The Salem Witch Trials June through September 1692 was not a time of peace for Salem Village of the
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The Salem Witch Trials June through September 1692 was not a time of peace for Salem Village of the

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The Salem Witch Trials June through September 1692 was not a time of peace for Salem Village of the

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The Salem Witch Trials

June through September 1692 was not a time of peace for Salem Village of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It was a time of





and the




of many

innocent people


Brief Background

In 1688 John Putnam, an influential elder of the Salem Village invited Samuel Parris, a successful planter and merchant in Barbados to preach in church. Samuel Parris later accepted a job as a village minister and reverend, and started to live in Salem. With him he brought his family, and an Indian Slave.


The Parris Household in Salem 1692All the chaos and confusion of the Salem Witch Trials started within this family. The two Indians slaves were brought in from Samuel Parris’s farm, back in Barbados. Tituba told stories to the young children about life in Barbados and her Barbadian magic.Samuel Parris-Father (husband of)Elizabeth Eldridge-Mother

Betty Parris-9yearold Daughter

Thomas Parris-10yearold Son

Susahanna-4yearold Daughter

Abigail Williams-13yearold Niece

John Indian-Indian Slave

(husband of)

Tituba-Indian Slave


This is one of the many depictions of Tituba teaching the young children black magic.


The two girls, Betty and Abigail were especially fond of Tituba’s tales. They learned of a fortune telling game to identify their future husbands. While with the other girls in Salem village, they secretly whisper about Tituba’s magic. One cold day in February, the girls take it a little too far. Both girls suddenly fell strangely ill, and did some pretty weird things, enough to creep anyone out. Symptoms include:

-diving under furniture

-contorted in pain

-screaming during prayers

-unable to concentrate

-sobbing aloof

-barking….at people

-hurling of bibles across the room

-shouted bizarre unintelligible words


Possible SymptomsCan you guess what Dr.Griggs thought it was? While he said the girls were “bewitched


modern day

scientists have thought of some ideas of what it really might have been.

Here are a few ideas:




-delusional psychosis



-child abuse


Salem already had a lot of other problems to worry about. At that time, it was not going so great as a colony:-they needed a new charter to continue to own land-there were numerous occurrences of smallpox-Reverend Parris demanded higher wages-frequent attacks by the native people and French allies All this followed by the new bewitched children. After a while of just Betty and Abigail being bewitched, several of their friends began acting the same way.


During a rare moment in which the two girls were calm, they were asked who was bewitching them. They named three people: I. Sarah Good i. Sarah was a middle-aged beggar who lived wherever someone offered her a house. She was pregnant, smoked, and had a bad temper. When she was on trial, her own husband agreed that she could be a witch. Her 5 year-old daughter, Dorcas Good confessed to being a witch, just to be with her.

II. Sarah




Sick, old woman who did not attend church and married her own servant. Often gossiped about throughout the town.

III. Tituba First Accusations


The girls claimed that they saw spirits floating around, spirits that no one else can see. They said the spirits were doing bad things; that they pinched and pricked the girls. The people of Salem actually believed them! This caused even more panic throughout the colony.


Tituba’s WarningAfter countless beatings and questionings, Tituba finally confessed. She talked of a tall man who came in different forms. She claimed that she had signed his book, and did his work. Tituba said that she flew here from Boston on a pole, along with the other two on trial. She claimed that there were more “sisters”. If she had not said that, the witch trials would have ended right there, with the three women hanged. Historians think that she did this so she wouldn’t be killed. After confessing, she was brought to every Salem witch trial to identify if the suspect was a witch or not; so unlike the others, she did not get hanged.


Court of Oyer and Terminer

As the colony was on the brink of chaos, Governor Phips returned from England. He created the new “court of




” to hear all the witchcraft cases. Five judges were appointed to the court. The chief justice, and most prominent man on the court was William Stoughton, a tough witch hunter. Of course, along with them were Abigail Williams, Ann Putnam


, and Tituba. Abigail and Ann were the ones that said if the subject was a specter or not. Usually when the suspect was guilty, they would both fall to the ground, contorting in pain when in front of them.


Confession After the first wave of suspects, the accused witches began to notice something. If they confessed that they were a witch, like Tituba did, they would not be taken to the gallows. Instead, they would stay in court and protest if the suspect on trial was guilty, or innocent of being a witch. The saddest part of the trials, in my opinion, were all the lies. So many of the accused acted as a witness to the others that were accused. Daughters accused mothers, husbands accused wives. In April 21, 1692 Abigail Hobbs acted as a witness against both of her parents. That way, she avoided being hanged.


Most of the accusations were against likely suspects. The first accused witch brought to trial, Bridget Bishop was critical of her neighbors, and reluctant to pay her bills. She owned a tavern that was active all the time, even on the Sabbath. Others were well respected and looked up to people. Rebecca Nurse was a valued and devout woman, but according to Ann and Abigail, she attacked them in mid March 1692. On July 19, she was executed.The Accused


Nineteen accused witches were hanged on Gallows Hill in 1692:June 10 Bridget Bishop July 19 Rebecca Nurse Sarah Good Susannah Martin Elizabeth Howe Sarah Wildes 

August 19


George Burroughs


Martha Carrier


John Willard


George Jacobs, Sr.


John Proctor

 September 22 Martha Corey Mary Eastey Ann Pudeator Alice Parker Mary Parker Wilmott Redd


Margaret Scott







One accused witch (or wizard, as male witches were often called) was pressed to death on September 19 when he failed to plead guilty or not guilty:Giles CoreyOther accused witches died in prison:Sarah Osborn Roger Toothaker Lyndia Dustin Ann Foster

More than 141 people were arrested



So How Did it End? As 1692 was coming to an end, Governor Phips began to notice why the hysteria overwhelmed the village. Many important people, including his own wife was accused of witchcraft, and other towns were following the lead. Phips declared no one can testify to seeing invisible spirits, unless he or she had “spectral evidence”. Such things cannot be proven




Sources (cont.)The Salem Witch Trials by: Jane Yolen SHOHEB OME 7A3 ID3