How the Salem Witch Hunts of 1692 began is uncertain. Many historians believe it was in the home of Reverend Samuel Parris, as his twelve-year-old niece and nine-year-old daughter dilly-dallied in fortune telling. A coffin was formed when the girls dropped a raw egg in a glass of water. The girls both endured a breakdown and illness that could not be medically explained by Dr. William Griggs, so he blamed it on witchcraft.
“The contagion would engulf at least twenty-two Massachusetts villages, culminating in the arrest of over one hundred and fifty people. Fifty-nine were tried, thirty–one convicted, and nineteen hanged (Foulds vi-vii).” Women were the majority of the accused, because in that time witchcraft was mostly a female perversity. The over one-hundred and fifty accused in 1692 were from all backgrounds, ages and genders. “Persons who scoffed at accusations of witchcraft risked becoming targets of accusations themselves (Linder).”
Documents tracing the origins of the witch hunt have led to one individual, Elizabeth “Betty” Parris, daughter of Reverend Samuel Parris. After giving one of his spirited sermons, Betty and her cousin Abigail Williams, began to act strangely. Crying out loud, hiding under chairs, and twisting their arms and legs in positions that were unnatural. When Dr. Griggs said it was from a bewitchment, the Reverend demanded to find who was torturing her. To calm the uproar and confusion, Betty named Tituba, a brown-skinned native, as the cause of her bizarre illness.
Salem’s first witch to breakdown and confess was Tituba. She was brought to Boston from Barbados in 1680 as one of Reverend Samuel Parris’ slaves. Tituba told tales of bewitching’s, covens, and confessed to sorcery, but later recanted. She proclaimed her love for Betty, her alleged victim, and remained in prison until April of 1693. Even though she was the first to confess, she was the last one released.
John Proctor, an intelligent businessman and enthusiastic worker, was smart enough to keep his distance and not to involve himself with the dilemma of Salem Village. He openly denounced the witch hunt. Mary Warren, Proctor’s maidservant, was obsessed with demonic sightings. His remarks to Samuel Sibley in reference to Warren’s madness, “we should all be devils and witches” (Foulds 97), began his demise. John Indian, Ann Putnam, Abigail Williams and Elizabeth Booth all testified against him. The eighteen-year old Booth, “testified that ghosts had come to her and accused Proctor of serial murder (Linder).” Proctor denied all of the accusations, complained of being tortured, accused the confessed witches of lying, and asked for his trial to be moved to Boston. All of which fell on deaf ears. On August 19, the first man to be accused of witchcraft in 1692 was convicted and hanged.
Bridget Bishop became the first accused witch to stand trial in court. In her life, men were short-term and...