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What Happened to Abigail Williams?

This entry was posted on Jan 16 2012

crucible-book On Friday during a Skype in the Classroom “virtual museum tour,” a student at Oliver Street School in Newark, New Jersey – whose class is studying Arthur Miller’s The Crucible – asked what happened to the real Abigail Williams after the trials.

While Wikipedia can offer information on a wide array of subjects, there is no reason to accept the undocumented assertion that Abigail fled after the trials, becoming a prostitute.  Reliable Salem witch trials scholars are unable to give detail about her last years with any certainty, but Marilynne Roach says in The Salem Witch Trials:  A Day-By-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege, “…Abigail Williams, haunted to the end, apparently died before the end of 1697, if not sooner, no older than seventeen.” (page 518)

According to a biographical essay published on the University of Virginia Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive and Transcription Project:

Even though Abigail played a major role as an accuser at the beginning of the trials, especially in March, April, and May, she gave her last testimony on June 3rd 1692. There is no historical documentation suggesting why Abigail virtually disappeared from the court hearings. In addition, there are no records indicating what happened to Abigail after the events of 1692. It is suggested that she never married and died a single woman, but without any evidence we will never be quite certain.

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