Salem witch trials

Salem witch trials
The central figure in this 1876 illustration of the courtroom is usually identified as Mary Walcott.

The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings before county court trials to prosecute people accused of witchcraft in the counties of Essex, Suffolk, and Middlesex in colonial Massachusetts, between February 1692 and May 1693. Despite being generally known as the Salem witch trials, the preliminary hearings in 1692 were conducted in a variety of towns across the province: Salem Village (now Danvers), Ipswich, Andover and Salem Town.

The best-known trials were conducted by the Court of Oyer and Terminer in 1692 in Salem Town. Over 150 people were arrested and imprisoned, with even more accused but not formally pursued by the authorities. All twenty-six who went to trial before this court were convicted. The four sessions of the Superior Court of Judicature in 1693, held in Salem Village, but also in Ipswich, Boston and Charlestown, produced only three convictions in the thirty-one witchcraft trials it conducted. The two courts convicted twenty-nine people of the capital felony of witchcraft. Nineteen of the accused, fourteen women and five men, were executed by hanging. One man, Giles Corey, refused to enter a plea and was crushed to death under heavy stones in an attempt to force him to do so. At least five more of the accused died in prison.

The episode is one of the most famous cases of mass hysteria, and has been used in political rhetoric and popular literature as a vivid cautionary tale about the dangers of isolationism, religious extremism, false accusations and lapses in due process.[1]



Before the Salem witchcraft persecutions, the supernatural was part of everyday life, for there was a strong belief that Satan was present and active on earth. This concept emerged in Europe around the fifteenth century and spread to Colonial America. Previously, witchcraft had been widely used as peasants heavily relied on 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. From 1560 to 1670, witchcraft persecutions became common as superstitions became associated with the devil. In "Against Modern Sadducism" (1668) , Joseph Glanvill claimed that he could prove the existence of witches and ghosts of the supernatural realm. Glanvill wrote about the "denial of the bodily resurrection, and the [supernatural] spirits".[2] In his treatise, he claimed that ingenious men should believe in witches and apparitions; if they doubted the reality of spirits, they not only denied demons, but also the almighty God. Glanvill wanted to prove that the supernatural could not be denied; those who did deny apparitions were considered heretics for it also disproved their beliefs in angels.[3] Works from men like Glanvill's and Cotton Mather tried to prove to humanity that "demons were alive",[4] which played on the fears of individuals who believed that demons were active among them on Earth.

Men and women in Salem believed that all the misfortunes were attributed to the work of the devil; when things like infant death, crop failures or friction among the congregation occurred, the supernatural was blamed. Because of the unusual size of the outbreak of witchcraft accusations, various aspects of the historical context of this episode have been considered as specific contributing factors.

Earlier executions for witchcraft in New England

Historian Clarence F. Jewett included a list of other people executed in New England in The Memorial History of Boston: Including Suffolk County, Massachusetts 1630–1880 (Ticknor and Company, 1881). He wrote,

The following is the list of the 12 persons who were executed for witchcraft in New England before 1692, when 24 other persons were executed at Salem, whose names are well known. It is possible that the list is not complete ; but I have included all of which I have any knowledge, and with such details as to names and dates as could be ascertained : — 1647, — "Woman of Windsor," Connecticut (name unknown)[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."[5]

Political context

Governor Sir William Phips (1651–1695)

The original 1629 Royal Charter of the Massachusetts Bay Colony was vacated in 1684,[6] after which King James II installed Sir Edmund Andros as the Governor of the Dominion of New England. Andros was ousted in 1689 after the "Glorious Revolution" in England replaced the Catholic James II with the Protestants William and Mary. Simon Bradstreet and Thomas Danforth, the colony's last leaders under the old charter, resumed their posts as governor and deputy governor, but lacked constitutional authority to rule, because the old charter had been vacated. At the same time tensions erupted between the English colonists settling in "the Eastward" (the present-day coast of Maine) and the French-supported Wabanaki Indians in what came to be known as King William's War. This was only 13 years after the devastating King Philip's War with the Wampanoag and other indigenous tribes in southern and western New England. In October 1690, Sir William Phips led an unsuccessful attack on Quebec. Many English settlements along the coast continued to be attacked by Native Americans, including particularly the Schenectady massacre in the Colony of New York in 1690 and the Candlemas Massacre, an assault on York, Maine, on January 25, 1692.

A new charter for the enlarged Province of Massachusetts Bay was given final approval in England on October 16, 1691.[7] News of the appointment of Phips as the new governor reached Boston in late January[8] and a copy of the new charter arrived in Boston on February 8, 1692.[9] Phips arrived in Boston on May 14,[10] and was sworn in as governor two days later, along with Lieutenant Governor William Stoughton.[11] One of the first orders of business for the new governor and council on May 27, 1692, was the formal nomination of county justices of the peace, sheriffs, and the commission of a Special Court of Oyer and Terminer to handle the large numbers of people who were "thronging" the jails.[12]

Boyer and Nissenbaum have postulated that without a valid charter, there was no legitimate form of government to try capital cases until Phips arrived with the new charter.[13] This has been disputed by David Konig, who points out that between charters, according to the Records of the Court of Assistants, a group of 14 pirates were tried and condemned on January 27, 1690, for acts of piracy and murder committed in August and October 1689.[14]

Local context

Map of Salem Village, 1692

Salem Village was known for its many internal disputes between the town and the village. Arguments about property lines, grazing rights, and church privileges were rife, and the population was seen as "quarrelsome" by its neighbors. In 1672, the village had voted to hire a minister of their own, apart from Salem Town. Their first two ministers, James Bayley (1673–79) and George Burroughs (1680–83), stayed only a few years each, departing after issues with the congregation failing to pay their full rate. Despite the ministers' rights being upheld by the General Court and the parish admonished, they had each chosen to leave. The third minister, Deodat Lawson (1684–88), had not stayed, either, though apparently with less open conflict about him and more about the fact that the parish was not being allowed by the church in Salem to ordain him.

There was disagreement about the choice of Samuel Parris as their first ordained minister. On June 18, 1689, the village agreed to hire Parris for ₤66 annually, "one third part in money and the other two third parts in provisions" and use of the parsonage.[15] On October 10, 1689, however, they voted to grant him the deed to the parsonage and two acres of land,[16] despite a vote by the inhabitants in 1681 stating, "it shall not be lawful for the inhabitants of this village to convey the houses or lands or any other concerns belonging to the Ministry to any particular persons or person: not for any cause by vote or other ways".[17] Though the prior ministers' fates and the level of contention in the village were valid reasons for caution in accepting the position, the Reverend Parris only increased the village's division by delaying accepting his position in Salem Village. Neither had he any gift for settling his new parishioners' disputes; instead, by deliberately seeking out "iniquitous behavior" in his congregation and making church members in good standing suffer public penance for small infractions, he made a significant contribution toward the tension within the village, and the bickering in the village continued to grow unabated. In this atmosphere, serious conflict may have been inevitable.[18]

Religious context

Reverend Cotton Mather (1663–1728)

Prior to the constitutional turmoil of the 1680s, Massachusetts government had been dominated by conservative Puritan secular leaders. Puritans, influenced by Calvinism, opposed many of the traditions of the Protestant Church of England, including the Book of Common Prayer, the use of priestly vestments (cap and gown) during services, the use of the Holy Cross during baptism, and kneeling during the sacrament, all of which constituted "popery". Repression of these dissenting non-Anglican views accelerated in the 1620s and 1630s, resulting in a major migration of Puritans and other religious minorities to North America, and resulted in the establishment of several colonies in New England. Self-governance came naturally to them, since building a society based on their religious beliefs was one of their goal. Colonial leaders were elected by the freemen of the colony, who were those individuals who had had their religious experiences formally examined, and had been admitted to one of the colony's Puritan congregations. The colonial leadership were prominent members of their congregations, and regularly consulted with the local ministers on issues facing the colony.

In the early 1640s, England erupted in civil war, with the Puritan-dominated Parliamentary faction winning and executing King Charles I. This success was short-lived as the Commonwealth's failure under the Lord Protector's successor Richard Cromwell led to restoration of the old order under Charles II. Emigration to New England slowed significantly in these years, and a successful merchant class began to develop that was less religiously motivated than the colony's early settlers.

In the small Salem Village as in the colony at large, all of life was governed by the precepts of the Church, which was Calvinist in the extreme. Music, dancing, celebration of holidays such as Christmas and Easter, were absolutely forbidden,[19] as they supposedly had roots in Paganism. The only music allowed at all was the unaccompanied singing of hymns—the folk songs of the period glorified human love and nature, and were therefore against God. Toys and especially dolls were also forbidden, and considered a frivolous waste of time.[20] The only schooling for children was in religious doctrine and the Bible, and all the villagers were expected to go to the meeting house for three-hour sermons every Wednesday and Sunday. Village life revolved around the meeting house, and those celebrations permitted, such as those celebrating the harvest, were centered there.[21]

Prior to 1692, there had been rumors of witchcraft in villages neighboring Salem Village and other towns. Cotton Mather, a minister of Boston's North Church (not to be confused with the Anglican North Church of Paul Revere fame) was a prolific publisher of pamphlets and a firm believer in witchcraft. In his book Memorable Providences Relating to Witchcrafts and Possessions (1689), Mather describes his "oracular observations" and how "stupendous witchcraft"[22] had affected the children of Boston mason John Goodwin. Mather illustrates how the Goodwins' eldest child had been tempted by the devil and stole linen from the washerwoman Mary Glover. Glover was a miserable old woman whom her husband often described as a witch; this is perhaps why Glover was accused of casting spells on the Goodwin children. After the event, four out of six Goodwin children began to experience strange fits or what some people referred to as "the disease of astonishment".[23] The manifestations attributed to the disease quickly became associated with witchcraft. These symptoms were things like neck and back pains, tongues being drawn from their throats, and loud random outcries; other symptoms included having no control over their bodies such as becoming limber, flapping their arms like birds, or trying to harm others as well as themselves. These symptoms would fuel the craze of 1692.


Most accounts begin with the afflictions of the girls in the Parris household in January/February 1692 and end with the last trials in May 1693, but some start earlier to place the trials in the wider context of other witch-hunts, and some end later to include information about restitution.

Initial events

The parsonage in Salem Village, as photographed in the late 19th century
Present-day archaeological site of the Salem Village parsonage

In Salem Village in 1692, Betty Parris, age 9, and her cousin Abigail Williams, age 11, the daughter and niece (respectively) of the Reverend Samuel Parris, began to have fits described as "beyond the power of Epileptic Fits or natural disease to effect" by John Hale, minister in nearby Beverly.[24] The girls screamed, threw things about the room, uttered strange sounds, crawled under furniture, and contorted themselves into peculiar positions, according to the eyewitness account of Rev. Deodat Lawson, a former minister in the town. 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. Other young women in the village began to exhibit similar behaviors. When Lawson preached in the Salem Village meetinghouse, he was interrupted several times by outbursts of the afflicted.[25]

The first three people accused and arrested for allegedly afflicting Betty Parris, Abigail Williams, 12-year-old Ann Putnam, Jr., and Elizabeth Hubbard were Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne and Tituba. The accusation by Ann Putnam Jr. is seen by historians as evidence that a family feud may have been a major cause of the Witch Trials. Salem was the home of a vicious rivalry between the Putnam and Porter families. The people of Salem were all engaged in this rivalry. Salem citizens would often engage in heated debates that would escalate into full fledged fighting, based solely on their opinion regarding this feud.[26]

Sarah Good was a homeless beggar and known to beg for food and shelter from neighbors. She was accused of witchcraft because of her appalling reputation. At her trial, Good was accused of rejecting the puritanical expectations of self-control and discipline when she chose to torment and “scorn [children] instead of leading them towards the path of salvation" [27]

Sarah Osborne rarely attended church meetings. She was accused of witchcraft because the puritans believed that Osborne had her own self-interests in mind for she had remarried (to an indentured servant). The citizens of the town of Salem also found it distasteful when she attempted to control her son's inheritance from her previous marriage.

Tituba, as a slave of a different ethnicity than the Puritans, was a target for accusations. She was accused of attracting young girls like Abigail Williams and Betty Parris with enchanting stories from Malleus Maleficarum. These tales about sexual encounters with demons, swaying the minds of men, and fortune telling stimulated the imaginations of young girls and made Tituba an obvious target of accusations.[28]

All of these outcast women fit the description of the "usual suspects" for witchcraft accusations, and no one stood up for them. These women were brought before the local magistrates on the complaint of witchcraft and interrogated for several days, starting on March 1, 1692, then sent to jail.[29] Other accusations followed in March: Martha Corey, Dorothy Good and Rebecca Nurse in Salem Village, and Rachel Clinton in nearby Ipswich. Martha Corey had voiced skepticism about the credibility of the girls' accusations, drawing attention to herself. The charges against her and Rebecca Nurse deeply troubled the community because Martha Corey was a full covenanted member of the Church in Salem Village, as was Rebecca Nurse in the Church in Salem Town. If such upstanding people could be witches, then anybody could be a witch, and church membership was no protection from accusation. Dorothy Good, the daughter of Sarah Good, was only 4 years old, and when questioned by the magistrates her answers were construed as a confession, implicating her mother. In Ipswich, Rachel Clinton was arrested for witchcraft at the end of March[30] on charges unrelated to the afflictions of the girls in Salem Village.

Accusations and examinations before local magistrates

Magistrate Samuel Sewall (1652–1730)

When Sarah Cloyce (Nurse's sister) and Elizabeth (Bassett) Proctor were arrested in April, they were brought before John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin, not only in their capacity as local magistrates, but as members of the Governor's Council, at a meeting in Salem Town. Present for the examination were Deputy Governor Thomas Danforth, and Assistants Samuel Sewall, Samuel Appleton, James Russell and Isaac Addington. Objections by John Proctor during the proceedings resulted in his arrest that day as well.

Within a week, Giles Corey (Martha's husband, and a covenanted church member in Salem Town), Abigail Hobbs, Bridget Bishop, Mary Warren (a servant in the Proctor household and sometime accuser herself) and Deliverance Hobbs (stepmother of Abigail Hobbs) were arrested and examined. Abigail Hobbs, Mary Warren and Deliverance Hobbs all 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, and finally, on April 30, the Reverend George Burroughs, Lydia Dustin, Susannah Martin, Dorcas Hoar, Sarah Morey and Philip English (Mary's husband). Nehemiah Abbott Jr. was released because the accusers agreed he was not the person whose specter had afflicted them. Mary Eastey was released for a few days after her initial arrest because the accusers failed to confirm that it was she who had afflicted them, and then she was rearrested when the accusers reconsidered.

In May, accusations continued to pour in, but some of those named began to evade apprehension. Multiple warrants were issued before John Willard and Elizabeth Colson were apprehended, but George Jacobs Jr. and Daniel Andrews were not caught. Until this point, all the proceedings were still only investigative, but on May 27, 1692, William Phips ordered the establishment of a Special Court of Oyer and Terminer for Suffolk, Essex and Middlesex counties to prosecute the cases of those in jail. Warrants were issued for even more people. Sarah Osborne, one of the first three accused, died in jail on May 10, 1692.

Warrants were issued for 36 more people, with examinations continuing to take place in Salem Village: Sarah Dustin (daughter of Lydia Dustin), Ann Sears, Bethiah Carter Sr. and her daughter Bethiah Carter Jr., George Jacobs, Sr. and his granddaughter Margaret Jacobs, John Willard, Alice Parker, Ann Pudeator, Abigail Soames, George Jacobs, Jr. (son of George Jacobs, Sr. and father of Margaret Jacobs), Daniel Andrew, Rebecca Jacobs (wife of George Jacobs, Jr. and sister of Daniel Andrew), Sarah Buckley and her daughter Mary Witheridge, Elizabeth Colson, Elizabeth Hart, Thomas Farrar, Sr., Roger Toothaker, Sarah Proctor (daughter of John and Elizabeth Proctor), Sarah Bassett (sister-in-law of Elizabeth Proctor), Susannah Roots, Mary DeRich (another sister-in-law of Elizabeth Proctor), Sarah Pease, Elizabeth Cary, Martha Carrier, Elizabeth Fosdick, Wilmot Redd, Sarah Rice, Elizabeth Howe, Capt. John Alden (son of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins of Plymouth Colony), William Proctor (son of John and Elizabeth Proctor), John Flood, Mary Toothaker (wife of Roger Toothaker and sister of Martha Carrier) and her daughter Margaret Toothaker, and Arthur Abbott. When the Court of Oyer and Terminer convened at the end of May, this brought the total number of people in custody to 62.[31]

Cotton Mather wrote to one of the judges, John Richards, on May 31, 1692, voicing his support of the prosecutions, but cautioning him of the dangers of relying on spectral evidence and advising the court on how to proceed.[32]

Formal prosecution: The Court of Oyer and Terminer

Chief Magistrate William Stoughton (1631–1701)

The Court of Oyer and Terminer convened in Salem Town on June 2, 1692, with William Stoughton, the new Lieutenant Governor, as Chief Magistrate, Thomas Newton as the Crown's Attorney prosecuting the cases, and Stephen Sewall as clerk. Bridget Bishop's case was the first brought to the grand jury, who endorsed all the indictments against her. Bishop was described as not living a puritan lifestyle for she wore black clothing and odd costumes which was against 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”.[33] This along with her amoral lifestyle accused her of a being a witch. She went to trial the same day and was found guilty. On June 3, the grand jury endorsed indictments against Rebecca Nurse and John Willard, but it is not clear why they did not go to trial immediately as well. Bridget Bishop was executed by hanging on June 10, 1692.

In June, more people were accused, arrested and examined, but now in Salem Town, by former local magistrates John Hathorne, Jonathan Corwin and Bartholomew Gedney who had become judges of the Court of Oyer and Terminer. Roger Toothaker died in prison on June 16, 1692.

At the end of June and beginning of July, grand juries endorsed indictments against Sarah Good, Elizabeth Howe, Susannah Martin, Elizabeth Proctor, John Proctor, Martha Carrier, Sarah Wilds and Dorcas Hoar. Only Sarah Good, Elizabeth Howe, Susannah Martin and Sarah Wildes, along with Rebecca Nurse, went on to trial at this time, where they were found guilty, and executed on July 19, 1692. In mid-July as well, the primary source of accusations moved from Salem Village to Andover, when the constable there asked to have some of the afflicted girls in Salem Village visit with his wife to try to determine who caused her afflictions. Ann Foster, her daughter Mary Lacey Sr., and granddaughter Mary Lacey Jr. all confessed to being witches. Anthony Checkley was appointed by Governor Phips to replace Thomas Newton as the Crown's Attorney when Newton took an appointment in New Hampshire.

In the beginning of August, grand juries indicted George Burroughs, Mary Eastey, Martha Corey and George Jacobs, Sr., and 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. Before being executed, George Burroughs recited the Lord's Prayer perfectly, supposedly something that was impossible for a witch, but Cotton Mather was present and reminded the crowd that the man had been convicted before a jury. On August 19, 1692, Martha Carrier, George Jacobs Sr., George Burroughs, John Willard and John Proctor were hanged.

Petition for bail of 11 accused people from Ipswich, 1692
The personal seal of William Stoughton on the warrant for the execution of Bridget Bishop
Examination of a Witch (1853) by T. H. Matteson, inspired by the Salem trials

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 subjected to 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. Four pleaded guilty and eleven others were tried and found guilty. On September 22, 1692, eight of those convicted were hanged, reportedly called the "Eight firebrands of Hell" by Salem minister Nicholas Noyes. One of the convicted, Dorcas Hoar, was given a temporary reprieve, with the support of several ministers, to make her confession before God. Aged Mary Bradbury escaped. Abigail Faulkner Sr. was pregnant and given a temporary reprieve (some reports from that era say that Abigail's reprieve later became a stay of charges, when the courts realized that sentencing Abigail to death would also kill her unborn child, who had committed no crime).

Mather was asked by Governor Phips in September to write about the trials, and obtained access to the official records of the Salem trials from his friend Stephen Sewall, clerk of the court, upon which his account of the affair, Wonders of the Invisible World, was based.

This court was dismissed in October by Governor Phips, although this was not the end of the trials.

The Superior Court of Judicature, 1693

In January 1693, the new Superior Court of Judicature, Court of Assize and General Gaol Delivery convened in Salem, Essex County, again headed by William Stoughton, as Chief Justice, with Anthony Checkley continuing as the Attorney General, and Jonathan Elatson as Clerk of the Court. The first five cases tried in January 1693 were of the five people who had been indicted but not tried in September: Sarah Buckley, Margaret Jacobs, Rebecca Jacobs, Mary Whittredge and Job Tookey. All were 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 women and the others remaining from the previous court, Governor Phips pardoned them, sparing their lives. In late January/early February, the Court sat again in Charlestown, Middlesex County, and held grand juries and tried five people: Sarah Cole (of Lynn), Lydia Dustin & Sarah Dustin, Mary Taylor and Mary Toothaker. All were found not guilty, but were 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, and heard charges against a servant girl, Mary Watkins, for falsely accusing her mistress of witchcraft. In May, the Court convened in Ipswich, Essex County, 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 the episode.

Legal procedures


After someone concluded that a loss, illness or death had been caused by witchcraft, the accuser entered a complaint against the alleged witch with the local magistrates.[34]

If the complaint was deemed credible, the magistrates had the person arrested[35] and brought in for a public examination, essentially an interrogation, where the magistrates pressed the accused to confess.[36]

If the magistrates at this local level were satisfied that the complaint was well-founded, the prisoner was handed over to be dealt with by a superior court. In 1692, the magistrates opted to wait for the arrival of the new charter and governor, who would establish a Court of Oyer and Terminer to handle these cases.

The next step, at the superior court level, was to summon witnesses before a grand jury.[37]

A person could be indicted on charges of afflicting with witchcraft,[38] or for making an unlawful covenant with the Devil.[39] Once indicted, the defendant went to trial, sometimes on the same day, as in the case of the first person indicted and tried on June 2, Bridget Bishop, who was executed on June 10, 1692.

There were four execution dates, with one person executed on June 10, 1692,[40] five executed on July 19, 1692 (Sarah Good, Rebecca Nurse, Susannah Martin, Elizabeth Howe & Sarah Wildes),[41] another five executed on August 19, 1692 (Martha Carrier, John Willard, George Burroughs, George Jacobs, Sr. and John Proctor), and eight on September 22, 1692 (Mary Eastey, Martha Corey, Ann Pudeator, Samuel Wardwell, Mary Parker, Alice Parker, Wilmot Redd and Margaret Scott). Several others, including Elizabeth (Bassett) Proctor and Abigail Faulkner, were convicted but given temporary reprieves because they were pregnant. Five other women were convicted in 1692, but the sentence was never carried out: Ann Foster (who later died in prison), her daughter Mary Lacy Sr., Abigail Hobbs, Dorcas Hoar and Mary Bradbury.

Giles Corey was pressed to death during the Salem witch trials in the 1690s

Giles Corey, an 80-year-old farmer from the southeast end of Salem (called Salem Farms), refused to enter a plea when he came to trial in September. The judges applied an archaic form of punishment called peine forte et dure, in which stones were piled on his chest until he could no longer breathe. After two days of peine fort et dure, Corey died without entering a plea.[42] His refusal to plead has sometimes been explained as a way of preventing his estate from being confiscated by the Crown, but according to historian Chadwick Hansen, much of Corey's property had already been seized, and he had made a will in prison: "His death was a protest ... against the methods of the court".[43] This echoes the perspective of a contemporary critic of the trials, Robert Calef, who claimed, "Giles Corey pleaded not Guilty to his Indictment, but would not put himself upon Tryal by the Jury (they having cleared none upon Tryal) and knowing there would be the same Witnesses against him, rather chose to undergo what Death they would put him to."[44]

Not even in death were the accused witches granted peace or respect. As convicted witches, Rebecca Nurse and Martha Corey had been excommunicated from their churches and none were given proper burial. As soon as the bodies of the accused were cut down from the trees, they were thrown into a shallow grave and the crowd dispersed. Oral history claims that the families of the dead reclaimed their bodies after dark and buried them in unmarked graves on family property. The record books of the time do not mention the deaths of any of those executed.

Spectral evidence

Title page of Cases of Conscience (Boston, 1693) by Increase Mather

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. Increase Mather and other ministers sent a letter to the Court, "The Return of Several Ministers Consulted," urging the magistrates not to convict on spectral evidence alone (spectral evidence was later ruled inadmissible, which caused a dramatic reduction in the rate of convictions and may have hastened the end of the trials). A copy of this letter was printed in Increase Mather's Cases of Conscience, published in 1693. The publication A Tryal of Witches, was used by the magistrates at Salem, when looking for a precedent in allowing spectral evidence. Finding that no lesser person than the jurist Sir Matthew Hale had permitted this evidence, supported by the eminent philosopher, physician and author Thomas Browne, to be used in the Bury St Edmunds witch trial and the accusations against two Lowestoft women, held in 1662 in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England, they also accepted its validity and the trials proceeded.[45]

Witch cake

At some point in February 1692, likely between the time when the afflictions began but before specific names were mentioned, a neighbor of Rev. Parris, Mary Sibly (aunt of the afflicted 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. This superstition was based on the Cartesian "Doctrine of Effluvia", which posited that witches afflicted by the use of "venomous and malignant particles, that were ejected from the eye", according to the October 8, 1692 letter of Thomas Brattle, a contemporary critic of the trials.[46]

Reverend Samuel Parris (1653–1720)

According to the Records of the Salem-Village Church, Parris spoke with Sibly privately on March 25, 1692 about her "grand error" and accepted her "sorrowful confession." During his Sunday sermon on March 27 he addressed his congregation on the subject of the "calamities" that had begun in his own household, but stated "it never brake forth to any considerable light, until diabolical means were used, by the making of a cake by my Indian man, who had his direction from this our sister, Mary Sibly," going on to admonish all against the use of any kind of magic, even white magic, because it was essentially, "going to the Devil for help against the Devil." Mary Sibley publicly acknowledged the error of her actions before the congregation, who voted by a show of hands that they were satisfied with her admission of error.[47]

Other instances appear in the records of the episode that demonstrated a continued belief by members of the community in this effluvia as legitimate evidence, including accounts in two statements against Elizabeth Howe that people had suggested cutting off and burning an ear of two different animals Howe was thought to have afflicted, to prove she was the one who had bewitched them to death.[48]

This 19th-century representation of "Tituba and the Children" by Alfred Fredericks, originally appeared in A Popular History of the United States, Vol. 2, by William Cullen Bryant (1878)

Traditionally, the allegedly afflicted girls are said to have been entertained by Parris' slave woman, Tituba, who supposedly taught them about voodoo in the kitchen of the parsonage during the winter of 1692, although there is no contemporary evidence to support the story.[49] A variety of secondary sources, starting with Charles W. Upham in the 19th century, typically relate that a circle of the girls, with Tituba's help, tried their hands at fortune telling using the white of an egg and a mirror to create a primitive crystal ball to divine the professions of their future spouses and scared one another when one supposedly saw the shape of a coffin instead. The story is drawn from John Hale's book about the trials,[50] but in his account, only one of the girls, not a group of them, had confessed to him afterwards that she had once tried this. Hale did not mention Tituba as having any part of it, nor when it had occurred. Yet the record of her trial with Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne holds her giving an energetic confession, speaking before the court of "creatures who inhabit the invisible world," and "the dark rituals which bind them together in service of Satan," and implicating both Good and Osborne while asserting that "many other people in the colony were engaged in the devil's conspiracy against the Bay."[51]

Tituba's race is often cited as Carib-Indian or of African descent, but contemporary sources describe her only as an "Indian." Research by Elaine Breslaw has suggested that she may well have been captured in what is now Venezuela and brought to Barbados, and so may have been an Arawak Indian.[52] Other slightly later descriptions of her, by Gov. Thomas Hutchinson writing his history of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the 18th century, describe her as a "Spanish Indian."[53] In that day, that typically meant a Native American from the Carolinas/Georgia/Florida.

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"[54] 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".[55]

Other evidence

Other evidence included the confessions of the accused, the testimony of a person who confessed to being a witch identifying others as witches, the discovery of poppits, books of palmistry and horoscopes, or pots of ointments in the possession or home of the accused, and the existence of so-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, although in practice the witch's teat was usually insensitive by design, with examiners using secretly dulled needles to claim that the accused could not feel the prick of a pin.[citation needed]

Contemporary commentary on the trials

Rev. Increase Mather (1639–1723)

Various accounts and opinions about the proceedings began to appear in print in 1692.

Deodat Lawson, a former minister in Salem Village, visited Salem Village in March and April, 1692, and published an account in Boston in 1692 of what he witnessed and heard, called "A Brief and True Narrative of Some Remarkable Passages Relating to Sundry Persons Afflicted by Witchcraft, at Salem Village: Which happened from the Nineteenth of March, to the Fifth of April, 1692".[56]

Rev. William Milbourne, a Baptist minister in Boston, publicly petitioned the General Assembly in early June, 1692, challenging the use of spectral evidence by the Court. Milbourne had to post £200 bond or be arrested for "contriving, writing and publishing the said scandalous Papers".[57]

On June 15, 1692, twelve local ministers—including Increase Mather, Samuel Willard, Cotton Mather—submitted The Return of several Ministers to the Governor and Council in Boston, cautioning the authorities not to rely entirely on the use of spectral evidence, stating, "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 Persons being Represented by a Spectre unto the Afflicted".[58]

First page of "Some Miscellany Observations On our present Debates respecting Witchcrafts, in a Dialogue Between S. & B.", attributed to Samuel Willard.

Sometime in 1692, minister of the Third Church in Boston,[59] Samuel Willard anonymously published a short tract in Philadelphia entitled, "Some Miscellany Observations On our present Debates respecting Witchcrafts, in a Dialogue Between S. & B." The authors were listed as "P.E. and J. A." (Philip English and John Alden), but is generally attributed to Willard. In it, two characters, S (Salem) and B (Boston), discuss the way the proceedings were being conducted, with "B" urging caution about the use of testimony from the afflicted and the confessors, stating, "whatever comes from them is to be suspected; and it is dangerous using or crediting them too far".[60]

Title page of Wonders of the Invisible World (London, 1693) by Cotton Mather

Sometime in September 1692, at the request of Governor Phips, Cotton Mather wrote "Wonders of the Invisible World: Being an Account of the Tryals of Several Witches, Lately Executed in New-England," as a defense of the trials, to "help very much flatten that fury which we now so much turn upon one another".[61] It was published in Boston and London in 1692, although dated 1693, with an introductory letter of endorsement by William Stoughton, the Chief Magistrate. The book included accounts of five trials, with much of the material copied directly from the court records supplied to Mather by Stephen Sewall, his friend and Clerk of the Court.[62]

Cotton Mather's father, Increase Mather, published "Cases of Conscience Concerning Evil Spirits," dated October 3, 1692, after the last trials by the Court of Oyer & Terminer, although the title page lists the year of publication as "1693." In it, Mather repeated his caution about the reliance on spectral evidence, stating "It were better that Ten Suspected Witches should escape, than that one Innocent Person should be Condemned".[63] Second and third editions of this book were published in Boston and London in 1693, the third of which also included Lawson's Narrative and the anonymous "A Further Account of the Tryals of the New-England Witches, sent in a Letter from thence, to a Gentleman in London."[64]

A wealthy businessman in Boston and fellow Harvard graduate, Thomas Brattle circulated a letter in manuscript form in October 1692, in which he criticized the methods used by the Court to determine guilt, including the use of the touch test and the testimony of confessors, stating, "they are deluded, imposed upon, and under the influence of some evill spirit; and therefore unfit to be evidences either against themselves, or any one else"[65]

Aftermath and closure

Although the last trial was held in May 1693, public response to the events has continued. In the decades following the trials, the issues primarily had to do with establishing the innocence of the individuals who were convicted and compensating the survivors and families, and in the following centuries, the descendants of those unjustly accused and condemned have sought to honor their memories.

Reversals of attainder and compensation to the survivors and their families

Title page of A Modest Enquiry Into the Nature of Witchcraft by John Hale (Boston, 1702)

The first hint that public call for justice was not over happened in 1695, when Thomas Maule, a noted Quaker, publicly criticized the handling of the trials by the Puritan leaders in Chapter 29 of his book Truth Held Forth and Maintained, expanding on Increase Mather by stating, "it were better that one hundred Witches should live, than that one person be put to death for a witch, which is not a Witch".[66] For publishing this book, Maule was imprisoned twelve months before he was tried and found not guilty.[67]

Rev. Samuel Willard of Boston (1640–1707)

On December 17, 1696, the General Court ruled that there would be a fast day on January 14, 1697, "referring to the late Tragedy, raised among us by Satan and his Instruments."[68] On that day, Samuel Sewall asked Rev. Samuel Willard to read aloud his apology to the congregation of Boston's South Church, "to take the Blame & Shame" of the "late Commission of Oyer & Terminer at Salem".[69] Thomas Fiske and eleven other trial jurors also asked forgiveness.[70]

Robert Calef, a merchant in Boston and long-time public adversary of Cotton Mather, republished Cotton Mather's Wonders of the Invisible World in 1700 with additional material added to it, broadly criticizing the proceedings, under the title More Wonders of the Invisible World,[71] bringing the issue back into public debate. John Hale, a minister in Beverly who was present at many of the proceedings, had completed his book, A Modest Enquiry into the Nature of Witchcraft in 1697, but it wasn't published until 1702, after his death, and perhaps in response to Calef's book. Expressing regret over the actions taken, Hale admitted, "Such was the darkness of that day, the tortures and lamentations of the afflicted, and the power of former presidents, that we walked in the clouds, and could not see our way."[72]

Various petitions were filed between 1700 and 1703 with the Massachusetts government, demanding that the convictions be formally reversed. Those tried and found guilty were considered dead in the eyes of the law, and with convictions still on the books, those not executed were vulnerable to further accusations. The General Court initially reversed the attainder only for those who had filed petitions,[73] only three people who had been convicted but not executed: Abigail Faulkner Sr., Elizabeth Proctor and Sarah Wardwell.[74] In 1703, another petition was filed,[75] requesting a more equitable settlement for those wrongly accused, but it wasn't until 1709, when the General Court received a further request, that it took action on this proposal. In May 1709, 22 people who had been convicted of witchcraft, or whose relatives had been convicted of witchcraft, presented the government with a petition in which they demanded both a reversal of attainder and compensation for financial losses.[76]

Massachusetts Governor Joseph Dudley (1647–1720)

Repentance was evident within the Salem Village church. Rev. Joseph Green and the members of the church voted on February 14, 1703, after nearly two months of consideration, to reverse the excommunication of Martha Corey.[77] On August 25, 1706, when Ann Putnam Jr., one of the most active accusers, joined the Salem Village church, she publicly asked forgiveness. She claimed that she had not acted out of malice, but was being deluded by Satan into denouncing innocent people, and mentioned Rebecca Nurse in particular,[78] and was accepted for full membership.

On October 17, 1711, the General Court passed a bill reversing the judgment against the 22 people listed in the 1709 petition (there were seven additional people who had been convicted but had not signed the petition, but there was no reversal of attainder for them). Two months later, on December 17, 1711, Governor Joseph Dudley also authorized monetary compensation to the 22 people in the 1709 petition. The amount of 578 pounds 12 shillings was authorized to be divided among the survivors and relatives of those accused, and most of the accounts were settled within a year,[79] but Phillip English's extensive claims weren't settled until 1718.[80]

Finally, on March 6, 1712, Rev. Nicholas Noyes, and members of the Salem church reversed Noyes' earlier excommunications of their former members, Rebecca Nurse and Giles Corey.[81]

Memorials by descendants

Rebecca Nurse's descendants erected an obelisk-shaped granite memorial in her memory in 1885 on the grounds of the Nurse Homestead in Danvers, with an inscription from Whittier. In 1892 an additional monument was erected in honor of 40 neighbors who signed a petition in support of Nurse.[82]

Not all the condemned had been exonerated in the early 18th century, and so in 1957, descendants of the six people who had been wrongly convicted and executed but who had not been included in the bill for a reversal of attainder in 1711, or added to it in 1712, demanded that the General Court formally clear the names of their ancestral family members. An act was passed pronouncing the innocence of those accused, although it listed only Ann Pudeator by name. The others were listed only as "certain other persons," phrasing which failed specifically to name Bridget Bishop, Susannah Martin, Alice Parker, Wilmot Redd and Margaret Scott.[83]

Trials-related family-history groups offer places where descendants can memorialize their ancestors while sharing ideas and information about their research. The Associated Daughters of Early American Witches was founded in 1987 in California. It invites members who are women and able to prove descent from an ancestor who was accused of witchcraft including those at the Salem trials.[84] Bloodlines of Salem was founded in 2007 in Utah. It welcomes members who are able to prove descent from a trials participant or who choose simply to support the group.

The Salem Witch Trials Memorial Park in Salem
Fanciful representation of the Salem witch trials, lithograph from 1892.

The 300th anniversary of the trials was marked in Salem and Danvers by a variety of events in 1992. A memorial park was dedicated in Salem with a stone bench for each of those executed in 1692. Speakers at the ceremony in August included Arthur Miller and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel.[85] Danvers erected its own new memorial,[86] and reinterred bones unearthed in the 1950s, assumed to be those of George Jacobs, Sr., in a new resting place at the Rebecca Nurse Homestead.[82]

In 1992, The Danvers Tercentennial Committee also persuaded the Massachusetts House of Representatives to issue a resolution honoring those who had died. After much convincing and hard work by Salem school teacher Paula Keene, Representatives J. Michael Ruane and Paul Tirone and others, the names of all those not previously listed were added to this resolution. When it was finally signed on October 31, 2001, by Governor Jane Swift, more than 300 years later, all were finally proclaimed innocent.[87]

In literature, media and popular culture

The story of the witchcraft accusations, trials and executions has captured the imagination of writers and artists in the centuries since the event took place, many of which interpretations have taken liberties with the facts of the historical episode in the name of literary and/or artistic license. Occurring at the intersection between a gradually disappearing medieval past and an emerging enlightenment and dealing with torture and confession, such interpretations often reveal the allegedly clear boundaries between the medieval and the postmedieval as cultural constructions.[88]

Medical theories about the reported afflictions

The cause of the symptoms of those who claimed affliction continues to be a subject of interest. Various medical and psychological explanations for the observed symptoms have been explored by researchers, including psychological hysteria in response to Indian attacks, convulsive ergotism caused by eating rye bread made from grain infected by the fungus Claviceps purpurea (a natural substance from which LSD is derived),[89] an epidemic of bird-borne encephalitis lethargica, and sleep paralysis to explain the nocturnal attacks alleged by some of the accusers.[90] Other modern historians are less inclined to believe in biological explanations, preferring instead to explore motivations such as jealousy, spite, and a need for attention to explain behavior they contend was simply acting.

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Gretchen 2009
  2. ^ 1 Glanvill, Joseph. "Essay IV Against modern Sadducism in the matter of Witches and Apparitions" in Essay on several important subjects in philosophy and religion, 2nd Ed, London: (printed by Jd for John Baker and H. Mortlock, 1676, p.1-4 (in the history 201 course-pack compiled by S. McSheffrey &T.McCormick) 26
  3. ^ 1 Glanvill, Joseph. "Essay IV Against modern Sadducism in the matter of Witches and Apparitions" in Essay on several important subjects in philosophy and religion, 2nd Ed, London: (printed by Jd for John Baker and H. Mortlock, 1676, p.1-4 (in the history 201 course-pack compiled by S. McSheffrey &T.McCormick) 27
  4. ^ 3 Mather, Cotton. Memorable Providence, Relating to Witchcraft and Possessions. (accessed June 5, 2010)
  5. ^ Clarence F. Jewett, The Memorial History of Boston: Including Suffolk County, Massachusetts. 1630–1880 (Ticknor and Company, 1881) pages 133–137
  6. ^ The Glorious Revolution in Massachusetts: Selected Documents, 1689–1692 (henceforth cited as Glorious Revolution), eds. Robert Earle Moody and Richard Clive Simmons, Colonial Society of Massachusetts: Boston, 1988, p. 2.
  7. ^ "Letter of Increase Mather to John Richards, 26 October 1691, Glorious Revolution p. 621.
  8. ^ The Diary of Samuel Sewall, Vol. 1: 1674–1708 (henceforth cited as Sewall Diary), ed. M. Halsey Thomas, Farrar, Straus & Giroux: New York, 1973, p. 287.
  9. ^ Sewall Diary, p. 288.
  10. ^ Sewall Diary, p. 291.
  11. ^ Massachusetts Archives Collections, Governor's Council Executive Records, Vol. 2, 1692, p. 165. Certified copy from the original records at Her Majestie's State Paper Office, London, September 16, 1846.
  12. ^ Governor's Council Executive Records, Vol. 2, 1692, pp. 174–177.
  13. ^ Salem Possessed p. 6.
  14. ^ Records of the Court of Assistants, pp. 309–313.
  15. ^ Salem Village Record Book, June 18, 1689.
  16. ^ Salem Village Record Book, October 10, 1689.
  17. ^ Salem Village Record Book, December 27, 1681.
  18. ^ Starkey 1949, pp. 26–28
  19. ^ Jackson 1956, pp. 10–11
  20. ^ Jackson 1956, p. 12
  21. ^ Jackson 1956, pp. 10–12
  22. ^ Mather, Cotton. Memorable Providence, Relating to Witcraft and Possessions. (accessed June 5, 2010
  23. ^ Mather, Cotton. Memorable Providence, Relating to Witcraft and Possessions. (accessed June 5, 2010)
  24. ^ John Hale (1697). A Modest Enquiry Into the Nature of Witchcraft. Benjamin Elliot. 
  25. ^ Deodat Lawson (1692). A Brief and True Narrative of Some Remarkable Passages Relating to Sundry Persons Afflicted by Witchcraft, at Salem Village: Which happened from the Nineteenth of March, to the Fifth of April, 1692. Benjamin Harris.;idno=wit121. 
  26. ^ See the warrants for their arrests at the University of Virginia archives: 004 0001 and 033 0001
  27. ^ 4 The Examination of Sarah Good, March 1, 1692. “Examination and Evidence of Some the Accused Witches in Salem, 1692. (accessed June 6, 2010)
  28. ^ 7 trans. Montague Summer. Questions VII & XI. “Maleus Maleficarum Part I.” (June 9, 2010)
  29. ^ Boyer 3
  30. ^
  31. ^ For more information about family relationships, see Enders A. Robinson (1991). The Devil Discovered: Salem Witchcraft 1692. Hippocrene: New York. ISBN 1577661761. , Enders A Robinson (1992). Salem Witchcraft and Hawthorne's House of the Seven Gables. Heritage Books: Bowie, MD. ISBN 1556135157. , and Marilynne K. Roach (2002). The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-To-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege. Cooper Square Press, New York. ISBN 1589791320. 
  32. ^ pp. 35–40 of Kenneth Silverman, editor (1971). Selected Letters of Cotton Mather. Louisiana State University Press: Baton Rouge. ISBN 0807109207. 
  33. ^ 1 The Examination of Bridget Bishop, April 19, 1692. “Examination and Evidence of Some Accused Witches in Salem, 1692. (accessed June 5, 2010)
  34. ^ See The Complaint v. Elizabeth Proctor & Sarah Cloyce for an example of one of the primary sources of this type.
  35. ^ The Arrest Warrant of Rebecca Nurse
  36. ^ The Examination of Martha Corey
  37. ^ For an example: Summons for Witnesses v. Rebecca Nurse
  38. ^ Indictment of Sarah Good for Afflicting Sarah Vibber
  39. ^ Indictment of Abigail Hobbs for Covenanting
  40. ^ The Death Warrant of Bridget Bishop
  41. ^ Death Warrant for Sarah Good, Rebecca Nurse, Susannah Martin, Elizabeth How & Sarah Wilds
  42. ^ Boyer 8.
  43. ^ Hansen 1969, p. 154
  44. ^ Robert Calef, More Wonders of the Invisible World 1700, p. 106.
  45. ^ Bunn & Geiss 1997, p. 7
  46. ^ Narratives of the Witchcraft Cases, 1648–1706, George Lincoln Burr, ed., pp. 169–190.
  47. ^ Boyer & Nissenbaum 1972, pp. 278–279
  48. ^ Boyer & Nissenbaum 1972, pp. 445, 450
  49. ^ Reis 1997, p. 56
  50. ^ John Hale (1697). A Modest Enquiry into the Nature of Witchcraft. Benjamin Elliot, Boston.  facsimile of document at the Salem witch trials documentary archive, University of Virginia.
  51. ^ Erikson 2005
  52. ^ Breslaw 1996, p. 13
  53. ^ Thomas Hutchinson, The History of the Province of Massachusetts-Bay, from the Charter of King William and Queen Mary, in 1691, Until the Year 1750, vol. 2, ed. Lawrence Shaw Mayo. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1936).
  54. ^ Boyer & Nissenbaum 1972, p. 971
  55. ^ John Hale, A Modest Enquiry into the Nature of Witchcraft, 1696. p. 59. See:
  56. ^ Cornell University Library Witchcraft Collection
  57. ^ National Archives (Great Britain), CO5/785, pp. 336-337.
  58. ^ "Postscript" pp. 73–74.
  59. ^
  60. ^ Some Miscellany
  61. ^ Silverman 1971, pp. 43–44
  62. ^ Silverman 1971, pp. 44–45
  63. ^, p. 66.
  64. ^ pp. 9–12.
  65. ^ p. 173.
  66. ^ p. 185.
  67. ^ Cornell University Library Witchcraft Collection
  68. ^ Robert Calef, More Wonders of the Invisible World Part 5, p. 143.
  69. ^ Francis 2005, pp. 181–182
  70. ^ Robert Calef, More Wonders of the Invisible World Part 5, pp. 144–145.
  71. ^ More Wonders Of The Invisible World
  72. ^ As published in George Lincoln Burr Narratives p. 525.
  73. ^ Salem Witchcraft Project
  74. ^ Robinson 2001, pp. xvi–xvii
  75. ^ Massachusetts Archives Collection, vol. 135, no. 121, p. 108. Massachusetts State Archives. Boston, MA.
  76. ^ Massachusetts Archives, Vol. 135, Page 112, No. 126.
  77. ^ Roach 2002, p. 567
  78. ^ Upham 2000, p. 510
  79. ^ Essex County Court Archives, vol. 2, no. 136, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.
  80. ^ Acts and Resolves, Public and Private, of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, vol. 9, 1718–1718, Chap. 82 (Boston: Wright and Potter, 1902), pp. 618–19.
  81. ^ Roach 2002, p. 571
  82. ^ a b Rebecca Nurse Homestead
  83. ^ Chapter 145 of the resolves of 1957, Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
  84. ^ Home, Associated Daughters of Early American Witches,, retrieved October 10, 2010 
  85. ^ Salem Massachusetts – Salem Witch Trials The Stones: July 10 and July 19, 1692
  86. ^ Salem Village Witchcraft Victims' Memorial
  87. ^ Chapter 122 of the Acts of 2001, Commonwealth of Massachusetts (see; "New Law Exonerates", Boston Globe, November 1, 2001.
  88. ^ Bernard Rosenthal, "Medievalism and the Salem Witch Trials," in: Medievalism in the Modern World. Essays in Honour of Leslie J. Workman, ed. Richard Utz and Tom Shippey (Turnhout: Brepols, 1998), pp. 61-68.
  89. ^ Secrets of the Dead: The Witches Curse PBS.
  90. ^ Justice at Salem William H. Cooke.
  • Boyer, Paul S.; Nissenbaum, Stephen, eds. (1972), Salem-Village Witchcraft: A Documentary Record of Local Conflict in Colonial New England, Northeastern University Press, ISBN 1-55553-165-2 
  • Breslaw, Elaine G. (1996), Tituba, Reluctant Witch of Salem: Devilish Indians and Puritan Fantasies, NYU Press, ISBN 0-8147-1307-6 
  • Bunn, Ivan; Geiss, Gilbert (1997), Trial of Witches: A Seventeenth-Century Witchcraft Prosecution, Routledge, ISBN 978-0415171090 
  • Cooke, William H. (2009), Justice at Salem: Reexamining the Witch Trials, Undertaker Press, ISBN 1-59594-322-6, 
  • Erikson, Kai T. (2005), Wayward Puritans: A Study in the Sociology of Deviance, Allyn & Bacon, ISBN 0-205-42403-1 
  • Francis, Richard (2005), Judge Sewall's Apology, Harper-Collins 
  • Glanvill, Joseph. “Essay IV Against modern Sadducism in the matter of Witches and Apparitions” in Essay on several important subjects in philosophy and religion, 2nd Ed, London: (printed by Jd for John Baker and H. Mortlock, 1676, p. 1-4 (in the history 201 course-pack compiled by S. McSheffrey &T.McCormick)
  • Gretchen, A. (2009), The Specter of Salem: Remembering the Witch Trials in Nineteenth-Century America, University of Chicago Press 
  • Hansen, Chadwick (1969), Witchcraft at Salem, Brazillier, ISBN 0-8076-1137-9 
  • Jackson, Shirley (1956), The Witchcraft of Salem Village, Random House, ISBN 0-394-89176-7 
  • Mather, Cotton. Memorable Providence, Relating to Witcraft and Possessions. (accessed June 5, 2010)
  • Trans. Montague Summer. Questions VII & XI. “Maleus Maleficarum Part I.” (June 9, 2010)
  • Reis, Elizabeth (1997), Damned Women: Sinners and Witches in Puritan New England, Cornell University Press, ISBN 0-8014-8611-4 
  • Roach, Marilynne K. (2002), The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-To-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege, Cooper Square Press, ISBN 1-58979-132-0 
  • Robinson, Enders A. (1991), The Devil Discovered: Salem Witchcraft 1692, Hippocrene, ISBN 1-57766-176-1 
  • Silverman, Kenneth, ed. (1971), "Letter of Cotton Mather to Stephen Sewall, September 20, 1692", Selected Letters of Cotton Mather, University of Louisiana Press, ISBN 0-807-10920-7 
  • Starkey, Marion L. (1949), The Devil in Massachusetts, Alfred A. Knopf, ISBN 0-385-03509-8 
  • Upham, Charles W. (2000) [1867], Salem Witchcraft, 2, Dover Publications, ISBN 0-486-40899-X 
  • The Examination of Bridget Bishop, April 19, 1692. “Examination and Evidence of Some Accused Witches in Salem, 1692. (accessed June 5, 2010)
  • The Examination of Sarah Good, March 1, 1692. “Examination and Evidence of Some the Accused Witches i Salem, 1692. (accessed June 6, 2010)

Further reading

  • Aronson, Marc. Witch-Hunt: Mysteries of the Salem Witch Trials. Atheneum: New York. 2003. ISBN 1-4169-0315-1
  • Boyer, Paul & Nissenbaum, Stephen. Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft. Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA. 1974. ISBN 0-674-78526-6
  • Brown, David C.. A Guide to the Salem Witchcraft Hysteria of 1692. David C. Brown: Washington Crossing, PA. 1984. ISBN 0-9613415-0-5
  • Burns, Margo & Rosenthal, Bernard. "Examination of the Records of the Salem Witch Trials". William and Mary Quarterly, 2008, Vol. 65, No. 3, pp. 401–422.
  • Demos, John. Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982. ISBN 0-19-517483-6
  • Godbeer, Richard. The Devil's Dominion: Magic and Religion in Early New England. Cambridge University Press: New York. 1992. ISBN 0-521-46670-9
  • Goss, K. David (2007). The Salem Witch Trials: A Reference Guide. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0313320950. 
  • Hill, Frances. A Delusion of Satan: The Full Story of the Salem Witch Trials. Doubleday: New York. 1995. ISBN 0-306-81159-6
  • Hoffer, Peter Charles. "The Salem Witchcraft Trials: A Legal History". University of Kansas: Lawrence, KS. 1997. ISBN 0-7006-0859-1
  • Karlsen, Carol F. The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England. New York: Vintage, 1987. [This work provides essential background on other witchcraft accusations in 17th century New England.] ISBN 0-393-31759-5
  • Lasky, Kathryn. Beyond the Burning Time. Point: New York, NY 1994 ISBN 0-590-47332-8
  • Le Beau, Bryan, F. The Story of the Salem Witch Trials: `We Walked in Clouds and Could Not See Our Way`. Prentice-Hall: Upper Saddle River, NJ. 1998. ISBN 0-13-442542-1
  • Mappen, Marc, ed. 'Witches & Historians: Interpretations of Salem. 2nd Edition. Keiger: Malabar, FL. 1996. ISBN 0-88275-653-2
  • Miller, Arthur. The Crucible — a play which compares McCarthyism to a witch-hunt. ISBN 0-14-243733-6
  • Norton, Mary Beth. In the Devil's Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692. New York: Random House, 2002. ISBN 0-375-70690-9
  • Poole, W. Scott. Monsters in America: Our Historical Obsession with the Hideous and the Haunting. Waco, Texas: Baylor, 2011. ISBN 978-1-60258-314-6.
  • Robbins, Rossell Hope. The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology. Crown Publishers Inc., 1959. ISBN 0-600-01183-6
  • Robinson, Enders A. Salem Witchcraft and Hawthorne's House of the Seven Gables. Heritage Books: Bowie, MD. 1992. ISBN 1-55613-515-7
  • Rosenthal, Bernard. Salem Story: Reading the Witch Trials of 1692. Cambridge University Press: New York. 1993. ISBN 0-521-55820-4
  • Rosenthal, Bernard, ed., et al. Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt. Cambridge University Press: New York. 2009. ISBN 0-521-66166-8
  • Sologuk, Sally. Diseases Can Bewitch Durum Millers. Milling Journal. Second quarter 2005.
  • Spanos, N. P., J. Gottlieb. "Ergots and Salem village witchcraft: A critical appraisal". Science: 194. 1390–1394:1976.
  • Trask, Richard B. `The Devil hath been raised`: A Documentary History of the Salem Village Witchcraft Outbreak of March 1692. Revised edition. Yeoman Press: Danvers, MA. 1997. ISBN 0-9638595-1-X
  • Weisman, Richard. Witchcraft, Magic, and Religion in 17th-Century Massachusetts. University of Massachusetts Press: Amherst, MA. 1984. ISBN 0-87023-494-3
  • Wilson, Jennifer M. Witch. Authorhouse, February 2005. ISBN 1-4208-2109-1
  • Wilson, Lori Lee. The Salem Witch Trials. How History Is Invented series. Lerner: Minneapolis. 1997. ISBN 0-8225-4889-5
  • Woolf, Alex. Investigating History Mysteries. Heinemann Library: 2004. ISBN 0-431-16022-8
  • Wright, John Hardy. Sorcery in Salem. Arcadia: Portsmouth, NH. 1999. ISBN 0-7385-0084-4

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  • Salem witch trials — [pl] a series of trials in 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts, of people accused of being witches. They began after a group of young girls started behaving in a crazy way and saying that they were ‘possessed’. People in the town were quick to accuse… …   Universalium

  • Cultural depictions of the Salem witch trials — Fanciful representation of the Salem witch trials, lithograph from 1892. Cultural depictions of the Salem witch trials abound in art, literature and popular media in the United States, from the early 19th century to the present day. Contents …   Wikipedia

  • Cultural depictions of the Salem Witch Trials — abound in art, literature and popular media in the United States, from the early 19th century to the present day. The Salem witch trials in literature * Rachel Dyer (1820), by John Neal (1793 1876)* American poet John Greenleaf Whittier (1807… …   Wikipedia

  • (the) Salem witch trials — the Salem witch trials UK [ˈseɪləm ˈwitʃ ˌtraɪəlz] US famous trials in the late 17th century in the US town of Salem, Massachusetts in which many people were found guilty of being witches and were killed… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Timeline of the Salem Witch Trials — This Timeline of the Salem Witch Trials is a quick overview of the events.Preceding the initial outbreak;1688 Cotton Mather publishes Memorable Providences, Relating to Witchcrafts and Possessions [cite… …   Wikipedia

  • Salem witch trials, the — Sa|lem witch tri|als, the [ seıləm witʃ ,traıəlz ] famous trials in the late 17th century in the U.S. town of Salem, Massachusetts in which many people were found guilty of being WITCHES and were killed …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • Witch trials in the Early Modern period — Punishments for witchcraft in 16th century Germany. Woodcut from Tengler s Laienspiegel, Mainz, 1508. The Witch trials in the Early Modern period were a period of witch hunts between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries,[1] when across Early… …   Wikipedia

  • Witch trials in Early Modern Europe — The period of witch trials in Early Modern Europe came in waves and then subsided. There were early trials in the 15th and early 16th centuries, but then the witch scare went into decline, before becoming a big issue again and peaking in the 17th …   Wikipedia

  • the Salem witch trials — UK [ˈseɪləm ˈwɪtʃ ˌtraɪəlz] / US famous trials in the late 17th century in the US town of Salem, Massachusetts in which many people were found guilty of being witches and were killed …   English dictionary

  • People of the Salem Witch Trials — The accused= Found guilty and executed*Bridget Bishop (June 10, 1692) *Rebecca (Towne) Nurse (July 19, 1692) *Sarah (Solart) Good (July 19, 1692) *Elizabeth (Jackson) Howe (July 19, 1692) *Sarah (Averill) Wildes (July 19, 1692) *Susannah (North)… …   Wikipedia

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