The Witch Hunt of 1692
In a time when Puritan beliefs struck fear in society, paranoia swept through the town. By 1692, the God-fearing people of Salem were so consumed by their reverence they even began naming their children One-Who-Fears-God and Thou-Shalt-Not-Commit-Adultery.
January: Two girls, Elizabeth Parris and Abigail Williams start to show strange behavior, such as seizures and screaming. Betty Parris was the daughter of Reverend Samuel Parris. Soon after, several other Salem girls begin to show similar behavior, including Ann Putnam Jr. After an examination by the town doctor, the were proclaimed as bewitched.
February: Once Salem’s village doctor diagnoses that the girls are under the influence of Satan, prayer services are held for the girls. The girls give the names of three women who they believe are witches. Two maintained their innocence, but Tituba, Elizabeth’s slave, confessed and said that there were other witches in Salem.
March: Magistrates perform “witch tests” on the three accused women. Over the next few weeks, many more women are accused of witchcraft, mostly those who are not normal. Those accused included Mercy Lewis, Mary Walcott, Mary Warren, Martha Corey, Rebecca Nurse, and Elizabeth Proctor.
April: Sarah Cloyce, the sister of Rebecca Nurse, is accused of witchcraft after defending her sister. On April 11, John Proctor becomes the first man accused of witchcraft and is put in jail. On April 22, Nehemiah Abbott, William and Deliverance Hobbs, Edward and Sarah Bishop, Mary Easty, Mary Black, Sarah Wildes, and Mary English were examined. Nehemiah is the only one cleared.
May: George Burroughs is arrested and put in jail. Margaret Jacobs testifies that he is a witch, and so was her grandfather. Mary Easty is released from prison but arrested again. On May 27, Governor Phips sets up a special court to try the witchcraft cases. The witches are judged on appearance, and evidence such as confessions.
June: Bridget Bishop is the first person tried in the new court, found guilty, and hanged on June 10. After this, accusations escalated, but some townspeople tried to start petitions in order to save the innocent. Roger Toothaker dies in prison on June 16. Rebecca Nurse, Susannah Martin, Sarah Wildes, Sarah Good and Elizabeth Howe are all tried and sentenced to be hanged.
July: Joseph Ballard decides to start hunting all witches, with help of the girls of Salem. Rebecca Nurse, Susannah Martin, Sarah Wildes, Sarah Good, and Elizabeth Howe are all hanged on the same day, July 19. Prisoners begin to write to various religious leaders for help.
August: George Jacobs, Sr., Martha Carrier, George Burroughs, John and Elizabeth Proctor, and John Willard were tried for witchcraft and sentenced to be hanged. They were all hanged on August 19, except for Elizabeth, who was pardoned because she was pregnant.
September: Martha Corey, Mary Easty, Alice Parker, Ann Pudeator, Dorcas Hoar, Margaret Scott, Wilmott Redd, Samuel Wardwell, Mary Parker, Abigail Faulkner, Rebecca Eames, Mary Lacy, Ann Foster, Abigail Hobbs, and Mary Bradbury were tried and sentenced to be hanged. Giles Corey was ordered to have rocks piled on him because he refused to testify. He was pressed to death. Dorcas Hoar was the first of those pleading innocent to confess. Eight more witches were hanged in this month.
October: On October 3, Reverend Increase Mather, publicly denounced the use of spectral evidence. 20 people had been executed, but Thomas Brattle was criticized for his witch hunting, which was brought to the attention of Governor Phips. The Governor prohibited further arrests of witches.
November: The rest of the witches were tried, but because of the ban on spectral evidence, 49 out of the 52 remaining were released in the following January, bringing the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 to an end.