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Samuel Wyllys papers

Scope & content

The Samuel Wyllys papers are principally concerned with the business of the government of the colony of Connecticut. The papers, the bulk of which date from 1663-1698, contain miscellaneous government and legal papers pertaining to Indian relations, colonial wars, and civil and criminal cases. Depositions of cases of witchcraft, assault, theft, drunkenness and other crimes tried in Connecticut can be found in the papers. A notebook labeled Ms. 377 (Series 1) contains copies of some of the original records of witchcraft cases. A few papers in the collection relate to Wyllys family matters.

The folder labeled Ms. 376 in Series 3 is misleading since the contents of this folder are not original court records but consist of an "Explanation of Wyllys Manuscript Transcriptions", a summary of the "Oyer and Terminer Court Records of Trials for Witchcraft in Connecticut, 1662/63-1693", and transcriptions of these documents. Series 3 also contains transcriptions of records from the Connecticut State Library labeled Ms. 18 - 37.

The Wyllys papers came into the hands of the Brown family of Providence at some point, likely in the late 18th or early 19th century, and were later split between members of the family. The portion of the collection held by the Brown University Library was passed from Nicholas Brown III (1792-1859) to his daughter, Annmary Brown Hawkins (1837-1904). After the death of Mrs. Hawkins in 1904, her husband deposited the papers in the Annmary Brown Memorial, which became part of Brown University in 1948. The remaining portion of the Wyllys papers was held by John Carter Brown until his death in 1874, and were transferred to the Connecticut State Library by his widow sometime thereafter. Both the John Hay Library and the Connecticut State Library have copies of portions of the Wyllys papers held by the other institution.