Billerica family's 323-year exile ends

by Pierre Comtois, Sun Correspondent

 

 

Carriers Removed from Exile.

 

BILLERICA- The Carrier family won redemption last night-although it came 323years too late.
The Board of Selectmen, seeking to undo a wrong committed by their predecessors during colonial times, voted last night to rescind the banishment of the entire Carrier family.


In 1676, Thomas and Martha Carrier and family were told by selectmen to leave town forthwith or pay a surety of 20 shillings per week if they wanted to stay. Selectman Edward Hurd, who's wife is a descendant from the family, said town records aren't clear but he believes that "a member of the family had the smallpox virus" and town officials didn't want them to be a burden on their neighbors. This immediate family moved to Andover, only to see Martha accused of witchcraft in the 1690's and sentenced to hang atop Gallows Hill in Salem.


Members of the family later moved to Colchester, CT, Hurd said, though some stayed behind in Billerica.
In the early 1700's, said Hurd, the Massachusetts government apologized to Thomas Carrier for the hanging of his wife and paid him a settlement. Last night was the town's turn to make good. Hurd asked his colleagues to rescind the banishment as an "appropriate gesture" to the Carrier family.


It was unanimously approved.