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Lecture

HI114 Lecture Notes - Abigail Hobbs, Spectral Evidence, Increase Mather


Department
History
Course Code
HI114
Professor
Darren Mulloy

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HI114
October 5
[In Lecture]
SALEM [3] EXECUTIONS, ENDINGS, AND INTERPRETATIONS
TRIALS AND EXECUTIONS
The Return of Several Ministers Consulted
in response to the execution of B Bishop 12 ministers were consulted as to what
should be done about the trials (p 117 of primary book)
main issue was the reliability or not of spectral evidence.
the judge believed it wasn’t possible for the specter to take the form of an innocent
person
advice of the ministers was a little bit ambiguous, on the one hand they said you
should be careful when dealing with spectral evidence. especially the case when you
are dealing with people formally of an unblemished reputation ie. R Nurse. you should
be wary of this especially if there was no cooberating evidence. there should not be
much noise, company etc of the initial examinations (because may influence) ON THE
OTHER HAND they say that the judges should be praised for their efforts, and applaud
the speedy trials of those deemed obnoxious.
also important for what it doesn’t say. don’t challenge the authenticity of the girls
afflictions. don’t deny that spectral visitations are real
The Second Session of the Court
Rebecca Nurse’s Trial
Robert Calef’s More Wonders of the Invisible World (1700)
if the ministers were going to make a difference, it was going to be in R Nurse’s case.
recall, Nurse’s family and she herself also petitioned the court, Nurse’s daughter also
accuses S Bibber of poking herself with pins to falsify evidence
initial verdict is NOT GUILTY
THEN according to R Calef’s account, the accuses make a hideous cry out and some
of the judges also seem strangely surprised, the afflicted girls have fits, judge intervenes
“have you really considered what R Nurse said during her trial when Deliverance and
Abigail Hobbs and she said ‘What, do these persons give in evidence against me now,
they used to come among us’
Thomas Fiske goes to speak to R Nurse, asks about above statement, she is silent,
her silence is admission of guilt
she says that the reason she said this was that the Hobbs were in prison with her,
that’s what she meant, she didn’t answer before because she’s hard of hearing
Nurse family continue to petition, ask for a reprieve and is granted it by the governor
Calef: some salem gentlemen then went to the governor and convinced him to rescind
his reprieve
Executed on July 19th with several others (on timeline)
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