August 2 (July 23, o.s.)

Massachusetts: John Proctor and several other witchcraft suspects imprisoned in Salem Town awaiting trial send a letter to five ministers in Boston (Increase Mather, Samuel Willard, James Allen, John Bailey, and Joshua Moodey) asking them to intervene on their behalf to end the unjust circumstances of the witchcraft trials being overseen by the Court of Oyer and Terminer. They mention the confessions of Andrew and Richard Carrier on the previous day, which arose rather suddenly after the two young men were taken out of the examination room and bound with their hands tied to their feet behind their back. The prisoners consider this procedure, which they say was also used with John Proctor’s son William, akin to “Popish cruelties,” and they beg the ministers to use their influence with the government of the colony to have their trials moved to Boston, or at least to have the current judges replaced with others who are not as obviously biased against them. They also ask the ministers to support their petition to Governor Phips asking for the same.

Meanwhile, Martha Emerson appears before the magistrates in Salem for questioning on witchcraft charges.  The daughter of Roger Toothaker, the Billerica physician who was accused of witchcraft on account of his dabbling in countermagic and died in jail in Boston on June 16, Emerson was named by Richard Carrier in his July 22 confession as having been present at a witch meeting in Salem Village.  Carrier is now present at Emerson’s examination, as are the mother and daughter confessors both named Mary Lacey and Mary Warren, who confessed to witchcraft long before and has become something of a fixture at examinations of suspects.  Emerson emphatically denies knowing anything of witchcraft when first being questioned, even after the younger Mary Lacey falls into a fit when Emerson looks at her and is instantly better when Emerson takes her wrist, a sure sign of her guilt in the eyes of the justices.  Mary Warren then accuses Emerson of having ridden one Matthew Harriman with an enchanted bridal; Harriman is called to testify and says that he awoke one recent morning to find his tongue so sore that he couldn’t speak and that Emerson came by his house that very morning.  Emerson, however, still maintains her innocence.

Then, however, the magistrates present her with evidence that her father once said he had taught her to kill a witch by taking a bewitched person’s urine and putting it in a bottle in an oven, and she admits that she has kept a woman’s urine in a glass.  When the judges ask her who kept her from confessing this, she names her aunt, accused witch Martha Carrier, and one Mary Green of Haverhill, whom she accuses of having tried to enlist her in Satan’s service and of having a pig that used to follow her around.

The judges are fairly satisfied with this partial confession, and issue a warrant for the arrest of Mary Green.  Emerson, however, soon reconsiders, and recants her confession, saying that she only did it to curry favor with the judges and that she feels that she must deal with whatever sufferings God has chosen for her and not try to deny him by lying to save her life.

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Published in: on August 2, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments Off on August 2 (July 23, o.s.)  
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