History of Salem Witch Trials

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The Belief in how supernatural and in the devil’s practice of giving certain humans witches the power to harm others arose in Europe in the 14th century. The Salem Witch trials began in 1692 when a group of girls in village of Salem, Massachusetts, where claimed to be possessed by the devil. The theories for the mass hysteria and the accusations of Witchcraft were because of fungus poisoning. Samuel Parises girls suffered from a condition coming from ergot which was a type of fungus found in grains. This lead to the rise of the belief that there was evil and witchcraft going on in the village of Salem.

Samuel Paris and his family arrived in 1689 to the Salem village coming from London being merchants and being puritans. During this time in England “Puritan, whose origins lay in a late sixtine century reform movement within English protestantism , were by the 1650s divided into many fractions, but all believed that bishops, The mass, and all other remnants of Roman catholic worship had to be purged from english pulpist”(Hoffer 9) they came seeking wealth and being able to practice religion. Samuel Parisses daughters Betty and Abigail, Williams began to act strange and they talking incoherently leading people to believe they were witches, and along with the nonsense they were making Parris had two Caribbean Indian slaves Tituba And John . One of the slaves baked a cake and were accused of it bewitching them with the cake Tituba made. Betty told her parents that Tituba, Sarah Good and Sarah Osborn had been approached by the devil when they said no the witches began their assault.

The first woman to have been executed during this time was Bridget Bishop. She stood out amongst most women during her time because of how many times she had married. In total she married 3 times and widowed twice. Her first marriage was a man named samuel wesselby the importance of this marriage was because he was the one who brought her to the newly colonized america. The second man she married was Thomas Oliver who already in fact a widower who had children of his own. The two had frequent fights that brought in the attention of the authority.

Oliver physically abused bridget as her face had bruises. Eventually he died and accusations to her began about her being a witch.His two children claimed that their father died because her mother had used witchcraft on him. The people of salem accused her of attacking them and to the killing of their children and pets disappearing .She eventually faced a judge and her verdict was not guilty. The women in the courtroom began arguing with the judge to reconsider their verdict and a week later the jury indeed changed their minds and declared the nurse guilty . She was hung at the end of the trial on June 10th.

George Burroughs came to Salem village as a minister from Salisbury around 1680. He graduated from Harvard University. He did preaching in Falmouth, Main until the indian attacks in 1676. He had a disagreement with Thomas Putnam. He had unusual strength for a short man “Having been arrested for witchcraft. His unusual strength was used against him as evidence of his complicity with the devil.”(Armstrong 219). During his arrest and bring back to seleam a thunderstorm struck while they were bringing him back and it scared both the horsemen and the men. The horsemen took it as a sign of the witch craft that burroughs could have done to escape. On May 9th he was seen by John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin both judges during the Salem Witch Trials while Reverend Samuel Parris observed only because he was a minister just like Burroughs. During his judging he was asked questions like if the house he lived in was haunted ?

Of course he denied but did say that they had toads. The judges believed that they had something to do with witches. He also asked about when he took his last communion? He did not remember. For a puritan minister him not being able to remember the last time he took communion did not look good on him.George Burroughs was brought to trial on August 5th in 1692. Under the charge of being a religious leader they theorized he was speaking for the devil and influencing people to become witches.The reason why his trial was so significant was because he was part of the church and that reason scared the people of salem with the idea of the devil being able to infiltrate the church. Right before his execution he made a speech on how he was innocent and recited the lord’s prayer flawlessly something a witch could not do without making a mistake.

Martha corry was the fourth person and a church member in this case to be accused of witchcraft “out spoken in her skepticism about the existence of witches in the salem village”she was sixty five years of age married to Giles Corey. Martha was Giles Corey’s 3rd wife. Giles Corey was a farmer who had wealth and didn’t have the best past concerning having went to trial for one of his workers on his farm lands. Although he was actually guilty he got away with paying a fine for his crime. Martha and Giles Corey were some of the first people who came to be the attendees of the examinations.

Martha had doubts about the realness of the witch trials. Which she tried to speak forward about it but of course it made it seem suspicious in the eyes of other people and that was enough to accuse her of of working with the witches to stop these trials that have been going on. Mercy Lewis claimed that Marthas husband came to her as a specter and forced her to sign the Devils book. Giles Corey denying that his wife was guilty of any sort of witchcraft was arrested by george herrick. He did not want to say anything he was not guilty or innocent of his charges.

The people of the town of salem started to think that the trials were getting out of control with the killing of innocent people’s lives. On october 12 in 1692,The governor Philip ordered the protection of the current prisoners from the harm and the accuse of being a witch and off witchcraft. The only reason why this came to his attention was because now his own wife was being accused of a witch. The last trial was held January 1693 with the count of 19 people dead by hanging. They had to make sure the evidence was clear and they had to have way more evidence to prove someone guilty of any crime.

Connor Mather spoke out to saleem and “his first attempt at apology was an explanation in form of a defence of the court and the judged, and of course his own conduct. Now an outsider, replaced as it were by his father in the council their brethren”(Hoffer 137). As the trials became a thing that was not considered human rights there were still a lot of people who were still in jail who could not afford to pay the money to get out.

The results of the salem witch trials left people’s crops to lead into failure because they were not attending to them instead they were attending to the witch trials. Reverend Samuel Parris job was on the edge of him losing it so he decided to attend a ‘meditation for Peace’ sermon, admitting that he accused people of having to little in evidence.He did not gain the forgiveness that he was looking for in the village of Salem and agreed to leave Salem for good. Reverend Joseph green replaced Samuel Parris. Many of the people after the salem witch trials did not get along only because everyone accused other families of witchcraft. Not many people were easy to forgive.


  1. Demos, John. “The American Historical Review.” The American Historical Review, vol. 75, no. 2, 1969, pp. 573–574. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/1849818.
  2. Weisman, Richard. Witchcraft, Magic, and Religion in 17th-Century Massachusetts. The University of Massachusetts Press, 1984.
  3. Hoffer, Peter Charles. The Salem Witchcrafts Trials. The University Press of Kansas , 1997.
  4. Hill, Frances, and Karen Armstrong. A Delusion of Satan: the Full Story of the Salem Witch Trials. Da Capo Press, 2002.


Cite this paper

History of Salem Witch Trials. (2021, Mar 23). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/history-of-salem-witch-trials/

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