May 28 (May 18, o.s.)

Massachusetts: The Salem magistrates, John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin, return from Boston (where they attended the swearing-in of the Governor William Phips) to Salem Village to question John Willard, the accused witch who fled to Nashaway when he was charged on May 10 but was found and brought back on May 17. As is by now usual at examinations of suspected witches, the afflicted persons fall into fits as soon as Willard is brought in. Hathorne begins his questioning by stating that he considers the mere fact of Willard’s flight sufficient proof of his guilt, but that he should nevertheless confess. Willard acknowledges that fleeing was a bad idea, but says that he only did it because he was afraid, and that God will show him to be “white as snow.” Hathorne then confronts Willard not only with the accusations of the afflicted that he has been tormenting them spectrally, but also with evidence that he was responsible for Daniel Wilkins’s death on May 16 along with several other earlier deaths. Willard denies all guilt and attempts to hold forth on theology, but is sharply told that he has not been brought to preach. Benjamin Wilkins, uncle of the deceased Daniel, testifies that aside from his spectral crimes Willard was known to beat his wife so hard that he broke sticks on her. Other witnesses provide more evidence of his physical cruelty.

Several of the afflicted girls are now brought toward Willard to attempt to touch him, but they fall down into fits and are unable to. When Susannah Sheldon is brought to him and falls into fits, Willard is asked to touch her. He grabs her hand but she continues in her fits. When the same test is tried with Mary Warren, however, Willard clasps her arm and she immediately recovers. Willard asks why the test worked this time but not with Susannah, and the spectators say that it is because he took her hand rather than clasping her arm.

After the touch tests Willard is questioned further about his alleged spectral attacks on the afflicted girls, but he continues to assert his innocence in the face of all the evidence against him. Finally, the magistrates ask him to say the Lord’s Prayer. He tries several times, but keeps making mistakes. He laughs nervously at one point and suggests that perhaps he is bewitched as well. The fact that he is unable even after several tries to say the prayer correctly simply serves to seal his guilt in the magistrates’ eyes. Although he continues to insist that he is innocent, he is ordered sent to jail in Boston.

The magistrates also question the five people accused on May 14, whose examinations were originally scheduled for May 17. Since Hathorne and Corwin were still in Boston then, the examinations have been postponed until now. Sarah Buckley’s examination is short and revolves mainly around spectral evidence by the afflicted girls, both in written statements and in accounts of torments at the examination itself. Her specter has been closely associated with that of John Willard in many of the alleged attacks. Mary Witheridge is likewise implicated primarily by spectral evidence both presented formally and alleged contemporaneously. This is enough for both women to be sent to jail. Rebecca Jacobs, whose father-in-law and daughter are already imprisoned and whose husband has fled, is also easily jailed on the basis of spectral evidence from the girls. Elizabeth Hart and Thomas Farrar, both of Lynn, are likewise sent to jail on such evidence.

The magistrates also examine Roger Toothaker, a doctor from Billerica, who has fallen under suspicion on account of his occasionally practicing countermagic and prescribing methods for identifying witches. Evidence of this persuades the magistrates to send him, too, to jail in Boston with the others.

In addition to examining all these people, Hathorne and Corwin also order the release of Mary Easty, the sister of accused witches Rebecca Nurse and Sarah Cloyce who was charged with witchcraft on April 21 and questioned on April 22. Most of the afflicted girls have since retracted their accusations against Easty, and the evidence against her is therefore now quite thin.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Booth, the eighteen-year-old from Salem Village who first began having fits the previous night, continues to be afflicted.  The first three fits she has today are not accompanied by any specters, but in her later fits she sees the apparition of Daniel Andrew, the bricklayer who was first charged with witchcraft on May 14 but fled and has not been found.  Andrew’s specter tells her that though Warren’s apparition the previous night didn’t hurt her, he will if she doesn’t sign his book.  She doesn’t sign, and he is true to his word.

Mexico/New Mexico: The Conde de Galve meets with the Junta of the Royal Treasury to discuss Governor Vargas’s reconquest plan. They look over his letters describing his plans and his accomplishments thus far, along with the comments of the royal prosecutor Noboa on these letters, and, comparing Vargas’s plans with the proclamations issued by the king on the subject in 1683 and 1689, decide that they resemble each other so closely that it must be due to divine providence, which implies that God himself wants Vargas to reconquer New Mexico. The Junta therefore decides to give its blessing to the venture and to grant Vargas the fifty soldiers he asks for, to be drawn from the presidios in Nueva Vizcaya, proportionally from each presidio so as not to deplete any one of them severely. Vargas is given wide discretion in how and where these men are to be delivered to him and what he does with them afterward. The Junta also agrees with Noboa’s suggestion of issuing new dispatches to the former New Mexicans residing in Nueva Vizcaya ordering them to return and assist in the reconquest, offering them substantial rewards if they do so but harsh penalties if they do not. As for the rumors of a mercury mine in the Hopi country, the Junta decides that they can be investigated at leisure from New Mexico after it is reconquered. The viceroy issues a directive to Vargas containing the same information and authorizing him to begin the reconquest.

Published in: on May 28, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments (5)  


  1. […] who has not retracted her accusations of witchcraft against Mary Easty, who was freed from jail the previous day by order of the Salem magistrates, falls into terrible fits at the home of Constable John Putnam, […]

  2. […] has been suffering dreadful fits apparently at the hands of Mary Easty, who was freed from jail on May 18, to go to Salem Town and file renewed charges against Easty for bewitching Lewis. They are […]

  3. […] Easty, the sister of accused witches Rebecca Nurse and Sarah Cloyce who was released from jail on May 18 but has since been charged with bewitching the afflicted girl Mercy Lewis, is apprehended and […]

  4. […] Easty, who is being held there after being rearrested on a new warrant following her release on May 18. They ask her about Mercy Lewis’s reports, confirmed by some of the other afflicted girls who […]

  5. […] plans, Noboa notes that they arrived a bit too late, as Vargas’s plans were approved on May 28 and he has probably already left on the expedition. There is therefore nothing for the viceroy to […]

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