April 21 (April 11, o.s.)

Jamaica: The council meets in Port Royal and decides to immediately impress another sloop to join the Pembroke and Greyhound in patrolling the coast to prevent French attacks. The councilors also decide to send away the French prisoners on the island under a flag of truce.

Massachusetts: Elizabeth Proctor and Sarah Cloyce, accused of witchcraft on April 4, appear at the Salem Town meetinghouse to be questioned. In addition to John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin, the Salem Town magistrates who conducted all the previous interrogations of accused witches, the proceedings are presided over by Lieutenant Governor Thomas Danforth, Secretary Isaac Addington, Samuel Sewall of Salem Town, and two other members of the Massachusetts council. Nicholas Noyes, minister in Salem Town, opens the proceedings with a prayer. Danforth asks the questions.

He begins by asking John Indian, a slave of Salem Village minister Samuel Parris and the husband of the accused witch Tituba, now among the afflicted, who has hurt him. John accuses both Proctor and Cloyce of choking him and trying to get him to sign their books and devote himself to the service of the Devil. After he goes on with his accusations for a while, Cloyce interrupts him and asks “When did I hurt thee?” “A great many times,” he replies, to which she responds that he is a “grievous liar.” He insists, however that she most recently tormented him “yesterday at meeting.”

Danforth next asks Mary Walcott, one of the afflicted girls, who has hurt her, and she accuses Cloyce, along with previously accused witches Martha Corey and Rebecca Nurse and many others whose names she doesn’t know. She then falls into a fit and Danforth moves on to Abigail Williams, who has previously claimed to have seen a gathering of witches on March 31 in a pasture next to the house of her uncle, Samuel Parris. She now elaborates on this demonic sacrament, saying that about 40 witches were there, and that Cloyce and Sarah Good, one of the first to be accused of witchcraft, were the deacons. Abigail even says that she spoke to Cloyce at the time and asked her if it was right for receive the sacrament then, since she had refused to receive it in church on the previous Sunday (when she walked out upon hearing the text on which Parris intended to give his sermon and concluded, correctly, that he would use the opportunity to lambaste the accused witches, including her sister Rebecca Nurse). She also says that there was a second witches’ sacrament some time after the first one, this time near the tavern of Nathaniel Ingersoll, and that Cloyce, Nurse, Corey and Good all participated. Upon hearing this accusation, Cloyce asks for some water and has to sit down, seeming lightheaded. The afflicted then begin to have fits, and some of them say that her spirit has gone to prison with her sister Rebecca Nurse.

Danforth now begins to question the other accused witch, Elizabeth Proctor, first asking the afflicted if she has ever hurt them. All the girls are struck dumb, but John Indian accuses her of coming “in her shift” and choking him. Ann Putnam then regains the ability to speak and accuses Proctor of making her maid, Marry Warren, sign the Devil’s book. Abigail Williams, also recovering her power of speech, even asks Proctor point-blank if she did not say that her maid had signed, but Proctor denies everything, saying she knows “nothing of it, no more than the child unborn.” Ann and Abigail then fall into fits in which they claim to see Proctor’s specter on the beam of the meetinghouse. They then accuse her husband John, there to support her, of committing witchcraft as well. The rest of the afflicted then fall into fits as well, and some accuse Goodman Proctor of trying to lift up the feet of the afflicted Mrs. Bathshua Pope, whereupon her feet are indeed lifted up. Proctor insists that he is innocent, but Abigail accuses him of afflicting Mrs. Pope, who then falls into a fit. Danforth, noting the accuracy of the girls’ prediction of what happened to Mrs. Pope, encourages Proctor to confess, and Abigail predicts that he will attack several more of the afflicted, who immediately fall into fits in accordance with her predictions. She reaches out gingerly to touch Elizabeth Proctor’s hood, then immediately cries out that her fingers are burning, whereupon Ann Putnam falls into a terrible fit.

The examination, such as it was, being now concluded, the councilors who are present convene to discuss the results. They decide to order John Proctor put in custody along with his wife and Sarah Cloyce.

Published in: on April 21, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. […] of the Massachusetts council who conducted the examinations of Sarah Cloyce and Elizabeth Proctor the preceding day in Salem Town order Cloyce and Proctor, along with Proctor’s husband John, accused of […]

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