The Salem Witch Trials – mass hysteria in Salem, Massachusetts ends in deaths of 25 people
// January 15th, 2016 // Odd Happenings
The Salem Witch Trials (1692-1693)
The Salem witch Trials were a series of hearings, and executions, of people accused of witchcraft in the towns of Salem Village (now Danvers), Salem Town, Ipswich, and Andover, Massachusetts. The trials began in February 1692 and ran for 15 months before concluding in May 1693. In the end, twenty-five people died, most of them women. Today the trials are considered to be one of America’s most embarrassing moments and serve as a vivid, cautionary tale about the dangers of isolationism, religious extremism, false accusations, and lapses in due process of the law.
The bizarre events that occurred can best be described as “mass hysteria”. In 17th-century colonial North America, the supernatural was considered part of everyday life. Many people believed that Satan was present and moving freely on Earth. The concept first emerged in Europe during the fifteenth century and spread to North America during colonization. Early North American reports note that peasants used a kind of witchcraft to invoke particular charms for farming and agriculture. Over time, the idea of white magic transformed into dark magic and became associated with demons and evil spirits.
Betty Parris and Abigail Williams begin to have fits
The Salem Witch Trials sprung from the childish antics of two little girls. In Salem Village, in February 1692, 9-year-old Betty Parris and her 11-year-old cousin Abigail Williams, the daughter and niece, respectively, of Reverend Samuel Parris, began to have fits described by minister John Hale as “beyond the power of epileptic fits or natural disease to effect”. According to Reverend Deodat, the girls screamed, threw things about the room, uttered strange animal-like sounds, crawled under furniture, and contorted their bodies into bizarre positions. In short time, 12-year-old Ann Putnam, Jr., and Elizabeth Hubbard began exhibiting similar behavior.
The girls complained of being pinched and pricked with pins. A doctor, historically assumed to be William Griggs, could find no physical evidence of any ailment. Soon, more young women in the village began to exhibit similar bizarre behavior. Transcripts from the trials tell us that when the local minister preached in the Salem Village meetinghouse, he was interrupted several times by outbursts of the afflicted young ladies in the congregation.
The first Salem women are accused of being witches
The first three people accused and arrested for allegedly “afflicting” the children were Sarah Good (a homeless beggar), Sarah Osborne (a local woman who rarely attended church meetings), and Tituba (a black or Indian slave, likely targeted because of the “voodoo” stories she told the area children). One of the first accusations, made by Ann Putnam Jr., is seen by historians as evidence that a family feud may have been a major cause of the witch trials. At the time, a vicious rivalry between the Putnam and Proctor families deeply polarized the people of Salem.
Each of the accused women were outcasts of a sort, satisfying many of the character traits typical of the “usual suspects” for witchcraft accusations. Each was left to defend themselves. Brought before the local magistrates on the complaint of witchcraft, they were interrogated for several days, starting on March 1, 1692, then sent to jail.
March 1692 – more women are accused of being witches
In March 1692, still more women were accused of witchcraft: Dorothy Good and Rebecca Nurse from Salem Village and Rachel Clinton from nearby Ipswich. Martha Corey (also from Salem Village) had voiced skepticism about the credibility of the girls’ wild accusations and thus drew unwanted attention to herself – she was also accused of being a witch and arrested. The charges against Corey and Nurse proved especially troubling to the community because both were full covenanted members of local churches. If such upstanding, church-going people could be witches, the townspeople thought, then anybody could be a witch. Church membership proved to be no protection from the accusations of children and others in the community.
The following month, Sarah Cloyce (Nurse’s sister) and Elizabeth (Bassett) Proctor were also arrested. Objections during the proceedings by Elizabeth’s husband, John Proctor, resulted in his arrest as well.
Mass hysteria takes root in Salem, Massachusetts
Within a week, Giles Corey (Martha Corey’s husband), Abigail Hobbs, Bridget Bishop, Mary Warren (a servant in the Proctor household and accuser herself) and Deliverance Hobbs (stepmother of Abigail Hobbs) were arrested and interrogated. Abigail Hobbs, Mary Warren, and Deliverance Hobbs confessed and began naming additional people as accomplices. More arrests followed: Sarah Wildes, William Hobbs (husband of Deliverance and father of Abigail), Nehemiah Abbott Jr., Mary Eastey (sister of Cloyce and Nurse), Edward Bishop, Jr. and his wife Sarah Bishop, and Mary English.
On April 30, Reverend George Burroughs, Lydia Dustin, Susannah Martin, Dorcas Hoar, Sarah Morey and Philip English (Mary’s husband) were arrested. Nehemiah Abbott Jr. was released because the accusers agreed he was not the person whose “specter had afflicted them”. By May, new accusations continued but by this time, some of the accused fled the town resulting in multiple warrants being issued.
Until now, all proceedings were simply investigative, but on May 27, 1692, William Phips ordered the establishment of a Special Court to prosecute the cases of those that were waiting in jail. Meanwhile, Sarah Osborne, one of the first three accused, died in jail on May 10, 1692. When the Special Court convened at the end of May, the total number of people in custody was sixty two.
The Court of Oyer and Terminer convened for the first time in Salem Town on June 2, 1692. William Stoughton served as Chief Magistrate, Thomas Newton as the Crown’s Attorney prosecuting the cases, and Stephen Sewall as Court Clerk.
Bridget Bishop’s case was the first to be brought to the grand jury. Because she wore black clothing, Bishop was described as not living a Puritan lifestyle and violating the Puritan code. When she was examined before her trial, Bishop was asked about her coat which had been awkwardly “cut or torn in two ways”. This, along with her “immoral” lifestyle, led grand jurors to suspect she was a witch. Bishop went to trial the same day and was convicted. She was executed by hanging on June 10, 1692 (see related article about Proctor’s Ledge, the location where the accused Salem Witches were hung).
Court seeks advice from New England’s most influential ministers
Immediately following the execution of Bridge Bishop, the court adjourned for 20 days (until June 30) while it sought advice from New England’s most influential ministers “upon the state of things as they then stood.” Their collective response came back dated June 15 and read as follows:
“The afflicted state of our poor neighbors, that are now suffering by molestations from the invisible world, we apprehend so deplorable, that we think their condition calls for the utmost help of all persons in their several capacities.
We cannot but, with all thankfulness, acknowledge the success which the merciful God has given unto the sedulous and assiduous endeavors of our honorable rulers, to detect the abominable witchcrafts which have been committed in the country, humbly praying, that the discovery of those mysterious and mischievous wickedness’s may be perfected.
We judge that, in the prosecution of these and all such witchcrafts, there is need of a very critical and exquisite caution, lest by too much credulity for things received only upon the Devil’s authority, there be a door opened for a long train of miserable consequences, and Satan get an advantage over us; for we should not be ignorant of his devices.
As in complaints upon witchcrafts, there may be matters of inquiry which do not amount unto matters of presumption, and there may be matters of presumption which yet may not be matters of conviction, so it is necessary, that all proceedings thereabout be managed with an exceeding tenderness towards those that may be complained of, especially if they have been persons formerly of an unblemished reputation.
When the first inquiry is made into the circumstances of such as may lie under the just suspicion of witchcrafts, we could wish that there may be admitted as little as is possible of such noise, company and openness as may too hastily expose them that are examined, and that there may no thing be used as a test for the trial of the suspected, the lawfulness whereof may be doubted among the people of God; but that the directions given by such judicious writers as Perkins and Bernard (be consulted in such a case).
Presumptions whereupon persons may be committed, and, much more, convictions whereupon persons may be condemned as guilty of witchcrafts, ought certainly to be more considerable than barely the accused person’s being represented by a specter unto the afflicted; inasmuch as it is an undoubted and notorious thing, that a demon may, by God’s permission, appear, even to ill purposes, in the shape of an innocent, yea, and a virtuous man. Nor can we esteem alterations made in the sufferers, by a look or touch of the accused, to be an infallible evidence of guilt, but frequently liable to be abused by the Devil’s legerdemains.
We know not whether some remarkable affronts given to the Devils by our disbelieving those testimonies whose whole force and strength is from them alone, may not put a period unto the progress of the dreadful calamity begun upon us, in the accusations of so many persons, whereof some, we hope, are yet clear from the great transgression laid unto their charge.
Nevertheless, we cannot but humbly recommend unto the government, the speedy and vigorous prosecution of such as have rendered themselves obnoxious, according to the direction given in the laws of God, and the wholesome statutes of the English nation, for the detection of witchcrafts.”
The most influential ministers in New England had wholeheartedly endorsed their efforts.
Some begin to question the Salem witch prosecutions
Major Nathaniel Saltonstall Esq. resigned from the court on or about June 16, presumably dissatisfied with the letter from New England’s ministers. According to one historian, Saltonstall deserves credit for “being the only public man of his day who had the sense or courage to condemn the proceedings, at the start.” Meanwhile, more people were accused, arrested and prosecuted, and a second accused, Roger Toothaker, died in prison on June 16, 1692.
From June 30 through early July, grand juries endorsed indictments against Sarah Good, Elizabeth Howe, Susannah Martin, Elizabeth Proctor, John Proctor, Martha Carrier, Sarah Wildes and Dorcas Hoar. Sarah Good, Elizabeth Howe, Susannah Martin and Sarah Wildes, along with Rebecca Nurse, went to trial and were found guilty. All five women were executed by hanging on July 19, 1692. Oral traditions hold that the families of the victims came under cover of darkness to recover their loved ones and rebury them in family cemeteries.
In mid-July, the constable in Andover invited the afflicted girls from Salem Village to visit with his wife to try to determine who was causing her afflictions. During their visit, the woman’s daughter Mary Lacey Sr., her granddaughter Mary Lacey Jr., and Ann Foster all confessed to being witches.
In August, grand juries indicted George Burroughs, Mary Eastey, Martha Corey and George Jacobs, Sr. Trial juries convicted Martha Carrier, George Jacobs, Sr., George Burroughs, John Willard, Elizabeth Proctor, and John Proctor. Elizabeth Proctor was given a temporary stay of execution because she was pregnant. On August 19, 1692, Martha Carrier, George Jacobs Sr., George Burroughs, John Willard, and John Proctor were executed.
“Mr. Burroughs was carried in a cart with others, through the streets of Salem, to execution. When he was upon the ladder, he made a speech for the clearing of his innocency, with such solemn and serious expressions as were to the admiration of all present; his prayer (which he concluded by repeating the Lord’s Prayer) (as witches were not supposed to be able to recite) was so well worded, and uttered with such composedness as such fervency of spirit, as was very affecting, and drew tears from many, so that if seemed to some that the spectators would hinder the execution. The accusers said the black Man (Devil) stood and dictated to him. As soon as he was turned off (hung), Mr. Cotton Mather, being mounted upon a horse, addressed himself to the people, partly to declare that he (Mr. Burroughs) was no ordained Minister, partly to possess the people of his guilt, saying that the devil often had been transformed into the Angel of Light. And this did somewhat appease the people, and the executions went on; when he (Mr. Burroughs) was cut down, he was dragged by a halter to a hole, or grave, between the rocks, about two feet deep; his shirt and breeches being pulled off, and an old pair of trousers of one executed put on his lower parts: he was so put in, together with Willard and Carrier, that one of his hands, and his chin, and a foot of one of them, was left uncovered.”
In September, grand juries indicted eighteen more people. The grand jury failed to indict William Proctor, who was re-arrested on new charges. On September 19, 1692, Giles Corey refused to plead at arraignment, and was killed by peine forte et dure, a form of torture in which the subject is pressed beneath an increasingly heavy load of stones, in an attempt to make him enter a plea. After two days of questioning, Corey suffocated to death.
Salem begins to soften
At this time, Salem citizens began to sympathize with the accused. On September 22, 1692, eight more were executed. The newspapers reported,
“After execution Mr. Noyes turning him to the bodies, said, what a sad thing it is to see eight firebrands of Hell hanging there.”
One of the convicted, Dorcas Hoar, was given a temporary reprieve to make a confession of being a witch. 77-year-old Mary Bradbury miraculously escaped. In January 1693, there were five people who had been indicted but not tried: Sarah Buckley, Margaret Jacobs, Rebecca Jacobs, Mary Whittredge (or Witheridge), and Job Tookey. All were tried and found not guilty.
Grand juries were held for many of those remaining in jail. Charges were dismissed against many, but sixteen more people were indicted and tried, three of whom were found guilty: Elizabeth Johnson Jr., Sarah Wardwell, and Mary Post. When Stoughton wrote the warrants for the execution of these three and others remaining from the previous court, Governor Phips issued pardons, sparing their lives.
The Salem Witch Trials end quietly
In late January/early February, the Court sat again in Charlestown, Middlesex County and tried five people: Sarah Cole (of Lynn), Lydia Dustin and Sarah Dustin, Mary Taylor and Mary Toothaker. All were found not guilty, but not released until they paid their jail fees. Lydia Dustin died in jail on March 10, 1693.
At the end of April, the Court convened in Boston, Suffolk County, and cleared Capt. John Alden by proclamation while hearing charges against a servant girl, Mary Watkins, for falsely accusing her mistress of witchcraft. In May, the Court convened in Ipswich, Essex County, and held a variety of grand juries who dismissed charges against all but five people. Susannah Post, Eunice Frye, Mary Bridges Jr., Mary Barker and William Barker Jr. were all found not guilty at trial, putting an end to one of the ugliest episodes in American history.
Prior witch executions in Salem
1647, — “Woman of Windsor,” Connecticut (later identified as Alice Young), at Hartford.
1648, — Margaret Jones, of Charlestown, at Boston.
1648, — Mary Johnson, at Hartford.
1650? — Henry Lake’s wife, of Dorchester.
1650? — Mrs. Kendall, of Cambridge.
1651, — Mary Parsons, of Springfield, at Boston.
1651, — Goodwife Bassett, at Fairfield, Conn.
1653, — Goodwife Knap, at Hartford.
1656, — Ann Hibbins, at Boston.
1662, — Goodman Greensmith, at Hartford.
1662, — Goodwife Greensmith, at Hartford.
1688, — Goody Glover, at Boston.”
How evidence was gathered against the Salem witches
Various questionable and nonsensical means were used to “prove” the Salem witches were indeed witches.
Much, but not all, of the evidence used against the accused was spectral evidence, or the testimony of the afflicted who claimed to see the apparition or the shape of the person who was allegedly afflicting them. The theological dispute that ensued about the use of this evidence centered on whether a person had to give permission to the Devil for his/her shape to be used to afflict. Opponents claimed that the Devil was able to use anyone’s shape to afflict people, but the Court contended that the Devil could not use a person’s shape without that person’s permission; therefore, when the afflicted claimed to see the apparition of a specific person, that was accepted as evidence that the accused had been complicit with the Devil. When spectral evidence was later ruled inadmissible, it caused a dramatic reduction in the rate of convictions and may have hastened the end of the trials.
At some point in February 1692, likely after the afflictions began but before specific names were mentioned, a neighbor of Rev. Parris, Mary Sibly (or Sibley; aunt of Mary Walcott), instructed John Indian, one of the minister’s slaves, to make a witch cake, using traditional English white magic to discover the identity of the witch who was afflicting the girls. The cake, made from rye meal and urine from the afflicted girls, was fed to a dog. According to English folk understanding of how witches accomplished affliction, when the dog ate the cake, the witch herself would be hurt because invisible particles she had sent to afflict the girls remained in the girls’ urine, and her cries of pain when the dog ate the cake would identify her as the witch.
The touch test
The most infamous employment of the belief in effluvia – and in direct opposition to what Parris had advised his own parishioners in Salem Village – was the touch test used in Andover during preliminary examinations in September 1692. If the accused witch touched the victim while the victim was having a fit, and the fit then stopped, that meant the accused was the person who had afflicted the victim. As several of those accused later recounted:
“We were blindfolded, and our hands were laid upon the afflicted persons, they being in their fits and falling into their fits at our coming into their presence, as they said. Some led us and laid our hands upon them, and then they said they were well and that we were guilty of afflicting them; whereupon we were all seized, as prisoners, by a warrant from the justice of the peace and forthwith carried to Salem.”
Rev. John Hale explained how this supposedly worked:
“The Witch by the cast of her eye sends forth a Malefick Venome into the Bewitched to cast him into a fit, and therefore the touch of the hand doth by sympathy cause that venome to return into the Body of the Witch again”.
Other evidence included the confessions of the accused; testimony by a confessed witch who identified others as witches; the discovery of poppits (poppets), books of palmistry and horoscopes, or pots of ointments in the possession or home of the accused; and observation of what were called witch’s teats on the body of the accused. A witch’s teat was said to be a mole or blemish somewhere on the body that was insensitive to touch; discovery of such insensitive areas was considered de facto evidence of witchcraft.
Persons who were convicted as Salem witches
Salem witches who were convicted and executed
The following are the victims who were found guilty of witchcraft.
Bridget Bishop (née Playfer; executed June 10, 1692)
Rebecca Nurse (née Towne; July 19, 1692)
Sarah Good (formerly Poole, née Solart; July 19, 1692)
Elizabeth Howe (née Jackson; July 19, 1692)
Susannah Martin (née North; July 19, 1692)
Sarah Wildes (née Averill; July 19, 1692)
George Burroughs (August 19, 1692)
George Jacobs, Sr. (August 19, 1692)
Martha Carrier (née Allen; August 19, 1692)
John Proctor (August 19, 1692)
John Willard (August 19, 1692)
Martha Corey (September 22, 1692; wife of Giles Corey)
Mary Eastey (née Towne; September 22, 1692)
Mary Parker (née Ayer; September 22, 1692)
Alice Parker (September 22, 1692)
Ann Pudeator (September 22, 1692)
Wilmot Redd (September 22, 1692)
Margaret Scott (September 22, 1692)
Samuel Wardwell, Sr. (September 22, 1692)
Salem witches who were convicted but died in prison
Ann Foster (née Alcock) – died in custody in December 1692
Salem witches who were convicted but escaped
Mary Bradbury (née Perkins)
Salem witches who were convicted but later pardoned
Abigail Faulkner, Sr. (née Dane), who was pregnant
Dorcas Hoar, “confessed”
Elizabeth Proctor (née Bassett), who was pregnant
Sarah Wardwell, “confessed”
Salem witches who pled guilty and were pardoned
Mary Lacey Sr. (née Foster) – daughter of Ann Foster
Salem witches who were not convicted
As bizarre as the list seems, there were many others who were not convicted.
Salem witches who refused to plead
Giles Corey – pressed to death (September 19, 1692) through the use of peine forte et dure
Salem witches who died in custody
Lydia Dustin – found not guilty but died in custody
Salem witches who were unindicted or acquitted
Nehemiah Abbot, Jr.
Abigail Barker (née Wheeler)
William Barker, Jr.
Edward Bishop III
Mary Bridges, Jr.
Mary Bridges (née Tyler), Sr.
Sarah Buckley (née Smith)
Thomas Carrier, Jr.
Bethiah Carter Jr.
Bethiah Carter Sr.
Sarah Cole (née Aslebee)
Lydia Dustin (died in custody after trial)
Daniel and Lydia Eames
Eunice Frye (née Potter)
Sarah Hawkes, Jr.
Rebecca Jacobs (née Andrews)
Elizabeth Johnson (née Dane), Sr.
Mary Lacey, Jr. – daughter of Mary Lacey, Sr. and granddaughter of Ann Foster
Mary Marston (née Osgood)
Joan Penney (or Penny)
Susanna Rootes – either released or found not guilty; died around or after 1692
Mary Toothaker (née Allen) – wife of Roger Toothaker and sister of Martha Carrier
Mary Tyler (née Lovett)
Hezekiah Usher II
Mary Whittredge (or Witheridge; née Buckley)
Salem witches who were released on bond
Thomas Carrier, Jr.
Abigail Faulkner, Jr.
Dorothy Good – daughter of Sarah Good
Frances Hutchins (née Alcock)
Sarah Wilson (née Lord)
Salem witches who escaped
John Alden, Jr.
William Barker, Sr.
Mary (née Hollingsworth) and Philip (or Phillip) English (married couple)
Map of Salem during the time of the Salem Witch trials
Salem witch trial testimony and other official documents from the Salem Witch Trials
Below is a collection of official, historic documentation from the Salem Witch Trials.
Ann Putnam Sr. testimony against Martha Corey and Rebecca Nurse (hung on July 19, 1692)
Ann Putnam’s testimony was one of the earliest in the trials. It is believed there was a personal (or family) feud between the Putnams’ and the Nurse’s which may have prompted the accusations from Putnam.
I being wearied out in helping to tend my poor afflicted Child and Maid: about the middle of the afternoon I lay me down on the bed to take a little Rest: and Immediately I was almost pressed and Choked to death: that had it not been for the mercy of a gracious God and the help of those that ware with me: I could not have lived many moments: and presently I saw the apparition of Martha Cory who did torture me so as I cannot Express ready to tear me all to pieces: and then departed from me a little while: but before I could recover strength or well take breath the apparition of Martha Cory fell upon me again with dreadful tortures and hellish temptations to go along with her and she also brought to me a little Red book in her hand and a black pen urging me vehemently to write in her book: and several times that day she did most grievously torture me almost ready to kill me.
On the 19’th march: Martha Cory again appeared to me and also Rebekah Nurse the wife of Frances Nurse Sr. and they both did torture me a great many times this day with such tortures as no tongue can Express because I would not yield to their Hellish temptations that had I not been upheld by an Almighty Arm I could not have lived while night the 20’th march being Sabbath day I had a great deal of Respite. between my fits: 21’th march being the day of the Examination of Martha Cory: I had not many fits though I was very weak my strength being as I thought almost gone: but on the: 22 march 1691/92 the apparition of Rebekah Nurse did again set upon in a most dreadful manner very early in the morning as soon as it was well light and now she appeared to me only in her shift and night cap and brought a little Red book in her hand urging me vehemently to writ in her book and because I would not yield to her hellish temptations she threatened to tear my soul out of my body, blasphemously denying the blessed God and the power of the Lord Jesus Christ to save my soul, and denying several places of scripture which I told her of. To repel her hellish temptations and for near two hours together at this time the apparitions of Rebekah Nurse did temp and torture me before she left me as if indeed she would have killed me: and also the grates part of this day with but very little respite.
23 march: I am again afflicted by the apparitions of Rebekah Nurse and Martha Cory but chiefly by Rebekah Nurse.
24 march: being the days of the Examination of Rebekah Nurse: I was several times afflicted in the morning by the apparition of Rebekah Nurse: but most dreadfully tortured by her in the time of her examination: in so much that The Honored Majestraits gave my Husband leave to carry me out of the meeting house: and as soon as I was carried out of the meeting house dores it pleased Almighty God for his free grace and mercy sake to deliver me out of the paws of those Roaring lions: and jaws of those tearing bears that ever since that time they have not had power so to afflict me until this.
31. May. 1692 at the same moment that I was hearing my Evidence read by the honored Magistrates to take my Oath I was again re-assaulted and tortured by my before mentioned Tormentor Rebekah Nurse.
Sworne Salem Village May the 31’t 1692
*John Hathorne ] Assis’ts
*Jonathan. Corwin ] Assis’ts
Ann Putnam Sr. appeared before us the Juries of Inquest: and oned this her evidence this. 3’r day of June: 1692
Examination of Rebecca Nurse
The examination of Rebekah Nurse at Salem Village
24. mar. 1691/2
Mr. Harthorn. What do you say (speaking to one afflicted) have you seen this Woman hurt you?
Yes, she beat me this morning
Abigial . Have you been hurt by this Woman?
Ann Putman in a grievous fit cried out that she hurt her.
Goody Nurse , here are two An: Putman the child & Abigail Williams complains of your hurting them What do you say to it
N. I can say before my Eternal father I am innocent, & God will clear my innocence
Here is never a one in the Assembly but desires it, but if you be guilty Pray God discover you.
Then Hen: Kenny rose up to speak
Goodm: Kenny what do you say
Then he entered his complaint & farther said that since this Nurse came into the house he was seized twice with an amaz’d condition
Here are not only these but, here is the wife of Mr Tho: Putman who accuseth you by credible information & that both of tempting her to iniquity, & of greatly hurting her.
N. I am innocent & clear & have not been able to get out of doors these 8. or 9. days.
Mr. Putman: give in what you have to say
Then Mr. Edward Putman gave in his relate
Is this true Goody Nurse
I never afflicted no child never in my life
You see these accuse you, is it true
Are you an innocent person relating to this Witchcraft.
Here Tho: Putmans wife cried out, Did you not bring the Black man with you, did you not bid me tempt God & dye How oft have you eat and drunk y’r own damaon What do you say to them
Oh Lord help me, & spread out her hands, & the afflicted were grievously vexed
Do you not see what a solemn condition these are in? when your hands are loose the persons are afflicted.
Then Mary Walcot (who often heretofore said she had seen her, but never could say or did say that she either bit or pincht her, or hurt her) & also Eliz: Hubbard under the like circumstances both openly accused her of hurting them
Here are these 2 grown persons now accuse you, w’t say you? Do not you see these afflicted persons, & hear them accuse you.
The Lord knows I have not hurt them: I am an innocent person
It is very awful to all to see these agonies & you an old Professor thus charged with contracting with the Devil by the [a] effects of it & yet to see you stand with dry eyes when there are so many whet —
You do not know my heart
You would do well if you are guilty to confess & give Glory to God
I am as clear as the child unborn
What uncertainty there may be in apparitions I know not, yet this with me strikes hard upon you that you are at this very present charged with familiar spirits: this is your bodily person they speak to: they say now they see these familiar spirits com to your bodily #[spirits com to your bodily] person, now what do you say to that
I have none Sir:
If you have confess & give glory to God I pray God clear you if you be innocent, & if you are guilty discover you And therefore give me an upright answer: have you any familiarity with these spirits?
No, I have none but with God alone.
How came you sick for there is an odd discourse of that in the mouths of many —
I am sick at my stomach —
Have you no wounds
I have none but old age
You do Know whither you are guilty, & have familiarity with the Devil, & now when you are here present to see such a thing as these testify a black man whispering in your ear, & birds about you what do you say to it
It is all false I am clear
Possibly you may apprehend you are no witch, but have you not been led aside by temptations that way
I have not
What a sad thing it is that a church member here & now an other of Salem, should be thus accused and charged
Mrs. Pope fell into a grievous fit, & cried out a sad thing sure enough: And then many more fell into lamentable fits.
Tell us have not you had visible appearances more than what is common in nature?
I have noe nor never had in my life
Do you think these suffer voluntary or involuntary
I cannot tell
That is strange every one can judge
I must be silent
They accuse you of hurting them, & if you think it is not unwillingly but by design, you must look upon them as murderers
I cannot tell what to think of it
Afterwards when this was somewhat insisted on she said I do not think so: she did not understand aright what was said
Well then give an answer now, do you think these suffer against their wills or not
I do not think these suffer against their wills
Why did you never visit these afflicted persons
Because I was afraid I should have fits too
Note Upon the motion of her body fits followed upon the complainants abundantly & very frequently
Is it not an unaccountable case that when you are examined these persons are afflicted?
I have got no body to look to but God
Again upon stirring her hands the afflicted persons were seized with violent fits of torture
Do you believe these afflicted persons are bewitched
I do think they are
When this Witchcraft came upon the stage there was no suspicion of Tituba ( Mr Paris’s Indian woman) she profest much love to that child Betty Paris , but it was her apparition did the mischief, & why should not you also be guilty, for your apparition doth hurt also.
Would you have me bely my self —
she held her Neck on one side, & accordingly so were the afflicted taken
Then Authority requiring it Sam: Paris read what he had in characters taken from Mr. Tho: Putmans wife in her fits
What do you think of this
I cannot help it, the Devil may appear in my shape.
This a true account of the sum of her examination but by reason of great noises by the afflicted & many speakers, many things are pretermitted
Nurse held her neck on one sid & Eliz: Hubbard (one of the sufferers) had her neck set in that posture whereupon another Patient Abigail Williams cried out set up Goody Nurses head the maid’s neck will be broke & when some set up Nurses head Aaron Wey observed that Betty Hubbards was immediately righted
Salem Village March. 24’th 1691/2
Testimony of Ann Putnam Jr. against Rebecca Nurse
The Deposition of Ann Putnam Jr. who testifieth and saith that on the 13’th march 1691/92 I saw the Apparition of gooddy Nurs: and she did immediately afflict me but I did not know what her name was then: tho I knew where she used to sit in our Meeting house: but since that she has grievously afflicted me by biting pinching and pricking me: urging me to writ in her book and also on the 24’th of march being the day of her examination I was grievously tortured by her during the time of her examination and also several times since and also during the time of her examination I saw the Apparition of Rebekah Nurse go and hurt the bodies of Mircy lewes mary wolcott Elizabeth Hubbrd and Abigaill Williams .
Ann Putnam Jr. did one the oath which she has taken: this har evidens to be the truth. before us the: Juries for Inquest this 3. d’y of June: 1692
Ann Putnam later apologies
Many years later, Ann Putnam, who was an important witness at the trials, publicly apologized for the part she played in the witch trials.
I desire to be humbled before God for that sad and humbling providence that befell my father’s family in the year about ninety-two; that I, then being in my childhood, should, by such a providence of God, be made an instrument for the accusing of several people for grievous crimes, whereby their lives was taken away from them, whom, now I have just grounds and good reason to believe they were innocent persons; and that it was a great delusion of Satan that deceived me in that sad time, whereby I justly fear I have been instrumental, with others, though ignorantly and unwittingly, to bring upon myself and this land the guilt of innocent blood; though, what was said or done by me against any person, I can truly and uprightly say, before God and man, I did it not out of any anger, malice, or ill will to any person, for I had no such thing against one of them; but what I did was ignorantly, being deluded by Satan.
And particularly, as I was a chief instrument of accusing Goodwife Nurse and her two sisters, I desire to lie in the dust, and to be humble for it, in that I was a cause, with others, of so sad a calamity to them and their families; for which cause I desire to lie in the dust, and earnestly beg forgiveness of God, and from all those unto whom I have given just cause of sorrow and offense, whose relations were taken away or accused.
When her parents died, Putnam was left to raise her nine surviving siblings alone. She never married.
Testimony of Abigail Williams against Rebecca Nurse
The testimony of Abigail Williams witnesseth & saith That divers times in [in month] of March last past, particularly on the .15.16.19. 126.96.36.199. days of that month and in the month of April following at several times, particularly on the.13. & In that month, and also in this present month of May, the.4’th & 29. days, she said Abigail has been exceedingly perplexed with the apparition of Rebecca Nurse of Salem Village, by which apparition she hath been pulled violently [and] often pinched & almost choked, & tempted sometimes to leap into the fire and sometimes to subscribe a book the said apparition brought, & also she saith that she hath seen this apparition at a sacrament sitting next to [torn] [the man?] with an high crowned hat, at the upper end of the Table; & farther saith that said apparition hath sometimes confessed to her the said Abigail its guilt in committing several murders together with her Sister Cloyse as upon old Goodm: Harvood, Benja’ Porter , & Rebek Shepard & faith Shepard’s [torn] May 31’st 1692 attested before
Abigail Williams did owne this har testimony [on the] oath which she had taken: to be truth: before us [the] Juriars of Inqwest this 3. dy of June: 92
Examination of Rebecca Eames and Mary Lacey Sr. (some spelling corrected)
Rebecca Eames examined. before Salem Majestrats Aug’st 19 1692
She owned she had bin in the snare a month or 2 and had bin persuaded to it 3 months & that the devil appeared to her like a colt. Very ugly the first time but she would not own that she had bin baptized by him. She did not know but that the devil did persuade her to renounce god & Christ & follow his wicked ways & that she did take his Counsel and that she did afflict Timo Swan she did not know but that the devil might ask her body & soul & she knows not but that she did give him soul & body after ward she said she did do it & that she would for sake god & his works and the devil promised her to give her power to avenge her self on them that offended her afterward she said the devil appeared to her 7 year ago & that he had tempted her to lie and had made her to afflict persons but she could not tell their names that she first afflicted Q who came with the devil when he made you a witch A a ragged girl they came together and they persuaded me to afflict & I afflicted mary warin & an other fayr face it is about a quarter of a year ago I did it by sticking of pins. but did you afflict Swan yes but I am sorry for it Q where had you your spear A I had nothing but an all but was it with your body or spirit you came to hurt these mayds A with my spirit Q but can you ask them forgiveness A I will fall down on my knees to ask it of them She would not own that she signed the devils book when he asked her body & soul but he would have had her done it nor. to a burch Rign nor nothing she s’d the devil was in the Shape of a hors when he carried her to afflict but would not own any body went with her to afflict but the afflicted said her son Dan’ll went with her to afflict
Q did you not say the Devil baptized your son Daniell. A he told me so but did you not touch the book nor lay your hand on book nor paper A I laid my hand on nothing without it was a piece of board and did you lay your hand on the board when he bid you. A yes mary Lascy s’d she had given her son Dan’ll to the devil; at 2 years old & that her apparition told her so but she could not remember it she was bid to take warren & lacy by the hand & beg forgiveness & did so & they forgave her. she said if she had given her son Dan’ll to the devil it was in an angry fit she did not know but she might do it nor I do not know he is a witch but I am afraid he is mary lascy saw her son Dan’ll stand before her & said Dan’ll bid his mother not confess he was a Witch his mother did not know she said but she might se him for she saw a burly thing before her Mary lascy s’d she had baptized her son Dan’ll & that she had bin baptized in five mile Pond she said the reason she feared Dan’ll was a witch was because he used dreadful bad words when he was Angry and bad wishes being asked the said her age of Dan’ll said he was 28 years old she was told she had bin long a witch then if she gave her son to the devil at 2 years old she owned she had bin discontented since she had bin in league with the devil she knew not but the devil might come once a day like a mouse or rat she said she knew Sarah parker but did not know her to be a witch but she heard she had been crossed in love & the devil had come to her & kissed her who was with you when you afflicted Swan A. no body but my son Dan’ll he was there when I came theether she would have Dan’ll persuaded to confess but was told she were best to per- wade him because she knew him to be a witch she was asked if she was at the execution she was at the house below the hill she saw a few folk the woman of the house had a pin stuck into her foot but she said she did not doe it but how do you afflict A I Consent to it but have you bin a witch 26 years A no I can remember but 7 years & have afflicted about a quarter of a year but if you have bin a witch so long why did you not afflict before seeing you promised to serve the devil A others did not Afflict before and the devil did not require it but doth not the devil threaten #[to tare] you #[in pieces] if you not do what he says A yes he threatens to tear me in pieces but did you use to go to meeting on Sabbath days yes but not so often as I should have done what shape did the devil Com in when you laid your hand on the board A. I can- not tell except it was a moues[or rat].
Examination of Nehemiah Abbott, Jr.
The examination of Nehemiah Abbot, at a court at Salem village, by John Hawthorne and Jonathan Corwin Esqrs. 22nd April 1692.
Hawthorne: What say you, are you guilty of witchcraft, of which you are suspected, or not?
Abbott: No Sir, I say before God, before whom I stand, that I know nothing of witchcraft.
Hawthorne: Who is this man? Ann Putman named him. — Mary Walcot said she had seen his shape. What do you say to this?
Abbott: I never did hurt them.
Hawthorne: Who hurt you Ann Putman?
Putman: That man.
Abbott: I never hurt her.
Hawthorne: Ann Putman said, he is upon the beam. Just such a discovery of the person carried out, and she confessed; and if you would find mercy of God, you must confess.
Abbott: If I should confess this, I must confess what is false.
Hawthorne: Tell how far you have gone, who hurts you?
Abbott: I do not know; I am absolutely free.
Hawthorne: As you say, God knows. If you will confess the truth, we desire nothing else that you may not hide your guilt, if you are guilty, and therefore confess if so.
Abbott: I speak before God that I am clear from this accusation.
Hawthorne: What, in all respects?
Abbott: Yes, in all respects.
Hawthorne: Doth this man hurt you? Their mouths were stopped. You hear several accuse you, though one cannot open her mouth.
Abbott: I am altogether free.
Hawthorne: Charge him not unless it be he. This is the man say some, and some say he is very like him. How did you know his name?
Witness X: He did not tell me himself, but other witches told me. Ann Putman said, it is the same man, and then she was taken with a fit.
Hawthorne: Mary Walcot , is this the man?
Walcot: He is like him, I cannot say it is he. Mercy Lewis said it is not the man. They all agreed, the man had a bunch on his eyes.
Hawthorne: Ann Putman, in a fit, said, be you the man? Ay, do you say you be the man? Did you put a mist before my eyes?
Then he was sent forth till several others were examined. When he was brought in again, by reason of much people, and many in the windows so that the accusers could not have a clear view of him, he was ordered to be abroad, and the accusers to go forth to him and view him in the light, which they did, and in the presence of the magistrates and many others discoursed quietly with him, one and all acquitting him, but yet said he was like that man, but he had not the wen they saw in his apparition, Note, he was a hilly faced man and stood shaded by reason of his own hair, so that for a time he seemed to some by-standers and observers, to be considerably like the person the afflicted did describe. Mr. Samuel Parris, being desired to take in writing the examination of Nehemiah Abbot , hath delivered it as aforesaid, and upon hearing the same did see cause to dismiss him.
The deposition of Joseph Hutchinson regarding Abigail Williams
Abigail Williams was one of the initial accusers in the Salem witch trials.
The deposition of Joseph Hutchinson aged 59: year do testify as forth
Abigaill Williams I have heard you spoke often of a book that have been offered to you. She said that there was two Books one was a short thick book and the other was a Long book: I asked her what color the books war of: she said the books ware as red as blood. I asked her if she had seen the books opened: she said that she had seen it opened many times: I asked her if she did see any writings in the books: she said there was many lines written and at the end of every line there was a seal: I asked her who brought the books to her: she told me that it was the black man I asked her who the black man was: she told me it was the devil: I asked her if she was not afraid to see the devil: She said at the first she was and did go from him but now she was not afraid but could talk with him as well as she could with me.
Bridget Bishop Executed, June 10, 1692
The Examination of Bridget Byshop at Salem village
By John Hauthorn and Jonath: Corwin Esq’rs
As soon as she came near all fell into fits
Bridget Byshop, you are now brought before Authority to give acc’o of what witchcrafts you are conversant in.
I take all this people (turning her head and eyes about) to witness that I am clear.
Hath this woman hurt you speaking to the afflicted.
Hubbard, Ann Putman, Abigail Williams, and Mercy Lewes affirmed she had hurt them.
You are here accused for hurting them, what do you say to it?
I never saw these persons before; nor I never was in this place before.
Mary Walcot says that her brother Jonathan stroke her appearance and she saw that he had torn her coat in striking, and she heard it tare.
Upon some search in the Court, a rent that seems to answer what was alleged was found.
They say you bewitched your first husband to death.
If it please your worship I know nothing of it.
She shakes her head and the afflicted were tortured.
The like again upon the motion of her head.
Sam: Braybrook affirmed that she told him to day that she had been accounted a Witch these ten years, but she was no Witch, the Devil cannot hurt her.
I am no Witch.
Why if you have not wrote in the book, yet tell me how far you have gone? Have you not to do with familiar Spirits?
I have no familiarity with the Devil.
How is it then, that your appearance doth hurt these?
I am innocent.
Why you seem to act Witchcraft before us, by the motion of your body, which seems to have influence upon the afflicted.
I know nothing of it. I am innocent to a Witch. I know not what a Witch is.
How do you know then that you are not a witch?
I do not know what you say.
How can you know, you are no Witch, and yet not know what a witch is:
I am clear: if I were any such person you should know it.
You may threaten, but you can do no more than you are permitted.
I am innocent of a Witch.
What do you say of those murders you are charged with?
I hope, I am not guilty of Murder.
Then she turned up her eyes, and the eyes of the afflicted were turned up.
It may be you do not know, that any have confessed to day, who have been examined before you, that they are Witches.
No, I know nothing of it.
John Hutchinson and John Hewes in open Court affirmed that they had told her Why look you, you are taken now in a flat lye.
I did not hear them.
Note Sam: Gold said that after this examination he asked s’d Bridget Byshop if she were not troubled to see the afflicted persons so tormented, said Byshop answered no, she was not troubled for them: Then he asked her whether she thought they were bewitched, she said she could not tell what to think about them. Will Good, and John Buxton Jr. was by, and he supposed they heard her also.
The examination of Bridget Bishop before the Worshipful
Bridget Bishop was the first person executed for witchcraft during the Salem witch trials. She was accused of bewitching Abigail Williams, Ann Putnam, Mercy Lewis, Mary Walcott, and Elizabeth Hubbard. Although she was most certainly not a witch, historians have stated that “the biggest thing that condemned Bishop was the gross amount of lying she committed in court.”
John Harthon and Jonathan Curren esq’rs
Bridget Bishop being now coming in to be examined relating to her accusation of suspicion of sundry acts of witchcrafts the afflicted persons are now dreadfully afflicted by her as they do say.
( m’r Harthon ) Bishop what do you say you here stand charged with sundry acts of witchcraft by you done or committed upon the bodies of mercy Lews and An Putnum and others
( Bushop ) I am innocent I know nothing of it I have done no witchcraft.
( m’r Har ) Look upon this woman and see if this be the woman that you have seen hurting you mercy Lewes and An Putnum and others do now charge her to her face with hurting of them.
M’r Harthon ) what do you say now you see they charge you to your face.
( Bish ) I never did hurt them in my life I did never see these persons before I am as innocent as the child unborn.
( m’r Harth ) Is not your coat cut?
( Bish ) answers no but her garment being Looked upon they find it cut or torn two way. Jonathan walcoat said that the sword that he struck at good Bishop with was not naked but was within the scabbard so that the rent may very probably be the very same that Mary Walcoat did tell that she had in her coat by Jonathans stricken at her appearance.
The afflicted persons charge her, with having hurt them many ways and by tempting them to sine to the devils Book at which charge she seemed to be very angry and shaking her head at them saying it was false they are all greatly tormented (as I conceive) by the shaking of her head.
( m’r Har ) Good Bishop what contract have you made with the devil?
( Bish ). I have made no contract with the devil I never saw him in my life. An Putnam says that she calls the devil her God
( M’r Har ) what say you to all this that you are charged with can you not find in your art to tell the truth
( Bish ) I do tell the truth I never hurt these persons in my life I never saw them before.
(mercy Lewes) oh good Bishop did you not come to our house the Last night and did you not tell me that your master made you tell more then you were willing to tell
( m’r Har ) tell us the truth in this matter how comes these persons to be thus tormented and to charge you with doing
( Bish ) I am not come here to say I am a witch to take away my life
( m’r H ) who is it that doth it if you do not they say it is your likeness that comes and torments them and tempts them to write in the book what book is that you tempt them with.
( Bish ) I know nothing of it I am innocent.
( m’r Harth ) do you not see how they are tormented you are acting witchcraft before us what do you say to this why have you not an heart to confess the truth
( Bsh ) I am innocent I know nothing of it I am no witch I know not what a witch is.
( m’r H ) have you not given consent that some evil spirit should do this in your likeness.
( B ) no I am innocent of being a witch I know no man woman or child here
( Marshall Herrik ) how came you into my bedchamber one morning then and asked me whether I had any curtains to sell she is by some of the afflicted persons charged with murder( m’r Harth ) what do you say to these murders you are charged with
(B) I am innocent I know nothing of it now she lifts up her eyes and they are greatly tormented
( m’r Har ) what do you say to these things here horrible acts of witch craft
( Bish ) I know nothing of it I do not know whether be any witches or no
( m’r Har ) no have you not heard that some have confessed.
( Bish ) no I did not. two men told her to her face that they had told her here she is taken in a plain lie now she is going away they are dreadfully afflicted 5 afflicted persons do charge this woman to be the very woman that hurts them is a true account of what I have taken down at her examination according to best understanding and observation I have also in her examination taken notice that all her actions a great influence upon the afflicted persons and that have been tortured by her.
Examination of Deliverance Hobbs
Deliverance Hobbs was accused of witchcraft. Her daughter, Abigail Hobbs, was also accused of being a witch.
Deliverance. Hobbs. Exam’d May. 3. 1692. Salem prison
Q. What have you done Since whereby there is further Trouble in your appearance?
An. Nothing at all.
Q. but have you not Since been Tempted?
An. yes Sir, but I have not done it, nor will not do it.
Q. here is a great Change Since We last spoke to you, for now you afflict and torment again; now tell us the truth, who tempted you to sign again?
An. It was Goody Olliver; she would have me to Set my hand to the book, but I would not neither have I neither did consent to hurt them again.
Q. was that True that Goody Wilds appeared to you and Tempted you?
An. Yes, that was True.
Q. Have you bin Tempted Since?
An. Yes, about Friday or Saturday night.
Q. did they bid you that you should not Tell?
An. Yes, they told me so.
Q. but how far did they draw you or tempt you, and how far did you yield to the Temptation? but do not you acknowledge that was True that you told us formerly?
Q. And you did sight them at the first, did you Nott?
An. Yes, I did, it is true.
Q. did you miss then to deny at last what you Said before?
An. Yes, I did. It was Goody Oliver Alias Bishop that Tempted me to deny all that I had Confessed before.
Q. Do you not know the man with the Wenne?
An. No I do not know who it is; all that I confessed before is True.
Q. Who were they you Named formerly?
An. Osburne, Good, Burroughs, Olliver, Wiles, Cory and his Wife, Nurse, Procter and his Wife.
Q. Who were with you in the Chamber? (it being informed that some were talking with her there).
An. Wilds and Bushop or Olliver, Good and Osburne, and they had a feast both of roast and boiled meat and did eat and drink and would have had me to have eat and drank with them, but I would not; and they would have had me signed, but I would not then nor when Olliver came to me.
Q. Nor did not you contorn children in your likeness?
An. I do not know that I did.
Q. What is that you have to Tell, which you cannot tell yet you Say?
Testimony of Samuel Gray v. Bridget Bishop
Samuell Gray of Salem Aged aboute 42 yeares Testifieth and sayth that aboute fourteen yeare agoe, he goeing to bed well one Lords Day at night, and after he had benne asleep some time, he awakened and looking up, saw the house light as if a candle or candles were lighted in it and the dor locked and that little fire there, was Raked up he did then see a woman standing between the Cradle I Roome. and the Bed side and seemed to look upon him soe he did Rise up in his bed and it vanished or disapeared then he went to the dor and found it locked. and unlocking and Opening the dore he went to the Entry dore and looked out, and then againe did see the same Woman he had a little before seene in the Rome, and in the same garbe she was in before, then he said to her in the name of God what do you Come for. then she vanished away soe he Locked the dore againe and went to bed and between sleepeing and wakeing he felt some thing Come to his mouth or lipes cold, and there upon started and looked up and againe did see the same woman with some thing betweene both her hands holding before his mouth upon which she moved. and the Child in the Cradle gave a great screech out as if it was greatly hurt and she disappeared, and takeing the child up could not quiett it in some howres from which tyme, the child that before was a very Likely thriveing Child did pine away and was never well, althow it Lived some moneths after, yet in a sad Condition and soe dyed;
some tyme after within a weeke or less he did see the same Woman in the same Garb and Cloaths, that appeared to him as aforesaid, and althow he knew not her, nor her name before, Yett both by her Countenance and garb doth Testifie that it was the same Woman that thay now Call Bridget Bishop Alias Oliver. of Salem
Sworne Salem May 30’th 1692
*John Hathorne Assis’t
Testimony of Samuel and Sarah Shattuck v. Bridget Bishop
Sam’ll Shattock aged 41 years testifieth that in the year 1680 Bridged Oliver formerly wife to old Goodman Oliver: now wife to Edward Bishop did Come to my hous pretending to buy an old hh’d which tho I asked verry little for: and for all her pretended want She went away with out it: and Sundry other tymes she came in a Smooth flattering maner in very Slighty Errants; wee have thought Since on purpos to work mischeif: at or very near this time o’r Eldest Child who promised as much health and understanding both by Countenance and actions as any other Children of his years: was taken in a very drooping Condition and as She Came oftener to the hous he grew wors and wors: as he would be standing at the door would fall out and bruis his face upon a great Step Stone. as if he had bin thrust out bye an invissible hand: often tymes falling and hitting his face ag’st the Sides of the hous: bruising his face in a very misserable maner: after this the abovesaid Oliver brought me a pair of Sleeves to dye and after that Sundry peeces of lace Som of which were Soe Short that i could not judge them fit for any uce: she p’d me 2’d for dying them which 2’d I gave to Henery Will’ms which lived with me he told me put it in a purs among Som other mony which he locked up in a box and that the purs and money was gon out of the Box he Could not tell how; and never found it after just after the dying of these things this child was taken in a terrible fit; his mouth and Eyes drawne aside and gasped in Such a maner as if he was upon the point of death; after this he grew wors in his fits: and out of them would be almost always crying that for many months he would be crying till natures strenght was Spent and then would fall asleep and then awake and fall to crying and moaning; that his very Countenance did bespeak Compassion; and at lenght wee p’rceived his understanding decayed Soe that wee feared (as it has Since proved) that he would be quite bereaft of his witts; for Ever Since he has bin Stupified and voide of reason his fits Still following of him; after he had bin in this kind of Sicknes Som time he has gon into the garden and has got upon a board of an inch thick which lay flat upon the ground and wee have Called him; he would come to the Edge of the board and hold out his hand and make as if he would come but Could not till he was helped of the board; other tymes when he has got upon a board as aforesaide my wife has Said She has ofered him a Cake and mony to come to her and he has held out his hand and reach’t after it but Could not come till he has bin help’t of the board; by which i Judge Som inchantm kep’t him on about 17 or 18 months after, the first of this Ilnes there Came a Stranger to my hous and pittyed this Child and Said among other word’s wee are all borne Som to one thing and Som to another; I asked him and w’t do you Say this Child is borne too he replyed he is born to be bewitched and is bewitched I told him he did not know; he said, he did know and Said to me you have a neighbo’r that lives not far of that is a witch: I told him wee had noe neighb’r but w’t was honest folke; he replyed you have a neighb’r that is a witch and She has had a falling out with your wife. and Said in her hart your wife is a proud woman and She would bring downe her pride in this Childe: I paused in my Selfe and did rememb’r that my wif (Reverse) wife had told me that goodwife Oliver had bin at the hous and spoke to her to beat Henry Will’ms that lived with us and that She went away muttering and She thought threatning; but little before o’r child was taken ill; I told the aforesaid Stranger that there was Such a woman as he Spoke of; he asked where She lived for he would goe and See her if he knew how: I gave him mony and bid him ask her for a pot of Syd’r; away he went and i Sent my boy with him who after a short tyme: both returned; the boys face bleeding and i asked w’t was the matter they told me the man knock’t at the door and goody oliver Came to the door and asked the Stranger w’t he would have he told her a pot of Syd’r she Saide he Shewld have none and bid him get out and took up a Spade and made him goe out She followed him and when She came without the poarch She Saw mye boy and run to him and Scratched his face and made it bleed; Saying to him thou roague w’t dost thou bring this fellow here to plague me; now this man did Say before he went; that he would fetch blood of her And Ever Since this Child hath bin followed with grevious fits as if he would never recover moor: his hed and Eyes drawne aside Soe as if they would never Come to rights moor lying as if he were in a maner dead falling any where Either into fier or water if he be not Constantly looked too, and generally in Such an uneasie and restles frame almost always runing too and fro acting Soe Strange that I cannot judge otherwise but that he is bewitched and by these circumstances do beleive that the aforesaid Bridged Oliver now Called Bishop is the because of it and it has bin the Judgem’t of Docters Such as lived here and forreigners: that he is under an evil hand of witchcraft.
and Sarah Shattock
affirmeth upon the oath they have taken
to the truth of w’t is above written
Jurat in Curia June 2’d 92
Testimony of John Louder v. Bridget Bishop
John Louder of Salem Aged about thurtey two Yeares, Testifieth and sayth that about seaven or Eight yeares since I then Liveing with M’r John Gedney in Salem and having had some Controversy with Bridgett Bushop the wife of Edw’d Bushop of Salem Sawyer about her fowles that used to Come into our orchard or garden. Some little time after which, I going well to bed; about the dead of the night felt a great weight upon my Breast and awakening looked and it being bright moon: light did clearely see s’d Bridget Bushop — or her likeness sitting upon my stomake and puting my Armes of of the bed to free myself from that great oppression she presently layd hold of my throat and almost Choa mee and I had noe strenth or power in my hands to resist or help my self, and in this Condittion she held mee to almost day, some time after this, my Mistress Susannah Gedney was in our orchard and I was then with her. and s’d Bridget Bushop being then in her Orchard which was next adjoining to ours my Mistress told s’d Bridget. that I said or afirmed that she come one night and satt upon my breast as afores’d which she denyed and I Afirmed to her face to be tru and that I did plainely see her. upon which discourse with her she Threatened mee. And some time after that I being not very well stayed at home on a Lords day and on the after noon of s’d day the dores being shut I did see a black pig in the Roome coming towards mee so I went towards it to kick it and it vanished away Immediately after I satt down in a Narrow Bar and did see a black thing Jump into the window and came and stood Just before my face, upon the bar the body of it looked like a Munky only the feete ware like a Cocks feete with Claws and the face somewhat more like a mans than a monkeys. and I being greatly affrighted not being able to speake or help my self by Reason of fear I suppose, so the thing spake to mee and said I am a Messenger sent to y’u for I understand you are troubled in mind, and if you will be Ruled by mee you shall want for Nothing in this world upon which I Endeavered to clap my hands upon itt, and sayd You devil I will Kill you. but could feale noe substance and it Jumped out of the window again. and Immediately Came in by the porch althow the dores ware shutt. and sayd you had Better take my Councill, where upon I strook at it with a stick butt strook the Groundsill and broak the stick, (Reverse)but felt noe Substance, and that arme with which I strook was presently disenabled, then it vanished away and I opened the back dore and Went out and going towards the house End I Espied s’d Bridget Bushop in her orchard going towards her house, and seing her had not power to set one foote forward but returned in again and going to shut the dore. I again did see that or the like creture that I before did see within dores, in such a posture as it seemed to be agoing to fly at mee, up- on which I cried. out; the whole armor of god be between mee and You. so it sprang back and flew over the apple tree flinging the dust with its feet against my stomake, upon which I was struck dumb and so Continued for about three days time and also shook many of the apples of, from the tree which it flu over: John louder appeared before us this 2. dy of June 1692 and one the oath that he had taken did own this testimony to be the truth before us the Jarris of Inquest
Jurat in Curia
Testimony of Richard Coman v. Bridget Bishop
Richard Coman aged aboute 32 years Testifieth that sometime aboute Eight yeares Since: I then being in bed with my wife at Salem. one fift day of the week at night Either. in the Latter end of May or the Begining of June. and a light burneing in our Room I being awake, did then see Bridget Bishop of Salem Alias Olliver come into the room wee Lay in and two Women more with her. which Two Women ware strangers to me I knew them not. but s’d Bishop came in her Red paragon Bodys and the rest of her cloathing that she then usually did ware, and I knowing of her well also the garb she did use to goe in. did clearely and plainely know her, and Testifieth that as he locked the door of the house when he went to bed so he found it after wards w’n he did Rise, and quickly after they appeared the light was out, and the Curtaines at the foote of the bed opened where I did see her and presently came And lay upon my Brest or body and so oppressed him that he could not speak nor stur noe not so much as to awake his wife althow he Endeavered much so to do itt; the next night they all appeared againe in like manner and she said Bishop Alias Oliver tooke hold of him by throat and al- most haled him out of the bed the Satterday night followeing; I having been that day telling of what I had seen and how I suffered the two nights before, my Kinsman W’m Coman told me he would stay with me and Lodge with me and see if they would come again and advised me to lay my Sword on thurt my body. quickly after Wee Went to bed that s’d night and both well awake and discoursing togather in came all the three women again and s’d Bishop was the first as she had been the Other two nights, so I told him; W’m heere they be all Come again and he was Immediatly strook speechless and could not move hand or foot and Immediatly they got hold of my sword and strived to take it from me but I held so fast as they did not gett it away; and I had then Liberty of speech and called W’m. also my wife and Sarah phillips thith my wife. who all told me af me, but had not power to speak afterwards And the first that spake was Sarah phillips. and said in the name of god Goodm Coman w’t is the Matter with you, so they all vanished away.
Sworne Salem June 2’d
Jurat in Curia
Testimony of John Bly, Sr and Rebecca Bly v. Bridget Bishop
John Bly Sr. and Rebecka Bly his wife of Salem, bothe Testifie and say that said Jn’o Bly Bought a Sow of Edw’d Bushop of Salem Sawyer and by agreement with said Bushop was to pay the price agreed upon, unto L’t Jeremiah Neale of Salem, and Bridgett the wife of said Edward Bushop because she could not have the money or value agreed for, payd unto her, she to the house of the deponents in Salem and Quarrelled with t) about it. (and also then Threatened them saying) soon after which the Sow having piged she was taken with Strainge fitts Jumping up. and knocking her head against the fence and seemed blind and deaf and would not Eat neither let her pigs suck but foamed at the mouth, which goody hinderson hearing of said she believed she was over-looked, and that they had their cattle ill in such a manner at the Eastward when she lived there, and used to cure them by giveing of them Red Okar and Milk. which wee also gave the Sow. Quickly after eating of which she grew Better. and then for the Space of near Two hour together she getting into the street did sett of Jumping and running between the house of said deponents and said Bushops as if she ware stark mad; and after that was well again and wee did then Apprehend. or Judge and do still that said Bishop had bewitched said Sow.
Jurat in Curia
(Reverse) John Bly and wife
Testimony of John Cook v. Bridget Bishop
John Cooke aged about 18 years Testifieth that about five or Six years ago One Morning about Sun rising as I was in bed before I rose I Saw goodwife Bishop alias Olliver Stand in the Chamber by the window and she looked On me and Grinn’d On me and presently Struck me on the Side of the head which did very much hurt me and Then I Saw her go Out under the End of window at a little Creviss about So big as I Could thrust my hand into I Saw her again the Same day which was the Sabbath day about noon walk across the room and having at that time an apple in my hand it flew Out of my hand into my mothers lapp who Sate Six or Eight foot distance from me and then She disappeared and though my mother and several others were in the Same room yet they affirmed they Saw her not John Cooke apearid before us the Jarris of inquest and did own this to be his testimony one the oath that he hath taken:
this 2: dy of June 92.
Jurat in Curia
Physical Examination of Bridget Bishop , Rebecca Nurse , Elizabeth Proctor , Alice Parker , Susannah Martin , and Sarah Good , No. 1.
1692 Salem June 2’d aboute 10 in Morning
Wee whose names are under written being Comanded by Capt George Corwine Esq’r Sherriffe of the County of Essex this 2’d day of June 1692 for to vew the bodyes of Bridgett Bishop alias Oliver
The first three, Namely: Bishop : Nurse: procter , by diligent search have discovered apreternathurall Excresence of flesh between the pudendum and Anus much like to Tetts and not usual in women and much unlike to the other three that hath been searched by us and that they were in all the three women near the same place.
Sworne in Court June 2’d 1692
Attest * Step: Sewall Cle
SWP No. 13.21
Physical Examination, No. 2.
Salem aboute 4 afternoon June 2’d 1692 .
We whose names are Subscribed to the with in mentioned, upon a second search about 3 or 4 hours distance, did find the said Brigett Bishop alias Oliver , in a clear and free state from any p’eter- natural Excresence, as formerly seen by us also Rebecah Nurse in stead of that Excresence within Mentioned it appears only as a dry skin without sense, and as for Elizabeth Procter which Excresence like a tett red and fresh, not any thing appears, but only a proper ( pro- cedeulia Ani,) and as for Susanna Martine whose breast in the Morning search appeared to us very full; the Nibbs fresh and starting, now at this searching all lancke and pendant which is all at present from the with in Memtioned subscribers and that that piece of flesh of Goodwife Nursess’ formerly seen is gone and only a dry skin nearer to the anus in another place.
Sworne in Court June 2’d 1692
Death Warrant v. Bridget Bishop
To George Corwin Gent’m high Sherriffe of the County of Essex Greeting
Whereas Bridgett Bishop a(lbar )s Olliver the wife of Edward Bishop of (Salem) in the County of Essex Sawyer at a special Court of Oyer and Termin(er held at) Salem the second Day of this instant month of June for the Counties of Esse(x) Middlesex and Suffolk before William Stoughton Esq’r and his Associates Justices of the said Court was Indicted and arraigned upon five several (Seal)Indictments for using practicing and exercising (on the Nyneteenth day of April) last past and divers other days and times (before and after certain acts of) Witchcraft in and upon the body’s of Abigial Williams , Ann Puttnam J(un’r) Mercy Lewis, marry Walcott and Elizabeth Hubbard of Salem village single women, whereby their body’s were hurt, afflicted pined, consumed Wasted and tormented contrary to the form of the Statute in that Case (made and) provided To which Indictments the said Bridgett Bishop pleaded no(t guilty) and for Trial thereof put her self upon God and her Country, where(upon) she was found guilty of the felonies and Witchcrafts whereof she stood Indicted and sentence of Death accordingly passed against her as the Law directs, Execution whereof yet remains to be done These are therefore in the Name of their Maj’ties William and marry now King and Queen (over) England and to will and Command you That upon Friday next being the Tenth day of this instant month of June between the hours of Eight and twelve in the afternoon of the same day You safely conduct the s’d Bridgett Bishop a(lbar )s Olliver from their Maj’ties Gaol in Salem afores’d to the place of Execution and there cause her to be hanged by the neck until she be de(ad) and of your doings here- in make return to the Clerk of the s’d Court and pr’cept And here- of you are not to fail at your peril And this shall be (your) Sufficient Warrant Given under my hand and Seal at Boston. the Eighth day of June in the fourth Year of the Reigne of our Sovereigne Lord and (Lady William and marry now King and Queen over England and Annoq’e D(mbar ) : 1692;
John Proctor Executed, August 19, 1692
Abigail Williams v. John Proctor
John Proctor was a farmer and tavern keeper in Salem. His third wife, Elizabeth, was accused of being a witch. When he began to defend her and express his disbelief in the girls’ accusations, they pointed their fingers at him as well. Abigail Williams was his chief accuser. 32 of his neighbors signed a petition stating that he had lived a “Christian life in his family and was ever ready to help such as they stood in need.” While Proctor and his wife sat in jail, the sheriff seized all of their household belongings. Their cattle were sold cheaply and beer barrels at the tavern were emptied. Proctor was hanged on August 19, 1692. His wife Elizabeth was given a reprieve until she gave birth, which came after the trials had ended.
1692 Apr. 4. Abig: Williams complained of Goodm Proctor & cried out what are you come to, are you come to, you can pinch as well as your wife & more to that purpose
6. At night she complained of Goodm: Proctor again & beat upon her breast & cried he pinched her. The like I hear at Tho. Putmans house.
12 Day, When the Marshall was sent up to enquire of John Proctor & others & I was writing some what thereof as above I met with nothing but interruptions by reason of fits upon John Indian & Abigail , & Mary Walcot happening to come in just before, they one & another cried out there is Goodm: Proctor very often: And Abigail said there is Goodm: Proctor in the Majstrats lap, at the same time Mary Walcot was sitting by a knitting we asked her if she saw Goodm: Proctor (for Abigail was immediately seized with a fit) but she was deaf & dumb, yet still a knitting, then Mary recovered her self & confirmed what Abigail had said that goodm: proctor she saw in the Majstrats lap Then John cried out to the Dog under the Table to come away for Goodm: Proctor was upon his back, then he cried out of Goody Cloyse , O you old Witch, & fell immediately into a violent fit that 3.men & the Marshall could not without exceeding difficulty hold him: In which fit Mary Walcot that was knitting & well composed said there was Goodm: Proctor & his wife & Goody Cloyse helping of him. But so great were the interruptions of John & Abigail by fits while we were observing these things to notify them, that we were fain to send them both away that I might have liberty to write this without disturbance Mary Walcot abiding composed & knitting whilst I was writing & the two other sent away, yet by & by whilst I was writing Mary Walcot said there Goody Cloyse has pincht me now
Note. Mary Walcot never saw Proctor nor his wife till last night coming from the examination at Salem & then she saw Goody Proctor behind her brother Jonathan all the way from the Widow Gidneys to Phillips where Jonathan made a little stay But this day & time I have been writing this she saw them many times.
Note. Just now as soon as I had made an end of reading this to the Marshall Mary W (torn) immediately cryed O yonder is Good: Proctor & his wife & Goody Nurse & Goody Korey & G (torn) Cloyse & Goods Child & then said O Goodm: Proctor is going to choke me & Immediately she was choakt
Monday last month ditto Lut. Nath: Ingersoll Declared that John Procter told Joseph Pope that if he hade John Indian in his Custody he would soon beat the Devell out of him: and so said to several others
Samuel Sibley v. John Proctor
The morning after the examination of Goody Nurse. Sam: Sibly met John Proctor about Mr. Phillips who called to said Sibly as he was going to sd Phillips & asked how the folks did at the village He answered he heard they were very bad last night but he had heard nothing this morning Proctor replied he was going to fetch home his jade he left her there last night & had rather given 40d than let her come up sd Sibly asked why he talt so Proctor replied if they were let alone so we should all be Devils & witches quickly they should rather be had to the Whipping post but he would fetch his jade Home & thresh the Devil out of her & more to the like purpose crying hang them, hang them. And also added that when she was first taken with fits he kept her close to the Wheel & threatened to thresh her, & then she had no more fits till the next day he was gone forth, & then she must have her fits again firsooth
Ann Putnam, Jr. v. John Proctor
The Deposition of Ann Putnam Jr. who testifieth and said I have often seen the Apparition of Jno Proctor senr. amongst the witches but he did not do me much hurt tell a little before his examination which was on the 11th of April 1692 and then he sett upon me most grievously and did torture me most dreadfully also in the time of his examination he afflicted me very much: and several times since the Apparition of John Proctor Sr., has most grievously tortured me by pinching and almost choking me urging me vehemently to writ in his book also on the day of his examination I saw the Apparition of John Proctor Sr. goe and afflict and most grievously torture the bodies of Mistress pope Mary Walcott Mircy lewes. Abigail Williams and Jon: Indian. and he and his wife and Sarah Cloys keept Elizabeth Hubburd speechless all the time of their examination
Sources: CNN, Eric Lewison, Daniel Boudillion (boudillion.com), University of Virginia. Virginia State University, Wikipedia, Salem News, USA Today, Boston Globe, Road Trippers, Salem Witch Museum, History.com, New Yorker Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine
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