Salem Witch Trials Essay

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Salem, Massachusetts, USA and occurred between February 1692 and May 1693. Over 150 people were arrested and imprisoned and even more accused; but not pursued by the authorities. 29 were convicted of witchcraft but only 19 were hanged. The best known trials were in the Court of Oyer and Terminer. It was a series of hearings before local magistrates, which led to county court trials to persecute people accused of witchcraft. Trials took place against the theocratic, Puritan British colony where the church ruled in civil matters. Women were believed more likely to side with the devil then men due to their lustful nature and obedience to men. The first 3 people to be accused of witchcraft was: Sarah Good(a beggar), Tituba(a native) and Sarah…show more content…
Most of the evidence was spectral evidence, a testimony of the afflicted who claimed to see the person afflicting them but “devil marks” on the body (moles or birthmarks), poppets(dolls used to cast spells on the represented person), pots of ointment, books of horoscope/palmistry, gossip/stories or “witch cakes”(rye flour and human urine of the afflicted person, which was fed to the dog to see if it was afflicted). Eventually doubts developed as to why so many respectable, wealthy people were guilty to such shocking crimes. Many of the accused were better off financially than the accusers and the accusers often gained their property. Governor Phips ordered for proof of guilt had to given by clear and convincing evidence and many of the trials ended in acquittals until the movement came to a halt. The Court of Oyer and Terminer was dissolved in late October 1962 and a Superior Court tried the remaining cases. The last trial was held in May 1963 and Phips released all the accused and convicted witches from prison. Several judges and jurors declared they were “sadly deluded and mistaken” in their judgements, as time transcended the Salem Witch trials. William Stoughton refused to apologise or explain himself and criticised Phips for interfering when he was about to clear the land of
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