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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.

Sarah Hood Bassett (1657-1721)

0 Comments | This entry was posted on May 08 2013

accused-of-witchcraft-in-1692 Visitors whose ancestors were involved in the Salem witch trials often ask us to point their  investigations in the right direction.  There are online ancestry resources, document transcripts and historic narratives that can provide clues and details of their families’ lives.

Research uncovers so many captivating human stories.  In this case Peter helps a descendent of Sarah Basset:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

By Peter Murphy

Sarah Hood Bassett was born in August of 1657 in Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts to Richard Hood and Mary Newhall.  In her eighteenth year, on October 25, 1675 she married William Bassett, Jr., who was the brother of Elizabeth Bassett Proctor, wife of John Proctor.  Both John and Elizabeth Proctor were accused and tried for witchcraft; John was hanged on August 19th, 1692, whereas Elizabeth escaped persecution due to her pregnancy.  Their daughter, Sarah Proctor, was also accused of witchcraft at age 16 on the same day as her aunt Sarah Bassett.  Thomas Putnam and John Putnam, Jr. issued this complaint on May 21, 1692, exactly one month after the examination of Mary Warren (John and Elizabeth Proctor’s hired girl) who claimed Elizabeth Proctor administered an ointment to her which she received from “Mrs. Bassits of Linn.”

Only two days after the Putnam’s complaint against Sarah Basset she was brought to jail in Boston on May 23, 1692, where she remained until her release on December 3, 1692.  One month after her release another indictment was issued for afflicting Mary Walcott, but was returned “ignoramus,” meaning the charges were ignored due to lack of evidence.

Not long after the ordeal was over, Sarah gave birth to a daughter whom she named Deliverance as an ode to her freedom.  Sarah Bassett died at age 64 in 1721.

While no burial record exists, I have theorized that she may be buried in the Western Burial Ground in Lynn, Massachusetts.  This was the only operational burial ground in the town at the time of her death with the exception of a Lynnfield burial ground opened in 1720, but where the oldest inscription dates only back to 1723.  Further evidence that may lend itself to my hypothesis is the fact that Lynn’s Western Burial Ground contains 19th Century graves sporting Sarah’s married name – Bassett – and her mother’s maiden name – Newhall.

Sources:

Ancestry.com          Connection between Proctor and Nurse Families

New England Historic Genealogical Society          Hunting for Salem “Witches” in Your Family Tree

Records of the Salem Witch Hunt , Bernard Rosenthal General Editor

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

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