In the town of Salem, Massachusetts in January 1692, several
people were found to supposedly be witches after behaving strangely
and caused a craze for destroying all “witches” in the town.
On January 20, Abigail Williams and Elizabeth Parris began to
behave peculiarly. They would sometimes blasphemously scream
unexpectedly, have seizures, go into trance-like states and have
mysterious spells. A few other girls in Salem soon began to act like
this. In Mid-February doctors declared the girls were witches.
The town first responded by fasting and holding prayer
services to try to drive away the evil forces. They next made a
witch cake, made with rye meal and the girl’s urine to reveal the
identities of the witches. After a great deal of pressure, Elizabeth
and Abigail named Elizabeth’s Indian slave Tituba, Sarah Good, and
Sarah Osborne. All three were arrested on February 29. Tituba
confessed to seeing the devil and there was a large group of witches
Over March, many people reported that they had seen strange
actions from people. Over March these are some of the people who
were convicted and examined:
Corey was accused on the 12th
Nurse was accused on the 19th
Corey was examined on the 21st
Nurse was examined on the 24th
Proctor was accused on the 28th
are the accuses and examinations in April:
Cloyce, sister of Rebecca Nurse was accused of witchcraft on the 3rd
the 11th, Elizabeth Proctor and Sarah Cloyce were
examined John Proctor was also accused and imprisoned
On the 19th, Abigail Hobbs,
Bridget Bishop, Giles Corey, and Mary Warren were examined, and of
them only Abigail Hobbs confessed.
Then on the 22nd, Nehemiah Abbot,
William and Deliverance Hobbs, Edward and Sarah Bishop, Mary Easty,
Mary Black, Sarah Wilds, and Mary English were examined. Nehemiah
Abbot was the only one cleared of charges.
And that was not the end of it. More examinations followed
throughout May and June. But finally, deaths and executions started.
Sarah Osborne died in a Boston prison on May 10. On June 10, Bridget
Bishop was the first to be executed, by hanging, after being found
guilty on June 2. After this there began some opposition to the
witch trials, but on June 29 and 30, Rebecca Nurse, Susannah Martin,
Sarah Wildes, Sarah Good, and Elizabeth Howe were found guilty of
witchcraft. They were all hanged on July 19.
The Witch Hunt was not over yet. At the beginning of August,
George Jacobs, Sr., Martha Carrier, George Burroughs, John and
Elizabeth Proctor, and John Willard were found guilty of witchcraft
and were hanged on August 19.
Then on September 9, six more people, Martha Corey, Mary
Easty, Alice Parker, Ann Pudeator, Dorcas Hoar, and Mary Brady were
condemned to death for witchcraft. Eighteen days later, on the 17th,
9 more were added to the list of witches, they were Margaret Scott,
Wilmott Redd, Samuel Wardwell, Mary Parker, Abigail Faulkner,
Rebecca Eames, Mary Lacy, Ann Foster, and Abigail Hobbs were
condemned for witchcraft and hung on the 22nd.
But one of the people examined, Giles Corey, refused a trial.
He thought that was innocent and did not need one. The court
responded by placing heavy weights on his body and pressing him to
death on the 19th.
Three days later, Dorcas Hoar was the first pleading innocent
to confess to the court. As a result, her execution was delayed.
By October, 20
people had been killed for supposed witchcraft and many people began
to oppose the trials. On October 8, Thomas Brattle criticized the
witch trials in a letter to Governor Phips, which caused great
change in the trials. Governor Phips then banned relying on spectral
and intangible evidence in trials. Following this, the General court
of Massachusetts created the Superior court to decide the remaining
witch cases. Nobody was convicted by this court, and that ended the
in Salem Village for information, maps, and historical
documents. Or look for these books: The Witch of Blackbird
Pond by Elizabeth George Spear and Tituba of Salem Village of
Salem Village by Ann Petry.