Indian attack on Deerfield in 1704

Casualties of the Candlemas Day Massacre in York Maine

Charles Edwards Banks compiled a list of casualties for the 1692 Candlemas Day massacre in York Maine back in 1967 when he published his unfinished manuscript on the History of York, Maine. [1]He only finished 2 of the 3 volumes before he died. It is hoped that by making this list known we can improve or correct upon it, as it is short (16) against the claimed number of casualties (48). Banks qualifies the list by stating that it likely the remaining were young children whose names never appeared on the existing town records. But I think it’s also possible that some of those killed were transient people, probably visitors or servants, as we find such members in the second list of captives.

A List of those Killed on Candlemas Day Massacre in York Maine, 1692

SurnameFirst NameMaiden Name
AlcockElizabeth, Mrs. 
CardElizabeth, Mrs. 
CookElizabeth, Mrs. 
CooperAnne, Mrs. 
JohnstonPriscilla, Mrs. 
MastersonElizabeth, Mrs. 
MoultonHannah, Mrs. 
Paine/Payne_______, Mrs. 
PearcePhoebe, Mrs. 
Pullman_______, Mrs. 
Ratcliffe_______, Mrs. 
SheeresSusanna, Mrs. 
SimpsonAbigail, Mrs. 
TwisdenSusanna, Mrs. 

List of Known Captives taken During the Candlemas Day Massacre

This list falls short of the agreed upon number of captives of 80, but most captives were taken for only a short period of time. These are the known list of those who stayed with their captives through 1695, remained permanently, or their return is unknown.

Magdalen Adams

Daughter of Mainwaring and Mary (Moulton) Hilton and wife of Nathaniel Adams who was killed at the massacre. She was redeemed in 1695, and after her return married twice (1) Elias Weare; (2) John Webber.

Mary Austin

She was daughter of Matthew and Mary (Littlefield) Austin, aged about five years when captured. She was sent to Montreal and doubtless put out to service in a French family. She was brought up in the Roman Catholic faith and on January 7, 1710 married Etienne Gibau of the parish of La Valterre, a carpenter. She became the mother of nine children and dying October 3, 1755, was buried in the cemetery of Notre Dame of Montreal. She is recorded as Marie Elisabeth “Haustein,” in the French records.

Joseph Bane

He was son of Lewis and Mary (Mills) Bane and at the time of his capture was sixteen years old. He was taken by an Amaroscoggen Indian and lived with him seven years before he was redeemed. While living with the Indians he learned their language, gained their friendship and became a valuable interpreter for the provincial authorities. The Indians always asked for him in that capacity whenever treaties were to be made be tween themselves and the whites.

Mrs. Sarah Bragdon

Wife of Capt. Arthur Bragdon and daughter of Nathaniel and Elizabeth (Cogswell) Masterson. She was assigned to the custody of an Indian minister (Prince Waxaway). She was a captive in 1699 but returned not long after.

Abial Bragdon

She was the daughter of the above-named, and it is presumed was taken with her mother and returned at the same time.

Robert Clarke

The identity of this boy has not been made; probably he was employed in some York family as a servant. He was living in Canada in 1695.

Mary Cooper

She was daughter of Philip and Anne (Ingalls) Cooper, the Walloon. She was eleven years old when captured and was taken to Quebec. She was baptized there in the French church 1693, but two years later was redeemed and returned presumably to York.

James Freethy

He was probably son of James and Mary (Milberry) Freethy who lived in Scotland parish, but nothing further is known of him or his fate.

Ann Heard

This girl is credited to York in the list of Canadian captives, but she was the daughter of Benjamin and Elizabeth (Roberts) Heard of Dover, N. H. She may have been visiting York when captured or was in service in the town. Further particulars are not necessary for rehearsal under these circumstances. She married in Canada.

Abial Masterson

She was the daughter of Nathaniel and Elizabeth (Cogswell) Masterson and was recorded in 1699 as “gon to Penacook.” She had returned, however, before 1703 when she signed a deed with her sister Sarah.

Dorothy Milberry

She was daughter of Henry Milberry and lived at the time of her capture on what is now known as the Norwood Farm. She was brought home in 1699 and married John Grant three years later.

William Moore

He was son of William and Dorothy (Dixon) Moore who lived below Sentry Hill. Particulars of his captivity are wanting, but provisions for his share of his father’s estate in 1694 were made for his benefit, if he should return to demand it. He was still in Canada in 1711 and how much longer is unknown, or what became of him.

Mary Moore

Sister of the above-named. She was provided for in her father’s estate by money for her redemption, but there is no record that she returned.

Abel Moulton

One of this name was a prisoner in Canada and under the name of “Able Morton” is recorded as drowned in 1699. He may have been son of Jeremiah and Mary (Young) Moulton, living at that time in Lower Town. If so, he was about fourteen years old when captured.

Mary Parker

She was daughter of John and Sarah (Green) Parker, born in 1676, but it is not known whether she returned. In 1699 she was still in Canada.

Mehitable Parker

Parker, Mehitable. She was younger sister of the pre ceding, being less than eight years of age when captured. She was redeemed in 1699 and in 1707 became the wife of John Harmon.

John Parsons

He was son of John and Elizabeth Parsons, born July 31, 1677. He was baptized in Quebec in 1693 and may have remained in Canada as a convert. He had died before 1732 (York Deeds xv, 130).

Mercy Parsons

She was sister of the above-named, but particulars of her age and fate are wanting.

Ruth Parsons

Undoubtedly a sister of the above as her name appears in 1699 as one of the prisoners remaining in the hands of the French and Indians, although her name is not in the town records as one of the daughters of John Parsons.

Bethia Paine/Payne

She was daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth (Milberry) Payne. She was brought home in 1699 and in 1711 was still unmarried.

Samuel Paine/Payne

He was brother of the above, but nothing further is known of him except that he was living in 1695.

Mrs. Mary Plaisted

Wife of James, of Kittery, and daughter of Edward Rishworth. At the time of her capture she was living with him (as her fourth husband), and in her family were two elder Sayward children by a former marriage. She was only thirty-two years old at this date and resided on Cider Hill. She was taken to Montreal and baptized there December 8, 1693 under the names of Marie Madeline. Her godfather at this event was Monsieur Juchereau, Lieu tenant-General of the “Royal bailiwick of Montreal” while his wife acted as god mother. At that date she was living in the service of Madame Catherine Gauchet, widow of the predecessor of her godfather in the bailiwick. Cotton Mather relates, and family tradition confirms, that she had only three weeks prior to capture given birth to a son and he describes her sufferings on the march because of her recent confinement, lack of food and the extremity of the weather. Constantly falling behind on account of weakness, the Indians attributed it to the burden of the child and they relieved her of this encumbrance by dashing the child’s head against a rock and throwing it into the river. Then they told her she had no excuse to lag behind. She was redeemed in 1695 and probably outlived most of her companions in captivity, as in 1754 she was still on the tax list.

It is interesting to note that on October 6, 1696 she was presented by the Grand Jury “for not attending the public worship of God upon the Lords day.” Her husband, James Plaisted, answered for her in Court the following April, and offered as an excuse that she was “Under some bodily infirmity hindering her appearance (and) for her offence was fined for the fees 4s:6d and to be admonished (Deeds v, p. 2, fol. Q4, 103). It would be illuminating to know whether her neglect to attend the religious services at the Puritan meeting house was due to “bodily infirmity,” or to the fact that she could not forget that she had recently been baptized with her children in the Catholic faith three years before.

Obadiah Preble

He was son of the aforementioned parents and was probably captured at the massacre as his name appears in 1711 as a captive remaining in Canada. As far as known he never returned.

Benjamin Preble

He was brother of the above and was probably captured at the massacre as his name appears in 1711 as a captive remaining in Canada. As far as known he never returned.

Mrs. Priscilla Preble

Wife of Nathaniel Preble, who was killed at the massacre. From circumstantial evidence she is tentatively listed with the captives as she was absent when her husband’s estate was settled that year. She was redeemed or allowed to return, as in 1695 she married Joseph Carroll in York.

Mary Sayward

She was daughter of the above-named by her second husband, John Sayward, and was born April 4, 1681, being about eleven years old when captured. She was baptized by the name of Marie Genevieve in Montreal and was brought up under the care of the Sisters of the Congregation. In 1699 she took vows in that order as Soeur Marie-des-Anges and was assigned to the Mission at Sault-au-Recollet as Superior of the local convent. She was later transferred, as is stated because of her high qualities, to the convent of the order in Lower Town, Quebec. She died in 1717 aged thirty-six years, and the word “Angloise” written in the margin of the burial register is all that is left to tell of the origin of the little Mary Sayward of York, led captive from her home by Indians and dying a stranger among a people who spoke an alien tongue.

Esther Sayward

She was younger sister of the foregoing, born March 7, 1684-5 and a mere child of seven when captured. She, too, was baptized under the name of Marie-Joseph and was probably educated by the nuns in Montreal with her sister. She was naturalized in 17 10 and on January 5, 1712 she was married to Sieur Pierre de Lestage, a merchant of the parish of Villemarie. Her husband lived later at Longueuil and he also owned the seigniory of Berthier, opposite Sorel. He died in 1743, and as all their children died in infancy the widow was left alone. In accordance with a privilege granted to maiden ladies and widows to be received as permanent boarders, Mme. de Lestage purchased a house adjoining the convent and was allowed to cut a communicating door between the two buildings and for more than twenty years she continued this renewal of relations with the nuns who had taught her in childhood. She is on their records as a constant benefactress. She was also a generous friend to the convent of the Ursulines in Quebec, of which her cousin, La Mere de 1’Enfant Jesus (Esther Wheelwright of Wells), was Mother Superior. In 1725 Theodore Atkinson and Samuel Jordan of Saco (who had married her half sister, Olive Plaisted) were sent to Montreal on a commission to negotiate for the return of captives then remaining in Canada. On their return from this mission Mme. de Lestage, evidently persuaded by her brother-in-law, accompanied the party. Their journey was via Chambly overland to the Hudson. The exact route from there to Boston is not known, but that she visited her mother in York, and a sister, whom she had never seen, is a part of the romantic story of this expatriated daughter of old York. One might wish that the story of their meeting could have been related in a diary of mother or sister, but the historian is not permitted to speculate on what might have taken place or did take place on that memorable visit. Mme. de Lestage was then forty years of age and having been brought up since childhood to speak the French language, it is doubtful that this reunion resulted in mutual understanding of each other as neither could express herself fully in the language of the other. Mrs. Plaisted was then sixty-five years of age and probably well preserved as she lived thirty years longer. Mme. de Lestage died January 17, 1770 and was buried in the Chapel of Sainte-Anne in the Cathedral Church of Notre Dame, Montreal.

Henry Simpson

He was son of Henry and Abigail (Moulton) Simpson, born 1670; nothing is known of the details of his captivity except that in 1695 he was redeemed.

Francis Tucker

It has already been noted that he was a resident of Portsmouth, visiting York at the date of the massacre and then taken captive. He was redeemed at Sagadahoc about two weeks afterwards.

Rowland Young

There is no record in York of one of this name, but it may be surmised that he was an unrecorded son of Samuel and Elizabeth (Masterson) Young who lived on Cider Hill. The father was killed in the massacre and others living in the immediate neighborhood were either killed or captured. This seems more probable than that he was the son of Job and Sarah (Austin) Young who lived in another part of the town, whose family suffered no known casualties in the massacre. Nothing is of record as to his destination or final disposition except that in 1695 he was still living in Canada.


1He only finished 2 of the 3 volumes before he died.

2 thoughts on “Casualties of the Candlemas Day Massacre in York Maine”

  1. This is a great help in my research. I am learning more every day. I have Nathaniel Masterson death in Manchester, Essex County, Massachusetts on July 1, 1708.

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