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Salem Witch Trials

A guide to resources concerning the Salem Witch Trials at the BPL and beyond.

The Accusers

Samuel Parris- Pastor of Salem Village church who often preached about the work of the Devil, and was a driving force behind the accusations. He was driven out of the village and replaced a few years after the trials ended.
Elizabeth “Betty” Parris (age 9) & Abigail Williams (age 11) - The first of the “afflicted” girls, Samuel’s daughter and niece, respectively. They began having unexplained fits in January of 1692 after experimenting with fortune-telling and were diagnosed as being possessed. Remained the main accusers throughout the trials.
Tituba- A female slave who was likely of Native South American ancestry who was owned by Parris, she was the first to be accused of witchcraft by Betty & Abigail. Tituba was also the first to confess and accuse others in turn, first naming Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne. She told increasingly elaborate stories about rituals and animal familiars that led to further accusations. Parris refused to pay her jailing costs so she spent thirteen months in jail before someone else paid the costs for her. Her fate after being released is unknown.

Image Credit:
Portrait of Samuel Parris
Unknown artist, done during Parris’ lifetime

Thomas Putnam- One of the wealthiest residents of Salem, and the first to seek warrants against accused witches. As a highly influential church member he was a driving force behind the trials. He and other members of his family had property disputes with several of the accused.
Ann Putnam- Thomas’ wife, one of the few adults to claim affliction by witches and to lodge accusations.
Ann Putnam, Jr. (age 12)-Thomas & Ann's daughter, one of the chief accusers throughout the trial and the most prolific. Was friends with a few of the afflicted girls, and subsequently claimed to be afflicted herself. In 1706  she would become the only one of the so-called "afflicted" girls to publicly admit that she had lied and offer an apology.

Image Credit:
House of Ann Putnam Jr, Off Dayton Street, Danvers, MA. Circa 1891.

The core group of accusers consisted of teenage girls, called afflicted, who experienced fits that Dr. William Griggs diagnosed as bewitchment. The actual cause(s) of these fits remain unknown.

Elizabeth Hubbard, age 18- niece and servant to Dr. William Griggs. As the oldest of the original accusers she was the first to be legally old enough to testify during the trials. Ultimately testified against twenty-nine people, and was known to have violent fits during the proceedings.
Mercy Lewis, age 17- distant relative and servant of Thomas Putnam, lost both parents in raids in Maine at a young age. Was a friend of Ann Putnam, Jr. and had previously worked as a servant for George Burroughs, one of the many she accused who was later executed.
Mary Wolcott, age 17- niece of Thomas Putnam by marriage, her father was the commander of the village’s militia. One of the original afflicted girls, she was active throughout the trials and accused sixteen people.

Image Credit:
Mary Walcott, illustration by John W. Ehninger
From: "Giles Corey of the Salem Farms" (1868), in The Complete Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Boston, Houghton, 1902

The Accused

Executed June 10, 1692
Bridget Bishop, about age 60- First to be tried and executed, often confused with Sarah (Bishop) Wildes, who was executed a month later.

Executed July 19, 1692
Rebecca Nurse, age 71- considered a pillar of the community prior to arrest, attempts to defend her included a petition signed by 39 respected community members.
Sarah Good, age 46- homeless beggar, known as a scold with a habit of muttering angrily under her breath.
Elizabeth Howe, late 50s- accused of afflicting a neighbor's child and livestock, her husband's brother also accused her.
Susannah Martin, age 70- an impoverished widow, was accused and exonerated of witchcraft previously.
Sarah Wildes, age 65- previously tried on accusations of adultery and wearing a silk scarf, had a long-running feud with her first husband's family.

Executed August 19, 1692
George Burroughs, early 40s- Was previously the Minister of Salem Village, arrested in Maine and brought back to Salem for trial. Son-in-law of fellow accused Wilmot Redd (who would later be executed on September 22.)
George Jacobs, Sr., early 70s- arrested along with his granddaughter, who was spared after accusing him.
Martha Carrier, age 38- previously accused of witchcraft and exonerated, was accused of taking the title "Queen of Hell."

Image Credit:
"The Sheriff brought the witch up the broad aisle, her chains clanking as she stepped." By Freeland A. Carter
From “The Witch of Salem, or Credulity Run Mad” by John R. Musick; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1893

Executed August 19, 1692
John Proctor, age 60- vocally skeptical of accusers and proceedings, was arrested after coming to his wife Elizabeth's defense.
John Willard, age 35- deputy constable, accused after refusing to arrest those he believed to be innocent.

Executed September 22, 1692
Martha Corey, age 72- known as a pious woman, was an outspoken critic of the trials.
Mary Eastey, age 58- sister of Rebecca Nurse. Also known as a pious woman, her ghost supposedly visited one of her accusers.
Mary Parker, age unknown- claimed to have been arrested in a case of mistaken identity, little is known about her.
Alice Parker, age unknown- accused by Mary Warren of killing her mother.
Ann Pudeator, 70s- worked as a midwife, was accused of killing five people.
Wilmot Redd, 70s- known to be an irritable woman, was the only citizen of Marblehead to be executed. Mother-in-law of fellow accused George Burroughs (who was executed on August 19.)
Margaret Scott, late 70s- a widow who begged to support herself, and had lost several children in infancy. Only citizen of Rowley to be accused during the trials.
Samuel Wardwell, Sr., age 49- arrested along with wife and daughter, was executed after recanting a forced confession.

Image Credit:
Martha Corey by John W. Ehninger
From "Giles Corey of the Salem Farms" (1868), in The Complete Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Boston, Houghton, 1902

Giles Corey, age 80. Died September 19, 1692.

A wealthy farmer, Giles Corey was known as a stubborn old man and may have criticized the trials. He plead not guilty to all charges but refused to stand trial. As a result he was forced to undergo Peine forte et dure, a process whereby a defendant has increasingly heavier weights placed upon their chest until they either cooperated with the court or died. Corey supposedly believed that his execution was a forgone conclusion and so opted to skip the trial altogether. The Corey case is the only time in U.S. history Peine forte et dure was used.

Corey withstood the torture for two days before succumbing, his last words were reportedly “more weight.” His wife, Martha, would be executed herself three days later.

Image Credit:
"Giles Corey's Punishment and Awful Death"
From "Witchcraft Illustrated" by Henrietta D. Kimball
Geo. A. Kimball, Publisher, Boston, 1892.

Giles Corey Memorial Bench
Salem Witch Trials Memorial
24 Liberty Street
Salem, MA 01970
Photo by BPL Staff
7 November 2022

Dorothy Good, age 4- Daughter of Sarah Good, often incorrectly called Dorcas. She was the youngest person to be imprisoned during the trials. Never charged, she spent nearly nine months in jail until her father was able to pay her jailing costs. Dorothy was reportedly so traumatized by her ordeal that she never recovered, and suffered from mental health issues for the rest of her life.
Thomas & Sarah Carrier, age 10 & 7- children of Martha Carrier.
Abigail Johnson, age 11- mother and older sister were accused and confessed.
Margaret Toothaker, age 10- cousin of Sarah & Thomas Carrier, older sister was also accused.
Dorothy & Abigail Faulkner, age 10 & 8- cousins of Abigail Johnson, mother was accused and confessed.
Johanna Tyler, age 11- mother was accused and confessed.

Captain John Alden, age 66- a wealthy merchant sea captain and the son of two of the original settlers of Plymouth Colony, his accusers had never met him before and knew him only by name. He escaped from Boston Gaol and fled to New York where he remained until the hysteria died down.
William Barker, Sr., age 46- accused along with several family members, confessed before escaping.
Mary Bradbury, age 77- was convicted and sentenced to death despite numerous people testifying in her favor. Escaped through unknown means and returned after the hysteria ended.
Phillip & Mary English, age 41 & 37- Phillip was a wealthy fishing and shipping merchant and an Anglican of French descent, Mary was the daughter of a wealthy local merchant. Mary was accused and arrested first, then Phillip. Due to their wealth they were allowed to leave the jail during the day so long as they returned at night. They were persuaded by a friend to flee to New York, leaving behind all but one of their children. Much of their property was stolen during their absence.

Abigail Dane Faulkner, age 39- was accused along with numerous other family members in August of 1692. She was convicted but her execution was delayed due to pregnancy. While awaiting execution in jail she wrote a letter to Governor Phips pleading for clemency, citing her husband’s poor health and the subsequent lack of anyone to properly care for her children. Phips pardoned her and would end the trials not long after, though she would have to wait until 1711 to have her conviction overturned. The child she was pregnant with, a son, would be named Ammi Ruhamah after a biblical phrase meaning “our people have found mercy,” because he had essentially saved his mother’s life. Two of Ammi’s descendants were Abby and Dr. George Faulkner; bequests from their estates would lead to the founding of Faulkner Hospital in Jamaica Plain.

Elizabeth Johnson, Jr, age 22- was accused, convicted, and sentenced to death. She received a stay of execution the day before she was to be hanged, and ultimately was never executed. In 2022, she became the last of the accused to have her conviction officially overturned by the Massachusetts General Court. The 329-year delay was due in large part to the fact that she never had children and so had no descendants to petition the court on her behalf. Her name was finally cleared due to the efforts of an eighth-grade civics class at North Andover Middle School.

Image Credit:
"Captain Alden Denounced"
Alfred Fredericks, Designer; A. Bobbett, Engraver
From "A Popular History of the United States", Vol. 2 by William Cullen Bryant
New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1878

Lydia Dustin, late 60s- a widow from Reading, exonerated but was kept in jail due to an inability to pay jail fees.
Ann Foster, age 75- confessed after being accused by her daughter, who was also accused. Was likely tortured while in prison.
Mercy Good, newborn- infant daughter of Sarah Good. Born in jail, died before her mother was executed.
Sarah Osborne, age 49- one of the first three accused, died before her trial could take place. She refused to confess or to implicate anyone else. Was in a legal battle with her children over their father's estate.
Roger Toothaker, age 57- farmer who also worked as a healer, was likely tortured in jail.

Image Credit:
Susannah Martin portrayed reading her Bible in the Salem jail.
Mary A. Hallock
From “Mabel Martin: A Harvest Idyl” By John Greenleaf Whittier
Boston: Houghton, Mifflen & Co. 1876

Two dogs also fell victim to the witchcraft hysteria in October of 1692.

In Andover, one of the afflicted girls accused her neighbor’s dog of trying to bewitch her. The dog was shot and killed almost immediately. Cotton Mather would later express doubt that it had done anything wrong, reasoning that the fact that the dog could be killed meant it was not in league with the devil.

In Salem Town, one of the afflicted girls claimed that a dog exhibiting strange behavior was being tormented by John Bradstreet of Andover. This dog was also killed despite not being accused of witchcraft. Bradstreet subsequently fled Massachusetts and returned after the hysteria died down.