May 12 (May 2, o.s.)

Massachusetts: Susannah Martin, Dorcas Good, Lydia Dustin, and Sarah Morrell, formally accused of witchcraft on April 30, appear for questioning at the Salem Village meetinghouse. Martin is examined first, and many of the afflicted persons have fits as soon as she enters the room. Abigail Williams immediately identifies her correctly, some of the others are struck dumb, and Ann Putnam throws a glove at her. Martin’s only response to this behavior is to laugh and call it “folly,” prompting an outraged response from the presiding magistrate, John Hathorne. Mary Walcott, Mercy Lewis and Susannah Sheldon then accuse Martin of afflicting them, and Hathorne asks her for a response. She denies any witchcraft and suggests that the Devil can take on the form of innocent people as an explanation for the girls’ seeing her apparition. She then goes further, saying that she doesn’t think the girls are bewitched at all, and that they may be lying or even “dealing in the black art” themselves. In reaction to this challenge to their veracity the afflicted persons immediately fall into new fits, with some crying out that Martin’s specter is on the beam of the church and others saying that they see “the black man” whispering in her ear. Abigail Williams attempts to approach her, but is unable to, as are other afflicted persons who try. When Hathorne asks Martin for a response to this behavior, she suggests that the Devil is singling her out for punishment, but Hathorne retorts that it is God revealing her guilt, and that the gathered spectators agree.

After Martin’s examination concludes, it is time for Dorcas Hoar’s. The afflicted persons fall into fits as soon as she enters the meetinghouse, and they accuse her of attacking them spectrally and of admitting, through her apparition, to having killed her husband, who died suddenly the preceding winter under suspicious circumstances. Hoar now denies any responsibility for her husband’s death. Susannah Sheldon then accuses her of having come in with two cats and given her a book to sign, and introducing herself as “Goody Buckley.” Hathorne questions Hoar about this accusation, asking her about the cats and about whether and how she knows Sarah Buckley, whom Susannah Sheldon accused of witchcraft herself a few days before in an account of a vision that she now seems to be turning into an accusation against Hoar. Hoar denies knowing Buckley, but William Buckley, Sarah’s husband, immediately says that she has been to their house often. Hoar responds that she knows William but not Sarah, but many spectators accuse her of lying. Meanwhile, many of the afflicted claim to see “a black man” whispering in her ear, and Hathorne confronts her with this fact. “I cannot help it if they do see it,” Hoar responds. The afflicted continue to accuse her of witchcraft until she snaps at them. “There is somebody will rub your ears shortly,” she says, and they immediately complain that someone is. Hathorne declares it “unusual impudence to threaten before Authority.” Some of the afflicted are then carried toward her but, much as with Susannah Martin, they cannot reach her. Asked to explain this, she says that she isn’t doing anything and that they can come to her if they want.

The examinations of Lydia Dustin and Sarah Morrell go similarly, and at the end of the day all four are sent to jail in Boston.

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

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  1. […] Sheldon in a statement that she later turned against Dorcas Hoar at Hoar’s examination on May 2; Buckley’s daughter Mary Witheridge; Elizabeth Hart of Lynn; Thomas Farrar, also of Lynn; […]


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