Our witch trials here were a very scary time because many people were afraid that if they stepped out of line or even angered a neighbor they would be branded a witch. Many people in the hysteria and fear of the time accused anyone witnessing them doing something questionable just to keep the witness from being able to call them a witch. Every questionable act or behavior was reported as witchcraft. Everyone arrested and tried as a witch was innocent, but most were not even witches. This was a horrible time in our history and something that should be remembered so that history is not allowed to repeat.
First hanging for witchcraft in New England.
Alse Young is executed as a witch in Wethersfield, Connecticut.
Ninety-three people are accused of witchcraft—fifty in Massachusetts and forty-three in Connecticut. Sixteen are put to death.
The English government revokes the Massachusetts colonial charter.
Massachusetts minister Increase Mather publishes Remarkable Providences, a handbook for identifying witches.
Rebecca Clinton is convicted of being a witch in Ipswich, Massachusetts.
Samuel Parris is ordained as minister of the Salem village congregation.
Betty Parris and Abigail Williams try a voodoo fortune-telling experiment. They begin having fits.
Ann Putnam, Jr., Elizabeth Hubbard, and other Salem village girls join Betty Parris and Abigail Williams in having fits. They accuse Parris household slave Tituba, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osborne of casting spells on them.
Tituba, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osborne are brought before judges.
The girls accuse Martha Corey of bewitching them. Betty Parris is sent to live in the home of Stephen Sewall.
Martha Corey is questioned and sent to jail.
Ann Putnam, Sr. begins having fits. She and the girls accuse Rebecca Towne Nurse of putting a spell on them.
Rebecca Nurse is questioned and sent to jail.
Thomas Putnam has joined in the accusations. Twenty-three accused witches have been jailed.
Puritan minister Increase Mather and the new Massachusetts governor, William Phips, arrive in the colony with a new charter from England.
Thirty-nine other people have been jailed as suspected witches.
Governor Phipps appoints the Court of Oyer and Terminer to try accused witches. Deputy governor William Stoughton is the chief judge. Bridget Bishop is convicted of witchcraft and sentenced to death.
Bridget Bishop is hanged. Nathaniel Saltonstall resigns from the panel of judges.
Sarah Good, Rebecca Nurse, Susannah Martin, Elizabeth Howe, and Sarah Wildes are put on trial. Although Nurse is acquitted, the judges ask the jury to review their decision; return a guilty verdict. Governor Phipps gives Nurse a reprieve, but later withdraws it. All the women are sentenced to death.
Sarah Good, Rebecca Nurse, Susannah Martin, Elizabeth Howe, and Sarah Wildes are hanged.
George Burroughs, John Procter, John Willard, George Jacobs, and Martha Carrier are hanged. Elizabeth Procter receives a reprieve because she is pregnant.
Giles Corey is pressed to death.
Martha Corey, Mary Easty, Alice Parker, Mary Parker, Ann Pudeator, Margaret Scott, Wilmot Redd, and Samuel Wardell are hanged.
Increase Mather gives a sermon in which he questions the validity of spectral evidence. The sermon is later published as Cases of Conscience concerning Evil Spirits Personating Men.
Governor Phipps forbids the jailing of more suspected witches.
Governor Phipps dissolves the Court of Oyer and Terminer.
The "bewitched" Salem girls are called to Gloucester to identify witches, but they are ignored when they have fits.
Between May and October, 19 people are tried and hanged as witches in Salem, Massachusetts.
Cotton Mather publishes Wonders of the Invisible World in defense of the witch trials.
A Superior Court, headed by William Stoughton, is formed to try accused witches. After three are found guilty, Phipps gives them a reprieve; he also gives reprieves to five others sentenced previously.
Stoughton resigns from the court in protest against the reprieves.
Governor Phipps orders all remaining accused witches released from jail after payment of their fees.
The Massachusetts General Assembly declares a Day of Fasting to commemorate the victims of the trials. Twelve trial jurors sign a statement admitting they convicted and condemned people to death on the basis of insufficient evidence. Salem trial judge Samuel Sewall makes a public apology for his role in the executions.
Robert Calef writes More Wonders of the Invisible World, in which he attacks accusers and judges in the Salem trials.
Samuel Parris is forced to resign as minister of the Salem village church.
The Enlightenment begins to displace Puritanism and traditional superstitions.
The Reverend Joseph Green formally reverses Martha Corey's excommunication from Salem village church.
Ann Putnam, Jr. makes an apology for her role in sending innocent people to their deaths.
The Massachusetts General Court grants the sum of 578 pounds as compensation to the families of Salem trial victims.
Belief in witchcraft lingers in New England.
American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne writes Young Goodman Brown, one of many stories and novels about Puritan bigotry and repression.
I also would suggest reading The Crucible by American playwright Arthur Miller. It is a dramatization of the Salem witch trials in Province of Massachusetts Bay from 1692 to 1693.
A few other books you may like to read on the subject of the Salem Trials are The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England by Carol F. Karlson, Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft by Paul S. Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum, Damned Women: Sinners and Witches in Puritan New England by Elizabeth Reis, and A Delusion of Satan: The Full Story of the Salem Witch Trials by Frances Hill. There are many books on the Salem witch trials and the world wide witch trials and hysteria, these are just a few I have read and find very insightful.