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HI114 - Salem Witch Trials 3

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Darren Mulloy

HI114 – Sept 26/2013 • No established government in Salem, gap between Feb 29 and June 2, the crisis generates momentum without government Salem 3: Executions, Endings and Interpretations • Trials and executions: o First person to be subject to this new procedure is Bridget bishop  Case sets an important precedence that spectral evidence can be used  Sent to the gallows, guilty o The return of several ministers consulted th  Report on June 15 (152-153)  Reliability of spectral evidence • Specters not take the form of an innocent person  The advice: • Be careful esp. “formerly unblemished reputation” + no corroboration • Not too much “noise, company and openness”  But: good job! + “speedy and vigorous prosecutions… rendered themselves obnoxious” • The second session of the court o June 29 – 30 th  Sarah Good, Rebecca Nurse, Sarah Wilds, Elizabeth Howe, Susannah Martin o Rebecca Nurse’s trial  Support for Rebecca: • Petition of good character (39 signees) • Nurse challenges her “Devil’s Mark” • Sarah Nurse (daughter) accuses Sarah Bibber = not guilty! o Robert Calef’s More Wonders of the Invisible World (1700)  The accusers made a hideous cry out and the chief justice William Staughton intervenes  E.g. Nurse: “What, do these persons give in evidence against me now, they used to come among us.” • Staughton took this as a confession that she was part of the witches  Thomas Fiske asks Nurse what she means and she doesn’t reply = Guilty!  Pressure on Gov. Phips = reprieve  Pressure by “some Salem gentlemen” = rescinded  EXECUTED! o After the trial  July 4 , witch-finders are sent out • The third session of the court o Rev. Burroughs Trial  Accused of being the ring-leader, behind the whole conspiracy  Found guilty  Before his execution, thoughtlessly recites the Lord’s Prayer th  4 men are executed on Aug 19 • To confess or not? • None of the confessing witches have died • The dissolution of the court o Criticism Mounts:  The “better sort” accused (e.g. Philip and Mary English and Mrs. Phips)  Increase Mather, Cases and 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 of “diabolical” not “authentic” origin • Unreliability of confessors naming other witches o Oct 18 Andover Letter:
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