Throughout history citizens have branded people as witches, and warlocks. Maybe, a person act’s different than ourselves, or they have strange habits, does this make them a witch? In the Massachusetts Bay Colony in January of 1692, you would be branded a witch for these odd doing’s. Being accused of witch craft had serious consequences. At the residence of Reverend Samuel Parris in the village of Salem is where the witchcraft crises broke out (Wilson, 18). Within his house was his nine year old daughter Betty Parris, and her eleven year old cousin Abigail Williams (19).
Together, they played with white magic, but so did many of the teenage girls in the village (19). On Samuel Parris’s journey from Barbados to Salem he acquired an indian slave named Tituba, her husband, John Indian, and a couple more slaves(19). While no evidence has been proven, it is believed that Tituba entertained the children with tales from her native country(19). Betty Parris’s mother told them English fairy tales(19). Both of them told stories with no morals, but they did talk of magic, and good and evil spirits (19).
Some time in February of 1692 Betty and Abigail began slipping into trances, hiding in corners, blurting nonsense, and worst of all collapsing to the ground in an epileptic fits kicking and screaming ( Wilson, 22). Worse yet, the behavior started to spread throughout the village(22). Twelve year old Ann Putnam Jr. , nineteen year old Mercy Lewis, sixteen year old Mary Walcott, eighteen year old Susannah Sheldon, sixteen year old Elizabeth Booth, and twenty year old Mary Warren were a few of the other young girls plagued by the illness (22).
Samuel Parris now invited several doctors to examine the children (Wilson, 23). Dr. William Griggs first diagnosed them with epilepsy, and latter diagnosed them with witchcraft (23). Soon after his diagnoses his maid servant began to suffer the symptoms (23). He most likely came to his diagnosis from Reverend Cotton Mather’s book, Memorable Providence’s Relation to Witchcraft and Possession (23). Within the book it told how Cotton Mather had successfully cured witchcraft through praying, and fasting (Wilson, 23). Samuel Parris now began to practice the same method, inviting the entire congregation to do the same (23).
Not only did they do it, but had the church Deacons, and other various church leaders help him to pray (23). No matter what they did the children still continued to shriek and carry on, and then ask what they had just done (23). Reverend Parris continued to pray, and fast, until, Mary Sibley, a member of the church gave his servant’s Tituba, and her husband a recipe for witch cake ( Wilson, 23). Sibley believed that the cake would aid in the discovery of who the witch was (23). John Indian collected the children’s urine, mixed it with rye, and gave it to Tituba to bake in ashes.
They then fed the mixture to the household dog. According to English legend the dog would then go straight to whoever was the witch, because dogs are close to the devils agents (23). However, the only thing the mixture did was make the dog extremely ill. Samuel Parris became enraged when found out Mary Sibley had “gone to the devil for help against the devil (Wilson, 24). ” He publicly accused her, forcing her repent in front of the public. In Mid-February Parris called for a Day of Humiliation, where the whole congregation would fast, and pray for the children (24).
Parris continually interrogated his girls asking who the witches were. They eventually named Tituba, Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne, and two other village women they did not know (24). On March 1, 1692 Tituba, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osborne were arrested and charged with witchcraft (Wilson, 24). Authorities were originally going to question them at the Ingersoll Inn, but they had to move into a church due to large crowds at the Inn (24). Sarah Good, a pregnant, older woman of 38, was questioned first (24). She said she didn’t go to church because her clothing wasn’t respectable enough for the house of God (24).
She was also known to wonder around the village going from door to door asking for food stuffs (24). Magistrates asked her about her saying she mumbled as walked around the village, and she said they were here psalms. However, when asked to repeat them in front of the crowd, she could not remember them (24). Sarah Osborne was an elderly, sick woman (Wilson, 24). Mrs. Osborne had been absent from church for over a year in part because of her illness, and in part of town gossip (25). Several years before, her husband had died, and she allowed her man servant to live in the house with her (25).
Latter, she married her man servant, but the town’s people still talked about her “Sin (25). ” She was amazed at the amount of suffering that the children were going through, but she still claimed she was innocent (25). Tituba was the last to be questioned. At first, she claimed to know nothing about what could be causing the children to suffer (25). Magistrate Hawthorne then asked her, “What is it that hurts them (Wilson, 25)? ” “The devil for ought I know,” she replied (25) “How doeth he appear when he hurts them? ” he asked. “With what shape? What is he like that hurts them (25). ” Tituba replied, “Like a man, I think (Wilson, 25).
After this point in the questioning she confessed (25). At the same time she named four other witches, Good, Osborne, and the other two no one knew (25). Tituba spoke of tall man from Boston, and of witches’. She described the devil as “a tall man with black clothes,” the man had the ability to change shapes (25). He could appear as a man, a black dog, a hog, or red and black rats. A yellow bird accompanied him on his journeys, along with a book he encouraged Tituba to sign (25). If Tituba served him well, he would give her pretty things, if she served him poorly, he punished her (25).
Her claims said that there were other witches as well, she had met them in Boston, and in the woods with the tall man, and they all rode on sticks (Wilson, 25). Tituba later confessed she had tried to kill children, while in the form of her specter (Wilson, 26). The other witches, and the devil had dragged her over to Dr. Grigg’s residence, and told her to kill Elizabeth Hubbard with a knife (26). Afterwards, at Thomas Putnam’s house the witches attempted to slit the throat of twelve year old Ann Putnam Jr. (26). Tituba was fortunate, all of the witches who confessed had there lives spared (Wilson, 27).
The Magistrates felt that if they confessed they had repented their sins, and were no longer with the devil (27). They could also serve as witnesses against those who protested they were innocent (27). The accused witches who claimed innocence in spite of convincing evidence were hanged (27). The one thing that stands out throughout the trials is the status of the executed (Boyer, 23). Mainly, the executed were older women who had made a name for themselves in the village (23). Few of the young girls were executed, most of them were treated as innocent victims (23). Adults clearly had it worse during the dreadful period.
If they were accused they were usually executed (24). In order to make an accused witch confess to his or her doings they were sometimes tortured until a confession, or death resulted (Van Der Linde, 54). The methods used to torture witches in Salem was mild compared to what European history holds. Pricking a witches mark was a common practice, along with torturing the accused witches family (54). Several children of various families were tortured in order to obtain evidence against there parents (54). However, the cruelest method used during The Salem With Trials was pressing.
Corey Giles was the first to receive this treatment (54). Giles wife was accused of witchcraft, and when he protested against her treatment the court accused him of witchcraft (54). During the time, English law stated that person had to enter a plea of “Guilty,” or “Not Guilty. (Van Der Linde, 54). ” Corey refused to enter a plea causing the judges to press him. When an individual is pressed, they are staked to the ground with a board placed lengthwise upon them. The board is then loaded with stones until the person confesses or is crushed to death. During Cory Giles pressing he mumbled only two words, “More Weight (54)! “