Mary Leach Ireson (1654-1711) – Mary Leach was born to Richard and Sarah Ann Fuller Leach in Salem and grew up to marry Benjamin Benoni Ireson of Lynn, Massachusetts. They would only have one child. A complaint was sworn out against Mary Leach Ireson on June 4, 1692, By Edward Putnam and Thomas Rayment alleging that Mary had afflicted Mary Warren, Susanna Sheldon, and Mary Walcott. She was soon arrested and examined on June 6th. As soon as she entered the room, several of the “afflicted girls” fell into fits. Susanna Sheldon would testify that Mary’s specter had brought her the Devil’s book and if she didn’t sign it would tear her throat out. No further information is known beyond the initial examination. She died on March 5, 1711.
John Jackson, Jr. (1670-??) – Of Rowley, Massachusetts, John, his father, John Jackson, Sr., and another man named John Howard were all named by Susanna Post as witches. All three were laborers in Rowley and thought to have been related to Elizabeth Jackson Howe, who was hanged on July 19, 1692, for witchcraft. A complaint was filed by Joseph Tyler and Ephriam Foster alleging that the three had committed acts of witchcraft against Rose Foster and Martha Sprague of Andover. A warrant was issued for their arrests on August 25, 1692. They were examined by Magistrate Hawthorne and others who issued an indictment and all three men were imprisoned. However, beyond their imprisonment, no other information is known.
John Jackson, Sr. (1653-1718) – Of Rowley, Massachusetts, John, his son, John Jackson, Jr.., and another man named John Howard were all named by Susanna Post as witches. All three were laborers in Rowley and thought to have been related to Elizabeth Jackson Howe, who was hanged on July 19, 1692, for witchcraft A complaint was filed by Joseph Tyler and Ephriam Foster alleging that the three had committed acts of witchcraft against Rose Foster and Martha Sprague of Andover. A warrant was issued for their arrests on August 25, 1692. They were examined by Magistrate Hawthorne and others who issued an indictment and all three men were imprisoned. However, beyond their imprisonment, no other information is known.
George Jacobs, Sr. (1620?–1692) – A British American colonist, he was hanged during the Salem witch trials. Born about 1620, it is unknown when he arrived at Massachusetts Bay Colony or anything about his first wife. However, they obviously moved to Salem sometime before 1649, because the couple had three children born in Salem – George, Jr., Mary, and Ann. He purchased land in Salem Village around 1658 and married his second wife, Mary, in about 1673. George Sr. did not attend church in Salem regularly, which could cause him to be disliked by other villagers. He was also a man of few words; but, when he did speak, he was very direct and known to have had a “salty tongue.” In fact, when the witch hysteria erupted in Salem Village, he would allegedly refer to the afflicted girls as “witch bitches.” These characteristics along with his son’s good friendship with the Porter family, enemies of the powerful Putnams, made him a target for the accusers.
He was first accused by a servant in his household — Sarah Churchill. Somehow related to Mary Walcott, Sarah had also become one of the “afflicted girls;” however, when her afflictions began to decrease, the other girls accused her of being a witch herself. She, in turn, pointed the finger at George, Sr. and his granddaughter, Margaret Jacobs. Both were arrested on May 10, 1692. When his granddaughter, Margaret Jacobs, was examined, she would confess and accuse her grandfather.
George was examined twice, on the day of his arrest and on the following day. Both Sarah Churchill and his granddaughter, Margaret Jacobs, would testify against him. During the questioning, George’s “salty tongue” would not help him. When he was told that the circle of afflicted girls accused him, he laughed and said: “You tax me for a wizard, you may as well tax me for a buzzard, I have done no harm.” Over the next weeks, more accusations and testimony would be taken and those giving witness to his guilt included Abigail Williams, Ann Putnam, Jr., Mercy Lewis, Elizabeth Hubbard, Mary Walcott, Sarah Bibber, Mary Warren, Joseph Flint, Thomas Putnam, Jr., John Putnam, Jr., and John DeRich. Sarah Churchill would say that old George Jacob had made her a witch, after having called her a bitch-witch and other ill names. The “afflicted girls” would say that Jacobs’ specter had beat them with his walking stick. While in prison, a physical examination would be conducted where a “devil’s mark” was found on his shoulder. George was also not able to recite the Lord’s Prayer correctly, which was a sure sign in the eyes of the authorities that he was guilty. On August 5, 1692, 70-year-old George Jacobs, Sr. was tried and found guilty. Through the entire process, he declared his innocence and unwavering Christian faith, declaring, “Well: burn me, or hang me, I will stand in the truth of Christ, I know nothing of it.”
Shortly after her grandfather was tried, Margaret Jacobs recanted her confession against both her grandfather and the Reverend George Burroughs; but it was too late for both of them. On August 12th, George Jacobs, Sr. changed his will of January 29, 1692, and made his wife, Mary, the sole executrix, replacing his son George Jacobs, Jr. and his son-in-law, Daniel Andrew. Shortly before he was hanged, his granddaughter, Margaret, even though she was also imprisoned, was allowed to visit her grandfather in jail and sought his forgiveness.
George Jacobs, Sr. was hanged on August 19, 1692, along with the Reverend George Burroughs, John Proctor, John Willard, and . This was the first time men were executed as witches in Salem. In the meantime, Sheriff George Corwin confiscated much of his property, right up to the food in the pantry, forcing Mary Jacobs had to buy back her own provisions.
Margaret Jacobs would continue to be jailed until January 1693, when she was released. Due to her confession, Sarah Churchill was also released. In his will, George left much of his estate to Rebecca Jacobs (his oldest granddaughter?). He also made provisions for his granddaughter, Margaret, leaving her £10, two cows, and four sheep.
The family retrieved George’s remains from the mass grave at Gallows Hill and buried them on their property. Many years later, he was re-interred at the Nurse Homestead in what is now Danvers, Massachusetts. In 1693 George’s widow, Mary Jacobs married John Wildes, whose wife had been hanged for witchcraft on July 19, 1692. In 1711 the General Court made reparations of £79 to the heirs of George Jacobs, Sr.
Margaret Jacobs – The granddaughter of George Jacobs, Sr., they were both arrested on May 10, 1692. Although she was only 16 at the time, Margaret Jacobs knew that the safest way out of the witchcraft accusations was to confess. In her examination, she did just that and also accused her grandfather, as well as the Reverend George Burroughs of witchcraft. Testimony was given against her that she had afflicted Mary Walcott and Elizabeth Hubbard and Margaret was indicted and sent to prison.
On August 5, 1692, Margaret’s 70-year-old grandfather, George Jacobs, Sr. was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to hang. Through the entire process, he declared his innocence and unwavering Christian faith. Stricken by her conscience, Margaret then recanted her confession, as well as her accusations against her grandfather and the Reverend George Burroughs. However, her recantation had no effect on the judges. Before her grandfather was executed, Margaret, even though she was also in prison, was granted the right of a visit and sought his forgiveness. Her grandfather was hanged on August 19, 1692. Margaret would remain in prison for some seven months before she was finally bonded out. On January 1693 she was brought before the newly established Superior Court of Judicature and found innocent.
Rebecca Andrews Jacobs – From Salem Village, Rebecca, her husband, George Jacobs, Jr., and their daughter, Margaret were all accused of witchcraft in May of 1692. Rebecca was born to Thomas and Rebecca Fox Andrews in Cambridge, Massachusetts on April 18, 1646. She grew up to marry John Frost in 1666 and the couple had three children. John Frost died on September 30, 1672. Rebecca then married George Jacobs, Jr. with whom she would have six children. When she, along with her husband and daughter Margaret were accused of witchcraft by Elizabeth Hubbard, George Jr. fled before he could be arrested, abandoning his family. Though Rebecca suffered from some type of mental illness, she and her daughter Margaret were arrested, the other children were left behind. Those old enough to walk followed behind the carriage for some distance, crying. Neighbors eventually took responsibility for the children.
Rebecca’s mother, Rebecca Fox, wrote a heart-rending plea to the court asking them for her daughter’s release, but it was ignored. Although she was mentally ill, Rebecca Andrews Jacobs was imprisoned without a trial for almost a year. When the case finally went to trial Rebecca Andrews Jacobs was acquitted due to mental incompetence and was released. Her daughter Margaret was also found innocent. Rebecca never regained her mental health, dying in 1717.
Elizabeth Dane Johnson, Sr. (1641-1722) – Along with several other members of her family, Elizabeth was accused of witchcraft in Andover, Massachusetts. She was born to the Reverend Francis Dane and Elizabeth Ingalls Dane in Andover about 1641. She would grow up to marry Stephen Johnson on November 5, 1661. Before the two married, they were convicted of fornication before marriage and fined. These types of actions were not easily forgotten during these Puritan times and Elizabeth was long afterward thought of as a “scarlet woman.” The couple would eventually have ten children. Before the witch hysteria began, Elizabeth’s husband Stephen died on November 30, 1690.
On August 29, 1692, a warrant was issued for the arrest of Elizabeth Johnson, Sr. and her ten-year-old daughter, Abigail. The complaint was made by Samuel Martin of Andover and Moses Tyler of Boxford, alleging that the two had afflicted Martha Sprague of Boxford and Abigail Martin of Andover. She was arrested and examined on August 31st. She confessed to having been a witch, often saw the “black man,” and had attended a gathering where they were baptized by the devil, who promised them “happiness and joy”, and that at the devil’s behest, they had afflicted Martha Sprague and several people in Andover. During her testimony, she would also implicate William Barker, Sr, her sister, Abigail Dane Faulkner, Sr.; Martha Emerson, Daniel Eames; Hannah, Mary, and Susanna Post, and others. Though she was imprisoned she was later found not guilty. She died in Andover on
Elizabeth Johnson, Jr. (1670-17??) – Better known as Betty, Elizabeth was born to Stephen and Elizabeth Dane Johnson in Andover, Massachusetts in 1670. When the witch hysteria began, she was arrested, and on August 10th, the 22-year-old Elizabeth quickly confessed, telling her examiners that she had been consorting with the devil, meeting him at a gathering of “about six score”. She was accused by the children of witchcraft, and in turn, testified against Carrier, stating that it was she who had baptized her as a witch. Elizabeth also testified that she had seen the Reverend George Burroughs, Captain John Floyd, Daniel Eames, Mary Allen Toothaker and one of her daughters at the witch gathering. She further testified, that she herself, along with the other witches at the meeting, had afflicted Benjamin Abbott, Lawrence Lacy, Sarah Phelps’ daughter, and Joe Ballard’s wife.
Elizabeth was then imprisoned to await her trial, which would not occur until January 1693. At the trial, she was one of only three to be found guilty, of the many who were awaiting trial. She was sentenced to death but escaped the gallows due to the intervention of Governor Phips. Years later, Massachusetts Governor Joseph Dudley signed a document into law on October 17, 1711, that restored the rights and good names of those who had been accused of witchcraft. The bill also made monetary reparations to those who had accused. However, the list of accused included only the names of those who had been specified in petitions. In February 1712, Elizabeth Johnson, Jr. wrote to the committee members reminding them that she had been condemned, yet her name was missing from the Reversal. However, by this time, the government was finished with the whole matter. Therefore, Elizabeth’s name, along with those of Bridget Playfer Bishop, Susannah North Martin, Elizabeth Bassett Proctor, Alice Parker, Ann Pudeator, Margaret Stevenson Scott, Wilmot Read and Samuel Wardwell remained unprotected. Elizabeth Johnson. Jr. appears to have never married and the date and place of her death are unknown.
©Kathy Weiser-Alexander, updated November 2020.
The Salem Witchcraft Hysteria (Main article)