Salem Witch Trials


What Started the Trials?

Traditionally, the Puritans were a very anxious and suspicious group who jumped at the opportunity to punish someone for sinning. In January 1692, two girls, Elizabeth Parris, 9, and Abigail Williams, 11, began having screaming and contorting fits. After calling in a doctor, the two girls were diagnosed with "bewitchment". After many other cases of this condition showed up throughout the town, three women were accused of being witches. The three blamed were a slave, homeless woman, and poor, elderly woman. Both the homeless and poor women denied being a witch, but the slave admitted to it. Hysteria and suspicion spread rapidly, to many women's dismay.

Who was put on Trial?

Name; Reason; Outcome:

Sarah Osborn; hadn't attended church; Died in prison

Bridgett Bishop; behavior, false witnesses; Hanged (June 18)

Rebecca Nurse; false testimony, family relations; Hanged (July 19)

Susannah Martin; false accusations; Hanged (July 19)

Elizabeth Howe; false accusations; Hanged (July 19)

Sarah Wildes; false accusations; Hanged (July 19)

George Burroughs; accused of being ringleader; Hanged (August 19)

Martha Carrier; false accusations; Hanged (August 19)

John Willard; false accusations; Hanged (August 19)

George Jacobs; false accusations; Hanged (August 19)

John Proctor; believed witchcraft didn't exist; Hanged (August 19)

Giles Corey; refused to go on trial; pressed to death (Sep. 19)

Martha Corey; wife of Giles Cory; Hanged (September 22)

Mary Easty; false accusations; Hanged (September 22)

Ann Pudeator; false accusations; Hanged (September 22)

Alice Parker; false accusations; Hanged (September 22)

Mary Parker; false accusations; Hanged (September 22)

Wilmot Redd; false accusations; Hanged (September 22)

Margaret Scott; false accusations; Hanged (September 22)

Samuel Wardwell; false accusations; Hanged (September 22)

Roger Toothaker; false accusations; Died in prison

Lyndia Dustin; false accusations; Died in prison

Ann Foster; false accusations; Died in prison

For more details about each trial, visit

How were the Trials Ended?

There was no real reason the trials ended; they simply died out. There are a couple reasons for this. A man named Cotton Mather had pushed the value of actual evidence rather than suspicion for proof of witches, claiming that it would be better to let ten witches go than let one innocent person die. Another reason is that people began to blame those who they didn't like, which led to many trials with little purpose. In January 1679, after trials occurred less and less, the Massachusetts General Court declared the trials unlawful. Although the horrific trials were ended, the impact they left lived for years.