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Salem [3] Executions, Endings, and Interpretations Events at Salem [2] Trials and executions Second and third sessions of the court Dissolution of the court Explanations for the events at Salem

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Darren Mulloy

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) HI114 • July 4th, two of the afflicted are sent to Andover to be “witch hunters” starting a whole new cycle of accusations Third Session of the Court (August 2-6) Rev. Burrough’s Trial • convicted, executed on Aug 19. • FAULTLESSLY recited the lords prayer before being executed • all but one executed on A19 are men To Confess or Not • nobody who had confessed to being a witch had been hung • no legal charter in Massachusetts. in the situation of some legal uncertainty, these confessions gave authority. confirmed the existence of witches maybe the authorities thought that the easiest way to solve the problem was to • encourage people to confess by not killing them • by July 1692 people have figured out that by confessing they will survive • once people started doing this, instead of validating the legal proceedings, it invalidates them, because people could be making it up to save themselves September 17 • 5 confessors are finally put on trial (on timeline) all found guilty, the four woman confessors are not executed the only man, Samuel Wardell, is executed for recanting his confession. • September 20 • Dorcas Hoar is supposed to die, she instead confesses and they postpone her execution for a month which eventually saves her life Dissolution of the Court Criticism Mounts: • The “better sort” is accused • ie. Philip and Mary English and Mrs. Phips (wife of governor of the colony) • Increase Mather, Cases of Conscience Concerning Evil Spirits Personating Men & Samuel Willard Some Miscellany Observations on our Present Debates Respecting Witchcrafts Devil can take the form of an innocent person • • touch tests are unreliable • afflicted’s evidence
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