June 3 (May 24, o.s.)

Massachusetts: The seven people charged with witchcraft on May 21 and 23 are brought to the Salem Village meetinghouse to be questioned by the magistrates. The examinations are short and rather perfunctory, with the afflicted persons crying out whenever the examinee does anything noteworthy, particularly if it involves looking towards them. Magistrate John Hathorne questions each examinee about the specific allegations against them, generally of appearing to one or more of the afflicted girls at some point in the past few days, but is unable to get any of them to confess. He then asks them to say the Lord’s Prayer, with any difficulty used as evidence of guilt. There are also touch tests, where one of the afflicted attempts to approach the accused but falls down into fits and is unable to, but when the same person is carried over to the accused and touched by them the fits immediately end. In the end, all the accused are ordered to be sent to jail.

Among the many spectators in the meetinghouse during the proceedings are a couple from Charlestown, Captain Nathaniel Cary and his wife Elizabeth. They have come because they have heard rumors that Elizabeth has been accused of witchcraft. Captain Cary, a wealthy merchant, is not impressed by the conduct of the magistrates in questioning the accused, and he finds John Hale, the minister in Beverly whom he knows personally, and asks him to arrange a private meeting between his wife and whoever has been accusing her of witchcraft. Hale promises that he will arrange such a meeting at the house of Samuel Parris, the minister in Salem Village.

After the examinations have concluded Hale finds Captain Cary and tells him that his wife can meet with her principal accuser, Abigail Williams, but that the meeting will have to be at Nathaniel Ingersoll’s tavern rather than Mr. Parris’s house. The Carys accordingly go to the tavern. While they wait for Abigail to arrive they are tended to by John Indian, the husband of the accused witch Tituba and himself among the afflicted. He shows them some scars on his body which he claims are from witchcraft, but which Captain Cary thinks look like they’ve been there since long before the current crisis.

When Abigail finally arrives, it is not alone, as Hale promised, but with all the other afflicted girls as well. They immediately fall down on the floor in fits and cry out “Cary!” The magistrates, in a nearby room at the tavern, immediately send for Elizabeth Cary to appear before them for questioning. When she and her husband go to the other room, the magistrates order her to be held still with her arms stretched out while they question her about the accusations against her, which come from two of the girls. Her husband asks if he can hold her hand but is denied. In addition to the two girls who have complained against her before, John Indian is brought in and is immediately stricken with fits, which the girls describe as being the work of Elizabeth Cary. A touch test is performed, where John’s fits immediately stop when Cary touches him.

Throughout this process Captain Cary is complaining loudly about the treatment of his wife, but the magistrates pay no attention to him except to tell him to be quiet or they’ll throw him out of the room. After they are finished questioning her, the magistrates order Elizabeth Cary jailed in Boston, but her husband is able to get her sent to jail in Cambridge, closer to their home, instead.

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Published in: on June 3, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. […] whose wife Elizabeth was sent to jail in Cambridge after being questioned on witchcraft charges on May 24, comes to the Cambridge jail.  Frustrated in his attempts to help his wife through official […]


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