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July 19th, 1692 – Tuesday

This entry was posted on Jul 19 2011

roach-witch-trials-book Quoted from

The Salem Witch Trials:  A Day-By-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege by Marilynne K. Roach, page 201-202

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Salem Town

Between eight o’clock and noon, Sheriff George Corwin transported Rebecca Nurse, Susanna Martin, Elizabeth How, Sarah Good, and Sarah Wildes – all praying that God would prove their innocence – from prison by cart through the streets of Salem to be hanged.  Quiet housewives or turbulent scolds, well-to-do or in rags, all five women now faced a painful, public death.

It was customary for the dying to attempt facing death in a spirit of forgiveness lest their souls appear before Heavenly judgment seething hatred.  Sarah Good would have none of it.  At the gallows Reverend Nicholas Noyes urged her to confess what the courts had seemingly proven and at least not die a liar.  When she denied the guild, Noyes said she knew she was a witch.

“You are a liar,” she snapped.  “I am no more a witch than you are a wizard, and if you take away my life God will give you blood to drink.”  (The folk curse was loosely based on a verse in Revelation.  People later remembered it when Noyes, it was said, died bleeding at the mouth when a blood vessel burst in his head.)

Rumors hinted that the Devil might attempt a last-minute rescue of his followers, but all five hanged as scheduled on the ledge above the tidal pool.

Joseph Ballard probably witnessed the executions on his way from Andover.  Soon after, he entered a complaint in Salem before Magistrates Gedney, Corwin, Hathorne, and Higginson against Mary Lacy and her daughter Mary Jr. for tormenting his wife Elizabeth with “strange pains and pressures.”  He even put up a £100 bond “on condition to prosecute.”  (Plaintiffs customarily did this in civil suits, the sum forfeit if the plaintiff didn’t appear in court, but this is the first recorded bond in these witch cases where the accusations seem to have been treated as a public emergency.)  The magistrates issued a warrant for only Goody Lacy, however, and not for her daughter.

The bodies of the dead, meantime, were buried (if only temporarily) near the rocky execution site.  By family tradition the Nurses waited for darkness (sunset was about a quarter after seven) then rowed up the North River to the bend by the ledge and exhumed Rebecca’s body.  According to another tradition Caleb Buffum  (a distant relative) noticed this effort from his home nearby and helped carry the remains to the shore.  From there a small craft could slip downstream past town on the midnight’s high tide, then north up the estuary to Crane River and along its narrowing length to the Nurses’ land, where they buried her privately on the homeground.

sarah-good-memorial-stone

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