‘Goody’ Cole is one of New Hampshire’s oldest ghosts.
According to folklore, she died in 1680, and a stake was put through her heart and a horseshoe added to it, to be sure that she never came back. She was accused of witchcraft at least three times, and — as a result — spent most of her latter days in jail.
She may haunt the site where she lived and died — today, that’s Hampton, NH’s Tuck Memorial Museum — and perhaps where she was buried. This is a two-part article about her life, death, and why she has haunted Hampton.
There are few records for early New Hampshire, which was very rural in Goody Cole’s era. In fact, it was still part of Massachusetts.
We aren’t even sure whether her name was Eunice (Unice, in some records) or Elizabeth. She was generally referred to as ‘Goodwife’ or simply ‘Goody’ Cole, the wife–and later widow–of William Cole.
WILLIAM AND GOODY COLE
It appears that William Cole was born in 1582 in Bristol, England. His wife (whose maiden name may have been Doughty or Doughtie) was probably born in 1607 in Hempstead, Gloucestershire, England. If our dates are correct, she was 25 years younger than her husband, which may explain some quirks in their relationship. They married in England around 1625.
The Coles sailed from England to Boston in 1637. They first moved to Exeter, NH, and then to the Hampton area. There are records of four or five children, some born in Bristol, England, and others in Wells, Maine, just north of Hampton. However, other researchers insist that the couple had no children.
It’s possible that in 17th century New Hampshire, there were two or three men in named William Cole, each with a wife named Eunice or Elizabeth. Even the best genealogical records seem uncertain about the names.
GOODY COLE, AN INDEPENDENT-MINDED WOMAN
Goody Cole was probably not a very docile wife. William Cole gave her his entire estate as a ‘deed of gift’, simply to keep her from leaving him. The 25-year age difference may have been a factor, especially as William grew older. (That 1656 gift was reversed by the courts in 1659, at William Cole’s request.)
Goody Cole was also an outspoken woman, in contrast with social rules of that time. Starting in 1645, she was on trial for ‘slanderous speeches’ leading to her first witchcraft trial in Boston in 1656.
Evidence against her included ‘scraping sounds’ heard by a neighbor outside his house, and attributed to witchcraft. Mrs. Cole was sent to a Boston jail.
Four years later, Goody Cole was back in Hampton. After calling someone a whore, she stood trial again and was returned to jail.
GOODY BECOMES A WIDOW
William died while Goody was imprisoned. In his May 1662 will, he left his estate to a neighbor, Thomas Webster (or Webstar). Goody Cole received only her clothes. Or, as William’s will said, ‘thatt unice Coule my wife shall have all Her Cloathes which she left with mee’.
In October 1662, Goody Cole was released from prison on the condition that she leave the area (the court’s jurisdiction) within one month. A destitute widow, she had no means to live elsewhere, and–in the face of renewed witchcraft charges–she was jailed yet again.
In 1665, Goody Cole–elderly by 17th century standards–asked to be released from jail. Her request was granted under the same condition: She had to leave the area with in a month. This time, she simply remained in jail; she had nowhere else to go.
Next: Goody Cole’s last days, and evidence that she has haunted Hampton – Witch’ Goody Cole, a Hampton, NH ghost.