.”


Pinehurst is an unincorporated village of Billerica, located in the southeastern part of town, between the Shawsheen River and the Burlington town line. This is the area where Thomas Carrier lived before marriage, somewhere along the Shawsheen River. After Thomas and Martha wed, they lived to the east of the Toothakers and south of John Rogers Jr., approximately where Billerica Ave., Corthill Road, and Bart Road meet, on the eastern side of the MBTA commuter rail tracks.