New Hampshire Glossary: Lithobolia–The Stone Throwing Devil

Lincoln Devil, from Devils, by J. Charles Wall, Methuen & Co., 1904, internet archive

Lincoln Devil, from the book, Devils, by J. Charles Wall, Methuen & Co., 1904, internet archive

Lithobolia, or the “Stone-Throwing Devil,” was a term used to describe a type of  poltergeist that reportedly harassed a New Castle New Hampshire family, and their houses guests, in 1682. George Walton was the owner of the afflicted property.   Rocks and stones flew against his home, and also inside his house, in addition to the occupants being personal attacked. Objects inside and outside of the house were moved.

The first writer of a story in 1698 (whose initials were R.C., probably Richard Chamberlain, Secretary to the Province of NH) about the occurrences, or “Diabolick Inventions” as he calls them, indicated that the events were perpetrated by an elderly neighbor woman, Hannah Jones, who was suspected of witchcraft.

Hannah (Walford) Jones, was unfortunate in that she owned land that George Walton desired. In 1682 she begged the “advice and relief” of New Hampshire’s President and Council regarding George Walton’s treatment of her.  Hannah was the daughter of Thomas and Jane Walford. Her mother had been tried for witchcraft in 1656 and cleared. She was the perfect target to blame for George Walton’s supposed misery.

The Stone-Throwing Devil disappeared as quickly as it had come.  Oddly it left at the same time that Richard Chamberlain checked out of Walton’s tavern, and when it was time for the family and neighbors to officially be questioned by the authorities.



I’ve been informed by Professor Emerson Baker of Salem State College that he has just completed a book about this topic, entitled “The Devil of Great Island.” During the  months of October and November 2007 he will be appearing to promote and sign this book in New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts.

Lithobolia or The Stone-Throwing Devil, by John Ward Dean, A.M. (1889) – internet archive

Facebook photograph by Wayne Chase of the George Walton house where the incident reportedly occurred.

Narratives of the Witchcraft Cases, 1648-1706


-Attack of the Rock Throwing Devil-

WALTON FAMILY – “the afflicted
George Walton was born abt 1615 in northern England, and died about 20 February 1686 in New Castle NH. He married abt 1642 in Exeter NH to Alice Hilton. She was born abt 1617 in Northwick, Cheshire England and d at 1685 in New Castle NH. They were Quakers. According to a story written in 1698, they were reportedly harrassed in 1682 by a lithobolia, or stone-throwing devil.
Children of George & Alice (Hilton) Walton:
1. child Walton, b. New Castle NH, d. 5 May 1657 New Castle NH
2. Martha Walton, b. abt 1642; m. 22 Oct 1662 in New Castle NH to Edward West
3. Dorcas Walton, b. abt 1644 in Dover NH; d. abt 1685 in Kittery, York Co ME. She m. abt 1666 in Portsmouth NH to Samuel Treworgye.
4. Mary Walton, b. abt 1646 in Great Island (New Castle) NH. She d. abt 1679 in New Castle NH. She married abt 1678 in New Castle NH to Samuel Robie.
5. George Walton,, b. in New Castle NH; he died about 1679.
6. child Walton, b. abt 1651
7. Shadrack Walton, b. abt 1657 in Great Island (New Castle) NH, and died 3 Oct 1741 in Portsmouth NH; he married abt 1685 to Mary Nutter; had issue, Shadrack, George, Elizabeth, Mary, Abigail and Sarah.
8. Abishaq Walton, b. abt 1678 in Portsmouth NH; married Robert Taprill.

WALFORD FAMILY-“the accused” [These are my 9th great-grandparents].
Thomas Walford, migrated 1628 or earlier, first colonial residence was in Charlestown MA.  About 1634 he moves to the Piscataqua area.  Born about 1599 based on estimated date of marriage, and died in Portsmouth NH between 15 Nov 1666 (date of will) and 21 Nov 1666 (date of inventory) He was a blacksmith.  He married before 1624 to Jane –. She was born about 1598 (deposed 27 June 1677 aged sixty-nine [NHPP 31:89, 40:226]). She died by 7 September 1681 when her daughters petitioned the probate court [NHPP 31:92]   In 1656 Goodwife Jane Walford was brought before the Count of Associates on the complaint of Susannah Trimmings, wife of Oliver Trimmings of Little Harbor, Piscataqua, charged with witchcraft. Mrs. Trimmings testimony related a story including that Jane had changed into the shape of a cat. Jane was acquitted. Note: Great Island is another term for New Castle, but sometimes also used to describe part of what is now Portsmouth NH.
Children of Thomas & Jane (–) Walford:
1. Jane Walford, b. at Great Island abt 1624, d. aft July 1686 in Portsmouth NH.  She m1)  abt 1644 to Thomas Peverly; m2) by 1681 to Richard Goss
2. Jeremiah Walford, b. abt 1628 in Charlestown MA, d. 21 Apr 1660 in Great Island NH. He resided New Castle NH. His will mentions his wife Mary, and his four children, Mary, Thomas, Jeremiah and Martha. His widow married 2nd) John Amazeen.
3. *Hannah Walford, b. at Great Island, d. aft 1688 in Great Island (New Castle) NH. She married Alexander Jones, and had 7 children [JONES]: Jeremiah, Samuel, Sarah, Cornelius, William, Thomas and Daniel.
4. Elizabeth Walford, b. at Great Island, d. 13 Nov 1708/1709 Portsmouth NH; m. Henry Savage. Had children [SAVAGE]: Mary, Esther, John and Deborah
5. Mary Walford, b. abt 1630/35 in Great Island, d. in Portsmouth NH; m. William Brookings; had issue [BROOKINGS]: Rebecca, Sarah, Martha, Mary and Grace. She married 2nd) William Walker.
6. Martha Walford, b. abt 1645 in Great Island; she married 1) Thomas Hinkson; m2) John Westbrook; had issue by each husband.
7. Sarah Walford, b. in Great Island; married Michael Hicks. Resided iN Greeland NH; Had issue [HICKS]: Michael, Mary, Sarah and Samuel

[Editor’s Note: Previously I had listed the surname of Thomas Walford’s wife as GUY.  I am unable to show any primary evidence that this is true, and I defer to the “Great Migration” publication that it is still unknown.  Thank you to those who commented and brought this to my attention.]

[Story and links updated January 2014]

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10 Responses to New Hampshire Glossary: Lithobolia–The Stone Throwing Devil

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  2. Melissa Jesop says:

    I am a descendant of Thomas and Jane Walford and have done a lot of reasearch on them. I have found many people claiming that his wife’s maiden name was Guy. I have found no evidence to support that claim. There is a slightly later Thomas Walford of Birdbrook who married a Jane Guy and lived in Essex, England, not New Hampshire, but this is not the same man whose wife was accused of witchcraft.

    • Bruce Cable says:


      I happened upon your comment regarding the Waldorf Family, specifically Thomas and Jane.

      I am a descendant as well through the Westbrook/Knight families, and I am working on our family’s history.

      I have repeatedly seen references to Jane Walford’s maiden name as Guy.

      Would you please let me know what your research has found to be her correct name?

      Many Thanks!
      ~Bruce Cable
      Louisville, Kentucky

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