March 31 (March 21, o.s.)

Massachusetts: Martha Corey, formally accused of witchcraft on March 19, comes before the Salem magistrates to be questioned. The examination, like those of the first three accused women on March 1, is held in public in the Salem Village meetinghouse, which is packed with spectators, including most of the afflicted girls. It begins at noon with a prayer by Nicholas Noyes, minister of Salem Town. Corey asks for permission to pray as well, but is rebuffed by magistrate John Hathorne, who tells her that she isn’t there for prayer.

Hathorne begins the questioning by telling Corey that she is “in the hands of Authority” and asking her why she is hurting the afflicted girls. Corey responds that she is a “gospel woman” and has nothing to do with any witchcraft. Asked about the complaints against her, she merely asks that God “open the eyes of the magistrates and ministers” and “show his power to discover the guilty.” Hathorne then asks her about the visit to her house by Ezekiel Cheever and Edward Putnam on March 12, in which she responded to their statement that Ann Putnam had accused her of witchcraft by asking if Ann knew what clothes she was wearing, which she didn’t. Hathorne wants to know why she said that. She initially says that Cheever brought up the subject, which he immediately denies, then she says that her husband Giles had told her that the afflicted girls were saying that they could identify witches by the clothes their apparitions wore, but he too immediately contradicts her story. Hathorne, angry at Corey’s baldfaced lies, browbeats her into admitting that she had heard about the identification of witches by clothing not from her husband but from general gossip in the village, though she doesn’t name any specific source. Still dissatisfied, Hathorne continues to press the issue, until interrupted by Abigail Williams, one of the afflicted girls, yelling that she sees a “black man” whispering in Corey’s ear.

Upon hearing Abigail’s interjection, Hathorne asks Corey what the man said to her. She says that she didn’t hear anything, and the afflicted girls are immediately stricken with fits. This is proof enough for Hathorne, who urges Corey to confess, but she refuses and insists that the girls’ testimony is unreliable. Several witnesses then testify to suspicious things that Corey has said, to which she can only lament so many attacking her. To Hathorne’s continued entreaties to confess, she says that she would if she were guilty, but she isn’t so she won’t.

Hathorne then moves on to the events of Corey’s visit to the Putnam house on March 14, when Ann Putnam claimed to see her roasting a man on a spit and suckling a yellow bird between her fingers. She denies all of this, but Hathorne and the crowd in the meetinghouse continue to press her and accuse her. She can only respond by protesting that everyone seems to be against her and laughing hysterically, which draws the ire of Hathorne and others, who consider her to be trivializing a very serious matter. The afflicted then begin to suffer pains in reaction to any movement Corey makes: when she bites her lip they seem to be bitten, and when she moves her hands they seem to be pinched.

Hathorne continues to ask questions and demand a confession, but the meetinghouse is descending into chaos. At one point Mrs. Bathshua Pope, one of the afflicted, hits Corey on the head with her shoe. The afflicted continue to suffer pain whenever Corey moves, and they also claim to hear a “drum beat” summoning “23 or 24” witches to congregate right outside the meetinghouse. Corey still refuses to confess, however, and eventually Hathorne, frustrated, abruptly halts the proceedings and orders her jailed in Salem Town. As soon as she is taken away, the sufferings of the afflicted girls stop.

Published in: on March 31, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments (2)  

March 30 (March 20, o.s.)

Massachusetts: Deodat Lawson, former minister at Salem Village who arrived in the Village the previous day to investigate the witchcraft issue himself, conducts the regular Sunday services at the Village church. After congregation sings the first psalm of the morning service, the afflicted girl Abigail Williams shouts “Now stand up, and name your text” at Lawson. He does so, and she replies “It is a long text.” Later, during Lawson’s sermon, Mrs. Bathshua Pope, also among the afflicted, shouts “Now there is enough of that,” and Abigail Williams cries out that she sees the specter of the accused witch Martha Corey sitting on the beam suckling a yellow bird between her fingers, as Ann Putnam also claimed to see when Corey visited the Putnam house on March 14. Ann Putnam herself says that she sees a similar yellow bird sitting on Lawson’s hat, but the people sitting near her keep her from yelling out the way Abigail and Pope did. During the afternoon service, which Lawson also leads, there are fewer such interruptions, but Abigail does shout “I know no doctrine you had; if you did name one, I have forgot it” to Lawson. These interruptions, especially coming from women and young girls, are very unusual for Puritan church services, which are ordinarily very quiet, respectful affairs.

New Mexico: Governor Diego de Vargas write to the viceroy, the Conde de Galve, and reports that he has peacefully subdued the local Suma Indians. These Indians, though local to the area and traditionally hunter-gatherers, had been living among the Pueblos who had come from New Mexico to El Paso with the Spanish after the Pueblo Revolt. Some of them had rebelled shortly before Vargas came to the area and gone off on their own, keeping in contact with the few Sumas still living with the Pueblos and possibly stealing horses from the Pueblo settlements, though the horse thieves might have been Apaches instead. Indeed, it is not clear if they missing horses had been stolen at all, and Vargas reports that it is more likely that they had stampeded. They were found in the bosque and Vargas ordered them rounded up.

As for the rebellious Sumas, Vargas reports that he sent a priest at El Paso, Father Antonio Guerra, to find the leader of the rebellious Sumas and try to convince him to bring his people back into the Spanish fold. He offered Guerra a military escort but the priest turned it down and consented himself with a few Spanish-speaking Indians as guides and interpreters. When Guerra found the rebel leader, he was able to convince him to come back and meet with Governor Vargas, who promised him and his people amnesty and said they would be allowed to build their own town at a site of their choosing. They agreed and came back shortly to pick the site and begin work on irrigation works, with the assistance of Father Guerra, which Vargas reports is complete at the time of his letter.

Vargas closes the letter with a reminder that since the Sumas are indigenous to the El Paso area, they will remain there in this new town even if he is successful at reconquering New Mexico and the Pueblos return there with the Spanish. He further requests that the viceroy send a bell, vestments, a missal, and all the other necessary supplies for a new church to be built in the town.

Published in: on March 30, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments Off on March 30 (March 20, o.s.)  

March 29 (March 19, o.s.)

Massachusetts: Ann Carr Putnam’s fits, which began the previous day, continue, and she names Rebecca Nurse in addition to Martha Corey as being behind them. Her brother-in-law Edward Putnam and Henry Kenney, a relative of the Putnams’ afflicted servant Mercy Lewis, file a complaint with Salem magistrates John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin charging Corey with bewitching Ann Carr Putnam, her daughter Ann, Mercy Lewis, Abigail Williams, and Elizabeth Hubbard. The magistrates issue a warrant ordering Corey to appear for questioning on March 21.

Meanwhile, Deodat Lawson, minister in Salem Village from 1684 through 1688 but now living in Boston, arrives in the Village to see what the witchcraft problems, which he has heard about, are really like there. He takes up lodging at Nathaniel Ingersoll’s tavern, where he is greeted by Mary Walcott, the seventeen-year-old daughter of militia captain Jonathan Walcott. They talk for a while, then she tells him that she has just been bit by a specter and shows him marks on her wrist from the bite.

Lawson then goes to see his successor as minister, Samuel Parris. While he is at Parris’s house Parris’s niece Abigail Williams, one of the first girls to be afflicted, has a terrible fit. She runs around the room wildly, then flaps her arms and says “whish, whish, whish” as if she is trying to fly, then says that she sees the specter of Rebecca Nurse asking her to sign the Devil’s book. She then runs over to the fire and begins throwing firebrands around the room. Some of the other visitors tell Lawson that she has previously attempted to go into the fire itself.

Published in: on March 29, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments (2)  

March 28 (March 18, o.s.)

Massachusetts: Ann Carr Putnam, the wife of Thomas Putnam and mother of the afflicted girl Ann Putnam, weary from having to take care of her daughter and her similarly afflicted servant Mercy Lewis in addition to keeping up the house all by herself without any of the usual help from them, lies down in the afternoon to get a little rest and immediately feels like she is being pressed and choked to death.  She decides that it is Martha Corey, whom her daughter and servant have been accusing for days of afflicting them, who is afflicting her as well, torturing her to get her to sign a little red book and enlist in the service of Satan, which she refuses to do.  This specter returns to afflict her again several times later in the day.

Published in: on March 28, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments (1)  

March 24 (March 14, o.s.)

Jamaica: The Council meets in Port Royal. Samuel Bernard, Peter Beckford, and Nicholas Lawes complain that they have been misrepresented in England by partisans of Lord Inchiquin as disloyal, which the Council unanimously declares untrue. Letters from King William and Queen Mary are read, and various orders regarding fortification are issued. It is decided that martial law will cease on March 30.

Massachusetts: Martha Corey, recently accused of bewitching Thomas Putnam’s daughter Ann, comes to the Putnams’ house as she has been requested to do. Immediately after she enters the house, Ann falls into severe fits and accuses Corey of tormenting her, then says that she sees a yellow bird suckling between Corey’s index and middle fingers. At her examination on March 1, Tituba described Sarah Good’s animal familiar as a similar yellow bird that suckled in this manner. Ann moves toward Corey to see the bird better, but Corey rubs the spot with her finger and Ann can see nothing. She then says that Corey put her hands upon Mrs. Bathshua Pope’s face in church the previous day, and when she demonstrates how by putting her hands over her own eyes they become so strongly attached that they can’t be pulled off.

Once Ann manages to release her hands from her face, she says she sees a spit in the fire with a man on it, and that Corey is turning the spit. Mercy Lewis, the Putnams’ nineteen-year-old maidservant, pokes a stick where Ann says she sees the spit, and Ann says that it disappears and then quickly reappears. Mercy says she will hit it with a stick again, but Ann warns her that she will regret it. She does anyway, and immediately cries out that her arm hurts terribly, which Ann explains is the result of Corey’s specter hitting it with an iron rod. With Mercy seemingly in terrible pain and Ann still suffering from her fits, the adult Putnams ask Corey to leave. She does.

Mercy Lewis, however, continues to suffer. She sees shadows that look like women but she can’t identify them, and she begins to have fits like Ann’s. In the evening she is sitting in a chair and begins to be mysteriously drawn toward the fire even though two men are holding onto the chair. Thomas Putnam’s brother Edward has to step in front of the fire and lift her up with all his strength to keep her from going in. Around 11:00 pm her fits finally stop.

Published in: on March 24, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments (1)  

March 23 (March 13, o.s.)

Massachusetts: Ann Putnam is afflicted by a new tormentor, though at first she can’t identify who it is.  She can, however, say that it is a woman from the village, and where she sits in the church.  With this information, the apparition is soon identified as Rebecca Nurse, a member of the Salem Town church who also sometimes attends services in Salem Village, where she lives with her husband, Francis Nurse.  Rebecca Nurse’s maiden name is Townes, and her family lives mostly in neighboring Topsfield and has had a long history of dispute with the Putnam family, whose lands lie near the border between Salem Village and Topsfield.

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March 22 (March 12, o.s.)

Massachusetts: In the morning Edward Putnam, uncle of the afflicted girl Ann Putnam, and Ezekiel Cheever, another member of the Salem Village church, come to the house of Thomas Putnam, Ann’s father, to announce that they are planning to go to see Martha Corey, whom Ann has accused of afflicting her several times in the past three days. They tell Ann to pay attention to what Corey’s specter is wearing the next time she afflicts her, so that they can compare that to what Corey herself is wearing to tell if the spirit is really Corey. They then leave the Putnam house.

They come back in the early afternoon to see if Ann has been afflicted again and if she saw what the specter was wearing. She says that the spirit did indeed attack her, and that she identified herself as Corey, but that she blinded her so she couldn’t see what she was wearing and said she wouldn’t come again until night, when it would be too dark for her to see.

Though their plan for testing Ann’s accusation of Corey has fallen through, Putnam and Cheever go to Corey’s house anyway. When they get there she is the only person home, and she smiles and says she knows that they are there to talk to her about rumors that she is a witch, but that she can’t help what others say about her. They reply that they have come not just because of rumors, but because Ann has named her specifically. Corey then asks “But does she tell you what clothes I have on?” and repeats the question when the stunned men do not answer. They then tell her what Ann had said about being blinded and not being able to see the clothes of the spirit afflicting her, and Corey just smiles.

Putnam and Cheever remain at Corey’s house a while longer and talk to her more about witchcraft and the recent accusations. She says that they surely can’t think she’s a witch, since she’s a church member and therefore an unusually devout Christian. They respond that witches have even crept into the churches, and that outwardly professing faith is no proof of innocence. Corey also says that she doesn’t think there are any witches at all, and when Putnam and Cheever respond that they are quite sure the first three accused (Tituba the Indian, Sarah Osbourne, and Sarah Good) are guilty, she says that they are just “idle slothful persons” and there’s no need to use the Devil to explain their flaws. She does say that the Devil has come down amongst the people of New England, and that God has forsaken them. Putnam and Cheever then leave.

At night, Ann Putnam is afflicted again by what she claims to be the specter of Martha Corey.

Published in: on March 22, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments Off on March 22 (March 12, o.s.)  

March 18 (March 8, o.s.)

New Mexico: Governor Vargas’s expedition, having successfully found the Apache salina near the Sierra Negra, returns to El Paso in triumph.

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March 17 (March 7, o.s.)

New Mexico: Governor Vargas’s expedition arrives back in the pueblo of Socorro from having discovered the Apache salina.

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March 16 (March 6, o.s.)

Massachusetts: During Sunday services at the Salem Village meetinghouse, Ann Putnam, one of the afflicted girls of Salem, accuses Elizabeth Bassett Proctor of afflicting her on March 3. She says she saw Proctor then but didn’t recognize her until she saw her at church today.

Mexico/New Mexico: In response to the viceroy’s request, through Governor Pardiñas of Nueva Vizcaya, for advice on Vargas’s proposal for the reconquest of New Mexico, Martín de Hualde, captain of the presidio of Cerro Gordo, writes that since he is unfamiliar with New Mexico, he can only say that he hopes Vargas has thought this through carefully, and that if he is successful in the reconquest it will be necessary to bring in Spanish settlers to keep the Indians subjected. Aside from that, provided Vargas is correct about the small cost he estimates for the initial expedition, he doesn’t see any problem with the plan except for the large expenditures that will be necessary to hold the province and bring settlers there.

Published in: on March 16, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments (2)