Salem Witchcraft Trials

Collection History

The Salem Witchcraft Trials were a series of hearings before county court trials to prosecute people accused of witchcraft in the counties of Essex, Suffolk, and Middlesex in colonial Massachusetts, between February 1692 and May 1693. Despite being generally known as the Salem Witchcraft Trials, the preliminary hearings in 1692 were conducted in various towns across the province: Salem Village (now Danvers), Ipswich, Andover, and Salem Town. The best-known trials were conducted by the Court of Oyer and Terminer in 1692 in Salem Town.

The original manuscripts in this collection are owned by our project partners, the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum. Further information about the collection can be found in the Phillips Library's finding aid.

A large portion of the documents were previously digitized by the University of Virginia and can be found on their website. For ease of use, we have provided information about all of the documents in the collection here regardless of where the digitized versions can be accessed.

 

Digital Materials

These documents are organized alphabetically by last name of the accused, and then in chronological order for each case. Links to the digitized records are provided in the righthand columns, whether hosted by the CLA or UVA.

 

Mary Barker

Mary Barker of Andover was 13 years old in 1692, when she and other members of her family were accused of witchcraft by Samuel Martin and Moses Tyler. Shortly after her arrest on August 29, 1692, Barker confessed and accused two others (Goodwives Faulkner and Johnson) of forcing her to sign the "Devil's book". She was eventually found not guilty and released.

1692 August 29 Gedney, Bartholomew;
Hathorne, John;
Corwin, Jonathan
Examination Examination at UVA

 

William Barker, Jr.

14-year-old William Barker Jr. from Andover, MA was the first cousin of Mary Barker and was arrested shortly after her. William Jr.'s father, William Barker Sr., was also arrested but later escaped. On the day of William Jr.'s arrest (Sep. 1, 1692) he confessed to witchcraft and also accused one "Goody Parker" of the same crime. Court magistrates later arrested Mary Ayer Parker, one of several women with the Parker surname living in Andover, who was subsequently executed. This has led to speculation that Mary Ayer Parker was not the intended target of William Jr.'s accusation. William Jr. remained in prison until 1693 but was eventually acquitted.

1692 September 16 Gedney, Bartholomew;
Hathorne, John;
Corwin, Jonathan;
Higginson, John
Examination Examination at UVA

 

Sarah Bridges

17-year-old Sarah Bridges initially maintained her innocence upon arrest on August 25, 1692. She did, however, accuse her step-sister, Hannah Post, of witchcraft in the same testimonial. Later she would also confess, claiming that there were an additional 200 witches in the Salem area. She was found not guilty.

1692 August 25 the Justices of Salem Examination Examination at UVA

 

George Burroughs

The only minister to be executed for witchcraft in American history, Rev. Burroughs was arrested on April 30th after members of the Putnam family, with whom he had already been embroiled in a lawsuit, testified against him for the crime of witchcraft. He was found guilty, owing in part to his perceived supernatural strength, and hanged on August 19, 1692. Burroughs was executed despite reciting the Lord's Prayer without error — something a witch was not thought to be capable of doing. Cotton Mather, minister from Boston and zealous proponent of the witch trials, was instrumental in urging Burroughs's execution despite the reluctance of sympathetic onlookers.

undated Putnam, Ann;
Wolcott, Mary;
Hubbard, Elizabeth;
Warren, Mary
  Indictment (3rd) at UVA
1692 April 30 Walcott, Jonathan;
Putnam, Thomas
  Testimony at UVA
1692 May 9 Putnam, John Sr.;
Putnam, Rebecca
  Testimony at UVA

 

Carrier Family

Several members of the Carrier family of Andover were accused of witchcraft. These included siblings Sarah (8), Thomas (10), Andrew (15), and Richard (18), along with their mother Martha Allen Carrier. Martha was arrested on May 28, 1962 and her children were also taken into custody and examined. Their mother was later found guilty and hanged along with George Burroughs, John Proctor, George Jacobs Sr., and John Willard on August 19, 1692. According to the account of John Proctor who was imprisoned with them, the Carrier children were coerced by torture into pleading guilty and testifying against their mother. They were later released.

 

Andrew Carrier

1692 July 22 unsigned Examination Examination at UVA


Richard Carrier

1692 July 22 unsigned Examination Examination at UVA


Sarah Carrier

1692 September 2 Broadstreet, Dudly [sic] Examination Examination at UVA

Thomas Carrier, Jr.

1692 September 2 Broadstreet, Dudly [sic] Examination Examination at UVA

 

Martha Corey

The devout 72-year-old Martha Corey was accused of witchcraft in March of 1692, to the surprise of many in the village. A steadfast churchgoer, Corey however did not believe in the existence of witches and witchcraft, and her vocal criticism of the accusers may have been the reason she was targeted. She was found guilty based on the testimony of members of the Putnam family and several others. During Corey's trial the accusing children such as Ann Putnam Jr. and Mercy Lewis claimed the "witch" was inflicting pain on them and demonstrated violent fits. Corey was found guilty and hanged on September 22, 1692, three days after her husband Giles Corey, also charged with sorcery, had been pressed to death for refusing to enter a plea.

1692 March 21 Hathorne, John;
Corwin, Jonathan
  Examination at UVA
1692 May 31 Putnam, Ann Sr.   Testimony at UVA

 

Rebecca Eames

51-year-old Rebecca Eames was accused of practicing witchcraft on Timothy Swan, a claim corroborated by members of the Putman family and related individuals. She was arrested directly after the public execution of George Burroughs, Martha Allen Carrier, George Jacobs Sr., John Proctor, and John Willard on August 19, 1692, having been accused of inflicting pain on a fellow spectator. Her son and grandson were later also accused. Eames was tried and convicted on September 17th along with nine others, all of whom were condemned to death. Four of the nine were hanged on September 22, but Eames was spared when the court dissolved in October. She remained in prison until early December, when she petitioned to be exonerated, claiming that she had pled guilty on the advice of fellow inmates Abigail Hobbs and Mary Lacey.

1692 August 31 unsigned Examination (2nd)  
1692 September 15 Higginson, John Certification of confession  

 

Ann Foster

Ann Foster of Andover, MA was a 75-year-old widow, originally from London. She was accused by the Salem children Ann Putnam Jr. and Mary Walcott of inflicting a fever on Elizabeth Ballard of Andover. Putnam and Walcott had been brought in by Salem magistrates to "detect" the witch responsible for the affliction. Foster refused to confess despite probable coercion by torture, but her resolve was broken when her accused daughter, Mary Foster Lacey, Sr. testified against her mother, presumably in an attempt to save herself and her child. The resulting guilty plea proved ineffectual and both women were sentenced to death on September 17, 1692. They were spared by the dissolution of the court in October, but Ann Foster died after 21 weeks in prison on December 3rd.

1692 July 21   Examination  

 

Sarah Good

Sarah Good was one of the first three women to be accused of witchcraft in Salem, during February of 1692, along with Tituba and Sarah Osborne. Good had fallen on hard times after litigation erased her family's wealth and two consecutive marriages to paupers left her destitute. She was often homeless and earned a living by begging, probably leading to an unsavory reputation in the town. On February 25, 1692, Abigail Williams and Elizabeth Parris claimed to have been bewitched by Good, who was tried and found guilty despite maintaining her innocence throughout the entire process. The resulting death sentence was delayed because she was pregnant. The newborn child, Mercy Good, died shortly after birth. Good was hanged on July 19, 1692 along with Elizabeth How, Susannah Martin, Rebecca Nurse, and Sarah Wilds.

1692 June 29 Sibley, Samuel Testimony  

 

Sarah Hawks

21-year-old Sarah Hawks was arrested for witchcraft along with her stepfather, Samuel Wardwell, her mother, Sarah Hawks Wardwell, and her half-sister Mercy Wardwell. Samuel Wardwell was found guilty and hanged on September 22, 1692, but Sarah and her other relatives escaped execution and were later released from prison.

1692 September 4 Gedney, Bartholomew;
Hathorne, John;
Corwin, Jonathan;
Higginson, John
Examination Examination at UVA

 

Abigail Hobbs

17 year-old Abigail Hobbs was accused of witchcraft along with her parents in April 1692, by Mercy Lewis. Lewis, like the Hobbs, was a refugee from the dangerous Maine frontier. The Hobbs family had come to Salem to escape Wabenaki raids in Casco, ME, and during the witch hysteria were living on the outskirts of Salem village. They were not church members, and their daughter Abigail had gained a reputation for roaming the forests at night, and for mocking the institution of baptism by sprinkling water on her mother’s head and reciting the sacrament. After her arrest on April 18, 1692, Hobbs professed her innocence, but was eventually pressured into confessing that she had afflicted Mercy Lewis. However, Hobbs and her family avoided execution when the witchcraft proceedings died down in October, 1692.

1692 September 10 Lewis, Mercy;
Walcott, Mary;
Hubbard, Elizabeth;
Putnam, Ann
  Indictment (1st) at UVA
1692 September 10 unsigned   Indictment (2nd) at UVA

 

Elizabeth How / Howe

Elizabeth How's embroilment in the witch hysteria began ten years prior to the official trials of Salem. In 1682, a young girl from Topsfield named Hannah Trumble began experiencing fits, and accused How of making her ill through witchcraft. How’s reputation was irreparably damaged and she was refused admittance to Ipswich Church. When the troubles began in Salem in 1692, How was again accused, this time of afflicting Mary Walcott and Abigail Willams. Their testimony was corroborated by Mercy Lewis, Mary Warren, Ann Putnam Jr., and several others in the town. How was arraigned in the first Salem trial on June 30, 1692, and, despite fervent support from family and friends, was found guilty and sentenced to death. She was executed along with Rebecca Nurse, Sarah Good, Sarah Wilds and Susannah Martin on July 19th at Gallows Hill, Salem.

1692 June 30 Abbot, Nehemiah Sr.   Testimony at UVA
1692 June 29 Pearly, Samuel;
Pearly, Ruth;
Lewis, Mercy;
Andrews, Joseph;
Andrews, Sarah;
Wolcott, Mary;
Sherrin, John;
Williams, Abigail;
Safford, Joseph;
Putman [sic], Ann;
Leaves, Francis;
Cumins, Isack;
Foster, Abraham;
Foster, Lydia
Indictment (2nd)  

 

Johnson Family

Many members of the Johnson family were accused of witchcraft, though later ruled not guilty. Elizabeth Jr., the 22-year-old daughter of Elizabeth Johnson Sr. was the first to be accused and imprisoned on August 10, 1692, due to accusations (probably acquired under torture) by the Carrier family children. Johnson testified against them in turn, implicating the Carriers and many others in secret devilish rites, including Rev. George Burroughs, Captain John Floyd, Daniel Eames, and Mary Toothaker.

After her daughter, Elizabeth Jr., had languished in prison for many days, Elizabeth Sr. was also charged with practicing witchcraft on Martha Sprague of Boxford and Abigail Martin of Andover. She was arrested in late August 1692, along with her 10-year-old daughter Abigail, her son Stephen and her sister Abigail Faulkner. Elizabeth and Abigail were arraigned together in court, with Elizabeth accusing her sister of threatening to "tear her in pieces" if she confessed. During her confession she accused several others, and implicated her teenage son Stephen, who later also confessed.

Several factors may have exacerbated the Johnson family's victimization. Rev. Francis Dane, the family patriarch and father of Elizabeth Sr. was a witchcraft sceptic who voiced early opposition to the Salem trials. Elizabeth Johnson Sr.'s reputation was also negatively impacted by a prior conviction of fornication before marriage, with her late husband Stephen Johnson.

 

Elizabeth Johnson, Jr.

1692 August 10 Broadstreet, Dudly Examination  

Elizabeth Johnson, Sr.

1692 August 30 the Justices of Salem Examination Examination at UVA

Stephen Johnson

1692 September 4 Gedney, Bartholomew;
Hathorne, John;
Corwin, Jonathan;
Higginson, John
Examination Examination at UVA

 

Mary Lacey, Jr.

Mary Jr. was the 18-year-old daughter of Mary Lacy Sr. She was accused of witchcraft along with her mother and her maternal grandmother, Ann Foster. The two older women were found guilty and sentenced to death despite confessing in an attempt to avoid execution. They avoided hanging when the witch hysteria began to die down in October of 1692. However, Mary Jr.'s grandmother Ann Foster died in prison shortly after her trial. Mary Jr. was released on bond in October, 1692 and later found not guilty.

1692 July 21 Gedney, Bartholomew;
Hathorne, John;
Corwin, Jonathan;
Higginson, John
Examination Examination at UVA

 

Mary Lacey, Sr.

Daughter of Ann Foster of Andover, Mass., Mary Lacy Sr. was accused shortly after her mother, on the 19th of July 1692, along with her daughter Mary Junior. The complaint was filed by Joseph Ballard of Andover, alleging that the women had afflicted his wife, Elizabeth Ballard. Mary Sr. confessed upon examination, and also accused her mother, Ann Foster, stating that the two had "ridden upon a pole" to a witch meeting in Salem. She also accused Mary Bradbury, Elizabeth How, Rebecca Nurse, Richard Carrier and Andrew Carrier. Mary Sr. was sentenced to death along with her mother. Although both mother and daughter ultimately avoided execution, the elderly Ann Foster died in prison shortly thereafter.

1692 July 21 Gedney, Bartholomew;
Hathorne, John;
Corwin, Jonathan;
Higginson, John
Examination Examination at UVA
1692 September 14 unsigned Indictment  

 

John Lee

John Lee is mentioned in Elizabeth Fuller's deposition, in which he is said to have boasted "that he had laid one of Mr. Clairke's hogs fast aslepe". He was, however, never formally accused.

undated Fuller, Elizabeth   Testimony at UVA

 

Mary Marston

One of many residents of Andover, MA to be accused of witchcraft, Marston was brought in on the testimony of Samuel Martin of Andover and Moses Tyler of Boxford, for allegedly afflicting Abigail Martin, Rose Foster, and Martha Sprague. She was examined, confessed, and was subsequently imprisoned throughout the remainder of 1692, despite a petition for release filed by her husband John Marston. She was brought to trial early in 1693 but found not guilty.

1692 August 29 Gedney, Bartholomew;
Hathorne, John;
Corwin, Jonathan;
Higginson, John
Examination and confession Examination and confession at UVA

 

Rebecca Nurse

Elderly and pious Rebecca Nurse (71) was accused of witchcraft along with two younger sisters, Sarah Towne Cloyce and Mary Towne Easty. Nurse, her husband Francis and their eight children were a highly respected churchgoing family, but had been involved in land disputes with the Putnams, which is likely the reason Nurse was targeted. Edward and John Putnam testified against her for the crime of witchcraft and a warrant was issued for her arrest on March 23, 1692.

There was a sizeable outpouring of support and positive testimony for Nurse. The jury initially ruled her "not guilty" but were immediately pressured to reconsider, and brought in a guilty verdict and death sentence. The Governor of Massachusetts Bay, Sir William Phips, intervened to pardon Nurse, but was also persuaded to reverse his decision by several of the Salem village patriarchs. Nurse was subsequently excommunicated from her Salem church and executed by hanging on July 19, 1692. Her sister Mary Easty was later also found guilty and executed in September of 1692.

1692 March 24 Porter, Elizabeth;
Porter, Israel
  Testimony (positive) at UVA
1692 March 24 Cloyse, Peter   Testimony (positive) at UVA
1692 March 24 Andrew, Daniel   Testimony (positive) at UVA
1692 May 31 Putnam, Ann Sr.   Testimony at UVA

 

Mary Parker

Mary Parker of Andover, MA was a rich widow in charge of 200 acres of land inherited from her late husband Nathan Parker. She had no known disputes with anyone in Andover or Salem, but was named in William Barker Jr.'s confession testimony and accused of afflicting Sarah Phelps, Hannah Bigsby, and Martha Sprague with witchcraft. She was examined on September 2, 1692, whereupon several "afflicted girls" present fell into fits and accused her of harming them. Parker was tried on September 16th and executed shortly afterwards on September 22nd. There have been several theories posited to explain her seemingly random accusation; these include confusion with another woman of the same name in Andover, or perhaps a vendetta against the Parkers by the presiding officer in the trial, Thomas Chandler, who was previously a family friend.

1692 September 16 unsigned   Indictment at UVA

 

Hannah Post

Hannah Post of Boxford (26) seems to have been an "afflicted" accuser at trial of Mary Parker, but was herself later accused of witchcraft. During her examination she initially professed her innocence, but later stated that she had "signed the devil's book". She also implicated her sister, Susanna Post, and Sarah and Mary Bridges. Post was imprisoned, but found not guilty on January 12, 1693.

1692 August 25 the Justices of Salem Examination Examination at UVA

 

Elizabeth Proctor

Wife of the accused and condemned John Proctor, Elizabeth Proctor was targeted along with her husband, who had spoken out against the accusers during the controversial trial of Rebecca Nurse. Elizabeth's Quaker grandmother had also been accused of witchcraft in 1669, and this may have cast suspicion on Elizabeth by association. In spite of petitions of support from family friends, Elizabeth was found guilty of afflicting Mercy Lewis, Abigail Williams, John Indian, Mary Walcott, and Ann Putnam, and sentenced to death along with her husband John on August 5, 1692. She avoided execution because she was pregnant; by the time she had given birth, the hysteria had died down, and she was later acquitted and released. Because she was not included in her husband's will, she was left destitute for many years, although the family was later reimbursed for ₤150 in 1711.

1692 April 4 Parris, Samuel;
Ingersoll, Nathaniel;
Putman, Thomas
Testimony  
1692 August 5 Rayment, William Jr. Testimony (positive)  

 

John Proctor

Successful farmer and tavern-owner John Proctor first butted heads with the Salem accusers during the arrest and trial of elderly Rebecca Nurse, who he believed was falsely accused. Mary Warren, a servant of the Proctors, subsequently began experiencing fits and accused Giles Corey of afflicting her, a claim of which Proctor was also highly critical, threatening to beat the girl if the fits continued. On April 8, 1692, Jonathan Walcott and Nathaniel Ingersoll officially accused John's wife Elizabeth of witchcraft. During Elizabeth's trial, John Proctor railed further against the perceived machinations of the accusers. As a result, the "afflicted girls" also accused him, and he was subsequently arrested.

On July 23, Proctor and other accused inmates wrote a letter to the sympathetic clergy of Boston, urging them to intervene in the Salem trials. The letter included allegations of torture and forced confessions. Ultimately the clergymen did intervene, but not before Proctor himself was hanged on August 5, 1692. Several of his relations were also arrested but not executed, including his children Benjamin, William and Sarah.

1692 April 11 Pope, Joseph   Testimony at UVA

 

Mary Toothaker

Mary Toothaker's husband, the doctor Roger Toothaker was accused and imprisoned for witchcraft in May of 1692, specifically for afflicting Elizabeth Hubbard, Ann Putnam, Jr. and Mary Walcott. He was sent to prison in Boston, where he would die on June 16th, of apparently natural causes. After his arrest, Mary Toothaker and her daughter Margaret were also accused and imprisoned in the Salem jail. Mary's sister, Martha Carrier, was condemned by the court and hanged on August 10, 1692, but Mary and her daughter were tried and found not guilty in January of 1693. Mary was subsequently killed in an Abenaki or Pennacook raid on her hometown of Billerica, Mass. in 1695.

1692 July 30 Gedney, Bartholomew;
Hathorne, John;
Corwin, Jonathan;
Higginson, John
Examination and confession Examination and confession at UVA

 

Johanna Tyler

Johanna Tyler, age 11, was accused of witchcraft along with her sisters Hannah and Martha, and their mother, Mary Lovett Tyler, on September 7, 1692. Her confessional testimony stands out as one of the more detailed descriptions of alleged witchcraft given by a child during the Salem trials. Tyler was later released along with her immediate family.

1692 September 16 Higginson, John;
Wade, Thomas
Examination Examination at UVA

 

Mercy Wardwell

19-year-old Mercy Wardwell's father, Samuel Wardwell, was convicted of witchcraft and later hanged on September 22, 1692. Mercy was imprisoned shortly after her father's arrest, on charges of afflicting Martha Sprague, Rose Foster, and Timothy Swan. Her mother, Sarah Wardwell, and half-sister, Sarah Hawks, Jr. would also be charged. Mercy confessed on September 15, 1692. She was never tried, and was released after the court dissolved in October.

1692 September 4 Gedney, Bartholomew;
Hathorne, John;
Corwin, Jonathan;
Higginson, John
Examination Examination at UVA

 

Sarah Wardwell

Wife of the condemned Samuel Wardwell, Sarah was arrested shortly after her husband, in August of 1692. She took her infant daughter, Rebecca, with her to jail, and her daughters Mercy Wardwell and Sarah Hawks were also accused and imprisoned. Wardwell was examined on September 1, 1692 and subsequently confessed, implicating Ann Foster and Martha Carrier. She and her daughters were in jail when her husband was hanged on September 22, 1692. Sheriff George Corwin meanwhile confiscated large amounts of the Wardwells' property, as well as property in Lynn which had belonged to Sarah's first husband. She was tried and found guilty on January 2, 1693, but would later be pardoned.

1692 September 4 Gedney, Bartholomew;
Hathorne, John;
Corwin, Jonathan;
Higginson, John
Confession Confession at UVA

 

Sarah Wilds / Willes

Sarah Wilds (née Averill) was 65 years old at the time of the Salem trials. Before her marriage to John Wilds in 1663, she had been censured for "too great intimacy with Thomas Wardell", and for the lesser offence of wearing a silk scarf, facts which may have lent her a poor reputation in the conservative Puritan community. The Wildses also feuded with the Gould family of Salem, who happened to be good friends with the Putnam accusers. These factors may have hastened Wilds's denunciation by Thomas Putnam, Jr. and John Buxton, who alleged that she had afflicted Ann Putnam, Jr., Mercy Lewis, and Mary Walcott. Other signatories also testified against her during the trials, including Humphrey Clark, Thomas Dorman, John Andrew John Gould, Zacheus Perkins, Elizabeth Symonds, Nathaniel Ingersoll, and the Rev. John Hale. After several weeks of imprisonment in the Boston jail, Wilds was executed by hanging in Salem on July 19, 1692.

1692 April 22 Ingersoll, Nathaniel;
Putnam, Thomas
Testimony Testimony at UVA
1692 June 30 Lewis, Mercy;
Putnam, Ann;
Wolcott, Mary
  Indictment at UVA
1692 June 30 Andrew, John   Testimony at UVA
1692 June 30 Putnam, Ann Jr.   Testimony at UVA
1692 June 30 Walcott, Mary   Testimony at UVA
1692 July 2 Clark, Humphrey   Testimony at UVA
1692 July 2 Dorman, Thomas   Testimony at UVA
1692 July 2 Gould, John   Testimony at UVA
1692 July 2 Hale, John   Testimony at UVA
1692 July 2 Perkins, Zacheus   Testimony at UVA
1692 July 2 Symonds, Elizabeth   Testimony at UVA

 

Other

1692-3 Dounlon, William   Account of jailkeeper at UVA

 

Related Materials

Danvers, Massachusetts. First Church records, 1689-1845.

 

Special Thanks

This digital resource has been made possible in part by the Council on Library and Information Resources, through a Digitizing Hidden Collections grant.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this resource do not necessarily represent those of the Council on Library and Information Resources.

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