When Sarah Cloyce and Elizabeth (Bassett) Proctor were arrested in April, they were brought before John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin at a meeting in Salem Town. John Alden, William Proctor John Flood, Mary Toothaker and her daughter Margaret Toothaker, and Arthur Abbott.
Within a week, Giles Corey, Abigail Hobbs, Bridget Bishop, Mary Warren, and Deliverance Hobbs were arrested and examined. Also included were Elizabeth Colson, Elizabeth Hart, Thomas Farrar, Sr., Roger Toothaker, Sarah Proctor, Sarah Bassett, Susannah Roots, Mary DeRich, Sarah Pease, Elizabeth Cary, Martha Carrier, Elizabeth Fosdick, Wilmot Redd, Sarah Rice, Elizabeth Howe, Capt. 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., Daniel Andrew, Rebecca Jacobs, Sarah Buckley and her daughter Mary Witheridge.
On September, 1692, Giles Corey refused to plead at arraignment, and was killed by peine forte et dure, a form of torture in which the convicted person is pressed beneath heavy rocks, the weight increasingly gets larger, in an attempt to make him enter a plea. Objections by Elizabeth’s husband, John Proctor, during the proceedings resulted in his arrest that day. Multiple warrants were issued before John Willard and Elizabeth Colson were apprehended; George Jacobs Jr. and Daniel Andrews were not caught.
The men were both local magistrates and also members of the Governor’s Council. On June 3, the grand jury endorsed indictments against Rebecca Nurse and John Willard, but they did not go to trial immediately, for reasons which are unclear. On September 20, Cotton Mather wrote to Stephen Sewall, “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.”
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 had been arrested again when the accusers reconsidered. Bridget Bishop’s case was the first brought to the grand jury, who endorsed all the indictments against her. 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. She went to trial the same day and was convicted.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.
When the Court of Oyer and Terminer convened at the end of May, the total number of people in custody was 62.