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Salem Witch Trials: The Accused Bridget Bishop

Salem Witch Trials: The Accused Bridget Bishop by Odin’s Daughter

During the Winter of February 1692, unrest was building in the Village of Salem. Elizabeth Parris and Abigail Williams, through fits and mysterious maladies, were diagnosed with being affected with witchcraft. They soon released the names of the accused to their parents. Leading to more than one-hundred fifty accused. One even being a four-year-old child. Soon, June had arrived and here marks the first of the trials. One of whom was the most severely accused by her community, Bridget Bishop.

Born some time in the 1630s, Bridget Playfer, was born in Norwich, England. Soon to follow in the year 1660, she had her fist marriage to Samuel Wasselbe (spellings vary). It is unknown if Samuel had passed prior to her leaving for the new world or if he was still alive. She in the time of leaving England was in fact pregnant from this marriage, the infant did sadly pass in Massachusetts.

She then married again in Massachusetts in 1666, to a Thomas Oliver. They bought a large property that included orchards. They also conceived a daughter known as Christian. Thomas had 3 older children from his previous marriage. Thirteen years later and Thomas had passed away. In 1685, she remarried again, to an Edward Bishop.

Bishop Account by Samuel Parris

Due to the deaths of two previous marriages, gossip of her being a “witch” ensued. It grew into much more as time went on. Her first accusation was in fact in 1680 by a slave who claimed he saw her specter steal, pinch, and frightened horses; in total 10 people testified against her. There was a list of accusations: force girls to sign “the Devil’s Book”, poppets with stuck pins in them, specter visitations of various men, bewitching of others, declining health of others, stealing, arguments, seeing of imps on her property, her flying over her orchards, witches mark found on her body, and use of magic.

Bishop Account by Ezekiel Cheever

On June 10 th , 1692, Bridget Bishop was convicted of being a witch and using witchcraft. Being escorted by Sheriff George Corwin to Proctor’s Ledge. Where she was hanged at the edge of town publicly. She hung until she passed away. The first of the 19 to be hung and the very last to be exonerated by legislation in the state of Massachusetts in 2001.

Note: Her daughter did live on to be married, but soon died in 1693.

Based on twenty-seven years of original archival research, including the discovery of previously unknown documents, this day-by-day narrative of the hysteria that swept through Salem Village in 1692 and 1693 reveals new connections behind the events, and shows how rapidly a community can descend into bloodthirsty madness. Roach opens her work with chapters on the history of the Puritan colonies of New England, and explains how these people regarded the metaphysical and the supernatural. The account of the days from January 1692 to March 1693 keeps in order the large cast of characters, places events in their correct contexts, and occasionally contradicts earlier assumptions about the gruesome events. The last chapter discusses the remarkable impact of the events, pointing out how the 300th anniversary of the trials made headlines in Japan and Australia.
A girl fell sick in 1692. Her convulsions, contortions, and outbursts of gibberish baffled everyone. Then other girls had the same symptoms. The village doctor could suggest just one cause: Witchcraft.

Further Resources

First Salem witch hanging

Bridget Bishop Home and Orchards

Bridget Bishop becomes the first woman to be hanged during the notorious Salem Witch Trials in 1692

Salem Witchcraft Papers

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Salem Witch Trials: Introduction 1692-1693

Salem Witch Trials: Introduction 1692-1693 by Odin’s Daughter

**Opinions of research may vary. Dates are agreed but times and causes are conflicting according to where information is obtained.**

Salem, Massachusetts is well known for many reasons; one being the home to the Witch Hunts. During the reign of King William and Queen Mary, a war with France began in 1689, noted as King William’s War. This war had a very high toll on the colonies, mostly Salem Village in Massachusetts. Between low resources, family controversies, wealth, greed and those dependent on agriculture; the first ordained Minister of Salem, Reverend Samuel Parris was greatly disliked among the community. He had a very greedy nature. With all of this going on, the village soon gave into the belief this was all due to the Devil.

With winter months coming, people were falling ill. In fact, Reverend Parris’ daughter and niece fell ill in early 1692 and were having convulsions. Tituba, a servant in the Parris household, was especially close with Betty Parris. She had never been accused of witchcraft or dark arts before. This time though, she had been, due to healing a sick child. Tituba fell to not only be the first victim but also the first to witness the Salem Witch hunt.

Map of Salem Village in 1692 Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

As the months went on more and more had been accused by the two girls, Elizabeth Parris (Betty aged 9) and Abigail Williams (aged 11/Niece). In the year of 1692, Chief Justice William Stoughton had presided over the initial trials and had in one day, June 10th, hung 18 people. All being accused of some form of witchcraft and all from different stations in life. Thirteen women and five men met their end at the gallows. One man crushed to death as well by slab of stone. As well as 5 others who died in jail, bringing the number to a total of 25 deaths. Eventually near 200 people had been accused in the end and a listed 25 had died. Many, once released from prison, had died of hysteria(s), or other ailments they had attained while in prison.

Witchcraft at Salem Village by unattributed William A. Crafts 1876 SOURCE

Then like clockwork, Betty and Abigail, started accusing those who had helped them put so many away and to their deaths. One being the governor’s own wife. At this point, Governor William Phipps decided it was time to put an end to the ridiculous claims. He, in October 1692, disbanded the courts who held the trials, replaced them, and then proceeded to rule that spectral evidence was not true evidence. From late 1692 through mid-1693, those still in jail and awaiting execution were pardoned. For many years that followed, those who were affected by the Salem witch trials, were given apologies and restitution.

Based on twenty-seven years of original archival research, including the discovery of previously unknown documents, this day-by-day narrative of the hysteria that swept through Salem Village in 1692 and 1693 reveals new connections behind the events, and shows how rapidly a community can descend into bloodthirsty madness. Roach opens her work with chapters on the history of the Puritan colonies of New England, and explains how these people regarded the metaphysical and the supernatural. The account of the days from January 1692 to March 1693 keeps in order the large cast of characters, places events in their correct contexts, and occasionally contradicts earlier assumptions about the gruesome events. The last chapter discusses the remarkable impact of the events, pointing out how the 300th anniversary of the trials made headlines in Japan and Australia.
In 1692, the townspeople of Salem, Massachusetts found themselves in a panic over witchcraft. But after several months, the paranoia and violence ended almost as quickly as it began. All trials were halted, publications about the terror were officially banned, and the location of the execution site vanished from any records. Today, a group of historians uncovers new information about the infamous witch hunt in an effort to answer its most enduring mysteries.
In 1692, America witnessed the most horrific acts of injustice when 19 innocent people were hanged and one was pressed to death for the practice of witchcraft in Season 1, Episode 7.

Further Resources:

Salem Witch Trials of 1692

Salem Witch Trials

Salem witch trials American history

Unraveling the Many Mysteries of Tituba, the Star Witness of the Salem Witch Trials