|Salem Witch Trials (Historical)|
Febuary, 1692 - May, 1693
Historic Witch Trials
The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings and prosecutions of people accused of witchcraft in colonial Massachusetts between February 1692 and May 1693. The trials resulted in the executions of twenty people, most of them women. Despite being generally known as the Salem witch trials, the preliminary hearings in 1692 were conducted in several towns in the Province of Massachusetts Bay: Salem Village (now Danvers), Salem Town, Ipswich and Andover. The most infamous trials were conducted by the Court of Oyer and Terminer in 1692 in Salem Town.
In Salem Village, in February 1692, Betty Parris, age 9, and her cousin Abigail Williams, age 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 Hale, the minister of the nearby town of Beverly. The girls screamed, threw things about the room, uttered strange sounds, crawled under furniture, and contorted themselves into peculiar positions, according to the eyewitness account of Rev. Deodat Lawson, himself a former minister in Salem Village.
The girls complained of being pinched and pricked with pins. A doctor, historically assumed to be William Griggs, could find no physical evidence of any ailment. Other young women in the village began to exhibit similar behaviors. When Lawson preached in the Salem Village meetinghouse, he was interrupted several times by outbursts of the afflicted.
The first three people accused and arrested for allegedly afflicting Betty Parris, Abigail Williams, 12-year-old Ann Putnam, Jr., and Elizabeth Hubbard were Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne, and Tituba. The accusation by Ann Putnam Jr. is seen by some historians as evidence that a family feud may have been a major cause of the witch trials. At the time, a vicious rivalry was underway between the Putnam and Porter families, one which deeply polarized the people of Salem. Citizens would often have heated debates, which escalated into full-fledged fighting, based solely on their opinion of the feud.
Good was a homeless beggar, known to seek food and shelter from neighbors. She was accused of witchcraft because of her appalling reputation. At her trial, she was accused of rejecting Puritan ideals of self-control and discipline when she chose to torment and scorn children instead of leading them towards the path of salvation.
Sarah Osborne rarely attended church meetings. She was accused of witchcraft because the Puritans believed that Osborne had her own self-interests in mind following her remarriage to an indentured servant. The citizens of the town disapproved of her trying to control her son's inheritance from her previous marriage.
Tituba, a black or Indian slave, likely became a target because of her ethnic differences from most of the other villagers. She was accused of attracting young girls like Abigail Williams and Betty Parris with stories of enchantment from Malleus Maleficarum. These tales about sexual encounters with demons, swaying the minds of men, and fortune-telling were said to stimulate the imaginations of young girls and made Tituba an obvious target of accusations. Each of these women were outcasts of a sort, satisfying many of the character traits typical of the "usual suspects" for witchcraft accusations, and left to defend themselves. Brought before the local magistrates on the complaint of witchcraft, they were interrogated for several days, starting on March 1, 1692, then sent to jail.
In March, additional women were accused of witchcraft: Martha Corey, Dorothy Good and Rebecca Nurse in Salem Village, and Rachel Clinton in nearby Ipswich. Martha Corey had voiced skepticism about the credibility of the girls' accusations, and thus drawn attention. The charges against her and Rebecca Nurse deeply troubled the community because Martha Corey was a full covenanted member of the Church in Salem Village, as was Rebecca Nurse in the Church in Salem Town. If such upstanding people could be witches, the townspeople conceived, then anybody could be a witch, and church membership was no protection from accusation. Dorothy Good, the daughter of Sarah Good, was only 4 years old, but not exempted from questioning by the magistrates; her answers were construed as a confession that implicated her mother. In Ipswich, Rachel Clinton was arrested for witchcraft at the end of March on charges unrelated to the afflictions of the girls in Salem Village.
Accusations and Examinations Before Local Magistrates
When Sarah Cloyce (Nurse's sister) and Elizabeth (Bassett) Proctor were arrested in April, they were brought before John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin, not only in their capacity as local magistrates, but as members of the Governor's Council, at a meeting in Salem Town. Present for the examination were Deputy Governor Thomas Danforth, and Assistants Samuel Sewall, Samuel Appleton, James Russell and Isaac Addington. Objections by Elizabeth's husband, John Proctor, during the proceedings resulted in his arrest that day as well. Within a week, Giles Corey (Martha's husband, and a covenanted church member in Salem Town), Abigail Hobbs, Bridget Bishop, Mary Warren (a servant in the Proctor household and sometime accuser) and Deliverance Hobbs (stepmother of Abigail Hobbs) were arrested and examined. Abigail Hobbs, Mary Warren and Deliverance Hobbs all confessed and began naming additional people as accomplices. More arrests followed: Sarah Wildes, William Hobbs (husband of Deliverance and father of Abigail), Nehemiah Abbott Jr., Mary Eastey (sister of Cloyce and Nurse), Edward Bishop, Jr. and his wife Sarah Bishop, and Mary English.
On April 30, Rev. George Burroughs, Lydia Dustin, Susannah Martin, Dorcas Hoar, Sarah Morey and Philip English (Mary's husband) were arrested. Nehemiah Abbott Jr. was released because the accusers agreed he was not the person whose specter had afflicted them. Mary Eastey was released for a few days after her initial arrest because the accusers failed to confirm that it was she who had afflicted them; she was arrested again when the accusers reconsidered. In May, accusations continued to pour in, but some of those suspects began to evade apprehension. Multiple warrants were issued before John Willard and Elizabeth Colson were apprehended; George Jacobs Jr. and Daniel Andrews were not caught. Until this point, all the proceedings were investigative, but on May 27, 1692, William Phips ordered the establishment of a Special Court of Oyer and Terminer for Suffolk, Essex and Middlesex counties to prosecute the cases of those in jail. Warrants were issued for more people. Sarah Osborne, one of the first three accused, died in jail on May 10, 1692. Warrants were issued for 36 more people, with examinations continuing to take place in Salem Village: Sarah Dustin (daughter of Lydia Dustin), Ann Sears, Bethiah Carter Sr. and her daughter Bethiah Carter Jr., George Jacobs, Sr. and his granddaughter Margaret Jacobs, John Willard, Alice Parker, Ann Pudeator, Abigail Soames, George Jacobs, Jr. (son of George Jacobs, Sr. and father of Margaret Jacobs), Daniel Andrew, Rebecca Jacobs (wife of George Jacobs, Jr. and sister of Daniel Andrew), Sarah Buckley and her daughter Mary Witheridge. Also included were Elizabeth Colson, Elizabeth Hart, Thomas Farrar, Sr., Roger Toothaker, Sarah Proctor (daughter of John and Elizabeth Proctor), Sarah Bassett (sister-in-law of Elizabeth Proctor), Susannah Roots, Mary DeRich (another sister-in-law of Elizabeth Proctor), Sarah Pease, Elizabeth Cary, Martha Carrier, Elizabeth Fosdick, Wilmot Redd, Sarah Rice, Elizabeth Howe, Capt. John Alden (son of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins), William Proctor (son of John and Elizabeth Proctor), John Flood, Mary Toothaker (wife of Roger Toothaker and sister of Martha Carrier) and her daughter Margaret Toothaker, and Arthur Abbott. When the Court of Oyer and Terminer convened at the end of May, the total number of people in custody was 62.
Cotton Mather wrote to one of the judges, John Richards, a member of his congregation, on May 31, 1692, expressing his support of the prosecutions, but cautioning him, "do not lay more stress on pure spectral evidence than it will bear... It is very certain that the Devils have sometimes represented the Shapes of persons not only innocent, but also very virtuous. Though I believe that the just God then ordinarily provides a way for the speedy vindication of the persons thus abused."
The Court of Oyer and Terminer
The Court of Oyer and Terminer convened in Salem Town on June 2, 1692, with William Stoughton, the new Lieutenant Governor, as Chief Magistrate, Thomas Newton as the Crown's Attorney prosecuting the cases, and Stephen Sewall as clerk. Bridget Bishop's case was the first brought to the grand jury, who endorsed all the indictments against her. Bishop was described as not living a Puritan lifestyle, for she wore black clothing and odd costumes, which was against the Puritan code. When she was examined before her trial, Bishop was asked about her coat, which had been awkwardly “cut or torn in two ways”. This, along with her "immoral" lifestyle, accused her of a being a witch. She went to trial the same day and was convicted. On June 3, the grand jury endorsed indictments against Rebecca Nurse and John Willard, but it is unclear why they did not go to trial immediately as well. Bishop was executed by hanging on June 10, 1692.
Immediately following this execution, the court adjourned for 20 days (until June 30) while it sought advice from New England's most influential ministers "upon the state of things as they then stood." Their collective response came back dated June 15 and composed by Cotton Mather:
|“||The afflicted state of our poor neighbours, that are now suffering by molestations from the invisible world, we apprehend so deplorable, that we think their condition calls for the utmost help of all persons in their several capacities. We cannot but, with all thankfulness, acknowledge the success which the merciful God has given unto the sedulous and assiduous endeavours of our honourable rulers, to detect the abominable witchcrafts which have been committed in the country, humbly praying, that the discovery of those mysterious and mischievous wickednesses may be perfected. We judge that, in the prosecution of these and all such witchcrafts, there is need of a very critical and exquisite caution, lest by too much credulity for things received only upon the Devil's authority, there be a door opened for a long train of miserable consequences, and Satan get an advantage over us; for we should not be ignorant of his devices. As in complaints upon witchcrafts, there may be matters of inquiry which do not amount unto matters of presumption, and there may be matters of presumption which yet may not be matters of conviction, so it is necessary, that all proceedings thereabout be managed with an exceeding tenderness towards those that may be complained of, especially if they have been persons formerly of an unblemished reputation. When the first inquiry is made into the circumstances of such as may lie under the just suspicion of witchcrafts, we could wish that there may be admitted as little as is possible of such noise, company and openness as may too hastily expose them that are examined, and that there may no thing be used as a test for the trial of the suspected, the lawfulness whereof may be doubted among the people of God; but that the directions given by such judicious writers as Perkins and Bernard be consulted in such a case. Presumptions whereupon persons may be committed, and, much more, convictions whereupon persons may be condemned as guilty of witchcrafts, ought certainly to be more considerable than barely the accused person's being represented by a specter unto the afflicted; inasmuch as it is an undoubted and notorious thing, that a demon may, by God's permission, appear, even to ill purposes, in the shape of an innocent, yea, and a virtuous man. Nor can we esteem alterations made in the sufferers, by a look or touch of the accused, to be an infallible evidence of guilt, but frequently liable to be abused by the Devil's legerdemains. We know not whether some remarkable affronts given to the Devils by our disbelieving those testimonies whose whole force and strength is from them alone, may not put a period unto the progress of the dreadful calamity begun upon us, in the accusations of so many persons, whereof some, we hope, are yet clear from the great transgression laid unto their charge. Nevertheless, we cannot but humbly recommend unto the government, the speedy and vigorous prosecution of such as have rendered themselves obnoxious, according to the direction given in the laws of God, and the wholesome statutes of the English nation, for the detection of witchcrafts.||”|
Hutchinson sums the letter, "The two first and the last sections of this advice took away the force of all the others, and the prosecutions went on with more vigor than before." (Reprinting the letter years later in Magnalia, Cotton Mather left out these "two first and the last" sections.) Major Nathaniel Saltonstall Esq. resigned from the court on or about June 16, presumably dissatisfied with the letter and that it had not outright barred the admission of spectral evidence. According to Upham, Saltonstall deserves the credit for "being the only public man of his day who had the sense or courage to condemn the proceedings, at the start." (chapt. VII) More people were accused, arrested and examined, but now in Salem Town, by former local magistrates John Hathorne, Jonathan Corwin and Bartholomew Gedney, who had become judges of the Court of Oyer and Terminer. Roger Toothaker died in prison on June 16, 1692.
From June 30 through early July, grand juries endorsed indictments against Sarah Good, Elizabeth Howe, Susannah Martin, Elizabeth Proctor, John Proctor, Martha Carrier, Sarah Wilds and Dorcas Hoar. Sarah Good, Elizabeth Howe, Susannah Martin and Sarah Wildes, along with Rebecca Nurse, went to trial at this time, where they were found guilty. All five women were executed by hanging on July 19, 1692. In mid-July, the constable in Andover invited the afflicted girls from Salem Village to visit with his wife to try to determine who was causing her afflictions. Ann Foster, her daughter Mary Lacey Sr., and granddaughter Mary Lacey Jr. all confessed to being witches. Anthony Checkley was appointed by Governor Phips to replace Thomas Newton as the Crown's Attorney when Newton took an appointment in New Hampshire.
|“||In August, grand juries indicted George Burroughs, Mary Eastey, Martha Corey and George Jacobs, Sr.. Trial juries convicted Martha Carrier, George Jacobs, Sr., George Burroughs, John Willard, Elizabeth Proctor, and John Proctor. Elizabeth Proctor was given a temporary stay of execution because she was pregnant. On August 19, 1692, Martha Carrier, George Jacobs Sr., George Burroughs, John Willard, and John Proctor were executed. Mr. Burroughs was carried in a Cart with others, through the streets of Salem, to Execution. When he was upon the Ladder, he made a speech for the clearing of his Innocency, with such Solemn and Serious Expressions as were to the Admiration of all present; his Prayer (which he concluded by repeating the Lord's Prayer) [as witches were not supposed to be able to recite] was so well worded, and uttered with such composedness as such fervency of spirit, as was very Affecting, and drew Tears from many, so that if seemed to some that the spectators would hinder the execution. The accusers said the black Man [Devil] stood and dictated to him. As soon as he was turned off [hung], Mr. Cotton Mather, being mounted upon a Horse, addressed himself to the People, partly to declare that he [Mr. Burroughs] was no ordained Minister, partly to possess the People of his guilt, saying that the devil often had been transformed into the Angel of Light. And this did somewhat appease the People, and the Executions went on; when he [Mr. Burroughs] was cut down, he was dragged by a Halter to a Hole, or Grave, between the Rocks, about two feet deep; his Shirt and Breeches being pulled off, and an old pair of Trousers of one Executed put on his lower parts: he was so put in, together with Willard and Carrier, that one of his Hands, and his Chin, and a Foot of one of them, was left uncovered.||”|
— Robert Calef, More Wonders of the Invisible World
In September, grand juries indicted eighteen more people. The grand jury failed to indict William Proctor, who was re-arrested on new charges. On September 19, 1692, Giles Corey refused to plead at arraignment, and was subjected to peine forte et dure, a form of torture in which the subject is pressed beneath an increasingly heavy load of stones, in an attempt to make him enter a plea. Four pleaded guilty and eleven others were tried and found guilty.
September 20, Cotton Mather wrote to Stephen Sewall, the clerk of the court: "That I may be the more capable to assist in lifting up a standard against the infernal enemy...", requesting "... a narrative of the evidence given in at the trials of half a dozen, or if you please, a dozen, of the principal witches that have been condemned." On September 22, 1692, eight more were executed, "After Execution Mr. Noyes turning him to the Bodies, said, what a sad thing it is to see Eight Firebrands of Hell hanging there." One of the convicted, Dorcas Hoar, was given a temporary reprieve, with the support of several ministers, to make a confession of being a witch. Mary Bradbury (aged 77) escaped. Abigail Faulkner Sr. was pregnant and given a temporary reprieve (some reports from that era say that Abigail's reprieve later became a stay of charges). Mather quickly completed his account of the trials, Wonders of the Invisible World and it was given to Phips when he returned from the fighting in Maine in early October. Burr says both the Phip's letter and Mather's manuscript "must have gone to London by the same ship" in mid-October.
|“||I hereby declare that as soon as I came from fighting ... and understood what danger some of their innocent subjects might be exposed to, if the evidence of the afflicted persons only did prevaile either to the committing or trying any of them, I did before any application was made unto me about it put a stop to the proceedings of the Court and they are now stopt till their Majesties pleasure be known.||”|
— Governor Phips, Boston, October 12, 1692
October 29, Judge Sewall writes "the Court of Oyer and Terminer count themselves thereby dismissed... asked whether the Court of Oyer and Terminer should sit, expressing some fear of Inconvenience by its fall, [the] Governour said it must fall." (Sewall's Diary, I. 368.) Governor Phips' wife, Lady Mary Phips, was among those "called out upon" by the afflicted. Spectral evidence was once again in question. There would be more trials after the new year, but not like before.
In January 1693, the new Superior Court of Judicature, Court of Assize and General Gaol Delivery convened in Salem, Essex County, again headed by William Stoughton, as Chief Justice, with Anthony Checkley continuing as the Attorney General, and Jonathan Elatson as Clerk of the Court. The first five cases tried in January 1693 were of the five people who had been indicted but not tried in September: Sarah Buckley, Margaret Jacobs, Rebecca Jacobs, Mary Whittredge and Job Tookey. All were found not guilty. Grand juries were held for many of those remaining in jail. Charges were dismissed against many, but sixteen more people were indicted and tried, three of whom were found guilty: Elizabeth Johnson Jr., Sarah Wardwell and Mary Post. When Stoughton wrote the warrants for the execution of these women and the others remaining from the previous court, Governor Phips pardoned them, sparing their lives. In late January/early February, the Court sat again in Charlestown, Middlesex County, and held grand juries and tried five people: Sarah Cole (of Lynn), Lydia Dustin & Sarah Dustin, Mary Taylor and Mary Toothaker. All were found not guilty, but not released until they paid their jail fees. Lydia Dustin died in jail on March 10, 1693. At the end of April, the Court convened in Boston, Suffolk County, and cleared Capt. John Alden by proclamation, and heard charges against a servant girl, Mary Watkins, for falsely accusing her mistress of witchcraft. In May, the Court convened in Ipswich, Essex County, held a variety of grand juries who dismissed charges against all but five people. Susannah Post, Eunice Frye, Mary Bridges Jr., Mary Barker and William Barker Jr. were all found not guilty at trial, putting an end to the episode.
Timeline of the Salem witch trials. This timeline of the Salem witch trials is a quick overview of the events.
- 1688: The behavior of several children in the home of the Goodwin family in Boston results in the accusation, trial and execution of their Irish washerwoman, Ann Glover (also known as "Goody Glover"), for witchcraft.
- 1689: Cotton Mather publishes "Memorable Providences, Relating to Witchcrafts and Possessions", which includes his account of the Goodwins and Glover.
- November: Samuel Parris is named the new minister of Salem. Parris moves to Salem from Boston, where Memorable Providences was published.
- 1691 October 16: Villagers vow to drive Parris out of Salem and stop contributing to his salary.
- 1692 January 20: Eleven-year-old Abigail Williams and nine-year-old Elizabeth Parris begin behaving much as the Goodwin children acted three years earlier. Soon Ann Putnam Jr. and other Salem girls begin acting similarly.
- Mid-February: A local doctor (historically assumed to be Doctor Griggs), attends to the "afflicted" girls, and first suggests that witchcraft may be the cause.
- February 25: Mary Sibly (or Sibley), a neighbor of the Parris family, tells John Indian, the husband of Tituba, the recipe to make a "witch cake" of rye meal and the girls' urine to feed to a dog in order to discover who is bewitching the girls, according to English folk "white magic" practices.
- late February: Pressured by ministers and townspeople to say who caused her odd behavior, Elizabeth Parris identifies Tituba. The girls later accuse Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne of witchcraft.
- February 29: Based on formal complaints from Joseph Hutchinson, Thomas Putnam, Edward Putnam and Thomas Preston, Magistrates John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin issue warrants to arrest Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne and Tituba for afflicting Betty Parris, Abigail Williams, Ann Putnam Jr. and Elizabeth Hubbard.
- March 1–March 7: Magistrates John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin interrogate Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne and Tituba over the course of several days. Tituba confesses to afflicting and confirms Good and Osborne are her co-conspirators.
- March 11: Ann Putnam Jr. shows symptoms of affliction by witchcraft. Mercy Lewis, Mary Walcott and Mary Warren later alleged affliction as well.
- March 12: Ann Putnam Jr. accuses Martha Corey of witchcraft.
- March 19: Abigail Williams denounces Rebecca Nurse as a witch.
- March 21: Magistrates Hathorne and Corwin examine Martha Corey.
- March 23: Salem Marshal Deputy Samuel Brabrook arrests four-year-old Dorothy Good.
- March 24: Corwin and Hathorne examine Rebecca Nurse and Dorothy Good
- March 26: John Hathorne, Jonathan Corwin and Rev. John Higginson question Dorothy Good, now in jail.
- March 28: Elizabeth Proctor is accused of witchcraft.
- April 3: Sarah Cloyce, after defending her sister, Rebecca Nurse, is accused of witchcraft.
- April 11: Sarah Cloyce and Elizabeth Proctor are examined before Deputy Governor Thomas Danforth and members of the Governor's Council. On the same day Elizabeth's husband, John Proctor, becomes the first man accused of witchcraft and is jailed.
- Early April: The Proctors' servant and accuser, Mary Warren, admits to lying and accuses the other girls of lying.
- April 13: Ann Putnam Jr. accuses Giles Corey of witchcraft and alleges that a man who died at Corey's house also haunts her.
- April 19: Abigail Hobbs, Bridget Bishop, Giles Corey and Mary Warren are examined. Deliverance Hobbs confesses to practicing witchcraft. Mary Warren reverses her statement made in early April and rejoins the accusers.
- April 22: Mary Eastey, another of Rebecca Nurse's sisters who defended her, is examined by Hathorne and Corwin. Hathorne and Corwin also examine Nehemiah Abbott, William and Deliverance Hobbs, Edward and Sarah Bishop, Mary Black, Sarah Wildes and Mary English.
- April 30: Several girls accuse former Salem minister George Burroughs of witchcraft.
- May 2: Hathorne and Corwin examine Sarah Morey, Lyndia Dustin, Susannah Martin and Dorcas Hoar.
- May 4: George Burroughs is arrested in Maine and returns to Salem three days later and is jailed.
- May 9: Corwin and Hathorne examine Burroughs and Sarah Churchill; Burroughs is moved to a Boston jail.
- May 10: Corwin and Hathorne examine George Jacobs, Sr. and his granddaughter Margaret Jacobs. Sarah Osborne dies in prison.
- May 14: The Reverend Increase Mather and Sir William Phips, the newly appointed governor of the colony, arrive in Boston. They bring with them a new charter establishing the Province of Massachusetts Bay.
- May 18: Mary Eastey is released from prison. Following protest by her accusers, she is again arrested. Roger Toothaker is also arrested on charges of witchcraft.
- May 27: Phips issues a commission for a Court of Oyer and Terminer and appoints as judges John Hathorne, Nathaniel Saltonstall, Bartholomew Gedney, Peter Sergeant, Samuel Sewall, Wait Still Winthrop and Lieutenant Governor William Stoughton.
- May 31: Hathorne, Corwin and Gednew examine Martha Carrier, John Alden, Wilmott Redd, Elizabeth Howe and Phillip English. Alden and English later escape from prison and do not return.
- June 8: Bridget Bishop is the first to be tried and convicted of witchcraft. She is sentenced to death.
- June 8: Eighteen year old Elizabeth Booth is accused of witchcraft.
- June 10: Bridget Bishop is hanged at Gallows Hill. Following the hanging, Nathaniel Saltonstall resigns from the court and is replaced by Corwin.
- June 15: Cotton Mather writes a letter requesting the court not use spectral evidence as a standard and urging that the trials be speedy. The Court of Oyer and Terminer pays more attention to the request for speed and less attention to the criticism of spectral evidence.
- June 16: Roger Toothaker dies in prison.
- June 29-June 30: Rebecca Nurse, Susannah Martin, Sarah Wildes, Sarah Good and Elizabeth Howe are tried, pronounced guilty and sentenced to death by hanging.
- July 19: Rebecca Nurse, Susannah Martin, Elizabeth Howe, Sarah Good and Sarah Wildes are hanged at Gallows Hill.
- August 5: George Jacobs Sr., Martha Carrier, George Burroughs, John Willard, and John and Elizabeth Proctor are pronounced guilty and sentenced to hang.
- August 19: George Jacobs Sr., Martha Carrier, George Burroughs, John Willard and John Proctor are hanged on Gallows Hill. Elizabeth Proctor is not hanged because she is pregnant.
- August 20: Margaret Jacobs recants the testimony that led to the execution of her grandfather George Jacobs Sr. and George Burroughs.
- September 9: Martha Corey, Mary Easty, Alice Parker, Ann Pudeator, Dorcas Hoar and Mary Bradbury are pronounced guilty and sentenced to hang.
- Mid-September: Giles Corey is indicted.
- September 17: Margaret Scott, Wilmott Redd, Samuel Wardwell, Mary Parker, Abigail Faulkner, Rebecca Earnes, Mary Lacy, Ann Foster and Abigail Hobbs are tried and sentenced to hang. Sheriffs administer Peine Forte Et Dure (pressing) to Giles Corey after he refuses to enter a plea to the charges of witchcraft against him.
- September 19: After two days under the weight, Giles Corey dies having been pressed to death.
- September 21: Robert Mailea is accused of being a witch.
- September 22: Martha Corey, Margaret Scott, Mary Easty, Alice Parker, Ann Pudeator, Willmott Redd, Samuel Wardwell and Mary Parker are hanged. Dorcas Hoar escapes execution by confessing.
- October 3: The Reverend Increase Mather, President of Harvard College and father of Cotton Mather, denounces the use of spectral evidence.
- October 12: Governor Phips writes the Privy Council of King William and Queen Mary saying that he has stopped the proceedings and referring to "what danger some of their innocent subjects might be exposed to, if the evidence of the afflicted persons only did prevail," i.e., "spectral evidence."
- October 29: Phips prohibits further arrests, releases many accused witches, and dissolves the Court of Oyer and Terminer.
- November 25: The Massachusetts General Court establishes a Superior Court to pardon remaining witches.
- 1693 January: 49 of the 52 surviving people brought into court on witchcraft charges are released because their arrests were based on "spectral evidence."
- 1700: Abigail Faulkner, Sr. requests that the Massachusetts General Court reverse the attainder on her name.
- 1706: Ann Putnam Jr. stands before her church and offers an apology for her part in the witch trials.
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