Salem Witch Trials Timeline

Salem Towne in its early years.

1626 – A village is settled in Naumkeag, Massachusetts, later renamed Salem.

1636 – Salem Village is settled by farmers about five miles north of Salem Towne.

1641 – English law makes witchcraft a capital crime.

1648 to 1663 – The first massive witch hunt occurs throughout New England. About 80 people were accused of practicing witchcraft during these years.

June 15, 1648 – The first execution for witchcraft known in New England occurs. Margaret Jones of Charlestown in Massachusetts Bay Colony, a herbalist, midwife, and self-described physician, was hanged. Twelve more women and two more men would be executed before the witch hunt ended in 1663.

1669 – Susannah Martin was accused of witchcraft in Salisbury, Massachusetts. She was convicted, but a higher court dismissed the charges.

October 8, 1672 – Salem Village became a separate parish from Salem Towne and was authorized by a General Court order to tax for public improvements, hire a minister and build a meetinghouse.

Spring 1673 – Salem Village meeting house (church) is built.

1673 – 1679 – James Bayley serves as minister of the Salem Village church. Controversy over whether to ordain Bayley, over failure to pay, and even for slander made their way into lawsuits. Because Salem Village was not yet fully a town or church, Salem Towne had a say in the minister’s future.

Massachusetts Bay Colony

Massachusetts Bay Colony

1679 – Simon Bradstreet becomes governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony. Bridget Bishop of Salem Village was accused of witchcraft, but the Reverend John Hale testified for her, and the charges were dropped

1680 – In Newbury, Elizabeth Morse was accused of witchcraft. She was convicted and sentenced to death but was reprieved.

1680-1683 – The Reverend George Burroughs served as minister of the Salem Village church. As with his predecessor, the church would not ordain him, and he left in a bitter salary dispute, at one point being arrested for debt.

1684 – The Reverend Deodat Lawson became the minister in Salem Village.

October 23, 1684 – The Massachusetts Bay Colony charter was annulled, and self-government ended. Sir Edmund Andros was appointed governor of the newly-defined Dominion of New England. He was not popular with the residents.

1685 – Cotton Mather is ordained. He was the son of Boston’s North Church minister Increase Mather and joined his father there.

1687 – Bridget Bishop of Salem Village was accused for a second time of witchcraft and acquitted.

Spring, 1688 – Like his predecessors, the Reverend Deodat Lawson is not ordained and is not always paid. He leaves Salem Village.

A fair Puritan, by E. Percy Moran, 1897

A fair Puritan, by E. Percy Moran, 1897

Summer, 1688 – Ann “Goody” Glover is accused of bewitching John Goodwin’s children in Boston who have taken ill. After a doctor suggested it was caused by witchcraft, Ann Glover is arrested. With language being a barrier in the trial, she is convicted of witchcraft.

June 1688 – The Reverend Samuel Parris arrived in Salem Village as a candidate for the position of Salem Village minister. He would later become their first fully ordained minister.

November 16, 1688 – Ann “Goody” Glover is hanged for witchcraft in Boston. She is the last “witch” to be hanged in that city.

1689 – Increase Mather and Sir William Phips petitioned William and Mary, new rulers of England, to restore the charter of the Massachusetts colony.

Boston Minister Cotton Mather, who had been involved in Ann Glover’s trial for witchcraft, publishes Memorable Providences, which relates to witchcraft and possession.

Benjamin Holton died in Salem Village, and the doctor attending could not identify a cause of death. His death would later be brought out as evidence against Rebecca Nurse in 1692.

October 1689 – The Salem Village church granted Reverend Samuel Parris a full deed to the parsonage, violating the congregation’s rules.

November 19, 1689 – The Salem Village church covenant was signed, including Reverend Samuel Parris and 27 full members. Parris is officially ordained at the church.

1691 – William and Mary replaced the Massachusetts Bay Colony charter with a new one establishing the Province of Massachusetts Bay. They appointed Sir William Phips as the royal governor.

October 16, 1691 – Some villagers vow to drive the Reverend Samuel Parris out of Salem Village and stop contributing to his salary. Parris soon began to preach about a Satanic conspiracy in town against him and the church.

Winter, 1691-92 – Nine-year-old Elizabeth Parris and her cousin, Abigail Williams, daughter, and niece of the Reverend Samuel Parris, respectively, begin to experiment with fortune-telling, a forbidden pastime in the Puritan colony.

January 8, 1692 – Representatives of Salem Village petitioned Salem Towne to recognize the village’s independence or at least to tax Salem Village residents only for Salem Village expenses.

January 15-19, 1692 – Eleven-year-old Abigail Williams and nine-year-old Elizabeth Parris begin behaving erratically, having “fits,” babbling jibberish, and contorting their bodies into strange positions. Interestingly, their behaviors are much like the Goodwin children three years earlier. Soon, Ann Putnam, Jr. and other Salem Village girls begin acting similarly.

“People were Accused, Examined, Imprisoned, and came to their Trials, where about Twenty of them Suffered as Witches; and many others in danger of the same Tragical End: and still the number of the Accused increased unto many Scores; amongst whom were many Persons of unquestionable Credit, never under any grounds of suspicion of that or any other Scandalous Evil.” 
Reverend John Hale
Reverend Samuel Parris

Reverend Samuel Parris

About February 24, 1692 – Doctor Griggs, who attends to the “afflicted girls,” suggests that witchcraft may cause their strange behavior. Their behavior is remarkably similar to that of Martha Goodwin in 1688, described in Cotton Mather’s book, Memorable Providences.

Late February 1692 – Reverend Samuel Parris conducted prayer services and community fasting to relieve the evil forces that plagued them.

February 25, 1692 – Mary Sibley, a neighbor of the Parris family, tells John Indian, the husband of Tituba, the recipe to make a “witch cake” of rye meal and the girls’ urine to feed to a dog to discover who is bewitching the girls, according to English folk “white magic” practices.

February 26, 1692 – Pressured by ministers and townspeople to say who caused their odd behavior, Elizabeth Parris and Abigail Williams identify Tituba, a slave in the Parris household. The girls later also accuse Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne of witchcraft.

February 27, 1692 – Ann Putnam, Jr. and Elizabeth Hubbard, a ward of Doctor Griggs, also begin to experience torments and blame Sarah Good, a local homeless mother and beggar, and Sarah Osborne, who was in a legal dispute with the Putnams.

February 29, 1692 – Based on formal complaints from Joseph Hutchinson, Thomas Putnam, Jr, Edward Putnam, and Thomas Preston, Magistrates John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin issue warrants to arrest Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne, and Tituba for afflicting Elizabeth Parris, Abigail Williams, Ann Putnam, Jr.. and Elizabeth Hubbard.

March 1–March 7, 1692 – For several days, Magistrates John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin examine Tituba, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osborne for signs of witchcraft. Tituba confesses to practicing witchcraft and confirms Good and Osborne were her co-conspirators.

March 1692 – Philip English, a wealthy Salem Towne merchant and businessman of French background was appointed a selectman in Salem Towne.

Mary Warren, a servant in the home of Elizabeth and John Proctor, also began having fits like the other girls were having.

The Witch

The Witch, by Joseph E. Baker in 1892.

March 12, 1692 – Ann Putnam, Jr. accuses Martha Corey of witchcraft.

March 19. 1692 – Abigail Williams denounces Rebecca Nurse as a witch.

March 21, 1692 – Martha Corey is arrested and examined by Magistrates Hathorne and Corwin.

March 22, 1692 – A local delegation visited Rebecca Nurse at home.

March 23, 1692 – An arrest warrant was issued for Rebecca Nurse.

March 24, 1692 – Salem Deputy Marshal Samuel Braybrook arrests four-year-old Dorcas Good. She is examined the same day by Magistrates Corwin and Hathorne.

March 26, 1692 – Magistrates Hathorne and Corwin, along with the Reverend John Higginson, again question four-year-old Dorcas Good, now in jail.

Mercy Lewis accuses Elizabeth Proctor of afflicting her through her specter. A few days later, Abigail Williams joins her in the accusations, accusing Elizabeth’s husband, John Proctor.

March 30, 1692 – In Ipswich, Rachel Clinton was accused by her neighbors of witchcraft and was examined by local magistrates there. None of the girls involved in the Salem Village accusations were involved in her case.

April 1692 – More than 50 men in Ipswich, Topsfield, and Salem Village signed petitions declaring that they did not believe spectral evidence about John and Elizabeth Proctor, nor believed they could be witches.

April 3, 1692 – Sarah Cloyce, after defending her sister, Rebecca Nurse, is accused of witchcraft.

April 8, 1692 – An arrest warrant was issued for Elizabeth Proctor and Sarah Cloyce.

Salem Village

Salem Village

April 10, 1692 – At Sunday meeting in Salem Village, interruptions by the “afflicted girls” are said to be caused by the specter of Sarah Cloyce.

April 11, 1692 – Hathorne and Corwin examine Sarah Cloyce and Elizabeth Proctor. On the same day, Elizabeth’s husband, John, who protested the examination of his wife, becomes the first man accused of witchcraft and is incarcerated.

April 13, 1692 – Ann Putnam, Jr. accuses Giles Corey of witchcraft and alleges that a man who died at Corey’s house also haunts her.

On about April 13, the Proctors’ servant and accuser, Mary Warren, admits lying and accuses the other accusing girls of lying.

April 14, 1692 – Mercy Lewis claims that Giles Corey had appeared to her and forced her to sign the devil’s book.

Sheriff George Corwin visited Mary English at midnight with an arrest warrant and told him to come back and arrest her in the morning, which he did.

April 16, 1692 – New accusations were made against Bridget Bishop.

April 19, 1692 – Abigail Hobbs, Bridget Bishop, Giles Corey, and Mary Warren are examined by Magistrates Jonathan Corwin and John Hathorne. Deliverance Hobbs confesses to practicing witchcraft. Abigail Hobbs accuses Giles Corey, who maintained his innocence. Mary Warren reverses her statement that she lied about her accusations and rejoins the accusers.

April 21, 1692 – A warrant was issued for the arrest of Sarah Wildes, William Hobbs, Deliverance Hobbs, Nehemiah Abbot, Jr., Mary Easty, Edward Bishop Jr., Sarah Bishop (wife of Edward Bishop Jr.), Mary Black, and Mary English, based on accusations of Ann Putnam, Jr., Mercy Lewis, and Mary Walcott.

April 22, 1692 – Mary Easty, another of Rebecca Nurse’s sisters who defended her, is examined by Hathorne and Corwin. Hathorne and Corwin also examine Nehemiah Abbot, Jr., William and Deliverance Hobbs, Edward and Sarah Bishop, Mary Black, Sarah Wildes, and Mary English. Only Nehemiah Abbot, Jr. was cleared of charges.

Afflicted Girl

Afflicted Girl

April 24, 1692 – Susanna Sheldon accused Philip English of tormenting her through witchcraft. William Beale, who had sparred with English in 1690 in a lawsuit about land claims, also accused English of having something to do with the deaths of Beale’s two sons.

April 30, 1692 – Several girls accuse former Salem Village minister George Burroughs of witchcraft, saying he is at the center of the witchcraft outbreak.

Arrest warrants were issued for Dorcas Hoar, Lydia Dustin, Reverend George Burroughs, Susannah Martin, Sarah Murrell, and Philip English. English was not found until late May when he and his wife were jailed in Boston.

May 2, 1692 – Jonathan Corwin and John Hathorne examine Sarah Murrell, Lydia Dustin, Susannah Martin, and Dorcas Hoar.

May 3, 1692 – Sarah Murrell, Susannah Martin, Lydia Dustin, and Dorcas Hoar were taken to Boston’s jail.

May 4, 1692 – Reverend George Burroughs is arrested in Maine.

May 7, 1692 – Reverend George Burroughs is returned to Salem and placed in jail.

May 9, 1692 – Corwin and Hathorne examine the Reverend George Burroughs and one of the afflicted girls, Sarah Churchill. Burroughs is moved to a Boston jail.

Did You Know???
Over 150 people, most of which were women, were accused of witchcraft during the Salem witchcraft hysteria.

May 10, 1692 – Corwin and Hathorne examine George Jacobs, Sr., and his granddaughter, Margaret Jacobs.

Sarah Osborne dies in prison.

A warrant is issued for the arrest of John Willard. He attempted to flee but was found and arrested later.

May 12, 1692 – Ann Pudeator and Alice Parker were arrested. Abigail Hobbs and Mary Warren were questioned. John Hale and John Higginson observed part of the day’s proceedings. Mary English was sent to Boston to be jailed there.

May 14, 1692 – Sir William Phips arrived in Massachusetts to take up his position as royal governor, accompanied by Increase Mather. The charter they brought restored self-government in Massachusetts and named William Stoughton lieutenant governor. The Salem Village witchcraft accusations, including the growing number of people overflowing the jails and awaiting trial, drew Phips’ attention quickly.

May 18, 1692 – John Willard was examined. For unknown reasons, Mary Easty is released from prison. Following a protest by her accusers, she is again arrested. Roger Toothaker is also arrested on charges of witchcraft, accused by Elizabeth Hubbard, Ann Putnam, Jr., and Mary Walcott.

May 20, 1692 – Mary Easty, set free only two days before, was accused of afflicting Mercy Lewis; she was charged again and returned to jail.

May 23, 1692 – Boston jail ordered additional shackles for prisoners, using money loaned by Samuel Sewall.

May 25, 1692 – Martha Corey, Rebecca Nurse, Dorcas Good, Sarah Cloyce, and John and Elizabeth Proctor were ordered transferred to Boston’s jail.

A witch trial by Joseph E. Baker in 1892.

A witch trial by Joseph E. Baker in 1892.

May 27, 1692 – Governor Phips establishes a Court of Oyer and Terminer to investigate the allegations of witchcraft. Lieutenant Governor William Stoughton, Nathaniel Saltonstall, Bartholomew Gedney, Peter Sergeant, Samuel Sewall, Wait Still Winthrop, John Richards, John Hathorne, and Jonathan Corwin are its members.

May 28, 1692 – Wilmot Redd was arrested, accused of “sundry acts of witchcraft” on Mary Wolcott and Mercy Lewis. Martha Carrier, Thomas Farrar, Sr., Elizabeth Hart, Mary Toothaker, ten-year-old Margaret Toothaker, and John Willard were also arrested.

May 30, 1692 – Elizabeth Fosdick and Elizabeth Paine, both of Malden, were accused of practicing witchcraft on Mercy Lewis and Mary Warren.

May 31, 1692 – Captain John Alden, Jr., Martha Carrier, Elizabeth Howe, Wilmot Redd, and Philip English were examined by Bartholomew Gedney, Jonathan Corwin, and John Hathorne.

Cotton Mather

Cotton Mather wrote a letter to John Richards, a judge, with advice on how the court should proceed. Mather warned that the court should not rely on spectral evidence.

Philip English was sent to jail in Boston to join his wife; they were treated quite well due to their many connections. Captain John Alden, Jr. and Philip English later escape from prison.

June 1692 – Governor Phips appointed Lieutenant Governor Stoughton as chief justice of the Massachusetts court, in addition to his position on the special Court of Oyer and Terminer.

June 2, 1692 – The Court of Oyer and Terminer convened its first session. Elizabeth Fosdick and Elizabeth Paine were arrested. Elizabeth Proctor and several other accused women were subjected to a body search by a male doctor and some women, looking for “witch’s marks” such as moles.

June 3, 1692 – A grand jury indicted John Willard and Rebecca Nurse for witchcraft. Abigail Williams testified on this day for the last time; after that, she disappeared from all records.

June 6, 1692 – Ann Dolliver was arrested and examined for witchcraft by Magistrates Gedney, Hathorne, and Corwin.

June 8, 1692 – Bridget Bishop is the first to be tried and convicted of witchcraft. She is sentenced to death.

Eighteen-year-old Elizabeth Booth shows symptoms of affliction by witchcraft.

Abigail Hobbs, Bridget Bishop, Giles Corey, and Mary Warren are examined. Deliverance Hobbs confesses to practicing witchcraft.

On about June 8, a Massachusetts law that had been made obsolete by another law against hangings was resurrected and passed anew, allowing executions for witchcraft.

June 10, 1692 – Bridget Bishop is hanged at Gallows Hill. Following the hanging, Nathaniel Saltonstall resigns from the court and is replaced by Corwin. After Bishop’s hanging, accusations of witchcraft escalated, but those who opposed them signed several petitions on behalf of accused people they believed to be innocent.

June 15, 1692 – Cotton Mather writes a letter requesting the court not to use spectral evidence as a standard and urging that the trials be speedy. The Court of Oyer and Terminer pays more attention to the request for speed and less to the criticism of spectral evidence.

June 16, 1692 – Roger Toothaker died in the Boston jail on June 16, 1692, before he could come to trial. Though a full inquiry was conducted into his death and determined he died of natural causes, many found it suspicious.

Witch Hanged

Witch Hanged

June 29-June 30, 1692 – Susannah Martin, Sarah Wildes, Sarah Good, and Elizabeth Howe are tried, pronounced guilty, and sentenced to death by hanging. Rebecca Nurse was also tried, and the jury found her not guilty. However, the accusers and spectators protested so loudly when that decision was announced the court asked them to reconsider the verdict, and they found her guilty. She, too, was condemned to hang. Governor Phips issued a reprieve, which was also met with protests and rescinded.

July 1, 1692 – Margaret Hawkes and her slave from Barbados, Candy, were accused; Candy testified that her mistress had made her a witch.

July 2, 1692 – Ann Pudeator was examined in court.

July 3, 1692 – The Salem Towne church excommunicated Rebecca Nurse.

July 16, 18, and 21, 1692 – Ann Foster was examined; she confessed on the three days of examination and implicated Martha Carrier as a witch.

July 19, 1692 – Rebecca Nurse, Susannah Martin, Elizabeth Howe, Sarah Good, and Sarah Wildes are hanged at Gallows Hill.

Mary Lacey, Sr. and her daughter, 15-year-old Mary Lacey, Jr., were accused of witchcraft.

July 21, 1692 – Mary Lacey, Jr. was arrested, and she, along with Ann Foster, Richard Carrier, and Andrew Carrier, were examined by John Hathorne, Jonathan Corwin, and John Higginson. Mary Lacey, Jr. confessed and accused her mother of witchcraft.

Mary Lacey, Sr., was examined by Gedney, Hathorne, and Corwin.

July 23, 1692 – John Proctor wrote a letter from jail to the ministers of Boston, asking them to stop the trials, have the venue changed to Boston, or have new judges appointed due to how the trials were conducted.

July 30, 1692 – Mary Toothaker was examined by John Higginson, John Hathorne, and Jonathan Corwin. Hannah Brumidge was examined by Gedney and others.

Did You Know???
In 1692, a witch was defined as someone who signed the devil’s book, which allowed them a specter or animal to harm others.

August 1, 1692 – A group of Boston ministers, led by Increase Mather, met and considered the issues raised by John Proctor’s letter, including the use of spectral evidence. They changed their position on the topic of spectral evidence.

August 2, 1692 – The Court of Oyer and Terminer considered the cases of John and Elizabeth Proctor, Martha Carrier, George Jacobs, Sr., Reverend George Burroughs, and John Willard.

August 5, 1692 – George Jacobs, Sr., Martha Carrier, Reverend George Burroughs, John Willard, and John and Elizabeth Proctor are pronounced guilty and sentenced to hang. Elizabeth Proctor was given a temporary stay of execution because she was pregnant.

Early August 1692 – Philip and Mary English escaped to New York at the urging of a Boston minister. Sheriff George Corwin seized their property in Salem Towne.

Examination of a witch

Examination of a witch

August 11, 1692 – Abigail Faulkner, Sr., was arrested and accused by several neighbors. She was examined by Jonathan Corwin, John Hathorne, and John Higginson. Accusers included Ann Putnam, Jr., Mary Warren, and William Barker, Sr. Thomas Carrier, husband of Martha Carrier, who had been convicted on August 5, and their seven-year-old daughter are examined.

August 19, 1692 – George Jacobs, Sr., Martha Carrier, Reverend George Burroughs, John Willard, and John Proctor are hanged on Gallows Hill. Elizabeth Proctor is not hanged because she is pregnant.

Rebecca Eames was at the hanging and was accused by another spectator of causing a pinprick in her foot. She was arrested, and she and Mary Lacey, Sr. were examined at Salem that day. Eames confessed and implicated her son Daniel Eames.

August 20, 1692 – Margaret Jacobs recants the testimony that led to the execution of her grandfather George Jacobs, Sr., and Reverend George Burroughs.

August 29, 1692 – Fourteen-year-old Stephen Johnson and his 11-year-old sister, Abigail Johnson, were arrested.

August 30, 1692 – Abigail Faulkner, Sr., was examined in prison.

August 31, 1692 – Elizabeth Johnson, Sr.. and Abigail Johnson confessed without implicating any others. Rebecca Eames was examined a second time, and she repeated her confession, implicating not just her son Daniel Eames but also the “Toothaker Widow” and Abigail Faulkner, Sr.

Early September 1692 – To expose the witches afflicting his life, Joseph Ballard of nearby Andover enlisted the aid of the “afflicted girls” of Salem Village. This action marked the beginning of the Andover witch hunt.

September 1, 1692 – John Higginson examined Samuel Wardwell, Sr., in court. Wardwell confessed to telling fortunes and making a pact with the devil. He later recanted the confession, but testimony from others about his fortune-telling and witchcraft cast doubt on his innocence.

Witch accused

Witch accused

September 5, 1692 – Jane Lilly and Mary Colson were examined by John Hathorne, John Higginson, and others.

September 7, 1692 – Assisting Joseph Ballard, the Reverend Thomas Barnard ordered all those accused of witchcraft to come together at the Andover meeting house. Once the accused had all been gathered, he conducted the “touch test,” one of the most diabolical schemes of the witch trials.

Justice of the Peace Dudley Bradstreet dutifully wrote out the arrest warrants for 18 men and women accused in the “touch test.” Some of these included Sarah Lord Wilson and her 14-year-old daughter, Sarah Wilson, Jr.; Mary Tyler and her daughter, Johanna; Abigail Wheeler Barker; and numerous others.

September 8, 1692 – Deliverance Dane confessed under examination.

September 9, 1692 – Martha Corey, Mary Easty, Alice Parker, Ann Pudeator, Dorcas Hoar, and Mary Bradbury are pronounced guilty and sentenced to hang.

Mercy Lewis testified as a witness against Giles Corey. He was formally indicted on the charge of witchcraft and continued to refuse to plead either guilty or not guilty.

September 13, 1692 – Mary Walcott accused Ann Foster, Mary Warren, and Elizabeth Hubbard.

September 14, 1692 – Mary Lacey, Sr. was accused by Elizabeth Hubbard, Mercy Lewis, and Mary Warren. She was indicted on the charge of witchcraft.

September 15, 1692 – Margaret Scott was examined in court. Mary Walcott, Mary Warren and Ann Putnam, Jr. gave testimony that Rebecca Eames had afflicted them.

September 16, 1692 – Abigail Faulkner Jr., age nine, was accused and arrested.

September 17, 1692 – Margaret Scott, Wilmot Redd, Samuel Wardwell, Sr., Mary Ayer Parker, Abigail Faulkner, Sr., Rebecca Eames, Mary Lacey, Sr., Ann Foster, and Abigail Hobbs are tried and sentenced to hang.

Dorothy Faulkner, age 12, was accused and arrested. She and her sister, Abigail Faulkner Jr., confessed and accused their mother, Abigail Faulkner, Sr.

Martha Tyler, Johannah Tyler, Sarah Wilson, Jr., and Joseph Draper also confessed.

Giles Corey was pressed to death for refusing to make a plea

Giles Corey was pressed to death for refusing to make a plea

September 17-19, 1692 – Sheriffs administer Peine Forte Et Dure (pressing) to Giles Corey after he refuses to enter a plea to the charges of witchcraft against him. After two days under the weight, Corey died on September 19.

September 18, 1692 – With testimony from Ann Putnam, Jr., Abigail Faulkner, Sr. was convicted of witchcraft. Because she was pregnant, her hanging was delayed until after she gave birth.

September 21, 1692 – Dorcas Hoar was the first of those pleading innocent to confess. Her execution was delayed.

September 22, 1692 – Martha Corey, Margaret Scott, Mary Easty, Alice Parker, Ann Pudeator, Wilmot Redd, Samuel Wardwell, Sr., and Mary Ayer Parker are hanged.

Dorcas Hoar, also condemned to be executed, had been granted a temporary stay at the urging of ministers so that she could confess to God.

September 23, 1692 – Andrew Erickson is hung on the scaffold because he was accused of witchcraft.

September 28, 1692 – Timothy Gaetani is stoned to death after being accused by his wife of witchcraft.

October 3, 1692 – The Reverend Increase Mather, President of Harvard College and father of Cotton Mather, denounces the use of spectral evidence.

October 8, 1692 – After 20 people had been executed in the Salem witch hunt, Thomas Brattle wrote a letter criticizing the witchcraft trials. This letter greatly impacted Governor William Phips, who ordered that reliance on spectral and intangible evidence no longer be allowed in trials.

Sir William Phips

Sir William Phips

October 12, 1692 – Governor Williams Phips writes the Privy Council of King William and Queen Mary, saying that he has stopped the proceedings and referring to “what danger some of their innocent subjects might be exposed to if the evidence of the afflicted persons only did prevail,” i.e., “spectral evidence.”

October 18, 1692 – Twenty-five citizens, including Reverend Francis Dane, wrote a letter condemning the trials addressed to the governor and the General Court.

October 29, 1692 – Governor Williams Phips prohibits further arrests, releases many accused witches, and dissolves the Court of Oyer and Terminer.

November 1692 – Mary Herrick reported that the ghost of Mary Easty visited her and told her of her innocence.

November 25, 1692 – The General Court of Massachusetts Colony created the Superior Court to try the remaining witchcraft cases, which would take place between January and May 1693.

December 1692 – Abigail Faulkner, Sr., petitioned the governor for clemency. She was pardoned and released from prison.

December 3, 1692 – Ann Foster, convicted and condemned on September 17, died in prison.

Rebecca Eames petitioned the governor for release, retracting her confession and stating she had only confessed because she had been told by Abigail Hobbs and Mary Lacey, Sr. that she would be hanged if she did not confess.

December 10, 1692 – Four-year-old Dorcas Good is released from prison when £50 in fees were paid.

December 13, 1692 – A petition was sent to the governor, council, and general assembly by prisoners in Ipswich: Hannah Bromage, Phoebe Day, Elizabeth Dicer, Mehitable Downing, Mary Green, Rachel Haffield, or Clenton, Joan Penney, Margaret Prince, Mary Row, Rachel Vinson, and some men.

December 14, 1692 – William Hobbs, still maintaining his innocence, was released from jail in December when two Topsfield men (one a brother of Rebecca Nurse, Mary Easty, and Sarah Cloyce) paid a bond of £200. He left town without his wife and daughter, who had confessed and implicated him.

December 15, 1692 – Mary Green was released from jail on payment of a bond of £200.

December 26, 1692 – Several members of Salem Village church were asked to appear before the church and explain their absences and differences. These included Joseph Porter, Joseph Hutchinson Sr., Joseph Putnam, Daniel Andrews, and Francis Nurse.

“I cannot but condemn this method of the Justices, of making this touch of the hand a rule to discover witchcraft, because I am fully persuaded that it is sorcery, and a superstitious method, and that which we have no rule for, either from reason or religion.”
— Thomas Brattle, October 8, 1692

1693 – Cotton Mather published his study of satanic possession, Wonders of the Invisible World. Increase Mather, his father, published Cases of Conscience Concerning Evil Spirits, denouncing the use of spectral evidence in trials. Rumors circulated that Increase Mather’s wife was about to be denounced as a witch.

January 1693 – The Superior Court tried Sarah Buckley, Margaret Jacobs, Rebecca Jacobs, and Job Tookey, indicted in September, and found them not guilty of the charges. Sixteen more were tried, with 13 found not guilty and three convicted and condemned to hang, including Elizabeth Johnson Jr., Sarah Wardwell, and Mary Post. Forty-nine accused were released in January because the cases against them relied on spectral evidence.

January 2, 1693 – The Reverend Francis Dane wrote to fellow ministers that, knowing the people of Andover, where he served as senior minister, “I believe many innocent persons have been accused and imprisoned.” He denounced the use of spectral evidence. A similar missive signed by 41 men and 12 women of Andover was sent to the Salem court.

Reverend George Burroughs executed for witchcraft

Reverend George Burroughs was executed for witchcraft.

January 3, 1693 – Margaret Hawkes and her slave, Mary Black, were among those found not guilty.

Judge Stoughton ordered the execution of all suspected witches exempted by their pregnancy. Governor Phipps denied enforcement of the order and pardoned all of those named. Stoughton responded by resigning as a judge.

January 7, 1693 – Elizabeth Hubbard testified for the last time in the witchcraft trials.

January 11, 1693 – Candy, the slave of Margaret Hawkes, is cleared by proclamation. Hawkes paid her jail fees, and she was released.

January 17, 1693 – A court ordered a new committee to be selected to govern Salem Village church because the previous committee had neglected to fully raise the minister’s salary in 1691-1692.

Late January/early February 1692 – Sarah Cole (of Lynn), Lydia Dustin and Sarah Dustin, Mary Taylor, and Mary Toothaker were tried and found not guilty by the Superior Court. They were, however, held in jail pending payment of their jail fees.

Early 1693 – Tituba is released from jail and sold to a new master.

March 1693 – Rebecca Eames was released from prison.

March 20, 1693 – Abigail Faulkner, whose execution was only delayed because she was pregnant and whose sister, sister-in-law, two daughters, two nieces, and a nephew had been among those accused of witchcraft, gave birth to a son she named Ammi Ruhamah, meaning “my people have obtained mercy.”

Late April 1693 – The Superior Court, meeting in Boston, cleared Captain John Alden, Jr. They also heard a new case: a servant falsely accused her mistress of witchcraft.

May 1693 – The Superior Court dismissed the charges against still more of the accused and found Mary Barker, William Barker Jr., Mary Bridges Jr., Eunice Fry, and Susannah Post not guilty of the charges against them.

Governor Phips formally pardoned those still in prison from the Salem witch trials. He ordered them released if they paid a fine.

Elections for the General Court saw Samuel Sewall and several others of the judges from the Court of Oyer and Terminer gain in votes from the previous election.

Did You Know???
Nobody was burned at Salem, but they did burn “witches” in Europe.

November 26, 1694 – Reverend Samuel Parris apologized to his congregation for his part in the events of 1692 and 1693, but many members remained opposed to his ministry there, and the church conflict continued.

Accusing Witches

Accusing Witches

About 1694/1695 – Philip English began to fight in court to return his considerable estate after his wife, Mary English, died in childbirth.

1695 – Nathaniel Saltonstall, the judge who had resigned from the Court of Oyer and Terminer, apparently over the admission of spectral evidence, found himself defeated for reelection to the General Court. William Stoughton was elected with one of the highest votes in the same election.

April 3, 1695 – Five of six churches met and urged Salem Village to mend their divisions and urged that if they could not do so with Reverend Samuel Parris still serving as a pastor, his moving on would not be held against him by other churches.

1696 – George Corwin died, and Philip English put a lien on the corpse based on Corwin’s seizure of property from English during the Salem witch trials.

July 14, 1696 – Elizabeth Eldridge Parris, the wife of Reverend Samuel Parris and mother of Elizabeth Parris, died.

1697 – The Reverend Samuel Parris is ousted as the minister in Salem Village and replaced by Joseph Green, who helped heal the congregation’s rift.

January 14, 1697 – The Massachusetts General Court declared a day of fasting and reflection for the Salem witch trials. Samuel Sewell, one of the judges of the Court of Oyer and Terminer, wrote the proclamation and made a public confession of his own guilt. He set aside one day a year until his death in 1730 to fast and pray for forgiveness for his part in the trials.

April 19, 1697 – Elizabeth Proctor’s dowry was restored to her by a probate court. It had been held by the heirs of her husband, John Proctor because her conviction made her ineligible for her dowry.

Did You Know???
All of the women who confessed to witchcraft in Salem lived, and all of the women who denied the witchcraft charges were hanged.

1700 – Abigail Faulkner, Sr. requests that the Massachusetts General Court reverse the attainder on her name.

1702 – The General Court declares the 1692 trials unlawful.

A book completed in 1697 by Beverley minister John Hale about the trials was published posthumously as A Modest Inquiry Into the Nature of Witchcraft.

August 25, 1706: Ann Putnam, Jr., in formally joining the Salem Village church, publicly apologized “for the accusing of several persons of a grievous crime, whereby their lives were taken away from them, whom, now I have just grounds and a good reason to believe they were innocent persons…”

1703 – The Massachusetts Legislature passed a bill disallowing the use of spectral evidence in court trials. The bill also restored citizenship rights (“reversed attainder,” which would allow those individuals or their heirs to exist again as legal persons and thus file legal claims for the return of their property seized in the trials) for John and Elizabeth Proctor and Rebecca Nurse, on whose behalf petitions had been filed for such restoration.

Abigail Faulkner, Sr., petitioned the court in Massachusetts to exonerate her of the charge of witchcraft. The court agreed in 1711.

February 14, 1703 – Salem Village church proposed revoking the ex-communication of Martha Corey; a majority supported it, but there were six or seven dissenters. The entry at the time implied that the motion failed, but a later entry, with more details of the resolution, implied that it had passed.

1706 – Ann Putnam, Jr., one of the “afflicted girls,” publicly apologizes for her actions in the witch trials of 1692.

1708 – Salem Village establishes its first schoolhouse for the village’s children.

1711 – Massachusetts colony passes a legislative bill restoring the rights and good names of those accused of witchcraft. These included Reverend George Burroughs, John Proctor, George Jacobs, Sr., John Willard, Giles, and Martha Corey, Rebecca Nurse, Sarah Good, Elizabeth Howe, Mary Easty, Sarah Wildes, Abigail Hobbs, Samuel Wardwell, Sr., Mary Ayer Parker, Martha Carrier, Abigail Faulkner, Sr, Ann Foster, Rebecca Eames, Mary Post, Mary Lacey, Sr., Mary Bradbury, and Dorcas Hoar.

The Massachusetts legislature also compensated the heirs of 23 of those convicted in the amount of £600. One of the largest settlements went to William Good for his wife Sarah — against whom he had testified — and their daughter Dorcas, imprisoned at four years old. He said that the imprisonment of Dorcas had “ruined” her and that she had been “no good” after that.

March 6, 1712 – Salem Village church reversed the ex-communication of Rebecca Nurse and Giles Corey.

1714 – Philip English helped finance an Anglican church near Salem and refused to pay local church taxes. He also accused Reverend Noyes of murdering John Proctor and Rebecca Nurse.

1716 – England held its last trial for witchcraft; the accused were a woman and her nine-year-old daughter.

1718 – Philip English’s legal claims for compensation for the seizure of his property during the witch trials were finally settled.

1736 – England and Scotland abolished witchcraft prosecution on the order of King George II.

court house in Salem Massachusetts, Samuel Hill, 1790

Salem, Massachusetts courthouse in 1790, by Samuel Hill.

1752 – Salem Village changed its name to Danvers; the King overruled this decision in 1759, and the village ignored his order.

1957 – Massachusetts formally apologizes for the events of 1692. The remaining accused who had not been previously legally exonerated were included in an act clearing their names. Although only Ann Pudeator was mentioned explicitly, the act also exonerated Bridget Bishop, Susannah Martin, Alice Parker, Wilmot Redd, and Margaret Scott.

November 16, 1988 – The Boston City Council recognized the injustice done to Ann Glover 300 years earlier and proclaimed that day “Goody Glover Day,” condemning what had been done to her.

1992 – On the 300th anniversary of the trials, a witchcraft memorial designed by James Cutler is dedicated in Salem.

© Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated January 2023.

Also See: 

The Salem, Massachusetts Witchcraft Hysteria

The “Witches” of Salem, Massachusetts

The Afflicted Girls of Salem Village

Procedures, Courts & Aftermath of the Salem Witch Trials

Villages of the Salem Witch Trials