University of Virginia Library



Title-page of the original.


1692. This narrative may well be studied in close connection with the parallel narratives of Calef and Hale, printed at pp. 296 ff. and 399 ff. of this volume.


Not Salem town, the present Salem city, but a rural district (what is now the township of Danvers, with parts of the townships adjoining it) which till 1672 had been a mere dependence of the town, but in that year, at the request of its inhabitants, was set off as a separate parish, though not as a distinct town. Despite the name of “village,” there was in Salem Village no huddle of houses amounting to a hamlet, though about the meeting-house (where now is Danvers Highlands) the farm-houses clustered more thickly than elsewhere. Prefixed to the Rev. Charles W. Upham's Salem Witchcraft is a map, which, on the basis of long and loving research, attempts to locate every house in all the region; and the text of that work will also be of constant use, as will the little volume of W. S. Nevins, Witchcraft in Salem Village (1892), with its views of sites and buildings (as “Stories of Salem Witchcraft” it had been printed in the New England Magazine, IV., V.) and the illustrated edition of John Fiske's New France and New England (1904).


Nathaniel Ingersoll, deacon in the village church and perhaps its most devoted member, kept the tavern, or “ordinary,” which was the recognized centre of the “Village.” The meeting-house adjoined it to the east, to the west the parsonage, where lived Mr. Parris.


Captain Jonathan Walcot, commander of the village militia, dwelt next beyond the parsonage. His daughter Mary was now seventeen.


The Rev. Samuel Parris (1653-1720), whose part, and whose family's, in the Salem panic was to be so great, had been at Salem Village since 1688, succeeding Deodat Lawson as its spiritual head. Till then, though educated at Harvard, which is to say for the ministry, he had been engaged in the West Indian trade, and had lived for a time in Barbadoes, whence he had brought back with him the two slaves, John and Tituba, perhaps half negro, half native, with whom we must soon have to do. Abigail Williams, his niece, was a member of his household; and we shall meet also his little daughter Elizabeth, aged nine. The account of his life by S. P. Fowler (Essex Institute, Proceedings, II. 49-68) has been separately printed (Salem, 1857) and is appended to Drake's ed. of Mather and Calef (III. 198-222). But the student needs also Upham, Salem Witchcraft, and the documents reprinted by Calef, More Wonders, pp. 55-64.


Rebecca Nurse, a matron of 71, wife of Francis Nurse, an energetic and prosperous farmer.


Mrs. Pope was a woman of good social position and in early middle life; Sarah Bibber (or Vibber), aged 36, a loose-tongued creature, addicted to fits, who with her husband seems to have “worked out”; Mercy (not Mary) Lewes, a maid in the family of Thomas Putnam, whose wife and twelve-year-old daughter, both named Ann, were also to have a leading part among “the afflicted.” “Doctor Griggs' maid,” Elizabeth Hubbard, aged 17, was a niece of his wife. It was probably Dr. Griggs, the physician of the Village, who had first pronounced the girls bewitched.


Martha Corey, wife of Giles Corey. She too was advanced in years.


For the official report of this examination, as of those to follow and for all the legal documents connected with these cases, the student must of course turn to the publications embodying such court records (see p. 151, above). Those of Goodwife Corey's case may be found in Woodward's Records of Salem Witchcraft, I. 50-60. Especially interesting is the evidence as to her rational attitude: “shee told us,” testify those who went to arrest her, “that shee did not thinke that there were any witches.” They add that it “was said of her that shee would open the eyes of the magistrates and ministers.”


The Rev. Nicholas Noyes, minister at Salem town.


John Hathorne, or Hawthorne, a magistrate of the colony, and, as a member of the highest court, a local magistrate as well, had his home on his farm in Salem Village and must have known personally all these neighbors. It must be remembered, and may well be pointed out here, that Massachusetts magistrates were not men trained to the law, but only respected laymen.


Putnam: this misspelling was common.


Jonathan Corwin was, like Hathorne, a member of the Court of Assistants, the highest legislative and judicial body of the colony, and like him the son of one of its founders. They were the men of highest note in the Salem region. Corwin lived in the town.


Of Beverly. As to him see p. 397, below.


What drew Mr. Lawson away from the examinations was doubtless the need to complete his preparation for the important sermon of that day; and it must have been this on which he was pondering when (as he records a few lines later) the shrieks of the afflicted reached him as he walked, “a little distance from the meeting-house.” That sermon was, however, no extempore production, but a studied disquisition on the power and malice of the Devil, who “Contracts and Indents with Witches and Wizzards, that they shall be the Instruments by whom he may more secretly Affect and Afflict the Bodies and Minds of others.” “And the Devil,” taught Lawson, committing himself wholly to belief in the worth of that “spectral evidence” which was to play such a part in the Salem episode, “having them in his subjection, by their Consent, he will use their Bodies and Minds, Shapes and Representations, to Affright and Afflict others at his pleasure.” The magistrates were present at the sermon; and to them he dedicated the sermon when, in the following year, he gave it to the press under the title of Christ's Fidelity the only Shield against Satan's Malignity. A second edition was printed under his eye at London in 1704 (see p. 149, above).


Sarah Good, who with Sarah Osburn and Parris's slave-woman Tituba had been examined and committed to jail on March 1, before Lawson's visit (see p. 343, below).


Little Dorcas Good, thus sent to prison “as hale and well as other children,” lay there seven or eight months, and “being chain'd in the dungeon was so hardly used and terrifyed” that eighteen years later her father alleged “that she hath ever since been very chargeable, haveing little or no reason to govern herself.” See his petition for damages, September 13, 1710 (printed in the N. E. Hist. and Gen. Register, XXXV. 253 — the MS. is now in the President White Library at Cornell University). He was allowed £30.


Stephen Sewall, clerk of the courts at Salem, in whose home the Rev. Mr. Parris had now placed his daughter Elizabeth — a fact which may have some connection with his being one of the most ardent furtherers of the trials. It was from him that Cotton Mather later asked the materials for his account of them (see p. 206, below). He must, of course, not be confused with his more eminent brother, Samuel Sewall, of Boston, whom we shall soon meet as a judge in the Salem trials.


The Rev. John Higginson, the aged senior minister of the church in Salem.


Dorcas Good, of course, not Elizabeth Parris.


White man.


Not Goodwife Corey, but Goodwife Sarah Cloyse, sister of Rebecca Nurse. For an explanation of the slammed door, see p. 346, below.