The Witch HouseProperly known as the Jonathan Corwin House, it is named after its owner, Jonathan Corwin, who just happens to be one of the Salem Witch Trial judges. He investigated much of the claims associated with the alleged witchcraft activity, signing several arrest warrants during his time.
- The Witch House is the only structure still standing today that has direct ties to the Salem Witch Trials. Since it served as the home for one of the judges who took part in arrests leading to multiple executions, it is said to be haunted by spirits of the innocent who were hanged during the trials.
- To add to the belief that this particular abode is haunted, it has been rumored that the Witch House was used by Jonathan Corwin to interrogate those accused of witchcraft. Which brings us to Judge John Hathorne, prominent judge of the trials and good friend of Jonathan Corwin.
Judge John Hathorne:
Judge Hathorne built a small empire through mercantile trading with England and the West Indies. He owned much land in Salem, helping him to gain positions of power and authority in the town.
He was eventually appointed a justice of the peace and served in the high court. While he primarily mediated disputes within Salem Village, he quickly rose to further authoritative power once the Witch Trials began.
One of the most sinister and heartless judges involved in the Salem Witch Trials, John Hathorne is responsible for handing down the most executions. Hathorne had a well-documented reputation for his callousness toward those accused of witchcraft, and it's primarily because of his treatment of the innocent that this house is a central focus for those interested in Salem's haunted history.
Paranormal Activity in the house:
- One of the most often reported encounters of paranormal activity is encountering that of a disembodied voice.
- Thought to be the most haunted place in Salem, Massachusetts, people have even claimed to have been touched by unseen forces, as well as feeling cold spots in certain areas of the house.
- There have been a few reports of hearing the voice of a little girl, quite possibly that of the youngest accused of witchcraft during the trials - a four-year-old girl.
- Some of the claims include people hearing the disembodied voice of a child, people being touched by an unseen entity, and feeling cold spots throughout the house.
Judge Jonathan Corwin
Jonathan Corwin was heir to one of the largest fortunes of the Puritan New England era. During the time that he lived, witch hunts were a common and widely accepted practice. Men, women, and even young children were involved in these heinous trials. While most repented of their involvement in the trials, some did not, and perhaps these are the ones cursed to wander the very area in which they condemned others.
Interestingly, the Witch House was set be demolished in 1944 to make way for widening of the street. Locals, however, banded together and put a stop to it by raising the $42,000 required to move the house back a mere 35 feet where it currently sits.
The Salem witchcraft trials took place between February 1692 and May 1693.
- More than 200 people were accused
- 59 were tried
- 31 were found guilty
- 20 were executed
Among the judges who convicted the witches (based on "spectral evidence," - evidence based upon dreams or visions) was Jonathan Corwin. As a local magistrate and civic leader, Corwin was called upon to investigate the claims of diabolical activity when a surge of witchcraft accusations arose in Salem and neighboring communities. He took the place of Judge Nathaniel Saltonstall, who resigned after the execution of Bridget Bishop. Corwin served on the Court of Oyer and Terminer, which ultimately sent nineteen to the gallows. All 19 refused to admit to witchcraft and maintained their innocence.
The Witch House, as it is now known, was his home. Today the house is a museum focusing on 17th-century living. It's one of the last remaining links to a time in American history when people were hanged because they supposedly inflicted pain by the use of "venomous and malignant particles, that were ejected from the eye."
The Jonathan Corwin House:
in Salem, Massachusetts, aka the witch house, was the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin (1640–1718) and is the only structure you can visit in Salem with direct ties to the Salem witch trials of 1692.
In 1675, Jonathan Corwin, heir to one of the largest Puritan fortunes in New England, purchased this large and stately house. Seventeen years later, Corwin and his family would take part in the most famous Witch Hunt in American History.
The newly arrived colonists traveled from England with their fears of witchcraft fully intact. Accusations, witch hunts and trials were a familiar and accepted part of their lives. Indeed, within a short time of settling these shores, there were a number of trials and even executions for what was considered a capital and felonious crime.
Certainly, the largest and most famous of these unfortunate episodes is the Salem Witch Crisis of 1692.
Beginning in the early winter months of 1692 and carrying on until May of the following year the people of the colony would see 19 people hanged.
The home was purchased by Judge Jonathan Corwin. He would go on to gain infamy when he was called upon in 1692 to investigate accusations of witchcraft in Salem. He served on the Court of Oyer and Terminer, which sentenced nineteen people to be hanged, despite their claims of innocence. One additional victim, Giles Corey, was crushed by stones for "standing mute" and not offering a plea of guilty or not guilty. Contrary to popular lore, there is no documentation that Judge Corwin used his own home to interrogate those accused during the 1692 hysteria. Judge Corwin died in 1718 and the home remained in his family until the mid-nineteenth century.
Judge Jonathan Corwin:
Along with his friend and fellow judge John Hathorne, Judge Corwin presided over many of the examinations of the accused and their accusers, both before and during the trials. Some of the questioning took place in the Salem Village Meetinghouse (Tituba, Sarah Osborne, and Sarah Good were examined there from March 1-5), the Salem Town Meetinghouse, and local taverns. For years, many believed examinations also took place in this home on Essex Street, but there is no evidence to support that theory.
Corwin usually let Hathorne take the lead in the examinations, but the two together were unrelenting in seeking confessions of witchcraft. Both clearly thought all were guilty of the charges from the start. Corwin was a principle figure in the pursuit and questioning of former Salem Village minister, Reverend George Burroughs.
Judge Corwin received a strongly argued letter from Salisbury's Major Robert Pike in September of 1692, in which Pike questioned the use of spectral evidence to convict people of witchcraft. The letter did not seem to change Corwin's mind.
As with others involved in the pursuit of "witches," Corwin didn't escape a personal connection. One of his own children was thought to be afflicted early in the witchcraft "outbreak." In addition, his mother-in-law, Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, was accused of witchcraft by one of her servants, although she was never arrested. It helped that she was a wealthy woman who was also related to one of the judges.
Corwin, who was born in Salem in 1640, was a merchant who purchased this house in 1675. Corwin served as a Deputy to the General Court and on the Safety Council. In addition to his close friendship with John Hathorne, they were also brothers-in law (Corwin's sister Abigail married Hathorne's brother Eleazor). In 1690, Governor Simon Bradstreet sent both Corwin and Hathorne on a fact-finding mission to Maine and New Hampshire, to assess the strength of the garrisons against Native American attack. After the witchcraft trials, Corwin served on the Superior Court and as the judge of Probate. He never showed remorse for his actions of 1692 and died in 1718 at the age of 78, very rich and respected. He is buried in the Broad Street Cemetery in Salem.
The Salem Witchcraft Papers:
Verbatim transcriptions of the court records in three volumes from the University of Virginia Library:
Salem Witch Trials:
The complete document archives:
|Salem Witch Trials Important Persons:
Bridget Bishop was the first person to be executed during the Salem witchcraft trials. In Salem folklore, she is portrayed as a feisty, fun-loving, lusty, innkeeper who can't seem to keep herself out of trouble. Recently, historians have painted a somewhat different picture, owing to the confusion with Sarah Bishop who also appears in the court records of the witch trials. Indisputably, the Bridget Bishop who was tried and hanged possessed a quick wit and independent spirit that could not be crushed by the court of Oyer and Terminer.
George Burroughs was the only Puritan minister indicted and executed in Salem in 1692. He served as minister of Salem Village from 1680 until he left in 1683. As one of the succession of three ministers who left the Village in the years leading up to the trials, he became involved in the Village's social conflicts. During his stay in Salem he borrowed money from the Putnam family and when he was unable to pay it back, conflict with the Putnams arose. It was at this point that he left. Although he eventually repaid his loan, twelve years later, he was charged, arrested and brought back to Salem from Wells, Maine. Many members of the Salem Village and Andover testified against him and called him the "ring leader" of the witches, a virtual priest of the devil. Cotton Mather also took particular interest in the trial because of Burroughs' unorthodox religious beliefs and practices. He was found guilty and executed on August 19, 1692. His hanging was the only one attended by Cotton Mather, who urged the sympathetic crowd against him.
Calling her a "rampant hag" and the "Queen of Hell," the Reverend Cotton Mather harbored no doubts that Martha Carrier deserved to be executed as a witch during the Salem outbreak on August 19, 1692. The Salem documents themselves, however, reveal that her crime was not witchcraft but an independence of mind and an unsubmissive character. A daughter of one of the founding families of Andover, Martha married a young Welsh servant, Thomas Carrier, in 1674, by whom she had four children. The Salem accusation against Martha came only two years after the selectmen of Andover blamed a smallpox epidemic on her witchcraft. Although historians have blamed her accusation on causes ranging from a conspiracy against Andover's proprietary families to reaction against threats to patriarchal inheritance, her contentious spirit and the earlier charge of witchcraft seem the most plausible explanation.
Ann Putnam, Jr., Marcy Lewis, Abigail Williams, Mary Walcott and Elizabeth Hubbard accused Giles Corey of witchcraft in April of 1692. He pleaded "not guilty" but refused to be tried by the court which, in his view, had already determined his guilt, so he stood mute rather "putting himself on the country." He was sentenced to peine forte et dure, even though it was an illegal punishment, and ended up being tortuously crushed to death on (or before) September 18, 1692. One of the major factors which made Giles Corey a prime target was not only his relationship with the rest of the community but also his past encounters with the law, including a prior conviction for murder. His chosen means of resistance and dramatic death reveal a strength of character that playwrights, from Longfellow to Arthur Miller, have found irresistible.
The accusation of Martha Corey marked a turning point in the Salem witch trials crisis of 1692 in Massachusetts. Corey was a newly accepted member of the village church and broke the established mold of only social pariahs being accused of practicing witchcraft. Major contributing factors to the case being brought against her were an illegitimate son born to Corey in the 1670s, and her outspoken criticisms of the trials and the judges involved in the convictions. Although Martha espoused her innocence throughout her whole ordeal, she was put to death on September 22, 1692.
The story of Mary Easty, the 58-year-old sister of Rebecca Nurse and Sarah Cloyce from Topsfield usually draws the portrait, now legendary, of a courageous martyr fighting for her innocence. Her case gives insight into the workings of the trials, and her eloquent and legally astute petitions have been said to help bring them to an end.
Sarah Good was born to a prosperous innkeeper in 1653. However, her father's estate became entangled in litigation leaving Sarah Good in poverty. After the death of her first husband, she married William Good. The Goods lived a life of begging and poverty in Salem Village. Sarah was regarded as an unsavory person and has come to be regarded through literature as the stereotypical witch, a disreputable old hag. Good was among the first three women accused of witchcraft in 1692 and was the first to testify. She never confessed guilt, but, like Tituba, she did accuse Sarah Osburne, an act that was credited with validating the witchcraft trials and accusations. Good was hanged as a witch on Tuesday July 19, 1692, but not until after the imprisonment of her six year old child Dorcas, also accused of witchcraft, and the tragic death of her infant in prison.
|George Jacobs, Sr.
George Jacobs, Sr. was about 72 years old when he was hanged as a wizard on August 19, 1692, along with three other men and one woman -- the first time men were executed for witchcraft in Salem. He was accused, among many others, by his granddaughter, Margaret Jacobs who was also accused and imprisoned. Depending on scholarly opinion, he has been seen as the victim of personal grudges, the casualty of the sociopolitical climate of Salem, or the target of cultural system's effects on young, socially subordinate women.
The sixty-seven year old widow Susannah Martin of Amesbury was hanged as a witch on July 19, 1692 on the basis of the testimony of the accusing circle of girls of Salem Village and other neighbors. Although she maintained her innocence to the end, a previous history of witchcraft accusations and the momentum of Salem's accusations carried her to the gallows. Martin figures in historian Carol Karlsen's account of the Salem outbreak as an example of a woman who was easily targeted as a threat to the orderly transmission of property down the paternal line because of Martin's role in an ongoing court dispute over her father's will.
Rebecca Nurse was an elderly and respected member of the Salem Village community. She was accused of witchcraft by several of the "afflicted" girls in the Village in March of 1692. Although a large number of friends, neighbors and family members wrote petitions testifying to her innocence, she was tried for acts of witchcraft in June, 1692. The jury first returned a "not guilty" verdict, but was told to reconsider, and then brought in a verdict of "guilty." Governor Phips pardoned her, but was later persuaded to reverse his decision by several men from Salem. She was excommunicated from the Salem church and hanged on July 19, 1692. Her house in Danvers, the former Salem village, still stands and is open to visitors. A large monument also marks her grave in the Nurse family cemetery on the grounds.
Mary Ayer Parker of Andover came to trial in Salem Massachusetts, suspected of witchcraft. During her examination she was asked, "How long have ye been in the snare of the devil?" She responded, "I know nothing of it." Many people confessed under the pressure of the court of Oyer and Terminer, but she asserted the court had the wrong woman. "There is another woman of the same name in Andover," she proclaimed.
John Proctor was an elderly man of 60 years of age when accused, tried, and hanged for practicing witchcraft in 1692. Maintaining his innocence until death, he challenged the court to reexamine the validity of spectral evidence. Though it did not save him, his legacy is remembered in Arthur Miller's play The Crucible. Though not an historically accurate depiction, The Crucible does bring attention to the story of John Proctor and his struggle as an innocent man.
Executed on Sept. 22, 1692, the widow Ann Greenslit Pudeator was one of the seven unfortunate victims of the final hanging on Gallows Hill during the Salem witch trials. Highlights from her trial included the usual testimony of the circle of accusing girls that Ann had afflicted them in "spectral" form. John Best, Sr. also accused Ann of having murdered his wife, whom Ann had served as a nurse. Mary Warren went to the extreme of implicating Pudeator in the deaths of four people. Historian Carol Karlsen speculates that Pudeator may have been targeted due to her profession as a midwife that placed her in direct competition with male care providers, as well as her defiance of the Puritan female gender ideal of meekness and submission to male authority. Although the details of Ann Pudeator's birth are unknown, it is estimated that she was between 70 and 75 when she was hanged, still protesting her innocence at the hands of false accusations.
The witchcraft accusations and trial of Margaret Scott, executed on September 22nd, 1692, long have been a mystery to historians. With the recently located depositions from her examination, the people, places, and events associated with Margaret Scott's trial can now be examined and the mystery surrounding her can be solved.
Samuel Wardwell was born on May 16, 1643 to a modest Quaker family in Boston. He studied carpentry and moved to Andover, Massachusetts in 1672 to find work. There he married his second wife, Sarah Hawkes, a wealthy widow with whom he had seven children. In 1692, he was accused of witchcraft and brought to trial in Salem. The fact he was found guilty is not surprising, as he had dabbled in fortune telling as a young man, had family members who were disliked in Andover, and had married a woman whom many did not think he was worthy of marrying. During his court examination, he confessed to being a witch by submitting a long and detailed story of his indiscretions in order to save his life. His conscience and personal courage led him to recant the story and claim innocence, knowing the risk involved. He was hanged on September 22, 1692.
John Willard was accused of witchcraft at the end of April 1692, after refusing to arrest people that he believed were innocent. One of his main accusers was his wife's grandfather, Bray Wilkins, who claimed that after a mean look from Willard, he became immediately sick. While Wilkins' symptoms suggest that he was most likely suffering from kidney stones, his assumption that he had been bewitched is evidence of the widespread fear that occurred in Salem during withc trials. Willard was hanged on August 19, 1692, maintaining his innocence until his death.
|Infant Girl (daughter of Sarah Good)
In February of 1692, Sarah Osborne became one of the first three victims to be accused of witchcraft in Salem Village. As the widow of Robert Prince-a Salem Villager who purchased a 150-acre farm next to his friend Captain John Putnam's, Osborne was required (by Prince's will) to carry-over their estate to their two young sons. However, by attempting to overtake possession of the property for herself and her new husband, Irish immigrant Alexander Osborne, Sarah Osborne upset social norms that consequently resulted in accusations of witchcraft by the Putnam family. She died in prison on May 10, 1692.
|Sir William Phips:
Sir William Phips was appointed Governor of Massachusetts just prior to the Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692. Phips created the special witchcraft Court of Oyer and Terminer, and subsequently dismantled it after the Boston ministers and the general public turned against the trials. It is difficult to dismiss the view that he might have stopped the trials sooner had he overseen the court more closely, instead of leaving it entirely in the hands of his zealous deputy Govenor William Stoughton, the chief justice of the court.
Born into a well-established Salem family on August 5, 1641, John Hathorne became a local Salem magistrate and was chosen by Governor Sir William Phips to be a judge in the Salem Witch Trials. During the trials, Hathorne took on the role of a prosecutor rather than an impartial judge. Hathorne's questioning always began with a presumption of guilt rather than innocence, and he appeared to be on the side of the accusers. Hathorne altered the tradition of previous witch trials by encouraging those under examination not only to confess to witchcraft but also to name others who might be witches - a move that accelerated the number of accusations. He died in Salem on May 10, 1717, and was later a prominent target of criticism by his own great-grandson, Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Born in England in 1652, Samuel Sewall moved to America at the age of nine and obtained two degrees from Harvard before marrying into a wealthy family. As a prominent member of the merchant class, Sewall was selected by Governor Phips to sit as a judge for the witchcraft trials on the Court of Oyer and Terminer. Five years after the trials concluded, Sewall issued a public confession demonstrating personal remorse, taking in his words the "Blame and Shame" for his part in condemning innocent people. He was the only judge to do so.
Lieutenant Governor William Stoughton was appointed Chief Justice of the court of Oyer and Terminer in 1692. He ruled over the trials with the determination to eradicate all witches from Massachusetts Bay Colony - heavily influenced by his conservative religious convictions. When the court was dissolved, Stoughton continued to enjoy political success and never apologized for his role in the trials.
Thomas Brattle (1658 - 1713) was a well-educated and prosperous Boston merchant who served as treasurer of Harvard College, and was a member of the intellectually elite Royal Society. In early October 1692 he wrote a letter to an English clergyman which was critical of the Salem witch trials. The letter was circulated widely in Boston at the time, and it continues to be studied for its reasoned attack on the witchcraft trials in Salem. Brattle presents a compelling argument against the legal premises and procedures involved in the afflictions, accusations, and executions, with a particular focus on the validity of spectral evidence in proceedings. He was careful not to argue against the motives of the "Salem Gentlemen" as he calls the judges and ministers at the helm, but rather against the methods they employed. He concludes by saying "I am afraid that ages will not wear off that reproach and those stains which these things will leave behind them upon out land."
Francis Dane was born about 1615 in England and died on February 16, 1607 at the age of eighty-one in Andover, Massachusetts. Dane was the elderly senior pastor of Andover and a highly respected leader of the community. In 1682, the congregation hired a young Harvard graduate Rev. Thomas Bernard to aid Rev. Dane with his ministerial duties in his old age. There was tension between the two about their salaries, and the two ministers reacted very differently to the witch trials of 1692. Initially, Bernard did much to aid the accusations of witchcraft in Andover, while Dane had more of his family members accused than any other family in 1692. Furthermore, it was Dane's early October petitions to the General Court for pardons, writing against spectral evidence, filing of slander suits, and bold stance against the witchcraft trials that are credited with ending the proceedings in Andover so quickly. Dane is still regarded as the hero of Andover during the Witch Trials of 1692.
Cotton Mather, one of the most famous (and infamous) figures in the history of Puritan New England, was a complex man of great influence upon American history and the discourse that accompanied the Salem witch trials in the years following 1692. As a prominent Bostonian minister, author, and born on Feb. 12th 1663 as the son of the Harvard president Increase Mather, Cotton's reputation as a stalwart believer in the direct influence of the devil upon the physical world through the spiritual realm was already in place by the start of the witch trials. Consulted by three of the five judges, and friends with all of the major authorities involved, Cotton's self-contradicting positions on the use of spectral evidence and the prosecution of the Salem witches heavily swayed the directions of the trial proceedings and the executions. Cotton was also appointed as the somewhat reluctant first historian of the trials, through the commissioning of his book, The Wonders of the Invisible World, that served to justify the trials to the higher powers in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It was for this book that Cotton found himself spit upon in the streets (and some annals of history) to the day of his death on Feb. 13th 1728.
Mather, an influential Boston minister and father of Cotton Mather, is credited with being a force for moderation throughout the Salem witchcraft trials and helping bring them to an end with the circulation of his Cases of Conscience on October 3, 1692. Increase Mather has drawn fire from some historians of the period for his hesitancy to take a firm stand against the trials and executions early in the summer of 1692. However, Mather's unique role as leading minister, President of Harvard College, and confidant of Governor William Phips placed him in the precarious position of contesting the witchcraft trials while supporting the judges. While his actions in 1692 were often self-contradictory, he was, according to Kenneth Murdock regarded as "an ally and leader of those whom we see as the most liberal of his time."
One of the most notorious personalities in Salem, the Rev. Samuel Parris represents to some the danger of religious power when wielded by self-centered and deceptive individuals. To others, his antipathy towards his opponents in Salem Village was simply a small factor in the larger picture of the Salem witch trials. In either case, the persecution of "witches" began in his household, and through that point extended deeply into the American psyche. One cannot help but question the amount of responsibility that Parris, who began preaching about the work of the Devil in his parish holds for the events of 1692.
Samuel Willard played an important role in the halting of the Salem witch trials. Born in 1640 to a privileged family, Willard had a long simmering devotion to the Puritan church, a devotion he would later cultivate at Harvard College. Despite his religious fervor, Willard appears to be man of uncommon calm, as he urged caution in the accusing and trying of witches. Willard also denounced spectral evidence, claiming that the devil could impersonate even the innocent by appearing in their shape. After the trials ended, Willard was to push hard for reconciliation between the pro-Parris and anti-Parris factions of Salem Village.
Sarah Churchill (or Churchwell), a 25 year-old woman originally from Maine, was both an accuser and a confessor during the Salem witchcraft crisis. She is most noted for the accusations of witchcraft against her abusive employer, the elderly George Jacobs Sr., and for her admission that her confession to witchcraft was a pretense to save herself from the gallows -- a strategy that succeeded.
Elizabeth Hubbard was seventeen in the spring of 1692 when she and three other girls started accusing people of witchcraft. Like many of the other "afflicted" girls in Salem Village, she was an orphan and lived with her great-aunt and uncle, Dr. William Giggs. Elizabeth played an active role throughout the trials as one of the leading accusers. Her afflictions, fits, trances and testimony all contributed to the conviction and execution of many of the nineteen executed innocent people.
Mercy Lewis Born in Falmouth, Maine in 1675, Mercy Lewis lost both her parents to Indian attacks and became an orphan at a young age. Dislocated from her family, like many of the accusing girls in Salem Village, she resided first as a servant with Reverend George Burroughs and then later with the family of Thomas Putnam to whom she was distantly related. As a friend of Ann Putnam and the other girls involved in the witchcraft accusations, Mercy herself became one of the most consistent and vocal accusers during the 1692 witchcraft trials in Salem.
At nine years old, Elizabeth Parris, daughter of Salem Village minister Rev. Samuel Parris, played a key role in the beginnings of the witchcraft trials. Curious to know her future marital status , Elizabeth, together with her cousin Abigail Williams, cautiously experimented with fortune telling. Her behavior led to the first three accusations of witches. Trying to shield the involvement of his immediate family, the Rev. Samuel Parris, took Abigail from home and placed her in the home of Stephen Sewall in Salem, where she eventually recovered. She could not have predicted that these innocent attempts at predicting the future would lead to the largest and most deadly witch-hunt in American history.
|Ann Putnam, Jr.
Ann Putnam, Jr. played a crucial role in the witchcraft trials of 1692. She was twelve years old at the time, and she was one of the first to join Betty Parris and Abigail Williams as an "afflicted child". Though she is easily despised for her role as one of the most persistent accusers in the trials, it is important to view her in the context of her socially prominent family. Her mother was also afflicted, and her father and many other Putnams gave testimony against the accused during the trials. When attempting to make a judgment on Ann, it is important to remember that she was very young and impressionable and thus easily influenced by her parents and other adults. Fourteen years later she admitted that she had lied, deluded by the Devil.
Born twenty years before the Salem Witch Trials began, Mary Warren became one of the most rigorous accusers -- and also a defender and confessor, a unique role among the accusing girls of Salem Village. As the servant of John and Elizabeth Procter, opponents of the trials who thought that the accusers should be punished, Mary encountered much resistance from the two regarding her participation in the trials. Most significantly, Warren introduced the possibility of fraud on the part of the accusing girls when she stated that they "did but dissemble." Arthur Miller's play The Crucible focuses on this unique aspect of Mary Warren's behavior. After her own confession, Warren more actively participated in the accusations, including those against the Procters. She was released from jail in June, 1692.
Mary Walcott, the daughter of Jonathan Walcott, commander of the Village militia and the brother-in-law of Thomas Putnam, was a key accuser in the Salem Witch Trials. Walcott was closely related to the Thomas Putnam family; her aunt was Ann Putnam, Sr. and her cousin was Ann Putnam, Jr. Although Mary Walcott was one of the circle of accusing girls, by the end of the trials she had attracted sixteen spectral torturers.
Abigail Williams was one of the main accusers in the Salem Witch trials. The 11-year-old niece of Reverend Samuel Parris showed signs of fits and hysterics in mid-January 1692. She and her 9-year-old cousin Betty were the first two afflicted girls in Salem Village. Abigail gave formal testimony at 7 cases, and she was involved in as many as 17 capital cases.
Tituba Indian holds one of the most infamous (yet still debated) places in the history of the Salem Witchcraft Trials. Tituba was an Indian slave in the service of Reverend Samuel Parris, in whose home the diagnosis of witchcraft was first made. She was the first accused (along with Sarah Osborne) and was also the first to confess. Tituba's confession set a precedent and pattern that would run the course of the trials -- accused witches confessed and then became accusers themselves, thereby validating the previous accusations and the need for continuing investigations and trials, as the court desired. Though Tituba was not executed for her participation as a "detestable Witch," she was forced to languish in jail for thirteen months after Parris refused to pay her imprisonment costs. She was finally freed from jail when an unknown person redeemed her jail fees and took her from the Village. Nothing is known about her life beyond Salem Village.
The deserted wife of William Dolliver of Gloucester and the daughter of respected Salem Town minister the Rev. John Higginson, Ann Higginson Dolliver was arrested for witchcraft on June 6, 1692 but was never convicted. Analysis of her role in the trials has been difficult until the recent discovery of the transcript of her courtroom examination that sheds new light on her case. Scholars also provide various sociopolitical or gender-based frameworks for understanding the Salem witch trials within which she can be viewed.
Philip English, the most successful merchant in Salem Town, emigrated from Isle of Jersey as Philippe D'Anglois in 1670. He rose out of obscurity to become the largest entrepreneur and ship owner in Salem, and he married into an established Salem merchant family. He and his wife were arrested of witchcraft in late April 1692, but both escaped to New York for the duration of the trials. No attempts were made to bring English back to face trial. During his hiding in New York, English's wealthy estate was pillaged at the hands of Sheriff Corwin, and little restitution was ever made for his losses.
Mary Ireson is one of the minor characters of the Salem witch trials. However, from the one substantive document that has recently surfaced, we can gain insight into the often-unfair mechanisms of the witch trials court - especially how the female accusers' courtroom behavior could sway a jury, and how petrified the accused "witches" must have been during their trials.
Although she was only seventeen at the time of the Salem Witch Trials, Margaret Jacobs knew that the safest way out of the witchcraft accusations directed at her was through confession. She employed this equation in her initial accusations against former minister of Salem Village, George Burroughs, and the patriarch of the Jacobs family, her own grandfather, George Jacobs, Sr. Although her accusations, among others, led to the execution of both men, it is not her accusations that make her case of interest. It is her eventual retraction of these accusations and voicing of her own conscience that make Jacobs an icon of strength and integrity. While other accusers escaped death by relentlessly accusing one person after another, Margaret Jacobs sat in jail facing death for her refusal to stand by her initial accusations and confession of witchcraft.
A member of the Boston elite, Captain John Alden was accused on May 28th, 1692 but avoided further proceedings on April 25, 1693 when he escaped from jail and fled to New York where several high-profile witchcraft defendants were welcomed and protected. Although the accusers knew him only by name, his profitable connections to Maine and involvement with the Indian Wars which orphaned several of the accusers likely contributed to the accusations against him.
Although Thomas Putnam's role in initiating legal proceedings has been generally recognized as important to the escalation of the witchcraft crisis in Salem in 1692, the immense influence Putnam had on the shape of the trials has not been widely recognized. Putnam was the father of Ann Putnam Jr., the most prolific accuser in the entire proceedings. Putnam's importance is generally seen in the fact that he, along with other adults, gave his daughter's accusations legal weight in first seeking warrants against the accused witches in February, 1692. Through his work in writing down the depositions of many of the "afflicted" girls in Salem village and his letters of encouragement to the judges, Putnam was one of the major advocates of the trials and sought to exert influence on the proceedings as one of the most prosperous residents and influential church members in Salem Village.
|Dr. William Griggs:
Dr. William Griggs of Salem Village, though not referred to by name in the court documents, is generally accepted by historians as the doctor who made the diagnosis that the afflictions of the girls in Salem village were caused by an evil hand, not by natural causes. His diagnosis triggered a sequence of events that began with the making of a witch cake and led to hundreds of accusations of witchcraft.
310 1/2 Essex Street
Salem, Massachusetts 01970