RSS

Witch Trials Weekly: February 1692

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Apr 04 2014

Witch Trials Weekly: Video 5, February 12th through February 18th

Church Control

Witch Trials Weekly: Video 6, February 19th through February 25th

The First Examinations


Witch Trials Weekly: Video 7, February 26th through March 3rd

Diagnosis, Witch Cake, and the Spread of the Evil Hand

Witch Trials Weekly: January 1692

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Feb 13 2014

Meet the Author & Book Signing – Marilynne K. Roach

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Jul 31 2013

six-women_0 Six Women of Salem: The Untold Story of the Accused and their Accusers in the Salem Witch Trials

Date:                            October 3, 2013

Time:                          6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Admission:                   Free

For reservations email: faq@salemwitchmuseum.com

Or call:                          978.744.1692

Where:                         Salem Witch Museum

19 ½ Washington Square North

Salem, MA  01970

In Six Women of Salem: The Untold Story of the Accused and their Accusers in the Salem Witch Trials, author and historian, Marilynne K. Roach chronicles the lives of six specific women involved in the witch hunt who represent the accusers, the accused, or both, and uses their unique stories to illuminate the larger crisis of the trials. Roach works to reconstruct the events of the trials, bringing to life this representative group of women, and examines the entire experience of the Salem Witch Trials through the eyes of those who lived through the hysteria and delivers a historically intimate narrative that gives readers a front row seat to this desperate and dangerous time in history.

Marilynne K. Roach works as both a historian and illustrator. Her illustrations, how-to articles, and travel pieces have been featured in the Boston Globe. She’s lectured to groups ranging in age from kindergarteners to senior citizens, and is the author of the classic The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege.

Chronology of the 1692 Salem Witch Trials

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Jun 11 2013

calendar

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.

Marilynne Roach Signs Copies of Day-By-Day Chronicle

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Apr 23 2013

We have the privilege of working closely with historian Marilynne Roach on many projects.  She answers nuanced questions about the Salem witch trials, helping our staff interpret the underpinnings of the events, and is a perpetual inspiration in understanding what can be learned from Essex County’s 1692 experience.

If you don’t yet own a copy of The Salem Witch Trials:  A Day-By-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege, now is your chance to get one of 20 remaining signed copies of the book.

In our shop or online, while supplies last!

marilynne-signing-books

Spectral Evidence

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Feb 15 2013

Among the more common questions we’re asked is,  “What is spectral evidence and what role did it play in the Salem witch trials?”

First let’s get a working definition.

US Legal.com :

http://definitions.uslegal.com/s/spectral-evidence/

“Spectral evidence refers to a witness testimony that the accused person’s spirit or spectral shape appeared to him/her witness in a dream at the time the accused person’s physical body was at another location. It was accepted in the courts during the Salem Witch Trials. The evidence was accepted on the basis that the devil and his minions were powerful enough to send their spirits, or specters, to pure, religious people in order to lead them astray.

In spectral evidence, the admission of victims’ conjectures is governed only by the limits of their fears and imaginations, whether or not objectively proven facts are forthcoming to justify them. [State v. Dustin, 122 N.H. 544, 551 (N.H. 1982)].”

We know that the Court of Oyer and Terminer, formed in June 1692 for the purpose of hearing cases awaiting in Boston’s jails backlogged while the Charter with England was being hammered out, recognized spectral evidence despite that it was not in keeping with generally accepted procedure of the time.  In Law and People in Colonial America Peter Charles Hoffer offers this characterization (p. 41):

“The result of having laymen on the high-court benches might be…swift and sensible justice.  Massachusetts superior Court justices, such as Samuel Sewall, were deeply moral men, concerned about the quality of their performance.  Sewall was typical of the best lay judges – well traveled, well schooled, much respected, and experienced in colonial government and in hearing and deciding lawsuits, if not learned in the law.  In the Salem witchcraft tirals of 1692 the judges, including Sewall, departed from current, learned, English practice, and did so with tragic consequences.

There were no trained lawyers on the bench, but all believed that there was a devil and that he contracted secretly with men and women to do his evil work in the colony.  Thus, at least in theory, witches had the power to leave their bodies and in spectral form assault their victims.”

The following passage from another of Hoffer’s works the Salem Witchcraft Trials: A Legal History is further clarifying (page 78-79):

the-salem-witchcraft-trials-a-legal-history “Mather elected to straddle the [spectral evidence] controversy rather than resolve it.

Mather fretted, “Our neighbors at Salem are blown up after a sort, with an infernal gunpowder, under the floor.”  What could that mean?  To us the reference may be obscure, but to his fellow Puritans the implication was obvious.  In 1605 a band of Roman Catholics, driven to despair by King James’s persecution of their faith, tried to blow up the English houses of Parliament.  The plan was discovered at the last minute, and the conspirators were executed, but the “gunpowder plot” became a symbol among Protestants of the danger Roman Catholicism posed to English Protestantism.  In 1689 Parliament drove James II, a Roman Catholic, from the throne of England and replaced him with a Dutch Protestant, William of Orange, and James’s daughter, Mary, William’s wife.  They were to rule jointly.  A war followed in which Protestants battled Roman Catholics at home and abroad.  This was the war that brought the Indians and their French Roman Catholic allies to the doorstep of Salem.  Thus the Puritans saw Roman Catholicism as a continuing and powerful threat to Protestantism in England and the survival of Puritanism in New England.  They also believed that Roman Catholic priests were in league with the Devil.  Reports of priests and Indians worshiping the Devil before they attacked Massachusetts towns regularly made the rounds of the colony.

But the problem of spectral evidence remained, for the only ones who could see the witches in their spectral form, and thus say who it was that caused their pain, were the accusers themselves.  Here Mather could find no answers in his library.  He must leave it and enter the world of ordinary people.  No abstract theory or abstruse theology could dictate commonly accepted contemporary notions of the truth of testimony.”

Even while most people had misgivings about the validity and use of supernatural proof, Cotton Mather cited a precedent from 1664 wherein Mathew Hale asserts that such evidence is suitable in cases of necessity.  Mather interprets “in particular, the political crisis of the colony and the terrors of war.  War against the Devil and war against the popish French and their Indian allies were the same in his mind.” (Ibid., p. 89)

Image, “The soul-killing witches that deform the body” shared from University of Virginia SWT Documentary Archive and Transcription Project.

Caption: “The soul-killing witches that deform the body,” Shaks.
Description: The image shows two witches stirring a steaming cauldron; it was published in a 1828 edition of Robert Calef’s More Wonders of the Invisible World. In the background a witch rides on a broomstick, brandishing a snake in her hand; to the left, spectral images fly out of the boiling cauldron; and a cat leaps into the scene from the right. References to cat familiars, flying witches, and spectral images are common features of the court records of the Salem witch trials.
Source: Frontispiece, The Wonders of the Invisible World Displayed, by Robert Calef. New Edition. Boston: T. Bedlington, 1828. Image by permission of the University of Virginia Library, Special Collections. © The Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia, 2003.

Salem Witch Trials Booklist

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Jan 17 2013

salem-possessed

*Many resources are available from our online bookstore.

Current Sources:

Boyer, Paul and Nissenbaum, Stephen.  Salem Possessed.

Demos, John.  Entertaining Satan.

Hall, David.  Witch Hunting in 17th Century New England

Hansen, Chadwick. Witchcraft in Salem.

Hill, Frances.  A Delusion of Satan.

Hill, Frances.  The Salem Witch Trials Reader.

Hoffer, Peter Charles.  The Salem Witch Trials, A Legal History.

Karlsen, Carol.  The Devil in the Shape of a Woman.

Mappen, Marc.  Witches and Historians.

Norton, Mary Beth.  In The Devil’s Snare.

Richardson, Katherine.  The Salem Witch Trials.

Roach, Marilynne. The Salem Witch Trials, A Day by Day Chronicle.

Robinson, Enders.  The Devil Discovered.

Rosenthal, Bernard.   Salem Story.

Starkey, Marion.  The Devil in Massachusetts.

Primary Sources: records-of-the-salem-witch-hunt

Rosenthal, Bernard, ed.  Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt

Boyer, Paul and Nissenbaum, Stephen.  Salem Village Witchcraft.

Trask, Richard, ed.  The Devil Hath Been Raised.

Related Works:

Breslaw, Elaine.  Tituba, Reluctant Witch of Salem.

Demos, John.  The Enemy Within

Hill, Frances.  Hunting for Witches, A Visitor’s Guide.

Miller, Arthur.  The Crucible.

Tapley, Charles.  Rebecca Nurse, Saint but Witch Victim.

Roach, Marilynne.  Gallows and Graves.

Russell, Jeffrey.  A History of Witchcraft.

Weisman, Richard.  Witchcraft, Magic and Religion in

17th Century New England.

For Young Readers: swt-unsolved-mystery

Aronson, Marc.  Witch-Hunt (young adult)

Duble,Kathleen. The Sacrifice (grades 5-8)

Jackson, Shirley.  The Witchcraft of Salem Village (grades 5-6)

Rinaldi, Ann.  A Break with Charity. Fiction (grades 6-8)

Stern, Steven.  Witchcraft in Salem . (grades 4-6)

Yolen, Jane. The Salem Witch Trials, An Unsolved Mystery

Maps:

A Map of Salem Village & Vicinity in 1692

This map shows Salem Village, primary location of the Salem

witch trials history, as it looked in 1692.  Sites of houses and public

buildings are noted.  The map is drawn by Marilynne Roach, a

Salem witch trials expert.

Videos:

Three Sovereigns for Sarah

A partly fictional account of the trials focusing on the three

Towne sisters, two of whom were hanged.  The production

was filmed at locations connected with the trials.        2 1/2 hrs

Days of Judgment:  The Salem Witch Trials of 1692

A film designed for school and home viewing that answers

many of the questions raised by the trials.                    1 hour

The Crucible

The 1995 film version of Arthur Miller’s play.  Screen play by the author.

Filmed on location in Essex County.                            2 hours

What Happened to Abigail Williams?

0 Comments | 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.

John Proctor

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Aug 19 2011

salem-witchcraft-trials-a-legal-history From The Salem Witchcraft Trials: A Legal History, by Peter Charles Hoffer

Chapter 9, The Scoffers, pages 108-110:

John Proctor and George Burroughs were brought to trial on charges of witchcraft on August 2, 1692.  Despite their spirited defense, they were condemned to die.  The sentence was carried out on August 19, both men insisting to the end that the court was unfair to them.

The Puritans of eastern Massachusetts were no more authoritarian in their views or ways than any comparable group of English men and women.  New England ministers and magistrates demanded the respect and obedience that any English pastor or justice of the peace could reasonably expect at home.  But in the midst of the witchcraft crisis, challenges to authority took on more sinister shape.  Critics of church and state cracked the wall of piety, allowing the sinuous Evil One to enter God’s land.  Indeed, cynicism and criticism were seen by some as evidence that a scoffer had already made a pact with the Devil.  Tavern keeper John Proctor and minister George Burroughs were two of these scoffers, and they paid for their attitude with their lives.

The history of early Massachusetts was filled with remonstrances of religious and political dissenters.  Some dissenters, like Roger Williams and Ann Hutchinson early in the century, were exiled for disputing the leading ministers’ self-proclaimed monopoly on conscience.  Others, like Samuel Gorton and Robert Child, were muzzled when they protested against the government.  The Quakers were persecuted and driven from the colony.  When a few of their number returned and persisted in their preaching, they were hanged.  By 1692 the English Act of Toleration had forced Massachusetts authorities to allow Anglicans, Baptists, and Quakers to live and worship in the towns, but toleration was limited and grudging.  Proctor was associated with a small group of Quakers in Essex County, and Burroughs, though ordained a minister in conventional Puritan fashion, had veered toward the Baptist faith.

Proctor came under suspicion early in April, perhaps even earlier.  A friend of his overheard one of the girls saying that they “must have sport,” and that is why they turned their sights on the Proctors.  By the end of the crisis, nine immediate family members, including the Proctors’ three oldest children and Elizabeth’s Bassett kin, had all been arrested.  Most readers will know the family from Arthur Miller’s moving dramatic recreation of their case in The Crucible.  Miller read historical accounts but intentionally changed details.  He made Proctor younger and more attractive than he was at the time of the trials and invented an adulterous relationship between Proctor and Abigail Williams, whose age he changed from eleven to seventeen years.  In real life Proctor may or may not have had relationships out of wedlock, but they were not what he was accused of doing.  Instead, it was the usual chorus of girls seeing Proctor’s specter and feeling his pinching and punching.

The girls knew that he and his wife were vulnerable, for Proctor’s wife and her kin were closely tied to Quakers.  More important, perhaps, was the fact that the Proctors were almost certainly openly contemptuous of the proceedings.  At Ingersoll’s tavern, jest became a forerunner of real accusation.  William Rayment, perhaps in drink(for there was a kind of tavern culture at Ingersoll’s, as in most of the colonial watering holes, where common people could joke, toast, fight, gamble and escape their betters’ indignation), told Ingeroll’s wife that he had heard Elizabeth Proctor would soon be examined.  Not so, replied Goody Ingersoll, or she would have heard of it.  Ingersoll was one of the semiofficial complaint makers, and he surely would have known and told his wife.  But Rayment’s companions were not so reticent – or so well informed.  Some of the accusers were there as well and began to clamor, “there good proctor, there goody proctor,” [sic] and Goodwife Ingersoll had to silence them.  The mockers then made jest of what had been, but moments before, the very sort of performance that was sending people to jail.

The first accusations fell not on Elizabeth Proctor alone, as some historians have written, but on both John and Elizabeth.  He did not come to her examination unbidden and come under fire for his loyalty, as the common story reports, but had already been denounced by Abigail and Ann Putnam Jr. a week before the official inquiry into the couple convened.  He and his wife were arrested and brought to a hearing in Salem, not the Village, on April 11.  There Corwin and Hathorne were joined by Deputy Governor Thomas Danforth and councilor Samuel Sewall.  Sewall had just returned from England and no doubt was curious to see what was going on in Salem.  He had long been a judge on the Court of Assistant and probably had more than an inkling that Phips would ask him to sit on the court to hear Proctor’s case.

To read more about John Proctor’s legal proceedings, please read Peter Charles Hoffer’s The Salem Witchcraft Trials: A Legal History.

George Jacobs, Sr.

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Aug 18 2011

salem-witch-trials-reference-david-goss Today’s installment of learning about the Salem witchcraft trials hanging victims of August 19, 1692 addresses the story of George Jacobs, Sr. through the eyes of comtemporary, local historian, David Goss:

From The Salem Witch Trials: A Reference Guide, K. David Goss

Pages 26-28

Now the afflicted children were not only accusing women, they began to single out and accuse adult males as well.  By May 1692, the girls had targeted some of the more prominent males in the Salem Village community, among them George Jacobs, Sr.  Jacobs was a prosperous farmer who had lived in the Salem Farms area between Salem Town and Salem Village for thirty-five years.  He was arrested on May 10, 1692.  Simultaneously, his son George, Jr., his daughter-in-law Rebecca, and granddaughter Margaret were also accused.  Four days after his arrest, he was brought before magistrate John Hathorne for questioning.

Initially Jacobs took the afflicted girls and their accusations too lightly, until he was confronted by his maidservant, Elizabeth Churchill, who testified that he had tempted her to sign the Devil’s Book.  Mary Walcott, one of the afflicted children, also maintained that Jacobs had tempted her to sign the Devil’s Book, and threatened her with physical harm if she refused.  Despite Jacobs’ alleged threats, both girls claimed to have resisted him.

In the face of these and other accusations, Jacobs maintained his innocence.  In response to Justice Hathorne’s insistent badgering, he simply responded that concerning witchcraft:  “I know not of it, any more than the child that was born tonight.”  During his pretrial examination, Justice Corwin asked Jacobs to recite “The Lord’s Prayer.”  It was generally believed that no witch could recite it perfectly.  The old man, nervous and unlettered, omitted an entire sentence and made several other recitation errors.  Knowing his mistake, and fearing the worst, he remarked bravely, “Well, burn me or hang me, I will stand in the truth of Christ.”

What makes the case of George Jacobs, Sr., especially tragic is that his granddaughter Margaret Jacobs, herself a confessed witch, named her grandfather as a co-conspirator along with Constable John Willard and Reverend George Burroughs.  When Jacobs Sr. was finally tried for witchcraft in August 1692, Margaret Jacobs was one of nearly a dozen primary witnesses against him.  Only after Jacobs’s death sentence was pronounced in court did Margaret have a change of heart and write to the magistrates to retract her testimony and her own confession as a witch.  The result of this reversal was that Margaret was moved from the cell of the confessed witches and back to the cell of those awaiting trials and executions.  She explained to her grandfather her feelings of regret for the part she had played in condemning him, and he forgave her.