Key Figures Salem Witch Hunt 1692-93


Governor John Winthrop

  • One of the earliest voyagers to arrive in Salem
  • Brought a colonial charter stating the colony was possession of the crown
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Charles II

  • Concerned with extending royal influence over colonies by centralising control in the hands of the royal court
  • Attempted to revoke the royal charter and consolidate all New England colonies into one to centralise control
  • Died 1685
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Sir Edmund Andros

  • Governed New England colonies
  • Had high church tendencies and was unwilling to include well-established local puritans on council making him unpopular
  • Introduced new taxes 
  • Tried to implement Church of England services in Puritan churches as per Charles wish
  • Declared land ownership titles void
  • Restricted town meetings
  • Andros had messenger of glorious revolution arrested
  • Andros arrested 18 April 1689
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William of Orange

  • Brought a force against James
  • Declared in January 1689 he would rule England jointly with his wife Mary
  • Toleration Act passed due to his pressure 
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Cotton Mather

  • Senior puritan clergyman
  • Preached about danger of witches amd relayed real life examples of contact with them and people who had been bewitched
  • Third-generation colonist
  • 1689 he published 'Memorable Providences relating to witchcrafts and Possessions' which acted as inspiration and a guide to those who conducted the salem trials
  • Wrote account of the trials, 'Wonders of the Invisible World' in 1692
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Samuel Parris

  • Hunt began in his household
  • Entered the ministry at Salem
  • Tried to increase his salary and benefits and had problems with the congregation solving disputes, as he was an outsider
  • Delivered a sermon claiming the church was under seige by the devil
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Elizabeth Parris and Abigail Williams

  • Daughter and niece of Samuel Parris
  • Experimented with fortune telling
  • Wished to find out the social status of their future husbands
  • Used a venus glass
  • Elizabeth would then forget prayers and bark like a dog, then had fits
  • Abigail also exhibited strange behavious 
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William Griggs

  • Doctor called in to assess Elizabeth and Abigail
  • Blamed witchcraft
  • Recommended prayer and fasting as a cure
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  • Worked as house servant/slave for the Parrises
  • Was asked to make a cake including the urine of affected children to be fed to the dog
  • The dog would then sniff out the witches
  • Did not work, Parris became suspicious and filed charges against her
  • Played a role in looking after Elizabeth and others, maybe telling them stories of her heritage (tales of demonic possession and voodoo?)
  • Confessed to a pact with the devil
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Governor William Phips

  • Brought to Salem in 1692 by Mather
  • Established the Court of Oyer and Terminer in May to hear the cases
  • Baptised in Cotton Mather's church
  • Influenced by the Mather family's interest in witchcraft
  • Supported accusations at first
  • Closed court in October 1692 and released those under investigation
  • Issued an official pardon in 1693
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Increase Mather

  • Father of Cotton
  • His sceptical work, 'Cases of conscience concerning evil spirits persecuting men' was published in September 1692
  • Used knowledge of scripture and recent history to argue genuine cases of witchcraft were rare
  • suggested evidence at trials was dubious
  • Deeply critical of sceptical evidence
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William Stoughton

  • Lieutenant governor
  • Appointed as chief judge at trials
  • Unrelenting in his persuit of witches
  • Demanded spectral evidence be heard
  • Established a new Superior Court of Judicature in January 1693
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