The parsonage in Salem Villageas photographed in the late 19th century The present-day archaeological site of the Salem Village parsonage In Salem Village, in FebruaryBetty Parrisage 9, and her cousin Abigail Williamsage 11, the daughter and niece, respectively, of Reverend Samuel Parris, began to have fits described as "beyond the power of Epileptic Fits or natural disease to effect" by John Halethe minister of the nearby town of Beverly. Deodat Lawsona former minister in Salem Village. A doctor, historically assumed to be William Griggs could find no physical evidence of any ailment.
Witch hunts The events in Salem in were but one chapter in a long story of witch hunts that began in Europe between and and ended in the late 18th century with the last known execution for witchcraft taking place in Switzerland in Some three-fourths of those European witch hunts took place in western Germanythe Low CountriesFrancenorthern Italyand Switzerland.
The number of trials and executions varied according to time and place, but it is generally believed that somepersons in total were tried for witchcraft and between 40, to 60, were executed.
Witches were considered to be followers of Satan who had traded their souls for his assistance. The process of identifying witches began with suspicions or rumours. Accusations followed, often escalating to convictions and executions. The Salem witch trials and executions came about as the result of a combination of church politics, family feuds, and hysterical children, all of which unfolded in a vacuum of political authority.
Setting the scene There were two Salems in the late 17th century: Squabbles over property were commonplace, and litigiousness was rampant. Parris, whose largely theological studies at Harvard College now Harvard University had been interrupted before he could graduate, was in the process of changing careers from business to the ministry.
He brought to Salem Village his wife, their three children, a niece, and two slaves who were originally from Barbados: John Indian, a man, and Titubaa woman. There is uncertainty regarding the relationship between the slaves and their ethnic origins.
Some scholars believe that they were of African heritage; others think that they may have been of Caribbean Native American stock. Parris had shrewdly negotiated his contract with the congregation, but relatively early in his tenure he sought greater compensation, including ownership of the parsonage, which did not sit well with many members of the congregation.
In the process Salem divided into pro- and anti-Parris factions. They screamed, made odd sounds, threw things, contorted their bodies, and complained of biting and pinching sensations. The hallucinogen LSD is a derivative of ergot. Given the subsequent spread of the strange behaviour to other girls and young women in the community and the timing of its display, however, those physiological and psychological explanations are not very convincing.
The litany of odd behaviour also mirrored that of the children of a Boston family who in were believed to have been bewitched, a description of which had been provided by Congregational minister Cotton Mather in his book Memorable Providences, Relating to Witchcraft and Possessions and which may have been known by the girls in Salem Village.
In February, unable to account for their behaviour medically, the local doctor, William Griggs, put the blame on the supernatural.
Although it provided no answers, its baking outraged Parris, who saw it as a blasphemous act. Three witches Pressured by Parris to identify their tormentor, Betty and Abigail claimed to have been bewitched by Tituba and two other marginalized members of the community, neither of whom attended church regularly: Sarah Goodan irascible beggar, and Sarah Osborn also spelled Osbornean elderly bed-ridden woman who was scorned for her romantic involvement with an indentured servant.
Both Good and Osborn protested their own innocence, though Good accused Osborn. Initially, Tituba also claimed to be blameless, but after being repeatedly badgered and undoubtedly fearful owing to her vulnerable status as a slaveshe told the magistrates what they apparently wanted to hear—that she had been visited by the devil and made a deal with him.
The magistrates then had not only a confession but also what they accepted as evidence of the presence of more witches in the community, and hysteria mounted. Other girls and young women began experiencing fits, among them Ann Putnam, Jr.
Significantly, those that they began identifying as other witches were no longer just outsiders and outcasts but rather upstanding members of the community, beginning with Rebecca Nursea mature woman of some prominence.
As the weeks passed, many of the accused proved to be enemies of the Putnamsand Putnam family members and in-laws would end up being the accusers in dozens of cases. The accused were forced to defend themselves without aid of counsel. Those who insisted upon their innocence met harsher fates, becoming martyrs to their own sense of justice.
Many in the community who viewed the unfolding events as travesties remained mute, afraid that they would be punished for raising objections to the proceedings by being accused of witchcraft themselves.
On June 2 Bridget Bishop—who had been accused and found innocent of witchery some 12 years earlier—was the first of the defendants to be convicted.
On July 19 five more convicted persons were hanged, including Nurse and Good the latter of whom responded to her conviction by saying that she was no more a witch than the judge was a wizard.
He too was convicted and, along with four others, was hanged on August As the trials progressed, accusations spread to individuals from other communitiesamong them, BeverlyMaldenGloucesterAndoverLynnMarbleheadCharlestownand Boston.
The devil never assists men to do supernatural things undesired. When, therefore, such like things shall be testified against the accused party, not by specters, which are devils in the shape of persons either living or dead, but by real men or women who may be credited, it is proof enough that such a one has that conversation and correspondence with the devil as that he or she, whoever they be, ought to be exterminated from among men.
This notwithstanding I will add: It were better that ten suspected witches should escape than that one innocent person should be condemned. On October 29, as the accusations of witchcraft extended to include his own wife, Governor Phips once again stepped in, ordering a halt to the proceedings of the Court of Oyer and Terminer.
In their place he established a Superior Court of Judicature, which was instructed not to admit spectral evidence.17th & 18th Centuries. 19th Century. 20th Century. 17th & 18th Century Essays. Witchcraft in Salem Village. The First Great Awakening. Religious Pluralism in the Middle Colonies.
Church and State in British North America. The Separation of Church and State from the American Revolution to the Early Republic. The 17th century was a time of immense change in the history of Massachusetts..
Tens of thousands of Native-Americans lived in Massachusetts prior to colonization and the area was frequented throughout the 16th and 17th century by European traders and fisherman.
The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings and prosecutions of people accused of witchcraft in colonial Massachusetts between February and May More than people were accused, nineteen of whom were found guilty and executed by hanging (fourteen women and five men).
One other man, Giles Corey, was pressed to death for refusing to plead, and at least five people died in jail. The Puritans were a varied group of religious reformers who emerged within the Church of England during the middle of the sixteenth century.
They shared a common Calvinist theology and common criticisms of the Anglican Church and English society and .
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The Salem witch trials occurred in colonial Massachusetts between and More than people were accused of practicing witchcraft—the Devil's .