1. Religion & Spirituality
Send to a Friend via Email

Chronology of Modern Christianity

Timeline of the Salem Witch Panic and Trials

 Related Pages
• Christianity Timelines
• Chronology Index

 

Below is a timeline of events that occurred during the infamous witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts, during the year 1692. There are three different types of color-coded dates:

  • Events directly related to or in the witch trials
  • Event relevant to the trials (such as laws).
  • Events incidental to the trials or which simply appear for the sake of context.

See also: Modern and Reformation Christianity

Chronology of the Salem witch panic and trials
1629 Salem was settled.
1641 English law made witchcraft a capital crime.
1684 England declared that the colonies may not self-govern.
1688 Following an argument with laundress Goody Glover, Martha Goodwin, 13, began exhibiting bizarre behavior. Days later her younger brother and two sisters exhibited similar behavior. Glover was arrested and tried for bewitching the Goodwin children.

Reverend Cotton Mather met twice with Glover following her arrest in an attempt to persuade her to repent her witchcraft. Glover was eventually hanged. Mather took Martha Goodwin into his house, but her bizarre behavior continued and even worsened
1688 Cotton Mather published Memorable Providences, Relating to Witchcrafts and Possessions. Cotton Mather was a strong supporter of the prosecution of witches and of the use of spectral evidence in their trials.
November, 1689 Samuel Parris, invited by John Putnam, was named the new minister of Salem. Parris moved to Salem from Boston, where Memorable Providence was published.
October 16, 1691 Villagers vowed to drive Parris out of Salem and stop contributing to his salary.
January 20 Nine-year-old Elizabeth Parris and eleven-year-old Abigail Williams began to exhibit strange behavior, much like the Goodwin children four years earlier.

Problems include seizures, trance-like states and screaming. Shortly thereafter, several other Salem girls, like Ann Putnam Jr., started to exhibit similar behavior.
Mid- February Unable to find a physical cause for the symptoms and behavior, Salem's village doctor Griggs concluded that the girls were under the influence of Satan.
Late February Prayer services and community fasting were conducted by Rev. Parris in order to bring a halt to the evil forces that had been plaguing the town.

Pushed to identify the source of their troubles, the girls named three women as witches, including Tituba, Parris' slave. On February 29, warrants were issued for their arrest.

Sarah Osborne and Sarah Good maintained their innocence, but Tituba confessed and even went so far as to claim that there was a conspiracy of witches at work in the town.
March 1 Magistrates John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin examined Tituba, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osborne for "witches' teats."

During the following weeks, other residents testified that they have also been harmed by or have seen strange apparitions of community members. Women whose behavior or economic circumstances disturbed the social order and conventions are the most often accused.
March 11 Ann Putnam, Jr. showed symptoms of a witchcraft affliction. Mercy Lewis, Mary Walcott and Mary Warren later alleged to have this affliction as well.
March 12 Martha Corey was accused of witchcraft by Ann Putnam, Jr.
March 19 Rebecca Nurse was denounced as a witch by Abigail Williams.
March 28 Elizabeth Proctor was denounced as a witch.
April 3 Sarah Cloyce, Rebecca Nurse's sister, was accused of witchcraft after attempting to defend Rebecca.
April 11 John Proctor was the first man to be accused of witchcraft and imprisoned.
April 22 Nehemiah Abbott, William and Deliverance Hobbs, Edward and Sarah Bishop, Mary Easty, Mary Black, Sarah Wildes, and Mary English were examined. Only Nehemiah Abbott was cleared.
May 4 George Burroughs was arrested in Wells, Maine. He was later returned to Salem and put in jail. After being examined, he was transferred to a Boston jail.
May 10 Margaret Jacobs confessed and testified that her grandfather and George Burroughs were both witches.

Sarah Osborne died in prison in Boston.
May 14 On his return from England, Increase Mather brought with him a new charter and the new governor, Sir William Phips. The charter ended the ban on self-government within the colony.
May 18 Mary Easty was released from prison, but she was arrested a second time. Roger Toothaker was also arrested.
May 27 Governor Phips set up a special Court of Oyer and Terminer comprised of seven judges to try the witchcraft cases.

The magistrates based their judgments on intangible evidence, like direct confessions, supernatural attributes (such as "witchmarks"), and reactions of the afflicted girls.

Spectral evidence, based on the assumption that the Devil could assume the "specter" of an innocent person started to be used.
June 2 First session of the Court of Oyer and Terminer, during which Bridget Bishop was the first to be pronounced guilty of witchcraft and condemned to death.
June 10 Bridget Bishop was hanged in Salem, the first official execution of the Salem witch trials.

Following this execution, accusations of witchcraft escalated - but the trials experience even more opposition. Several townspeople signed petitions on behalf of accused people they felt were actually innocent.
June 15 Increase Mather, along with several other ministers in the colony, wrote a letter asking the court not to use spectral evidence as a standard and urging that the trials be speedy. Mather believed in witches and was a staunch supporter of religious orthodoxy, but he did not think that spectral evidence had any real value.

Unfortunately for the accused, more attention ends up being paid to the request for speed and less attention to the criticism of spectral evidence.
June 16 Roger Toothaker died while still in prison.
June 29-30 Rebecca Nurse, Susannah Martin, Sarah Wildes, Sarah Good and Elizabeth Howe were tried for witchcraft, found guilty and sentenced to hang.
Mid-July In an effort to expose witches afflicting his life, Joseph Ballard of nearby Andover received help from the Salem girls and instigated the Andover witch hunts.
July 19 Five accused witches were executed: Rebecca Nurse, Susannah Martin, Sarah Wildes, Sarah Good, and Elizabeth Howe.
July 23 Justifiably fearing that they wouldn't get a fair trial, several prisoners wrote to various religious leaders, including Increase Mather, seeking assistance.
August 2-6 George Jacobs, Sr., Martha Carrier, George Burroughs, John and Elizabeth Proctor, and John Willard were tried for witchcraft and condemned.
August 19 George Jacobs, Sr., Martha Carrier, George Burroughs, John Proctor, and John Willard were hanged. Elizabeth Proctor, who had been found guilty with the others, was not executed at this time because she was pregnant.
September 9 Martha Corey, Mary Easty, Alice Parker, Ann Pudeator, Dorcas Hoar, and Mary Bradbury were tried and condemned.
September 16 The Court ordered the local sheriff to pile rocks on Giles Corey because he refused to testify.
September 17 Margaret Scott, Wilmott Redd, Samuel Wardwell, Mary Parker, Abigail Faulkner, Rebecca Eames, Mary Lacy, Ann Foster, and Abigail Hobbs were tried and condemned.
September 19 Giles Corey, who had refused to stand trial, was pressed to death.
September 21 Dorcas Hoar was the first of those pleading innocent to confess - as a result, her scheduled execution was delayed.
September 22 Eight more accused witches were hanged.
October 3 Reverend Increase Mather, now President of Harvard College and father to Cotton Mather, publicly denounced the use of spectral evidence.
October 8 After 20 people had been executed in the Salem witch hunt, Thomas Brattle wrote a letter criticizing the trials. This letter made a real impact on Governor Phips, who ordered that reliance on spectral and intangible evidence end.
October 19 Upon visiting the Salem jail, Increase Mather found that several of those who have confessed to witchcraft want to retract earlier testimonies.
October 29 Governor Phips prohibited further arrests on the charge of witchcraft and dissolved the Court of Oyer and Terminer.
November 25 The General Court of the colony created the Superior Court to try the remaining witchcraft cases, but spectral evidence was no longer considered and no one was convicted - partly as a result of the efforts of Increase Mather and other religious leaders.
January 3, 1693 The Governor stopped the enforcement of an order from Judge Stoughton, who sought the execution of all witches previous exempted by their pregnancy. Because of this, Stoughton resigned.
January, 1693 Of the fifty-two surviving people who had been brought to the court, forty-nine were released because the arrests were based on spectral evidence.
1693 Tituba was released from jail and later sold to a new master.
May, 1693 Governor Phipps pardoned anyone still in prison on charges of witchcraft.
January 14, 1697 After the General Court orders a day of fasting and soul-searching for the tragedy at Salem, Samuel Sewall publicly confessed his error and guilt.
1697 Joseph Green became minister in Salem after Samuel Parris was ousted.
1702 The General Court declared the 1692 trials to be unlawful.
1706 Ann Putnam, Jr., a leading accuser, publicly apologized for her actions during 1692.
1711 The colony passed a bill which restored the rights and good names of those accused of witchcraft. It also granted 600 pounds to their heirs as a form restitution.
1752 Salem Village was renamed Danvers.
1953 Arthur Miller's play The Crucible portrayed events that took place in Salem during 1692, but his fictionalization was liberal with its portrayal of the actual events.

People present, however, realized that the underlying theme was a response to Senator McCarthy and his House Un-American Activities Committee's crusade against alleged communist sympathizers.
1957 Massachusetts offered a formal apology for the events of 1692.
1992 On the 300th anniversary of the trials, a memorial to the trials (designed by James Cutler) was dedicated in Salem.


Back to the Christian History Timeline Index

-->

Discuss in my forum

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.