April 29 (April 19, o.s.)

Massachusetts: The Salem magistrates conduct examinations at the Salem Village meetinghouse of the four people (Giles Corey, Abigail Hobbs, Mary Warren, and Bridget Bishop) charged with witchcraft the preceding day. Giles Corey, the husband of accused witch Martha Corey, now imprisoned in Boston, is the first to be examined. Magistrate John Hathorne begins by asking the afflicted persons if they have seen Corey hurt them. Mary Walcott, Ann Putnam, Mercy Lewis, and Abigail Williams answer that they have, while Benjamin Gould, the young man who claims to have seen Corey’s specter in his bedroom on April 6 and 7, is more cautious and says only that he saw Corey and was then hurt, declining to state definitively that the two events were connected causally. Hathorne then questions Corey about certain statements he has made about his wife since she was first accused of witchcraft, including his claim that she once mysteriously prevented him from praying and a remark that he knew enough about her to “do her business.” Although Hathorne presses him to elaborate on these statements, Corey will not. When Hathorne asks about Corey’s remark when his wife was taken off to Boston that he wouldn’t go over then but would come the next week, Corey explains that he merely meant that he couldn’t afford the trip just then. The examination concludes with the afflicted persons suffering great pains in various parts of their bodies in response to Corey’s movements of the same parts of his body, and Corey is sent off to jail.

The next to be examined is Abigail Hobbs, a fourteen-year-old girl notorious for casual impiety. When Hathorne asks her if she is guilty, she says “I have seen sights and been scared. I have been very wicked. I hope I shall be better, if God will keep me.” This seems to be a sort of confession, and when Hathorne asks to her to explain what sights she is referring to, she says that she saw the Devil himself, just one time, in Maine (where her family lived when she was younger). On further questioning, she says that this meeting was in the woods, three or four years ago, and that he promised her “fine things” if she would sign up with him, and that she did. She now begs God’s forgiveness. She also says that she signed books for other entities, cats and “things like men,” when they asked her to, and that she promised to serve Satan for two years. Hathorne continues to press for details, and Hobbs obliges, saying that she hurt Mercy Lewis and Ann Putnam, by having the Devil assume her form, with her permission, to go and pinch them. Hathorne asks which other witches she knows, and she names Sarah Good, saying that the Devil himself told her Good was a witch. When Hathorne asks about the large meetings of witches recently mentioned by some of the afflicted persons, however, Hobbs says that while she has heard about them, she has never attended any herself. She does mention another meeting with the Devil, about two weeks ago, when he appeared to her looking like “a black man” wearing a hat. She also admits to speaking to animal familiars, but says that they never sucked her body. When asked how exactly they spoke to her, she is suddenly unable to hear, and the afflicted persons yell out that they see Sarah Good and Sarah Osbourne poking their fingers into her ears. Hobbs then says that Sarah Good is telling her not to speak, and the magistrates end the examination and order her sent to jail.

Throughout Abigail Hobbs’s testimony the afflicted persons are free from the fits that affected them so strongly during most of the other examinations, and after she is taken away Mercy Lewis, Ann Putnam and Abigail Williams repeatedly express sympathy for her condition.

The fits of the afflicted start up again with the entrance of the next examinee, Mary Warren, the maidservant of accused witches John and Elizabeth Proctor who suffered fits herself before she began to be accused. Warren insists that she is innocent and is immediately confronted with the testimony of the afflicted girl Elizabeth Hubbard, who testifies that Warren pressured her to sign the Devil’s book then falls into a terrible fit. Hathorne asks Warren about her switch from afflicted to afflicter, and she answers that she considers it “a great mercy of God.” Shocked, Hathorne responds “What, do you take it to be a great mercy to afflict others?” Elizabeth Hubbard then says that Warren, shortly after recovering from her own fits, accused the other afflicted persons of faking theirs. All the afflicted persons present then fall into fits. Hathorne tells Warren about Hobbs’s confession, whereupon she falls into a fit herself. Some of the afflicted cry out that Martha Corey and the Proctors are preventing Warren, who seems to be struck blind, deaf and dumb, from confessing. She eventually recovers some ability to speak, but can only utter short phrases of contrition and apparent confession before falling back into fits, so the magistrates end the examination and order her sent away.

The final accused person to be examined, Bridget Bishop, now enters the meetinghouse, and the afflicted immediately fall into fits. Bishop looks around at the commotion and declares that she is innocent, but Mary Walcott claims that her brother recently struck Bishop’s specter with a sword, tearing her clothes. Bishop’s clothes are therefore searched, and a tear is found that seems to correspond to the alleged blow.

When Hathorne notes that there are rumors that she killed her first husband through witchcraft, Bishop angrily denies that there is any truth to them and shakes her head, seeming to cause the afflicted to be further tormented. Hathorne then asks if she has dealt with any “familiar spirits” and, if not, how she can explain her specter seeming to torment the afflicted persons. He notes that she seems to be tormenting them now just by moving her body. Bishop responds by saying she doesn’t even know what a witch is, causing Hathorne to ask how, then, she knows that she isn’t one. Bishop is confused, and says that she hasn’t come to confess to witchcraft and be executed for it. Hathorne then asks if she has heard about the recent confessions of others, which she denies, but two men say that they told her. When confronted with this apparent lie, Bishop denies that she heard what the two men said. After Hathorne ends his questioning, one of the spectators in the meetinghouse asks Bishop if it bothers her to see the afflicted being tormented, and she answers that it doesn’t.

Mary Warren is brought back into the meetinghouse to complete her interrupted examination, but she is immediately stricken with fits and is only able to be questioned briefly before being sent out again. She does manage to deny having signed the Devil’s book. She is eventually brought back in again, but is totally unable to speak. The magistrates then end the public proceedings and dismiss the spectators. They continue to question Warren in private, but she is still unable to speak and after trying for a while they send her away and end the proceedings entirely.

Mexico: The Conde de Galve meets with a special junta composed of all the major governmental and ecclesiastical leaders in Mexico City to review the policies of the government in response to the grain shortage and to decide what to do going forward. The measures taken, primarily requisitioning grain supplies from as far away as Guatemala, have so far seemed to successfully forestall a severe shortage in the city, but reserves are running low and it is becoming harder and harder to find enough grain even in distant provinces to keep the city supplied. The royal prosecutor Juan de Escalante y Mendoza recommends that the government devote additional effort to rooting out grain hoarders and force the rich to pay for the cost of importing grain from distant provinces, in addition to requiring rural communities to plant more maize and setting a price ceiling on maize. One of the viceroy’s other officials, Alonso de Arriaga Agüero, disagrees and proposes that the government adopt a more hands-off approach without price controls or other restrictions on grain dealers, which will allow prices to rise to a natural equilibrium and force consumers in the city to adopt a more disciplined attitude to their food purchases. Arraiga’s arguments are ultimately convincing to the viceroy and the other members of the junta, who unanimously adopt them. There are some murmurs of dissatisfaction despite the official unanimity, however, especially on the part of the Dean of the Cathedral, Diego Ortiz de Malpartida, who notes that the decision doesn’t actually do anything to solve the problem.

Mexico/New Mexico: Juan Fernández de la Fuente, captain of the presidio of San Felipe and Santiago de Janos in northern Nueva Vizcaya, writes to Governor Pardiñas of Nueva Vizcaya in response to the viceroy’s request for opinions on the plan by Governor Vargas of New Mexico to reconquer the territory that was lost in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Fernández’s presidio is the closest to El Paso, and he and Vargas have recently conducted joint campaigns against the Apaches in the area, which Vargas has complained have kept him from pursuing his plans for reconquest. Fernández counters that those campaigns, which for him continued until late March, were against the Apaches who threatened both Sonora and El Paso, and that even if Vargas is successful in reconquering Santa Fe he will have to deal with raids by the Apaches on the outlying areas throughout New Mexico. He therefore counsels that decisively defeating the Apaches of the El Paso area should be Vargas’s first priority, and that an attempt at reconquest is likely to be an expensive failure, as previous attempts have shown.

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


  1. […] try to get more information from her than they were able to get from her problematic examination on April 19.  She still has frequent fits but is able to tell them more details.  She says that Elizabeth […]

  2. […] to do it.” He also says that he recruited Abigail Hobbs, who confessed to being a witch on April 19, as well as several others, into Satan’s forces. He then tortures Mercy terribly in an […]

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