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Chronology of the 1692 Salem Witch Trials

This entry was posted on Jun 11 2013

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Chronology

1692

January 20

Betty Parris, Reverend Parris’ nine year old daughter, falls ill.  Soon, other girls in Salem Village are likewise “afflicted.”

Mid-February

D. William Griggs, village physician, decides that the girls are bewitched.

February 25

On the advice of Mary Sibley, a member of Parris’ congregation, Tituba and John Indian, Parris’ servants, bake a witch cake to persuade the girls to reveal the names of those who are bewitching them.

February 29

Warrants are issued for the arrests of Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne and Tituba, named by the afflicted girls.

March 1

Tituba, Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne are examined in the meeting house in Salem Village by Magistrates John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin.  Only Tituba confesses.

March 19

Abigail Williams accuses Rebecca Nurse of witchcraft.

March 24

Rebecca Nurse is examined before Magistrates John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin.

April 11

Elizabeth Proctor and Sarah Cloyce (Rebecca Nurse’s sister) are examined in Salem Town.  John Proctor is accused and later imprisoned.

May 4

Rev. George Burroughs is arrested in Wells, Maine.

May 10

Sarah Osborne dies in prison in Boston.

May 14

Increase Mather returns from England with a new charter and a new governor, Sir William Phips.

May 27

The Court of Oyer and Terminer is established to try witchcraft cases.  Its members are:  Lieutenant Governor William Stoughton, Nathaniel Saltonstall, Bartholomew Gedney, Peter Sergeant, Samuel Sewall, Wait Still Winthrop, John Richards, John Hathorne, and Jonathan Corwin.  Sometime after June 2 Nathaniel Saltonstall resigns from the court, dissatisfied with its proceedings.

June 2

Bridget Bishop is tried and condemned at the first sitting of the court in Salem.

June 10

Bridget Bishop is executed on Gallows Hill in Salem.

June 15

Twelve ministers of the colony advise the court not to rely entirely on spectral evidence to obtain convictions.

July 19

Rebecca Nurse, Susannah Martin, Elizabeth Howe, Sarah Good, and Sarah Wildes are executed on Gallows Hill.  Sarah Good tells Rev. Noyes that if she is hanged he will have blood to drink.  Tradition says that twenty-five years later, Noyes died of a hemorrhage of the throat.

August 19

George Jacobs, Martha Carrier, George Burroughs, John Proctor and John Willard are hanged.  Although George Burroughs recited the Lord’s Prayer perfectly on the gallows, Cotton Mather insisted that, “…the Devil has often been transformed into an Angel of Light.”

September 19

Giles Corey is pressed to death for refusing to stand trial.

September 22

Martha Corey, Margaret Scott, Mary Easty (sister of Rebecca Nurse and Sarah Cloyce), Alice Parker, Ann Pudeator, Wilmott Redd, Samuel Wardwell, and Mary Parker are hanged on Gallows Hill.

October 3

Increase Mather addresses a meeting of ministers in Cambridge to warn against reliance on spectral evidence.  “It were better that ten suspected witches should escape than one innocent person should be condemned…”

October 29

Gov. Phips dissolves the Court of Oyer and Terminer.

November 25

A Superior Court tries to the remaining witchcraft cases.

1693

January 3-13

The new Superior Court condemns three of the fifty-six persons accused of witchcraft.  Chief Justice Stoughton signs death warrants for those three and for five others condemned in 1692.

January 31

William Stoughton leaves the court after Gov. Phips reprieves the eight Stoughton had condemned.

May

Governor Phips pardons those still imprisoned on the charge of witchcraft.

1694

Witchcraft is no longer an actionable legal offense in Massachusetts Bay Colony

January 1696

Twelve of the jurors of the Court of Oyer and Terminer sign a statement of contrition.

1696-97

Joseph Green, the new minister of Salem Village, tries to bring peace and reconciliation to his parishioners by seating the families of the accusers and accused together in his church.

January 13, 1697

A day of “prayer with fasting” is observed to ask God to “…pardon all the errors of His Servants.”  Judge Samuel Sewall declares his feelings of “blame and shame” and asks God to pardon his sins.

1697

Samuel Parris resigns from the ministry of Salem Village and moves to Boston.

1702

The General Court declares the witchcraft procedure, especially the use of spectral evidence, to be unlawful.

August 1706

Ann Putnam stands in church while Rev. Joseph Green reads her statement repenting her role in the witchcraft trials.

1709

Twenty-one survivors and their families petition the court for redress of the loss of their civil rights and property.

October 1711

The General Court reverses the attainders (loss of civil rights) of those victims whose survivors had so petitioned.  Gov. Dudley never signs the petition.

1711

Supervised by Stephen Sewall, five hundred seventy-eight English pounds are distributed to the survivors and families.  Amounts of restitution vary.

By 1711

The Province of Massachusetts Bay becomes one of the few governments ever to voluntarily compensate persons who had been victimized by its own policies.

August 28, 1957

A General Court Resolve in favor of “Ann Pudeator and certain others” absolves their descendants of their burden of guilt and shame.  The Resolve states that the accused may have been tried illegally.

October 31, 2001

Governor Jane M. Swift of Massachusetts amends the 1957 resolve to include Ann Pudeator, Bridget Bishop, Susannah Martin, Alice Parker, and Wilmott Redd.

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