Timeline of Salem Witch Trials

Timeline of Salem Witch Trials

Salem witchcraft trials took place because of the sudden outbreak of witchcraft accusations in Salem village and surrounding towns and villages.
The Salem witch trials were a series of local hearings, followed by county court trials, conducted between February 1692 and May 1693 to prosecute people accused of witchcraft in different provinces of colonial Massachusetts (present day Commonwealth of Massachusetts). Over 150 people were arrested during these trials. Though generally known as the Salem trials, they were conducted in different villages and towns across the province.

1688
  • November: For the first time Rev. Samuel Parris preaches in Salem village, and the book Memorable Providences, Relating to Witchcrafts and Possessions is published by author and priest Cotton Mather.
1689
  • June: Rev. Samuel Parris is officially declared the Village Minister of Salem.
  • November: Parris shifts from Boston to Salem.
1691
  • October: Villagers decide to drive Parris out of Salem and stop contributing to his salary. Joseph Hutchinson, Daniel Andrew, Joseph Putnam, Joseph Porter, and Francis Nurse are elected as members of the Salem village committee.
1692
  • January: Two girls, eleven year old Abigail Williams and nine year old Elizabeth Parris, fall ill and start behaving in the same manner as the children of the Goodwin family in Boston did, 30 years earlier. Following this incident, more girls start falling sick, acting in a similar way.
  • February: A local doctor attends to the affected girls and suggests that witchcraft may be the cause. Mary Sibley asks John Indian, the servant of the Parris family, to make a witch cake of rye meal and the girls' urine, in order to find out the person who is bewitching the girls. Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne are accused by the girls for practicing witchcraft, both of whom are later arrested on account of suspicion. Warrant against Tituba also issued for the illness of Betty Parris, Abigail Williams, Ann Putnam Jr., and Elizabeth Hubbard.
  • March: Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne, and Tituba are interrogated over the course of several days, and Tituba confesses the role of Good and Osborne as her co-conspirators. They are all sent to a Boston prison. Later, Martha Corey is accused by Ann Putnam, Jr., of witchcraft, and Abigail Williams denounces Rebecca Nurse as a witch. The incident is followed by further accusations against Rebecca Nurse, filed by Edward and Jonathan Putnam. Four-year old Dorothy Good is arrested by Marshal Deputy Samuel Brabrook and examined along with Rebecca Nurse. They are put in prison, where they are further questioned by John Hathorne, Jonathan Corwin, and Rev. John Higginson. On March 28, Elizabeth Proctor is also accused of witchcraft.
  • April: Sarah Cloyce, the sister of Rebecca Nurse, and Elizabeth Proctor are examined before Deputy Governor Thomas Danforth and members of the Governor's Council. Elizabeth's husband, John Proctor, becomes the first man to be accused of witchcraft, and is jailed. Arrest warrants are issued on the same charges to Edward and Sarah Bishop, Mary Black, Nehemiah Abbott, Deliverance Hobbs, and William Hobbs. On April 22, Mary Easty, another sister of Rebecca Nurse, was found guilty of witchcraft by the Salem Magistrates and former Salem minister George Burroughs, after being accused by several girls.
  • May: Hathorne and Corwin examine Sarah Morey, Lyndia Dustin, Susannah Martin, and Dorcas Hoar. Later, Corwin and Hathorne also examine George Jacobs, Sr., and his granddaughter Margaret Jacobs, while at the same time Sarah Osborne dies in prison. On May 18, Mary Easty, who was released from prison, is arrested again, following protests by her accusers. Later on May 27, according to a commission issued for a Court of Oyer and Terminer, John Hathorne, Nathaniel Saltonstall, Bartholomew Gedney, Peter Sergeant, Samuel Sewall, Wait Still Winthrop, and Lieutenant Governor William Stoughton appointed as judges.
  • June: Bridget Bishop is the first person to face trial under this new court and be convicted of witchcraft. She is sentenced to death, and is hanged at Gallows Hill. Following her death, twelve ministers of the colony advise the court to make the trial speedy by not relying on spectral evidences. Not expecting a fair trial in Salem, John Proctor and other prisoners write a letter from prison to Reverends Increase Mather, James Allen, Joshua Moody, Samuel Willard, and John Bayley, requesting for a change of venue in the trials. On June 29, Rebecca Nurse, Sarah Wildes, Sarah Good, and Elizabeth Howe are pronounced guilty and sentenced to death.
  • August: George Jacobs, Sr., Martha Carrier, George Burroughs, John Willard, and John and Elizabeth Proctor are pronounced guilty and sentenced to death. However, Elizabeth Proctor is not hanged because of her pregnancy
  • September: Martha Corey, Mary Easty, Alice Parker, Ann Pudeator, Dorcas Hoar, and Mary Bradbury pronounced guilty and sentenced to death in mid-September. Giles Corey, who refused to stand the trial, is piled under rocks by the Sheriff. Later in the same month, Margaret Scott, Samuel Wardwell, Mary Parker, Abigail Faulkner, Mary Lacy, Ann Foster, and Abigail Hobbs are also tried and given death sentences. On September 22, Dorcas Hoar escapes execution by confessing and proclaiming her innocence of witchcraft.
  • October: Increase Mather denounces the use of spectral evidences. He visits the Salem jail and finds that several confessors wish to renounce their earlier testimonies. Governor Phipps orders that spectral evidence will no longer be admitted in witchcraft trials. On October 29, the Court of Oyer and Terminer is dissolved and many accused are released.
  • November: A Superior Court is created for the trial of the remaining persons accused of witchcraft and spectral evidence is no longer considered in these trials.
1693
  • May: Governor Phipps pardons the remaining accused of witchcraft, and they are released as their arrests were based on spectral evidence.
The public response to the events continued even after the last trial. These responses were primarily because innocent individuals were convicted, and the public wanted compensations to be given to the survivors.
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