University of Virginia Library

PART V. An Impartial Account of the most Memorable Matters of Fact, touching the supposed Witchcraft in New England.[223]

Mr. Parris had been some years a Minister in Salem-Village,[224] when this sad Calamity (as a deluge) overflowed them, spreading it self far and near: He was a Gentleman of Liberal Education, and not meeting with any great Encouragement, or Advantage in Merchandizing, to which for some time he apply'd himself, betook himself to the work of the Ministry; this Village being then vacant, he met with so much Encouragement, as to settle in that Capacity among them.

After he had been there about two years, he obtained a Grant from a part of the Town, that the House and Land he Occupied, and which had been Alotted by the whole People to the Ministry, should be and remain to him, etc. as his own Estate in Fee Simple. This occasioned great Divisions both between the Inhabitants themselves, and between a considerable part of them and their said Minister, which Divisions were but as a beginning or Præludium to what immediately followed.

It was the latter end of February 1691,[225] when divers young Persons belonging to Mr. Parris's Family, and one or


more of the Neighbourhood, began to Act, after a strange and unusual manner, viz. as by getting into Holes, and creeping under Chairs and Stools, and to use sundry odd Postures and Antick Gestures, uttering foolish, ridiculous Speeches, which neither they themselves nor any others could make sense of; the Physicians that were called could assign no reason for this; but it seems one of them,[226] having recourse to the old shift, told them he was afraid they were Bewitched; upon such suggestions, they that were concerned applied themselves to Fasting and Prayer, which was attended not only in their own private Families, but with calling in the help of others.

March the 11th. Mr. Parris invited several Neighbouring Ministers to join with him in keeping a Solemn day of Prayer at his own House; the time of the exercise those Persons were for the most part silent, but after any one Prayer was ended, they would Act and Speak strangely and Ridiculously, yet were such as had been well Educated and of good Behaviour, the one, a Girl of 11 or 12 years old,[227] would sometimes seem to be in a Convulsion Fit, her Limbs being twisted several ways, and very stiff, but presently her Fit would be over.

A few days before this Solemn day of Prayer, Mr. Parris's Indian Man and Woman[228] made a Cake of Rye Meal, with the Childrens Water, and Baked it in the Ashes, and as is said, gave it to the Dog; this was done as a means to Discover Witchcraft;[229] soon after which those ill affected or afflicted Persons named several that they said they saw, when in their Fits, afflicting of them.


The first complain'd of, was the said Indian Woman, named Tituba. She confessed that the Devil urged her to sign a Book, which he presented to her, and also to work Mischief to the Children, etc. She was afterwards Committed to Prison, and lay there till Sold for her Fees.[230] The account she since gives of it is, that her Master did beat her and otherways abuse her, to make her confess and accuse (such as he call'd) her Sister-Witches, and that whatsoever she said by way of confessing or accusing others, was the effect of such usage; her Master refused to pay her Fees, unless she would stand to what she had said.[231]

The Children complained likewise of two other Women, to be the Authors of their Hurt, Viz. Sarah Good, who had long been counted a Melancholy or Distracted Woman, and one Osburn, an Old Bed-rid Woman; which two were Persons so ill thought of, that the accusation was the more readily believed; and after Examination before two Salem Magistrates,[232] were committed:

March the 19th, Mr. Lawson (who had been formerly a Preacher at the said Village) came thither, and hath since set fourth in Print an account of what then passed, about which time, as he saith, they complained of Goodwife Cory, and Goodwife Nurse, Members of the Churches at the Village and at Salem, many others being by that time Accused.

March the 21st, Goodwife Cory was examined before the Magistrates of Salem, at the Meeting House in the Village, a throng of Spectators being present to see the Novelty. Mr. Noyes, one of the Ministers of Salem, began with Prayer, after which the Prisoner being call'd, in order to answer to what should be Alledged against her, she desired that she might go to Prayer, and was answered by the Magistrates, that they did not come to hear her pray, but to examine her.

The number of the Afflicted were at that time about Ten,


Viz. Mrs. Pope, Mrs. Putman, Goodwife Bibber, and Goodwife Goodall, Mary Wolcott, Mercy Lewes (at Thomas Putmans) and Dr. Griggs Maid, and three Girls, Viz. Elizabeth Parris, Daughter to the Minister, Abigail Williams his Neice, and Ann Putman, which last three were not only the beginners, but were also the chief in these Accusations. These Ten were most of them present at the Examination, and did vehemently accuse her of Afflicting them, by Biting, Pinching, Strangling, etc. And they said, they did in their Fits see her likeness coming to them, and bringing a Book for them to Sign; Mr. Hathorn, a Magistrate of Salem, asked her, why she Afflicted those Children? she said, she did not Afflict them; he asked her, who did then? she said, “I do not know, how should I know?” she said, they were Poor Distracted Creatures, and no heed to be given to what they said; Mr. Hathorn and Mr. Noyes replied that it was the Judgment of all that were there present, that they were bewitched, and only she (the Accused) said they were Distracted: She was Accused by them, that the Black Man Whispered to her in her Ear now (while she was upon Examination) and that she had a Yellow Bird, that did use to Suck between her Fingers, and that the said Bird did Suck now in the Assembly; order being given to look in that place to see if there were any sign, the Girl that pretended to see it said, that it was too late now, for she had removed a Pin, and put it on her head, it was upon search found, that a Pin was there sticking upright. When the Accused had any motion of their Body, Hands or Mouth, the Accusers would cry out, as when she bit her Lip, they would cry out of being bitten, if she grasped one hand with the other, they would cry out of being Pinched by her, and would produce marks, so of the other motions of her Body, as complaining of being Prest, when she lean'd to the seat next her, if she stirred her Feet, they would stamp and cry out of Pain there. After the hearing the said Cory was committed to Salem Prison, and then their crying out of her abated.

March the 24th, Goodwife Nurse was brought before Mr. Hathorn and Mr. Curwin (Magistrates) in the Meeting House. Mr. Hale, Minister of Beverly, began with Prayer, after which she being Accus'd of much the same Crimes made the like an


swers, asserting her own Innocence with earnestness. The Accusers were mostly the same, Tho. Putmans Wife, etc. complaining much. The dreadful Shreiking from her and others, was very amazing, which was heard at a great distance; she was also Committed to Prison.

A Child of Sarah Goods was likewise apprehended, being between 4 and 5 years Old. The Accusers said this Child bit them, and would shew such like marks, as those of a small Sett of Teeth upon their Arms; as many of the Afflicted as the Child cast its Eye upon, would complain they were in Torment; which Child they also Committed.

Concerning these that had been hitherto Examined and Committed, it is among other things observed by Mr. Lawson (in Print[233]) that they were by the Accusers charged to belong to a Company that did muster in Arms, and were reported by them to keep Days of Fast, Thanksgiving and Sacraments; and that those Afflicted (or Accusers) did in the Assembly Cure each others, even with a touch of their Hand, when strangled and otherways tortured, and would endeavour to get to the Afflicted to relieve them thereby (for hitherto they had not used the Experiment of bringing the Accused to touch the Afflicted, in order to their Cure) and could foretel one anothers Fits to be coming, and would say, look to such a one, she will have a Fit presently and so it happened, and that at the same time when the Accused person was present, the Afflicted said they saw her Spectre or likeness in other places of the Meeting House Suckling[234] of their Familiars.

The said Mr. Lawson being to Preach at the Village, after the Psalm was Sung, Abigail Williams said, “Now stand up and name your Text”; after it was read, she said, “It is a long Text.” Mrs. Pope in the beginning of Sermon said to him, “Now there is enough of that.” In Sermon, he referring to his Doctrine, Abigail Williams said to him, “I know no Doctrine you had, if you did name one I have forgot it.” Ann Putman, an afflicted Girl, said, There was a Yellow Bird sate on his Hat as it hung on the Pin in the Pulpit.

March 31, 1692. Was set apart as a day of Solemn Humiliation at Salem, upon the Account of this Business, on which day Abigail Williams said, That she saw a great number


of Persons in the Village at the Administration of a Mock Sacrament, where they had Bread as read as raw Flesh, and red Drink.

April 1. Mercy Lewis affirmed, That she saw a man in white, with whom she went into a Glorious Place, viz. In her fits, where was no Light of the Sun, much less of Candles, yet was full of Light and Brightness, with a great Multitude in White Glittering Robes, who Sang the Song in 5. Rev. 9. and the 110 and 149 Psalms; And was grieved that she might tarry no longer in this place. This White Man is said to have appeared several times to others of them, and to have given them notice how long it should be before they should have another Fit.

April the 3d. Being Sacrament Day at the Village, Sarah Cloys, Sister to Goodwife Nurse, a Member to one of the Churches, was (tho' it seems with difficulty prevail'd with to be) present; but being entred the place, and Mr. Parris naming his Text, 6 John, 70. Have not I chosen you Twelve, and one of you is a Devil (for what cause may rest as a doubt whether upon the account of her Sisters being Committed, or because of the choice of that Text) she rose up and went out, the wind shutting the Door forcibly, gave occasion to some to suppose she went out in Anger, and might occasion a suspicion of her; however she was soon after complain'd of, examin'd and Committed.

April the 11th. By this time the number of the Accused and Accusers being much encreased, was a Publick Examination at Salem, Six of the Magistrates with several Ministers being present;[235] there appeared several who complain'd against others with hidious clamors and Screechings. Goodwife Proctor was brought thither, being Accused or cryed out against; her Husband coming to attend and assist her, as there might


be need, the Accusers cryed out of him also, and that with so much earnestness, that he was Committed with his Wife. About this time besides the Experiment of the Afflicted falling at the sight, etc., they put the Accused upon saying the Lords Prayer, which one among them performed, except in that petition, Deliver us from Evil, she exprest it thus, Deliver us from all Evil. This was lookt upon as if she Prayed against what she was now justly under, and being put upon it again, and repeating those words, Hallowed be thy name, she exprest it, Hollowed be thy Name, this was counted a depraving the words, as signifying to make void, and so a Curse rather then[236] a Prayer, upon the whole it was concluded that she also could not say it, etc. Proceeding in this work of examination and Commitment, many were sent to Prison. As an Instance, see the following Mittimus:

To their Majesties Goal-keeper[237] in Salem.

You are in Their Majesties Names hereby required to take into your care, and safe custody, the Bodies of William Hobs, and Deborah[238] his Wife, Mary Easty, the Wife of Isaac Easty, and Sarah Wild, the Wife of John Wild, all of Topsfield; and Edward Bishop of Salem-Village, Husbandman, and Sarah his Wife, and Mary Black, a Negro of Lieutenant Nathaniel Putmans of Salem-Village; also Mary English the Wife of Philip English, Merchant in Salem;[239] who stand charged with High Suspicion of Sundry Acts of Witchcraft, done or committed by them lately upon the Bodies of Ann Putman, Mercy Lewis[240] and Abigail Williams, of Salem-Village, whereby great Hurt and Damage hath been done to the Bodies of the said Persons, [as] according to the complaint of Thomas Putman and John Buxton of Salem-Village, Exhibited Salem, Apr 21, 1692, appears, whom you are to secure in order to their further Examination. Fail not.

John Hathorn, Assistants. Jona. Curwin,


To Marshal George Herrick of Salem Essex.

You are in their Majesties Names hereby required to convey the above-named to the Goal at Salem. Fail not.

John Hathorn, Assistants. Jona. Curwin,