July 14 (July 4, o.s.)

Massachusetts: Mrs. Margaret Hawkes of Salem Town and her slave Candy, both of whom were accused of witchcraft on July 1, are brought before the Salem magistrates for questioning.  Mrs. Hawke denies the accusations, but Candy says that she wasn’t a witch in “her country,” Barbados, but that her mistress instructed her in witchcraft when she brought her to Massachusetts.  The magistrates, keenly interested in this sort of confession, press her for details about how she carried out her afflictions, and she responds by showing them two small dolls (known as “poppets”).  When she brings them out the previous confessors, Abigail Hobbs, her stepmother Deliverance Hobbs, and Mary Warren, fall into terrible fits and say that they see “the black man” along with Candy and Mrs. Hawkes using the poppets to torment them spectrally.  The magistrates take the poppets and, along with Salem Town minister Nicholas Noyes, conduct experiments with them.  They burn part of one, and the afflicted girls complain of feeling burned.  They dunk the other one into water, and two of the girls seem to be choked; a third runs toward the river, apparently to drown herself.  (She is, of course, stopped before she gets there.)  Based on this evidence the magistrates have no hesitation in ordering both Candy and her mistress sent to jail.

Meanwhile, the family of Rebecca Nurse, outraged by her conviction on June 29, asks the foreman of the jury, Thomas Fiske, to explain what prompted the jury to change its verdict from not guilty to guilty.  Fiske replies that for him, at least, the crucial thing was Nurse’s failure to explain her remark about the confessed witches to the jury when they came back into the courtroom and asked her about it.  When Nurse is told about this, she writes a statement claiming that she is hard of hearing and was so distraught at the time under the circumstances that she neither heard the question nor understood what was happening, but that all she meant was that the confessors had been prisoners along with herself and the other accused witches, and that she therefore did not and does not consider their testimony against other prisoners reliable.  Her family gathers together these documents, along with some court documents requested from the court clerk, Stephen Sewall, to send to Governor Phips with a request for a reprieve.

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Published in: on July 14, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments Off on July 14 (July 4, o.s.)  
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