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:

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




January 20

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


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.

Salem Witch Trials Booklist

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Jan 17 2013


*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


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.


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.

March 14th, 1692 – Monday

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Mar 14 2011

Salem Village Meeting House Over the weekend Ann Putnam, Jr. continued to report being tortured by the apparition of Martha Corey, who was Giles Corey’s third wife and a full member of the Salem Village church.  Ann’s uncle Edward Putnam and neighbor Ezekiel Cheever set out to investigate by asking young Ann about the specter’s clothing.  She claimed she could not see the Invisible World that day, but only felt the torment.

When Edward and Ezekiel traveled on to find Martha Corey on her farm, she seemed to already know the purpose of their visit; “…Does she tell you what clothes I have on?”  They explained that Ann had been blinded so no comparison between the specter’s clothing and her own physical attire could be made.  Goody Corey was not intimidated.

Meanwhile, in Salem town, Martha’s phantom was reportedly plaguing Mary Warren, John and Elizabeth Proctor’s twenty-one year old servant.  John Proctor had his own treatment for this affliction.  He kept Mary spinning at the wheel and threatened to beat her if she had any more outbreaks.  This method seemed to work until he had to leave the home for a day, and without his presence, she deteriorated back into fits.

Later in the weekend, Ann Putnam, Jr. claimed to be afflicted by yet another ghost, that of an indistinguishable woman.  Her mother, Ann Putnam, Sr., and their maid Mercy Lewis – a refugee from the wars in Maine – hoped to discover the identity by suggesting a few names to the ill young girl.   She confirmed that of Rebecca Nurse who, though a member of the Salem town church, often attended Village meetings, which was closer to her family farm

By Monday, Abigail Williams said the invisible forces of Martha Corey and Elizabeth Proctor were causing her convulsions.  Giles Corey had reported that one of his oxen was unable to rise and work though it had walked moments before.  Later the ox rose and stood as if nothing had been wrong.  Then his cat seemed to become ill as if on the verge of death.  Martha recommended hitting the creature on the head, but Giles refused and the cat recuperated as inexplicably as the ox.

Giles Corey had a checkered reputation himself:  it had been evidenced that he’d stolen dry goods from Justice Corwin’s father and rumored that he’d beaten a handyman to death.  Giles had a few run-ins with his neighbor Robert Moulton who called him “contentious” and “quarrelsome” and went as far as accusing him of stealing twelve bushels of apples.  John Proctor had accused Corey of setting fire to his house, and the two sued each other until it was discovered that the true culprit had been one of Proctor’s own sons who confessed to the accident.

Works Referenced:

Roach, Marilynne K.  The Salem Witch Trials :  A Day-By-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Seige.  New York.  Cooper Square Press.  2002.

Why Did the Witchcraft Accusations of 1692 Begin in the Village Parsonage?

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Mar 02 2011

Salem Village Parsonage The outbreak of witchcraft accusations in 1692 began with the strange behavior of two young girls living in the Salem Village parsonage:  11 year old Abigail Williams, niece of the minister Samuel Parris, and his own 9 year old daughter, Betty.  In A Modest Enquiry Into the Nature of Witchcraft printed in 1697, Reverend John Hale writes that he was “credibly informed” that the afflicted persons used an egg and glass fortunetelling game to determine their future husband’s profession (132-133).  Hale reports that they saw a “specter in the likeness of a coffin,” inciting the tormented conduct of the young girls.  It is reframed elsewhere, however, that these folk practices were quite common in England and the Colonies.  So why did the entertainment take such an extraordinary turn in the Parris household? 

Salem Town versus Salem Village

A port city settled in 1629 by Roger Conant, Salem Town had always been prosperous and throughout the seventeenth century continued to grow, as farmers moved to the pastoral areas that would be called Salem Village.  More than a geographic distinction, Salem Town developed an urban texture with commercial advantages benefitting the prevailing merchant group while the farmers of Salem Village perceived a relative shrinking of their standard of living.  It is documented that in the 1650’s about 40% of the overall wealth in the area was attributed to farming.  Just 30 years later it had plunged to about 9%.  While some Villagers may have felt disengaged from Town life, others benefited by their proximity. 

The clashes between rural life in Salem Village versus commercial life in Salem Town shines light on the biases that may have colored the judgment of the key figures of the trials.

Salem Village Ministers – a History of Strife

For many years the establishment of a meeting house as a place of worship, independent from Salem Town, had been a point of contention between Salem Townspeople and Salem Villagers, and among Salem Village neighbors themselves.  Deciphering extant petitions and counter-petitions of the time, Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum’s illustrate in Salem Possessed:  The Social Origins of Witchcraft that factionalism was alive in Salem Village in the years preceding the infamous hearings.  They consider disputes between competing groups and conclude that there are significant patterns distinguishing between Salem Village Church members who supported the ministry and those who did not. Samuel Parris inherited a legacy of discord at the Salem Village parish.  None of the three ministers before him had succeeded in establishing a cohesive congregation. 

In 1673 James Bayley was the first minister of the Salem Village meetinghouse immediately beset by controversy between villagers who either questioned his appointment or failed to pay taxes that went toward his salary.  He resigned in1679.  Boyer and Nissenbaum cite this conflict as an example of the pattern of political behaviors, “…which were to surface again and again in the years to come, most dramatically in 1692” (47).  

The second, George Burroughs, was hired as new Village preacher in 1680 and, amid similar unsettled conditions as those of Bayley before him, departed in 1683.  He relocated to Wells, Maine where he remained until being summoned back to Salem nine years later.  Accused of being a “wizard,” he was hanged with the other victims of the witchcraft trials. 

Deodat Lawson had succeeded Burroughs as invited minister in1684 and enjoyed two years of seeming calm within his parish.  However, in 1686 efforts to ordain Lawson met renewed opposition and were ultimately abandoned.  Lawson departed the Village in 1688.

Samuel Parris’s Personal Demons

Samuel Parris Samuel Parris was born in England and had been attending Harvard College when his father Thomas died in 1673.  Samuel’s inheritance was a sugar plantation in Barbados, while his elder brother received the more valued lands in England and Ireland. After his less than successful period in the Caribbean he returned to Boston in 1680 as a merchant with a wharf and warehouse, but this endeavor was also characterized by some scholars as falling short of his own ambitions.

At the time Parris arrived in Salem Village from Boston around June of 1688, the atmosphere in Massachusetts Bay Colony was thick with angst.  There had been about a hundred cases of suspected witchcraft in the area up to that point.  Mary Glover, an elderly Catholic Irishwoman in Boston, was hanged for the crime that summer (Roache, xxxv). The belief in witches extended as far back as the Old Testament’s Exodus 22:18 which stated, “Thou shalt not suffer a sorceress to live.”  It was within the very fabric of faith that witches existed; that they had entered a covenant with the Devil and therefore should not be allowed to live.

Going forward, Parris’s compensation was debated and negotiated for nearly a year when the Village finally determined his salary to be £66:  one third in money, the rest in goods such as firewood. At his ordination as the Salem Village Church minister in November, 1689 he reminded the attending full members of the church that paying his wage was not an act of charity, but a duty.  His salary had nearly always been a controversial subject.

In October 1690, Parris attended a meeting of Boston area Congregational ministers to consider, “What shall be done towards the reformation of the miscarriages for which New England now suffers by the heavy judgments of God?”  Concurrently in England, King James’ son was born and was to be raised Catholic replacing his Protestant half-sisters in the line of succession. It was in Parris’s mind that their colonial efforts toward their own Promised Land were unraveling and that God was punishing their sins by sending smallpox outbreaks and “Indian attacks.”

In January, 1692 a committee was formed which included Joseph Hutchinson Sr., Joseph Porter, Daniel Andrews, Francis Nurse, and Thomas Putnam to oversee an argument over the parsonage land.  As the year progressed there were more and more issues concerning Parris’s agreed upon salary, delivery of firewood and collection of minister’s rates from the congregation.  Thus continued the pro-Parris and anti-Parris clash between villagers and the breaking of the minister’s contract.

Salem Possessed (178) sums up his role:

All the elements of their respective histories were deeply rooted in the social realities of late-seventeenth-century western culture — a culture in which a subsistence, peasant-based economy was being subverted by mercantile capitalism.  This process played itself out sometimes as a political struggle between vying groups of men, and sometimes as a psychological struggle within individual men.  What is unique about our story is the lethal convergence of a man and a community in whom, and in which, these conflicts were already independently raging.  Through Parris’s sermons, many Salem Villagers discovered new and alarming dimensions in their chronic difficulties; at the same time, through his Salem Village experience, Parris found abundant nourishment for the obsessions which had long been gnawing at his soul.


After examining the micro-community of the Parris household perhaps it’s easier to understand why Betty and Abigail interpreted their egg glass fortunes as a diabolical message.  Social flux was a fact of life.  The future of the meetinghouse was uncertain. Scholars point to fears and anxieties within their own homes as a fertile environment for such a reaction to the vision from their crystal ball:  “a specter in the shape of a coffin” (Boyer and Nissenbaum, 199).

 We can never know what was in the minds of these Puritan families over 300 years ago. Perhaps we can at least recognize that the tragedy of the Salem witchcraft trials took place amid layered contributing factors and beliefs that had been set into motion years, even centuries, before the outbreak of witchcraft accusations.

Works Cited

Boyer, Paul, and Stephen Nissenbaum.  Salem Possessed:  The Social Origins of Witchcraft.  Cambridge.  Harvard University Press.  1974.

Hale, John.  A Modest Enquiry Into the Nature of WitchcraftBedford.  Applewood Books.  1701.

Hall, David C.  Witch-Hunting in Seventeenth-Century New England. Boston.  Northeastern University Press.  1991. 

Roache, Marilynne E.  The Salem Witch Trials:  A Day-By-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege.  New York.  Cooper Square Press.  2002.

University of Virginia.  “Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive and Transcription Project.”  Web.  <>

Salem Award Foundation Receives Coveted Annenberg Grant

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Dec 04 2010

You may have heard in recent news that the Salem Award Foundation has received a $25,000 grant from the Annenburg Foundation. 

Read the full story in the Salem Gazette.

charles-annenberg-weingarten “Charles Weingarten visited Salem last fall to research the history of the witch trials in preparation for a possible film.  He contacted Alison D’Amario, Patty MacLeod and Tina Jordan, of the Salem Witch Museum.  D’Amario and MacLeod were instrumental in establishing the Salem Witch Trials Memorial and the Salem Award Foundation.  During his exploration at historic sites with local experts, they told him about the Salem Award and its mission to educate the public through the lessons of the trials.”

The Salem Award for Human Rights and Social Justice

Charles Annenberg Weingarten (pictured left).  Photo courtesy of the Annenberg Foundation.

View Mr. Weingarten’s Film – Salem Witch Hunt

The Salem Witch Museum is proud to be part of a community dedicated to contributing to the cause of human rights and social justice.