In 1692, the small town of Salem, Massachusetts was consumed by accusations of witchcraft. Over the course of several months, dozens of people were tried and convicted of being witches, and nineteen were executed. The Salem witch trials have fascinated historians for centuries, and there are still many unanswered questions about what really happened.
The Salem witch trials have since gone down in history as one of the most brutal and shocking events of its time. Here are 12 Salem witch trials facts that will send chills down your spine.
1 Majority Of Victims Were Girls Under Age 20
The Salem witch trials have been studied for centuries, and there is still no clear consensus on what exactly happened. However, one thing that is clear is that the majority of those accused of being witches were girls under the age of 18 or 20.
There are many theories as to why this was the case. One possibility is that young girls were more likely to believe in witches and magic than adults. This belief may have made them more susceptible to accusations.
First, young girls may have been more prone to fits of hysteria. This was especially true in the 1600s, when medical knowledge was not as advanced as it is today.
Second, young girls may have been more impressionable and easily influenced by others. If someone convinced them that someone was a witch, they may have believed it.
Third, young girls may have had ulterior motives for accusing someone of witchcraft. For example, they may have wanted to get rid of a rival or get revenge on someone who had hurt them.
Whatever the reason, the fact remains that most of those accused in the Salem witch trials were young girls. This fact has led many to question the fairness of the trials overall.
2 Courts Punished Victims Via Spectral Evidences
One of the most terrifying facts about the Salem witch trials is that courts allowed spectral evidence. Spectral evidence is when a person appears to be possessed by the devil or another evil spirit. This type of evidence was allowed in court because it was believed that the devil could take on different forms. This meant that people could be convicted of being witches even if there was no physical evidence against them.
One of the major points of debate is whether or not the courts should have allowed spectral evidence. This is evidence that is based on visions or dreams, and it was used in many of the witch trials. Some people believe that this type of evidence is unreliable and should not have been used to convict people of witchcraft. Others believe that the courts did the best they could with the information they had at the time.
Some of the people who were convicted and executed during the Salem witch trials may have actually been innocent. But it does provide a more nuanced view of how the courts operated during this time period and helps to further exonerate those who were wrongfully convicted.
3 Witch Tests In Salem Witch Trial Are Meaningless
One of the most fascinating aspects of the Salem witch trials is the various tests that were used to determine if someone was a witch. These tests were often cruel and even deadly, but they were seen as the best way to find out if someone was working with the devil.
Some of the most common tests used were:
1) The Swimming Test – This test involved throwing the accused into a body of water. If they floated, they were considered guilty, as it was believed that the devil would not let them drown. If they sank and drowned, they were innocent.
2) The Pricking Test – This test involved pricking the accused all over their body with a needle. If they did not bleed, it was proof that they had a pact with the devil and could not be wounded by ordinary means.
3) The Pressing Test – This test was often used after someone had already been found guilty. The accused would be placed on a large stone or board and heavy weights would be placed on them until they confessed to being a witch.
4) The Maleficarum Test – This test was also known as the Witch’s Mark test. It involved looking for a small mark.
4 Old Witch Gaol Where Accused Witches Imprisoned
The Old Witch Gaol is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Salem, Massachusetts. The Gaol is a small, unassuming building located on the edge of town. It was built in 1692 to house the accused witches during the Salem Witch Trials. Today, the Gaol is open to the public and contains exhibits about the trials.
Many people come to Salem to learn about the witch trials and to visit the Old Witch Gaol. The Gaol is a reminder of the dark period in Salem’s history, but it is also a place of learning. Visitors can see how the accused witches were treated and learn about the impact of the trials on Salem and its residents.
5 The Youngest Accused Witch Was Four Years Old
This little girl, named Dorcas Good, was arrested along with her mother and two sisters in 1692. Dorcas was accused of making a pact with the devil, and her testimony was used to convict her mother and sisters.
Dorcas’ story is a tragic one. She was the daughter of Sarah Good, one of the first three women to be accused of witchcraft in Salem. Sarah was an impoverished woman who was known to beg for food and money. It’s possible that she was targeted because of her economic status.
Dorcas was only four years old when she was arrested and put on trial with her mother. The trial records show that she cried and screamed throughout the proceedings. At one point, she even tried to climb into her mother’s lap.
The jury found both Sarah and Dorcas guilty of witchcraft and they were sentenced to death by hanging. On July 19, 1692, they were taken to Gallows Hill and executed.
Dorcas’ story is a reminder that even young children were not immune from the paranoia and hysteria of the Salem witch trials. It’s also a reminder of how easily innocent people could be caught up in the frenzy.
6 Governor’s Wife Margaret Hutchinson Was Also Accused
The Salem witch trials have been well-documented, but there are some lesser known aspects of the story that are just as fascinating. One of these is the fact that Governor William Phips’ wife, Mary, was also accused of being a witch.
This is one of the things that makes the Salem witch trials so interesting; even the people in positions of power were not immune from the hysteria. Mary Phips was accused by some of the same people who had accused her husband’s political rivals.
Fortunately for Mary, her husband was able to use his Influence to quash the charges against her and she was never brought to trial. It is interesting to think about what might have happened if she had been; would she have been found guilty and executed like so many other women were?
7 More Than 150 Victims Were Arrested
The Salem witch trials resulted in the arrest of over 150 people, 19 of whom were ultimately convicted and executed. Of those arrested, the majority were women (85%) and only a handful were men (15%). The ages of the accused ranged from 12 to 72 years old, with the average age being 41.
A recent study by historian Elaine Breslow suggests that the number of people arrested during the Salem witch trials was actually much higher than previously thought.
8 25 Deaths Have Been Caused By Witch Trial
Cotton Mather, a well-known Puritan minister, wrote about the trials in his book Wonders of the Invisible World.
In addition to those executed, several others died in jail while awaiting trial, and one was crushed to death under heavy stones as a form of torture. The total number of deaths caused by the witch trials is usually estimated at 25, but some historians believe that the true number may be higher. Forty-six people were originally accused of witchcraft, nineteen of whom were brought to trial.
9 Bridget Bishop – First Women Who Was Executed
Bridget Bishop was the first woman to be executed during the Salem Witch Trials. She was tried and convicted of several charges of witchcraft, including the bewitching of Mercy Lewis. Bishop was hanged on Gallows Hill on June 10, 1692.
Bishop was born in England in 1632 and emigrated to Massachusetts with her family in 1634. She married Thomas Oliver in 1654. The couple had seven children together.
Bishop was accused of being a witch by her neighbors, who claimed that she had bewitched their cows and caused them to produce sour milk. She was also accused of causing the death of a child by witchcraft. She was a widow who had been married three times and had a reputation for being a bit of a troublemaker. Bishop was accused of bewitching several young girls, including the daughter of the Reverend Samuel Parris.
Bishop’s death marks a turning point in the Salem Witch Trials. Prior to her execution, many of the accused witches had been released on bail or had their cases dismissed. However, after Bishop’s death, the trials became more serious and resulted in the executions of nineteen more people.
10 The Court of Oyer and Terminer Behind The Convictions
The Court of Oyer and Terminer was the court that presided over the Salem witch trials. This court was established specifically to hear cases of witchcraft.
The court was made up of seven judges, all of whom were from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The chief justice was William Stoughton, who was known for being a hard-line Puritan.
The proceedings of this court were often very unfair to the accused witches. Many of them were not given adequate time to prepare a defense, and some were even denied counsel altogether.
The atmosphere in the courtroom was often very hostile, and witnesses were often pressured into giving false testimony. In some cases, women who had been previously accused of witchcraft were brought in as witnesses against other accused witches.
Generally, the trials held by the Court of Oyer and Terminer resulted in a conviction. Of the nineteen people who were put on trial, eighteen were found guilty and executed by hanging. One man, Giles Corey, was pressed to death after he refused to enter a plea.
The Court of Oyer and Terminer was eventually dissolved after public opinion turned against the witch trials.
11 All Accused Men Are Farmers Or Tradesmen
The men who were accused of being witches were William Proctor, George Burroughs, John Proctor, John Willard, Giles Corey, Francis Nurses, and Roger Toothaker. All of these men were farmers or tradesmen. William Proctor was the only one of the group who had a wife and children.
George Burroughs was the minister in Salem Village. He was known to be a very strict man and some people in the village did not like him. John Proctor was also a farmer. He was married to Elizabeth Proctor and they had three children.
John Willard was a tavern keeper in Salem Village. Giles Corey was an elderly man who lived with his wife Martha Corey. Francis Nurses was a husbandman who lived with his wife Rebecca Nurses. Roger Toothaker was a tailor who lived with his wife Sarah Toothaker.
12 Salem Did Not Burn It’s Witches
The myth that the witches were burned at the stake is just that, a myth. There is no evidence that any of the accused witches were burned at the stake. The method of execution for those convicted was hanging.
So why is it that the myth of burning witches at the stake persists? It’s likely due to the fact that several witch trials in Europe did result in executions by burning. And, of course, there’s always the Hollywood factor. In movies set during the Salem witch trials, such as The Crucible, witches are often shown being burned at the stake.
But regardless of how the myth started, it’s important to remember that Salem did not burn its witches.
It has been many years since the Salem witch trials occurred, and life in Massachusetts is slowly returning to normal. The survivors of the trials are still trying to piece their lives back together, and many are still traumatized by what happened. Some people have left Salem altogether, and some have stayed and tried to rebuild. No matter what people believe about the Salem witch trials, it is clear that they affected everyone who was involved in them. The survivors will never forget what happened, and the world will always remember this story.