Witch Hunt

Marilynne K Roach on the People of the Salem Witch-Hunt

April 06, 2023 Joshua Hutchinson Season 1 Episode 27
Witch Hunt
Marilynne K Roach on the People of the Salem Witch-Hunt
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Show Notes Transcript

Esteemed historian and author Marilynne K. Roach (The Salem Witch Trials, Six Women of Salem) gives us a focused conversation on four individuals of the Salem Witch Trials: Reverend John Hale, Samuel Wardwell, Bridget Bishop, and Rebecca Nurse. She also gives us an inside scoop on the 2022 Elizabeth Johnson Jr. exoneration hearing. Get a glimpse of what her next book, Six Men of Salem has in store. Enjoy the return of “Minute with Mary” by Mary Bingham, accused witch descendant, writer and researcher. Be sure to listen all the way through the episode for details about the opportunities to hear Dr. Leo Igwe of Advocacy for Alleged Witches during his May 2023 New England speaking tour. 

Links

Records of the Salem Witch Hunt by Bernard Rosenthal
The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-By-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege by Marilynne K. Roach
Six Women of Salem: The Untold Story of the Accused and Their Accusers in the Salem Witch Trials by Marilynne K. Roach
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Josh Hutchinson:

Welcome to this episode of Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast. I'm Josh Hutchinson.

Sarah Jack:

And I'm Sarah Jack.

Josh Hutchinson:

We're joined in this episode by acclaimed Salem Witch Trials historian and author Marilynne K. Roach. We'll be talking about two women and two men involved in the Salem Witch Trials: Bridget Bishop, Rebecca Nurse John Hale, and Samuel Wardwell.

Sarah Jack:

Marilynne compiled all the biographies in Records of the Salem Witch Hunt.

Josh Hutchinson:

She wrote Six Women of Salem, and now she's working on Six Men of Salem. You're welcome. It's my pleasure.

Sarah Jack:

I'm pleased to introduce Marilynne K. Roach, author of the Salem Witch Trials: A Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege, Six Women of Salem: The Untold Story of the Accused and Their Accusers in the Salem Witch Trials, who is currently working on Six Men of Salem.

Josh Hutchinson:

You compiled the biographical notes for Records of the Salem Witch Hunt. Did that prepare you for writing your biographies in Six Women of Salem?

Marilynne K. Roach:

I would imagine that working on the biographies would've helped, cuz I knew more about where you can look. Genealogy books were great, if something existed for that particular person, and old town histories, as well as standard histories of the witch trials, the base, the contemporary sources. Of course that always helps, but for obscure characters, a lot of it can be luck, but just trying to look at everything you can get your hands on or over the internet or library archives when you can. That seems to be the way to find things. I think serendipity is the word that refers to find things, but you just have to keep digging.

Sarah Jack:

What's the difference between writing history and writing biographies?

Marilynne K. Roach:

A narrower focus on biographies. Well, history is the big concept, also, but it's human history, and individual humans are making it. One really leads into the other. And I think of myself as a storyteller, wanting to tell a good story, witch trials are, but getting the facts correct, being accurate, and trying to understand it in context, and then explaining it, presenting it in context, because the events of 1692 didn't take place in a vacuum in their own time. And it certainly didn't take place in a 20th or now 21st century mindset, either. So yes, you have to think about a big picture, but if it's a particular individual, also focusing it more narrowly on that first. But there's an amazing amount of connections that you could find, where if you find out who else is in the room when things happen or who they're related to or if they had a quarrel with a particular neighbor, which suddenly makes sense of a name that might show up in the testimony or some other paperwork, wills are good, deeds. But just look at everything you can. It's my advice.

Josh Hutchinson:

With biographies, once you've collected all the sources that are available, how do you fill in gaps? Do you just look at other people's lives?

Marilynne K. Roach:

The lives of the people that your subject interact with, yeah, you need that. But finding all the information, I only wish. There's always something that's missed, something you don't know about the archive, you can't get. As I write, I find, and I'm all reminded by seeing my agent, that there is something that's not explained, that there's a hole in the story, and you have to go looking in that direction and hope, hope that you find something and then backtrack and put it in, put the information in. And does it affect the other events that you've already found out about? Does it put them in a new light? It just makes it a little more interesting or complete lot there? There's really no end to it, but try to get as much as I can about people. Of course, as soon as a manuscript, let's say a publisher takes it, and they're gonna print it, and they've wrenched it out of my hands, then something always turns up. But not necessarily anything huge.

Sarah Jack:

Why is it important to think of the historical figures as individual people rather than statistics, stereotypes, or symbols?

Marilynne K. Roach:

The Salem Witch Trials particularly and history in general tend to be stock characters or two dimensional stereotypes, as you said and not for real people at all. There's just here's an example of someone who lived 2, 300 years ago. They didn't have a lot advantages. Some people it seems nowadays can't really get over the fact that people had to live differently because just because of the technology. To the point where people say things almost they weren't very smart, then they had to watch TV by candlelight because there was no electricity. And also, information turns up as various people look into an era or a personal topic so that more information does become available, and the more real a particular person will seem, and they were individuals. Assuming I'm remembered 300 years from now, I hope the book's still in print, but not necessarily. I am a person, and I would like my individuality. Not that I broadcast that. I'm always talking about some other character. Too many historical characters generally, and the Witch trials specifically, which has a lot of urban legend attached to it. The characters seem to be not real people. They're symbols of something else. They're symbols of something we don't approve of or just of the past, which is a really foreign country to most people. None of us have been there personally, but I don't think there's a great knowledge of what other eras were like, and they're all slightly different. They are individuals, and they were actual people then. If we can find out what they were like, we'd have a better understanding of what they went through and what their resources were and what they had to face.

Josh Hutchinson:

With the past being a foreign country, as you described, how do you get inside historical figures' heads?

Marilynne K. Roach:

I try to get inside my subjects by trying to find out about not just their lives, but the culture and what their particular place within it was. In my other book, Six Women of Salem, I prefaced the, and the chapters were fiction, identifiable, fictional episodes, in italics. Oh, I'm not lying about anything. This is make believe, but I believe it's based on as much as I could find. So I'm trying to get in the heads, but there's no guarantees. I don't want people to assume I'm either lying about it or believe the whole thing. With the book I'm currently working on about Six Men of Salem, a lot of that was done during Covid when I was quarantined with all six men. It seemed like ghosts, and their opinions, and I had to get down to work and go out and do things. So it made me get down to work, but it also focused me on thinking about them as I tried to do with the six women in the first book. But yes I'm still haunted by them, and I only hope I get what they might have been thinking generally accurate to their personalities. Otherwise, I could be haunted, even.

Sarah Jack:

When you consider what the other people in their era were saying about them and then what we can say about them now, they're not gonna haunt that. They're gonna celebrate that.

Marilynne K. Roach:

I hope so. You could read somebody's testimony about their terrible neighbor, and we read it, and she seems perfectly innocent, so I'm assuming the transcription of whatever they said was accurate, but the viewpoint totally different.

Sarah Jack:

How can we look at what an individual's perspective is versus what their experience is? For example, on the way to the gallows, they were experiencing something going there, but their perspective of what's happening to them, are those two important dynamics?

Marilynne K. Roach:

They're facing death. They know it's unfair. Sometimes family was in the crowd waiting to see them off, who was sympathetic to them, and they got to say a heartfelt goodbye. That was allowed. They were allowed to speak at the gallows to give last words, and that you often described as very affecting, and it moved some people to. But there's other people there who still believe that they're guilty as charged, that the person about to be hanged is guilty as charged, and they're not being sympathetic about it. I don't know which side had the more population in the crowd, probably the people who didn't like them. So I try to imagine what that would like. And besides the fact that this is gonna hurt, it's a considered a shameful death to be hanged. It's embarrassing. Certainly it hurts, it's death for crying out loud. But they're also gonna have to face God and answer their lives, which is why the people wouldn't lie and say that they were guilty. They weren't going to have that stain on their soul if they could possibly help. And they stood fast and spoke the truth to the crowd, and only some people were listening. But more and more as the summer went on, I guess I tried to put myself in their place and what would I experience? But, that's really the guesswork, because my life has been different than theirs.

Josh Hutchinson:

We'd like to talk about John Hale now, and how was he involved with the trials?

Marilynne K. Roach:

Reverend John Hale was the minister in Beverly, which is across the estuary from Salem. His house still stands, by the way. Some of his parishioners were accused by neighbors, and he was, I guess you get a summons to come to court as a witness. He did relate what the various feelings feelings of neighbors had been about those individuals. He doesn't come out and say they're witches or that he thinks they're guilty, but he's relating these suspicious events, and some of them were suspicious, and their general character in the neighborhood, but he believed that the afflictions on the supposed bewitched was real longer than others did. There's a mention in Thomas Brattle's letter explaining why things were going wrong, why he thought the court is proceeding wrong, and he said, by this time it's fall, only Paris, Noyes, and Hale still believe that this is witchcraft." And Samuel Parris's daughter and niece have been the first to be afflicted, so he is worried sick kids in the family. Reverend Noyes is one of the ministers in Salem, which is where all the turmoil trials is going on and then Hale across the river in Beverly. You could get there in a few hours on horseback. I find him sympathetic, Hale, because although he believes that's what's going on for longer than he should have, he does come to his senses. He seems like an otherwise nice person. And after the trials are over, his congregation still thinks highly of him. They're not cutting off his pay as in some, as with Samuel Parris. They were ongoing problems with his congregation. But Hale didn't have those problems, and he wrote a book afterwards. That helps. We have his words. He wrote about witchcraft, turned out to be mistaken that they relied too much on ancient, as in pre-Christian even, opinions about what a witch was and how you identified them and later in the Christian Europe as assumptions that turn out not to be true. They're not really in scripture, but, and they really don't add up in retrospect, because 19 people have been hanged at this point and others have died by other means like disease. But I found him a sympathetic character, and he's on both sides. He's not actually an accuser. He believes them, he's on the side of the court and then it, in the end, he realizes he was so tragically wrong. The accusations get too close to home with his own family, which helps. He seems to have doubts, and every time throughout the course of the months that were consumed by this, people were confessing out of fear and the desire to live a little longer, but then someone would confess and say,"no, I really did that." And he believed them, too. Hale was caught between different information and too long trusted the wrong facts and opinions, but I think he came around, and it was too late, as you could see, to help the people who had died.

Sarah Jack:

I really like that you point out how his congregation was still supporting him at the end, because you definitely see how it was part of their church culture to often be in conflict with their minister.

Marilynne K. Roach:

It was a lot as conflict. Sometimes it stereotypes. The ministers were authoritarian, and people had to do what they said. They weren't even getting paid much of the time. Not that they wanted to be rich from being a minister in a small, rural town. But you did have to support your family. And there were conflicts. People had opinions. They spoke up, and they criticized. There was a lot of that in Salem Village, where the whole panic began, but not so much in Beverly, where Hale was the minister.

Sarah Jack:

And can you tell us a little bit about his family.

Marilynne K. Roach:

He was married to his second wife at the time of the trials. First one having died. And let's see, when his first wife was alive, the maid servant, hired girl, was stealing from them. They didn't realize that she's pretty clever about it. And the one of the neighbors was in on it and her family. They began to notice things missing. But the maid servant at least threatened Hale's daughter that she could raise the devil and that the neighbor was a witch, who would come and hurt her if she told her parents what was happening. And so, after the thefts were discovered, the maid servant, they never knew where she went. She just left. But the daughter didn't tell her father how afraid she had been until after all this was over, and he finds it out when his daughter's dead practically. That was sad. But she dies. There's a son from the first marriage, who's still alive, and he remarries some years later, and his children from that marriage, and his wife is, the second wife is going to have another baby, when somebody in the neighborhood accuses her of sending her specter to afflict them. This is at the very end of things of the panic. It's also getting into winter, and I think people's heads were cooling after the summer of everybody suspecting everybody else. But that's giving away the plot. But I mean, it's right in the history. He realizes his doubts before were what he should have been paying attention to. He wrote Modest Enquiry about in 1697, which was after the public fast that Massachusetts ordered, which is a church service. Everybody goes to their respective meeting house, and there's a religious service where people apologize to God and the community, for whatever's been going wrong, that has made life more difficult. The witch trial fiasco was one of the problems, not quite mentioned in the order for the fast, but everybody knows that's what it's about, along with other things like, oh, generally bad behavior, fractious youth and, therefore, there's international problems, because life is out of joint. But everybody knows this is about the witch trials. That was the occasion when the former high court Judge Samuel Sewall, who was on the court of Oyer and Terminer, made a personal apology in his congregation, which people noticed, cuz I guess he was the only one who stood up. But after that, Hale is thinking about what actually happened, and he begins to write the book. Let's see. I may have gotten this from Sewall's diary because he traveled to Salem now and then on court business or just cause he had relatives there, and he was talking with Hale, who mentions maybe we're writing a book. So it's 1697 when he does, but it didn't get published until after he died. So it was like 1701 that it came out, and it was not a huge seller, as I said. People get sick of the whole subject. Let's get beyond that and deal with the current topics and so forth, so on. A lot of people would really have forgotten it. Didn't wanna be reminded that they had been that wrong about so many things. But Massachusetts did finally make reparations to the survivors. Not everyone who was found guilty was hanged, because the panic ended before that happened. And also there were reparations to the families of people who didn't survive. And beginning in the early 18th century, some of the people who had been found guilty but managed to survive petitioned to have their names cleared. So just in case everything went wrong again, the death sentence would be not be reinstated, and that started them. But in 1711, the attainder, that is the guilty verdict, was reversed for the people who had petitioned for it. But not everybody got into the petitions, so actual exonerations continued and the last person was cleared by name last July, in 2022. So it took a while, but at least on paper they're clear, which was interesting to hear about and be a small part of writing letters to your legislature. But this is part of the actual paperwork of the trials. And I get the result in an email, not pen and ink with a quill, but the process had gone on through all that, those changes in history, and the history was completed in my own time.

Sarah Jack:

Thanks for sharing your experience.

Marilynne K. Roach:

It was a little thrilled when that finally happened, a lot of people who had worked on that and really worked on it.

Sarah Jack:

I'm so glad you got to be a part of that.

Marilynne K. Roach:

Middle school teacher in North Andover and her class were the driving forces behind it, in the civic class, to get justice for Elizabeth Johnson. And there was a hearing some while ago with the judicial committee in Massachusetts considered the question, and along with a whole list of other judicial questions about people who needed exoneration now, while they were still alive or other legal matters. And I was able to get a slot to speak a few words, strict time limit on it, in favor of Elizabeth Johnson, and I did it by Zoom. It helped to clear and then it went through other hoops and other commitments that other people were working on.

Sarah Jack:

Can you give us an idea of what you said for her during your testimony?

Marilynne K. Roach:

She survived, and she petitions to have her name cleared and she's left out of the names in the reversal of detainer and writes to. the General Court of Massachusetts, asking them to insert her name, and she never hears back from them again. So I told them that General Court, through the committee, that she had made this petition, and 300 years later we hoped that you finally do it. I quoted her words, because she was saying she was innocent, but a lot of people worked on that, and there's a documentary being made about process with the historians and the school kids and teacher. And it took years. It took less time for the state to declare the official dinosaur and the official cookie. But this is more important. Chocolate chip.

Sarah Jack:

Right now there's a bill proposed for the exoneration of the accused witches from Connecticut Colony. I descend from one of the accused, but she was not executed. Her name was Winifred Benham, and she was accused in 1697, so she was at the very tail end of Connecticut's trials, and she was the daughter of Mary Hale, who was accused in Boston. I feel very excited to be able to speak as a descendant. You were able to quote Elizabeth Johnson. We don't have a lot of that from Connecticut, because their records just are not with us. But we still have all of these other women, like Elizabeth Johnson Jr. They're an example that these women in this era that experienced this, they said they were innocent, and they asked to have their names cleared. But for the Connecticut victims, we have to say this for them, cuz, if they got a chance, we don't know what their words were, but I believe that they begged as well to be recognized as innocent.

Marilynne K. Roach:

In the eyes of the world, as well as in the eyes of God.

Sarah Jack:

We're excited for that. And it could all happen really fast, so we're on the brink of it. We're on the brink of it.

Marilynne K. Roach:

I look forward News at 11. Film at 11. Oh, that would be exciting.

Sarah Jack:

Thanks for all that great information on John Hale.

Josh Hutchinson:

And now it's time for your favorite segment. That's right, Minute with Mary. And here's Mary Louise Bingham to tell us more about Reverend John Hale and some of the lives that he touched.

Mary Bingham:

Reverend John Hale, the longtime minister at Beverly, Massachusetts, offered testimony at several trials for witchcraft in 1692 at Salem. Two testimonies of which are often spoken are those testimonies against Sarah Bishop and Dorcas Hoar, both who either lived near Beverly or in the town itself. However, he was also summoned to testify at my ancestor's trial on the 2nd of July, 1692. That was the trial of Sarah Wildes. Reverend Hale told the court about 1677 his member, Mary Herrick, brought her aging mother, Mary Reddington, to him for spiritual counsel at his home. Mary Reddington lived at Topsfield next door to Sarah and John Wilds. Mary did not like Sarah for reasons of which we can only speculate today. Could it be that Sarah had a supposed unsavory past and was now the stepmother to Mary's nieces and nephews? After all, Mary's sister, Priscilla was the first wife to John Wildes. Could it also be that John married Sarah only seven months after Priscilla died? We cannot be sure. However, according to Reverend Hale, Mary Reddington spoke of so many stories as to how Sarah afflicted or bewitched her, that he could not recount all of them. Mary, however, does tell Reverend Hale, her beloved nephew, John Wildes, Jr. did feel sorry for her. This signified to Mary that her nephew believed his stepmother was a witch. Reverend Hale continued by saying that on a separate occasion in 1672, he was invited to travel to Ipswich to pray and advise for Jonathan Wildes, Sarah's other stepson. Jonathan was possibly living with his uncle on East Street and seemed to be exhibiting strange behavior. Some neighbors thought he was strange. Others thought he was possessed, while others thought he was just a faker. After Mary Reddington's visit to him in 1677, Reverend Hale now believed that Jonathan was bewitched. Imagine if such hearsay was not acceptable as part of the court proceedings during Sarah's trial.

Josh Hutchinson:

Thank you, Mary, for those fascinating insights.

Sarah Jack:

Should we talk about Samuel Wardwell?

Marilynne K. Roach:

Samuel Wardwell was a farmer and a carpenter, but in the spare time, he was also a fortune teller, which was the problem. I think he could probably read people very well, but he would tell fortunes, and he was much addicted to it, said a neighbor who had to testify. He'd look at their hand, and he'd ponder and think about it and then come out with some kind of fortune. And enough of it came true that he had a reputation, but the orthodox line was, humans cannot do that. God's not going to tell you the future. So where is your information coming from, if not the devil? And if not deliberately palling around with satanic forces, certainly being sucked into it by buy some fast-talking devil, who you didn't realize was doing that until it's too late, and you were in their clutches. So he's known as a fortune teller. You're really not supposed to do that. It was like the end of August that he's finally named. He lives in Andover, which is north of Salem. And more people were accused in Andover than in Salem. In July, the infection of paranoia or bewitchment spreads to other communities, notably Andover. So he's named, and he is arrested on the 1st of September. Not all of the paperwork is there, but he and his wife and two eldest daughters are all arrested, and they all confess, but there's a lot of confession by then, especially among Andover, but he retracts his confession. They were led to believe, or they were just scared, said anything. At least bought them time, because if you confessed, you were held as a co-conspirator to testify against the rest of gang, which some of them acted as if they thought that they would be. That they wouldn't be killed if they turned state's evidence, but that would not have been the case. Eventually, as happened with some of the confessors, eventually they were tried and found guilty, because the confession was believed when the retraction was not. Some of the women in Andover who were questioned on a particular occasion that submitted a statement later when things were turning around and said that they didn't know what they said when they were being questioned at the hearing. They were just so frightened that they just agreed with whatever the magistrates were asking them. And they tended to lean towards really leading questions in those days, that occasion. So they just agreed with what they were being accused of to make the questions stop. Or they didn't remember what they'd said at all. One of the women said that, remember the name of the monarchs at the beginning of the whatever the clerk said. And after that they really could not remember what it said, but apparently they had confessed, and now they're going through tortures of conscience, because they've lied before God and the community and said that they were in Satan's grasp. And some of them would wonder, were they, had I really done this and not remembered it, had I really sold out to the devil? They came around to remembering that they had not. But Samuel Wardwell, did deny his confession. Some people were in jail for months, and then they tried. And the longer you were in jail, if you could stand the lack of sanitation, the better chance you had surviving for this panic to be over. But he's arrested the beginning of September. He's tried couple weeks later, where he denies his confession. He took it back. He said,"I did say those things in the written confession, but it's all false." But now the magistrates don't believe that. They believe what he said earlier. And he's tried and he's executed on the 22nd of September. So it took 22 days for the whole process, whereas his wife and the two girls held to the con fession. The wife did her, but they're not tried until the following year, January. Trials started up again, but we're not supposed to use spectral evidence. They eventually survive all this, and his wife, Sarah, is one of the first to petition to have her name cleared, so she survived. But course Samuel, he's in, I feel sorry for him. And I like the idea of fortune telling, even though it's a risky thing to try, but he's, things just don't work out for him. He keeps trying.

Sarah Jack:

He confided that he was afraid he would be named. Was he already worried if perhaps he had made some compact with the devil?

Marilynne K. Roach:

I'm not sure if he worried that he had himself compacted with the devil, but people certainly knew he was a fortune teller. He didn't seem to hide it. And that was, that prospect more and more dangerous. So he probably heard that the people were bandying his name around, as he told his brother-in-law. But after he revealed those suspicions of fears of what people might say about him, it seemed, I don't know if it made it worse, or if it was just going get bad anyway. Cause he was a known fortune teller. He did not get a premonition that he should get out of town now, but it takes money to successfully get away very far. Some people did escape, but they tended to have more money. Abigail Hobbs confessed fairly early on. Abigail Hobbs had been rather strange girl before all this panic started. But she had confessed cause she,"oh, I was out talking to devil last night." Sort of a joke. They took it seriously after things started getting really dicey. So she was witness against the other supposed witches. She'd seen so and so's spirit at such and such a witch meeting. So she was quite willing to testify against other people. But even that, eventually she was tried and found guilty, it's just that hangings were put on hold in October, so until they could get advice from England as how to proceed with the mess. And so she survives by default, even though she confessed, accused others, and was found guilty. But her name's included. She doesn't seem to have deserved it. On the other hand, she really wasn't a witch, just an inconvenient person to have around.

Sarah Jack:

Let's talk about Bridget. Why was she the first to be tried and executed?

Marilynne K. Roach:

Because she was a likely suspect, having been suspected before. She's a feisty character, but not a witch. I like her feistiness, as people tend to do now. They didn't appreciate it so much then. She had been accused of witchcraft, and the case went to the upper court There's not enough of the paperwork left. There are only some depositions, as far as I know, by Juan, spelled, w o n n. And he says that he saw her spirit in the chicken house, and she's stealing eggs, and there was a black cat bothering people at night, while they were trying to sleep, but there really was no cat, so it was sent by Bridget Bishop. There's not a lot of specific details about the earlier case. But she had been suspected and the case referred to the upper court, which would've tried all capital cases, but then she's alive, so apparently the case was either dismissed or she was found not guilty. But neighbors remember that sort of thing. And she had had various disagreements, arguments with neighbors over boundary lines, chickens getting into the garden, a pig going amuck, and various neighborhood things. So she was probably a more likely suspect first, which she was hanged by herself, having been found guilty that was that case. Later executions, it was a group of people who had been hanged. Course of a few weeks, but after that first hanging in June, just Bridget had died at this point, one of the judges on the Oyer and Terminer Court quit, Nathaniel Saltonstall. He didn't like the overuse of spectral evidence where the supposed victims of witchcraft can see the forms, the apparitions, like a ghost, only from a living person coming at them. Only the victim can see this, not the other people in the world, they say. So he didn't think that was ironclad evidence, causing the court and Governor Phips to consult with experts on spiritual matters, the Boston-area ministers. And their answer was, you can't trust spectral evidence. It could be the devil's delusion which After the trials were all over, they realized,"we were deluded. The devil deluded us." But they ended this letter of advice by saying,"we trust your best good judgment to use proper scriptoral things. And witchcraft is illegal in England, too. And all the precautions, you know, the whole several paragraphs of precautions were pretty much ignored. And they continued with the other cases for that summer. Nobody who was tried in the summer of 1692 was found innocent. They were all found guilty. When the court convened in January 1693, it's now the Superior Court, because Massachusetts had just received a new charter to make its government legal. They did not have as much self-government as before, because the governor had to be appointed by the king, for one thing, but they had to reconsider all their laws and make sure they didn't conflict with the English code, witchcraft being illegal in England, too. Because of the way the trials had been going so wrong, the legislature established a permanent court for the capital cases and upper court, it's now a regular superior court, and also would not allow spectral evidence to be used against anyone. Those two things together, the people who were tried the following winter and the next spring, only three were found guilty, and those three were reprieved and eventually exonerated, they survived. During the summer of 1692, just the feeling was so out of hand that nobody had a chance, unless they could stay in jail for a good long time. Some of the women who were going to have babies but were condemned as witches got to wait until after they gave birth, and by then the panic was over and they got to survive and go home.

Sarah Jack:

There's so many layers to what was happening.

Marilynne K. Roach:

Stories within stories. It's not a simple story, good guys, bad guys, no.

Sarah Jack:

Is there anything that we need to set the record straight on around Bridget Bishop?

Marilynne K. Roach:

Well, her court papers were at an early date filed with another Goodwife Bishop's court papers so that they were assumed to be one person. This Bridget Bishop who lives in the middle of Salem and this Sarah Bishop who lived in the Danvers- Beverly line north of that in farming country. They're both married to men named Edward Bishop, which also makes it difficult. So Sarah and Edward Bishop ran an unlicensed, rowdy tavern. That story gets attached to Bridget, whose spector is identified by a few people as wearing a red petty coat or red bodice, which wasn't that unusual a color, if you could afford a good quality of dye. It's not considered too fancy necessarily, but the red petticoat, the tavern get put together, and she's running some dive somewhere in a lot of fiction, but yes, they're confused. Interesting character. Her second marriage before Edward was to an abusive husband, and she hit him back, and they both had to stand on the stalk, actually stand on in public as an apology for that sort of, which happened on Sunday. A genealogist figured her first husband was somebody Wasselbee, and if he didn't die just before, or on the voyage, shortly after they landed, because she gives birth in Boston to a child, who died. And there had been a child back in England who had died, also. She, at least a widow here in New England for a year before she marries Thomas Oliver. She supported herself somehow and moved to Salem and as her life there, which was apparently rocky. They do have a child, who's an adult, married woman in 1692. By then Bridget's Oliver has died. And she Bridget's married to one of the many Edward Bishops around, not necessarily related to the other Edward Bishops, but maybe someday someone will figure that out. So she's had an interesting life, and hard.

Sarah Jack:

She had child loss along with spouse loss. Would've that been looked at as just an experience many of the women were having, or would've that added to this list of negative things about her in people's eyes.

Marilynne K. Roach:

Sometimes the families where there had been a number of dead children blame the neighbors witching them too. Some other hard times that she had had to deal with, which maybe made her look cranky sometimes, I can identify. Not well, that's not my experience, but I can identify with her crankiness, but not the same reason. The crankiness seems to be standing up for her rights. Arguing with the neighbor whose chicken or Bridget's chickens got into the neighbor's garden and scratched it up, and she had words with the neighbor. But yes, she stood up for herself. Who owned the pig that was in contention? Was it hers? Should her husband have gone and sold it without asking.

Josh Hutchinson:

You've mentioned some trouble with her marriage to Thomas Oliver. What do we know about her relationships with him and with Edward?

Marilynne K. Roach:

They do have the child together, and that child survives. She grows up, but he hit her, and she hit him back. They both complained to neighbors at different times about being bruised by the other person. So she fought back. When they apparently did something in public, yelling at each other in public on a Sabbath, and they were both on the stand out in public with the crime on their hat or something. Be it stand out in public to the gaze of the populous or be fined. Thomas's grown daughter paid the fine for him and left stepmother to stand on the pillory, to the public gaze. So I guess she wasn't on the best of terms with her stepchildren, so it was odd, like Edward sounds not abusive, but on the other hand, he never shows up to speak on her behalf. Nobody speaks on her behalf. It's bad. It's, it's an interesting character. You hardly know he was still around, except she's identified as Edward Bishop's wife, something. And he shows up when Oliver's estate is settled after Bridget's death. He's living in the house that he built on the Oliver land that Bridget was given permission to use for the rest of her life, even though she was widowed, it didn't immediately pass to Oliver's heirs, interestingly enough. So he's in on the deeds and he's with probate, and the daughter inheritance, something like that. He certainly did not come to the and demand that his wife be perceived as an innocent person. John Proctor did that. He got arrested too. So there's that.

Sarah Jack:

Nobody was speaking up for her, but men were talking about dreaming about her, they were speaking about her. Why were they dreaming about her? Why were they complaining about that?

Marilynne K. Roach:

Pretty obviously dreams that certain men in the neighborhood had had. Either they found her threatening or alluring and therefore a threat. It's not my fault I had thoughts about her. Certainly it's all her doing in their minds, perhaps. She's identified by her clothing. They're obviously afraid of one reason or another. And the description of not being able to breathe, because she's pressing down on them in the night, supposedly, does match sleep disorder, which I think it's traditionally called the hag, where somebody dreams there's a witch on them trying to stop their breath, or sounds like those old legends of cats sitting on somebody's chest and sucking their breath out. They phrased their dreams in that manner, I think. Maybe she's so defiant. She's got fan base now. That is where you wanna be a fly on the wall.

Josh Hutchinson:

And you mentioned that she had a daughter who survived. What happened with her?

Marilynne K. Roach:

She's grown up and married a Christian, their first name. She's married to a fisherman. And they have a daughter. And the daughter's daughter was a school teacher in early 19th century Salem, taught all little kids to learn to read. She does have descendants, so they would just, I don't know how they got along with the neighbors, but after a few generations, they trusted to send their kids there to learn to read. And then they'd been, you know, the apology, reversal of attainder, and so forth. Or that generation just thought, we have come so far in this, these modern times, that would be like during the China trade years, but there were quite a few children in like the fourth generation. Rebecca Nurse was quite a different character and it didn't help her that she had a good reputation generally, and people spoke up for her. She had a, an extended family around her. Lots of kids. They're married, they have kids and the neighbors, the children to pull, testify for at least on paper, don't know if they called it to court. They get petitions signed. Lots of people signed the petition, which could be risky. By signing a petition, it might seem that then you, too, were backing a witch, if she's found guilty. But a lot of people stood up for her, and it still didn't do anything in the law. Whereas Bridget had a quarrelsome reputation, probably justified, she had reason to quarrel, but she's hanged, Rebecca's hanged. It was very dangerous.

Sarah Jack:

How do we know that Rebecca was so pious? Her contrast was so different to Bishop's.

Marilynne K. Roach:

Rebecca was a full member of the Church of Salem Town, lives in Salem Village, before the Village had its own parish. Her family supported her and a lot of neighbors did think highly of of her. I would say the level of support that she had indicated what people thought of her. And she was found not guilty, actually, the first part of her trial, which caused the afflicted witnesses, first those victims, to writhe in extreme pain and cry out that they were being hurt. If she's not actually indicted for that, at least, is a reason why the uh, chief justice had the jury reconsider some evidence that hadn't been emphasized before, where she had actually made the remark when certain confessed witches had been led into the court to testify. But she commented to whoever,"why are you bringing them in? They're one of us." Meaning us accused. The jury reconsidered whether she meant one of us confessed witches. She hadn't confessed, but was she witch? So the jury sent out. They come back and they ask,"what exactly did you mean by that statement?" And she doesn't say anything. She doesn't, so they figure, alright, she's guilty, they pronounce her guilty, and that's that. Then somebody tells Rebecca what had just happened and she realizes she hadn't heard the question from jury foreman. She's hard of hearing, considered elderly in her time, exhausted by all this and she lost her chance to speak up, presumably, would've helped. And might even have turned the tide of the trials, if somebody had actually been found not guilty at this point, but guilty. And that's how the court proceeds. Maybe it wouldn't have made a difference, but almost.

Josh Hutchinson:

She was nearly reprieved, wasn't she?

Marilynne K. Roach:

Yes. After the verdict comes down, then her family and supporters get depositions together and the petition and get it as far as Governor Phips, who does issue a reprieve, and we don't have the paperwork, but he, he did. And that caused such reactions of agony, presumably they believed it themselves, such a reaction from her supposed victims, that some gentlemen of Salem, not named but maybe the magistrates, persuaded the governor to rescind it, and she's back on the list. That was an up and down, up and down. Hopes dashed. Hopes revived. Quite a rollercoaster there.

Josh Hutchinson:

She has quite a number of descendants. Sarah's one. She and I are both descended from Mary Esty, and we know there's a very active Towne Cousin Association and of course there's the Rebecca Nurse Homestead. So she has quite more of a legacy than many of the other persons that were accused.

Marilynne K. Roach:

And lots of descendants. I've met many of them. The fact that the farm, or most of it is there, and the house, it helps make it more real if you can go to a place where things happen. And the Towne Family Association website and all that. I did give a talk on Six Women of Salem to one of the reunions several years ago.

Josh Hutchinson:

Do you wanna tell us anything about your new book you're working on?

Marilynne K. Roach:

I've my fingers is crossed. Makes you want to work a little magic spell to attract publishers, but you know, one mustn't do that. There's still a lot of work to do on it, but just proceeding chronologically, we've reached September. I need to fill in some blanks to explain things better or just blanks that, explain something more that's been lost, and the six guys are all very real. Some, realer than others. There's more information on some than on others, but there's that they were chosen as these six women were chosen because there is some biographical information. Just the trials where there might be a few papers to somebody about being arrested and jail bill or something, but what did they say? What were the neighbors saying about, and before all this blew up and the panic started getting out of hand, what did they, what were they doing the rest of their lives? Does it show up in town records? Especially for the men who had a wider world to move around in. Military stuff going on. The problems with French Canada, the French King, the English Glorious Revolution over there. What's going on in New York? What's going on in the wilds of Maine, practically coast, not a lot of hinterland for the English yet, but the indigenous people, the French allying, the economic situation. I had to try and find out something about all that, but it all touches the story, and I hope I know enough to at least make it logical.

Sarah Jack:

It's gonna be great. It's gonna be really important. Thanks for taking it on.

Marilynne K. Roach:

It's fascinating. It's whole bunch of rabbit holes, but they're all interesting. I hope they approve. Maybe sometimes a writer is more accurate than the subject would like that to be, depending what you're saying. But there can be surprises, too of it. Hathorne for example, was praised for his mercy at one point, not by the accused witches, but you'll see when it happens.

Josh Hutchinson:

Now here's Sarah with another important update.

Sarah Jack:

This is End Witch Hunts News. I am so excited to announce an incredible east coast speaking tour week that we get to assist with Dr. Leo Igwe, the director of the Advocacy for Alleged Witches nonprofit organization will be in the area. Myself and Josh Hutchinson are Salem Witch Trial descendants and co-founders of End Witch Hunts Movement, our parent organization. It is an incredible honor for us to organize a week of these speaking engagements during his May speaking tour in the United States and to accompany him as he speaks in both the Salem, Massachusetts area and in the Hartford, Connecticut area. Both places of historical significance to Early American Colony Witch Trials History. We would like to thank friends of the Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration Project, Rachel Christ-Doane and the Salem Witch Museum, for hosting a virtual presentation of Leo Igwe on Monday, May 15th. Please go to their Facebook event to RSVP. Witch persecutions and trials are ongoing incidents in Africa and other nations, reportedly at least 60. Witchcraft accusation is still a form of death sentence. Across the continent, thousands, mainly women and elderly persons or children are accused, tried, attacked, killed, imprisoned, or banished every year. Join the Salem Witch Trial Museum on May 15th for a fascinating virtual lecture given by Dr. Leo Igwe. In his presentation, he will use several cases to illustrate the range of Witch persecutions, and why this early modern phenomenon persists in contemporary Africa. The Zoom link will be shared on their event page 24 hours prior to the event. This first event at the Salem Witch Museum is virtual, but Dr. Leo Igwe will be with us in Salem, touring the historic sites guided by a local seasoned in the history, End Witch Hunts board of directors member, and Thou Shalt Not Suffer podcast host of"Minute with Mary," Mary Bingham. Tuesday, May 16th is your chance to experience a very special evening of in-person conversation with Leo at the Rebecca Nurse Homestead in Danvers. Please see the Facebook event for details. Thank you to Dan Gagnon and the homestead director and board members for hosting us. Isn't this a great week? Make sure you mark your calendars. Next you can enjoy an in-person speaking event with Dr. Igwe at Central Connecticut State University on Wednesday, May 17th. Thank you for hosting, Dr. Kathy Hermes, Connecticut Explored Magazine, and the University Library. While in the Hartford area, Leo will be touring known witch trial historic sites with author and co-founder of the Connecticut Witch Memorial Facebook page, and End Witch Hunts board of directors member Beth Caruso. But wait, there is more. On Thursday afternoon, May 18th, Leo will be presenting at the Stanley-Whitman House living history center in Farmington, Connecticut. This is hosted by friend of the podcast, Andy Verzosa. I want to break off to congratulate Andy and the Stanley-Whitman House. They have been selected by the award committee of the Connecticut League of History Organizations to be awarded, not one but two 2023 Awards of Merit. The first award is for the museum's book, Memento Mori: Remembered Death, and the second award is for their commissioned play, The Last Night. And last but not least, you can support the Stratford Historic Society by attending their inaugural Goody Bassett Ball on May 20th. This is not a speaking engagement for Leo, but Sarah, Josh, and Leo and other members of the Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration Project will be in attendance. And we would love to talk to you about the history, the podcast, and how the speaking tour went. Thank you to all these witch hunt and witch trial advocates and leaders of witch trial history for your thoughtful collaborations and for giving Leo a platform to amplify his message. We want to see you there, listeners. Please come hear the talk and shake hands with us. This is a very important and special opportunity that is history in the making. This is my first time to the historic sites of my ancestors, Rebecca Nurse and Mary Esty. This is Leo's first in-person interactions with historic witch trial communities in New England. Come join us and make this a week that magnifies the importance of witch hunt education and action against it. Look for Facebook events for all these occasions posted by our social media. Would you like to know more about Leo or any of these event hosts? You are in luck, because we have some great podcast episodes for you to listen to. For more on Leo, listen to episode,"Witchcraft Accusations in Nigeria with Dr. Leo Igwe." And to learn more about Beth Caruso and Dr. Kathy Hermes, listen to episode,"Between God and Satan." And to learn more about Dan Gagnon, listen to the episode"Rebecca Nurse of Salem." And to learn more about Andy Verzosa and The Last Night play, listen to episode,"Introducing The Last Night, a Connecticut Witch Trials Play" and keep your eyes open, because another episode with Andy Verzosa will be publishing in the next few weeks. Get involved by visiting endwitchhunts.org. To support us, purchase books from our bookshop or merch from our Zazzle shop. Our links are in the show description. Come hear Leo. Invite your friends and family. See you there.

Josh Hutchinson:

Thank you, Sarah, for that information. We'll be sure to head out and attend these events.

Sarah Jack:

Meet you there.

Josh Hutchinson:

Thank you for listening to Thou Shall Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast.

Sarah Jack:

Join us next week for our next round of Connecticut Witch Trials 101.

Josh Hutchinson:

Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

Sarah Jack:

Visit thoushaltnotsuffer.com.

Josh Hutchinson:

Tell all your friends, family, acquaintances, neighbors, and pets about Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast.

Sarah Jack:

Keep supporting our efforts to End Witch Hunts. Visit endwitchhunts.org again.

Josh Hutchinson:

Have a great today and a beautiful tomorrow.