Candlemas Massacre

Candlemas Massacre

The Candlemas Massacre took place in early 1692 during King William's War, when an estimated 150 Abenakis commanded by officers of New France entered the town of York, Maine, killing about 100 of the English settlers and burning down buildings, taking another estimated 80 villagers hostage, on a forced walk to Canada, [ [ Portsmouth Herald Maine News: York commemorates Candlemas Raid ] ] where they were ransomed by Capt. John Alden of Boston (son of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins of the Plymouth Colony), who would soon be accused of witchcraft in the Salem witch trials. The Indians set fire to all undefended houses on the north side of the York River, the principal route for trade and around which the town had grown. After the settlement was reduced to ashes, however, it was rebuilt on higher ground at what is today York Village.

Although often referred to as the "Candlemas Massacre," Candlemas is traditionally celebrated by the Catholic Church on February 2, forty days after Christmas (or by the Church of England on that day or the Sunday between January 28 and February 3), the attack is reported in the diary of Samuel Sewall as having taken place on January 25 or 26:

:"Tuesday, Jan. 26, 1691/2".... This was brought of an Attack made by the Indians on York." ["The Diary of Samuel Sewall: Vol. 1, 1674-1708", Farrar, Straus & Girous: New York, 1973, p. 287]

Today the event is commemorated annually in York, with historical re-enactments and lectures, events presented by the Old York Historical Society and sponsored in part by the Maine Humanities Council.


* [ History of York, Maine (1886)]

External links

* [ Old York Historical Society]
* [ Maine Humanities Council]

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