1. Giles Cory1
was born before 19 Aug 1621 in North Hampton, North Hamptonshire, England.
He was baptized on 19 Aug 1621 in St. Sepulcher's Church, Northampton, England.
He died on 19 Sep 1692 in Salem, Essex Co, MA. Giles was the son
of Giles and Elizabeth Cory. His birth recorded, parish of St. Sepulchre.
A short description of Giles Cory is given in "Genealogical and Family History
of the State of New Hampshire". It is full of inaccuracies, but is a good
The first on record in this country was Giles Corey, who was residing in Salem,
Massachusetts, in 1649, with his wife Margaret. Their daughter Deliverance
was born there August 5, 1658. The mother died previous to 1664, and on April
11 of that year Giles Corey married (second" Mary Britz[sic]. She died
August 28, 1684, at the age of sixty-three years, and he had a third wife, Martha,
who was admitted to the church in Salem Village (now Danvers", April 27,
1690. She was the victim of the terrible witchcraft delusion in Salem, and was
apprehended in March, 1692, and hung on the following Thursday (She was not
hung until Thurday, September 22, 1692). In a very short time her husband was
also arrested and was imprisoned, in April. He was kept in confinement and
moved about from one jail to another, going to Boston and back again to Salem,
and was finally executed (The word executed is not correct, he was tortured
to death." on September 19, 1692, in the most horrible manner ever used
on the continent. He was pressed to death, being the only one who ever suffered
that form of execution in Massachusetts. He was a member of the first church
of Salem, from which he was excommunicated the day preceding his death. Such
was the tenacity of the execrable witchcraft delusion in Salem that this sentence
was not expunged from the church record until twenty years after, and a period
of eleven years elapsed before justice was done to the memory of his wife in
the Danvers church. Though a petition for relief appears in the Essex records
on behalf of the children, no mention of their names is found except of Martha,
who made the petition in behalf of the family, and Deliverance before mentioned.
It is probable that there were several sons. Jonathan and Thomas Corey are
mentioned as having been at Chelmsford at an early period
The following is taken from the "Cory Family Newsletter", Volume 7,
number 3, Sep 1992. It contains what I feel are several errors.
Giles Cory was born ca 1619 in England. There is, I am told but not have had
the privilege of obtaining a copy of his baptismal record from England. When
he arrived in the Americas is not certain but there is evidence he was in Salem
in 1640. There are quite a few entries in the court documents as to his behavior,
it was not all good, but in those times any accusation was an offense against
the state. Giles married first, Margaret, the mother of all his children. We
believe they were married in England. Giles had no male heirs (I don't believe
this to be true. It seem to be predicated on his will, which is not enough
justification to make that statement).
There were Martha, married William Cleaves in 1675. They had three children.
Martha died in 1683. Margaret, also married William Cleaves (No, this was
William Clements." on 18-May-1683. They had five children. After William
died, Margaret married Jonathan Biles. Deliverance born 5-Aug-1658, married
Henry Cross (No, this was Henry Crosby." 5-Jun-1683. Elizabeth married
John Moulton. Mary, born 1653 married John Parker. She died before Feb-1697.
They had seven children.
Giles second wife was Mary Brite, they were married 11 April 1673 (No, this is
recorded twice in the Salem V.R. as 1664). She died 27-Aug-1684. She is buried
in Salem Grave yard. Giles third wife was Martha Penoyer, widow of Henry Rich.
They were married in 1685 (This is more likely 1690, when she was admitted
to the church). Martha had a son Thomas. He shows up as a petitioner for loss
and damages resulting from his mother being hanged illegally during the witch
trials. He was awarded £50 on 29-Jun-1723. "Corys of America"
mentioned that this may have been Thomas Rich, born Sep 1642(?) in England.
One source, ROLLAND COREY, says that Giles Cory came to Salem, MA in 1644.
Giles Corey, Antram's boy, first appears in Salem Court records, as a witness
in the court, July 11, 1644, against Obadiah Govis, servant of Thomas Trusler,
who was ordered to be severely whipped for the
Giles was listed as a watchman in 1647.
In the Salem court, June 28, 1649, Giles Corey was fined for stealing wheat,
powder, soap, flax, tobacco, bacon, pork, butter and knives from Mr. Curwin
and Thomas Anthrom.
The use of the phrase "Antram's boy" is unclear to me. In 1644 Giles
would have been 23 years old. The word "boy" does not fit this interpretation
well. In the above court record Thomas Anthrom is mentioned. The phase would
also fit if Giles were the servant or indentured to Thomas Anthrom. One or both
of these spellings would then be incorrect.
In "The History of Salem", Vol. II in a footnote at the bottom of page
193, it says:
Giles Corey was born about 1619; married, first Margaret ______; second, Mary
Brite April 11, 1673 (This is an error, her name was Mary Bright and she was
married April 11, 1664); third, Martha ______; pressed to death Sept. 19,
1692; wife Martha was hung as a witch Sept. 22, 1692; Children:
1. Deliverance, born in Salem Aug. 5, 1658; married Henry Crosby June 5, 1683;
2. Margaret; married William Cleaves (Spelled Clements in the Vital Statics
Marblehead and Beverly) of Beverly;
3. Elizabeth; married John Moulton of Salem.
Mr. Corey lived in what is now Peabody about ten rods westerly of the West Peabody
Junction railroad station, adjoining the southerly side of the location of
the Salem and Lowell railroad. Caleb Moore stated that when he was in Virginia
with his father, the latter bought Mary, Cory's second wife, out of a London
Giles brought suit 26-Feb-1650 [26 (12) 1650]
Feb. 18, 1661/2, Giles Corey, in consideration of some of his land having been
made use of for a highway, was granted a small strip of about two acres of land
near that which was Roger Morey's meadow, and also a spot or hole of meadow near
Henry Phelps' house and near his own meadow.
On April 11, 1664 he married Mary Bright. Margaret must have died between 1658
and 1664, "Corys of America" lists the date about 1663. Mary "was
bought out a London ship in Virginia by the father of Caleb More; who testified
to this and to her good character
when she was accused in 1678".
Salem December Ye 10th 1678. -Caleb More aged thirty yeares: or thare about testifieth
that he being with his father in Virginia: When his father bought Mary which
in now Ye wife of Gyels Cory; out of a London ship: and douth testify that Ye
hole ships company gau har the caretar of onest Seuel woman: and douth further
testify thatt wither in the the time of couming home in Ye ketch or while she
liued with my father or senc she has ben Cory's Wife. that hee did neuer hare
har Sware: or See har ouer taken in drinck: or Spake Ryproch fuly of har naibors:
or of any body else: nitha did I euer hare any body else Saye any such things
Giles Cory signed a petition Oct 10, 1667, dealing with "Constable Watches"
About 1670, his son John or Jonathan was born.
He deposed June 17, 1672, [17 (4" 1672] age about 55 years.
November of 1675, Giles Cory is the subject of a testimony by Mrs. Mary Cory.
About the last of November, 1675, as Mrs. Mary Corey testified, Elizabeth, wife
of Zachariah Goodale, told her that the latter's brother Jacob Goodale had been
to Zachariah's house and got into the cellar and took some apples. Zachariah
was then coming in with a log of wood, and laying it down, he took a stick and
"pade (pade - this is the Old English word, paid, meaning to chastise or
beat.) hem to som porpos." About ten days later, in the beginning of December,
Giles Corey unreasonably beat Jacob with a stick of about an inch in diameter
nearly a hundred blows in the presence of Elisha Kebee, who told Corey that he
would knock him down if he did not forbear. About ten days later, Corey went
to the house of Zachariah Goodale, and told him that his brother Jacob Goodale
had had a fall. He was afraid that he had broken his arm, and desired him to
take Jacob to Mrs. Mole's in the town. Jacob was then thirty-four years of age,
and up to that time he had been lusty. Now, Jacob went "very ravel (ravel
- as though confused)" and stooping, and he was very pale and his eyes sunken.
Thereupon, Zachariah went to Corey's house, and saw Jacob, who was there. The
roads were slippery, and Corey said that his horse was not caulked, so he could
not go with him. Jacob went so badly, Zachariah asked him if he had any other
hurt than his arm, but he would not tell. Zachariah then requested that some
one might go with him; whereupon Goody Corey went with him.
(Goody - [from goodwife] a woman, especially an old woman or housewife, of lowly
social status: formerly used as in New England, as a title with the surname)
Jacob died a few days later, and inquest was held. The jury consisted of Nathaniel
Felton, Francis Nurse, Anthony Buxton, Michael Shafilin, Jeremiah Meacham, John
Traske, Thomas Small, Samuel Very, Thomas Preston, John Cooke, Joshua Rea and
Eleazer Giles, and they made the following report: "we find several wrongs
he hath had in his body as upon his left arm and upon his right thigh a great
bruise which is very much swold and upon the reins of his back in color differing
from the other parts of his body we caused an incision to be made much bruised
and run with a jelly and the skin broke upon the outside of each buttock."
For his abuse Corey was fined.
In July of 1678, Giles Cory is once again of the subject of a court action. In
"The History of Salem", Vol. III, pages 118 and 119, it says:
A small house belonging to John Procter, which stood on the northerly side of
Lowell Street, about one hundred and fifty rods easterly from the Georgetown
branch of the Boston and Maine Railroad, was partially burned in July, 1678.
The roof and that part of the walls above two feet upward from the upper floor
was burned away. This occurred about two hours before day, and but for the timely
appearance and strenuous efforts of John Phelps and Thomas Fuller, who passing,
it would have been wholly destroyed. Procter suspected that Giles Corey set
the fire. A warrant was issued on the twenty-fourth for his appearance in court,
as he had done so many ill things to his neighbors, --threatened and suggested
fires, etc. He proved that he was at home and abed all the night of the fire,
and was discharged.
On August 27, 1684, his second wife Mary, died at the age of 63 (as is marked
on her grave stone". He married for a third time, April 27, 1690, to Martha.
Martha was the admitted to the church at Salem Village, now Danvers, where Giles
In "Mayflower Families", Volume III, page 134, it mentions that Martha
Penoyer married Henry Rich at Stanford in December 1680 and later married Giles
Cory of Salem.
Between 1664 and 1692 Giles Cory witnessed the deed when a neighbor, Capt. Thomas
Flint, bought the house owned by William Dounton for £100. William Dounton
was Thomas Flint's father-in-law.
Both Giles and Martha were victims of the Salem witchcraft trials. Martha was
convicted and hanged for witchcraft on September 22, 1692. Giles Cory was pressed
to death for refusing to plead on September 19, 1692.
His will is presented in several works:
Written on the twenty forth day of April anno dom one thousand six hundred ninety
two, by Gyles Coree (his mark and seale". Personally appeared and did acknowledge
this instrument to bee his act and voluntary deed. Signed sealed and delivered
Ipswch July Ye 25th 1692.
The will so states:
In consideration of which and for ye fatherly Love and Affection wch I have &
doe beare unto my beloved soñe in Law William Cleeves of Ye town of Beaverly.
in ye aboves county and to my soñe in Law John Moulton of ye town of Salem
in sd county both yeomen.
The will goes on to state that Giles gives to these sons in Laws all his property,
real and personal including stock, lands and meadow, house, bedding, money, and
all movable estate.
After Giles death, Capt. Thomas Flint bought his property to add to his estate.
This house was located "in the triangle west of the West Peabody Station
and north of Pine St." The 1692 Salem map Shows the Giles Cory property
was located across the road from the Thomas Flint property.
Salem Witch Craft Trials
The following is taken in part from:
The "Cory Family Newsletter", Volume 7, number 3, Sep 1992,
"The History of Salem", Volume III, pages 286-293,
"The Witchcraft Episode", pages 36-57,
"Salem In The Seventeenth Century", Chapter XXV,
"The Witches at Salem, 1692", by Dick Eastman on the Compuserve Genealogy
"Witches and Wizards", by Robert Ellis Cahill former Essex County
(Mass.) Sheriff and
Keeper of the Salem Jail.
The opprobrious epithet of witch-city which has tenaciously clung to Salem since
1692 is due to the fact that the witch trials and executions took place in that
town. The source of the excitement which resulted in the death for alleged witchcraft
of twenty persons within a year, lay in the a neighboring settlement, now the
town of Danvers. At the time it was a parish of Salem Town, known as Salem Village.
Difficulties and acrimonious disputes over church affairs had long prevailed
in this community, which reached a climax when the Rev. Samuel Parris was finally
chosen, in 1689, to take charge of the parish affairs. Parris appears to have
entered the ministry somewhat late in life and had spent considerable time in
the West Indies in business pursuits. He brought with him to Salem Village two
native servants, or slaves of West Indian and African blood, known as Indian
John and Tituba his wife---the immediate instigators of the events which were
soon to follow.
Parris' difficulties began at once. He was at odds with his parishioners over
salary, his parsonage, church rates, and in fact, over all matters pertaining
to the conduct of his office. This led to a degree of bitterness in the community
unusual even in those times of agitated public feeling. Apart from church affairs,
there were also many disputes as to land rights, and personal animosities were
widespread and rancorous. The setting was complete for an emotional outbreak.
In the long and bitter winter of 1691-92, some young women and girls at Salem
Village had some meetings to learn palmistry and fortune-telling from Tituba.
She was skilled in necromancy and various magic arts---perhaps African in origin,
perhaps practiced by Indians---and found apt pupils in the children, who soon
acquired proficiency in their use. Tituba claimed to know how to discover witches
and the children may have read about evidences of witchcraft, but at any rate
those impressionable young people soon began to act queerly and have spasms and
These sessions apparently fired the imaginations of the girls, several of whom
later started performing nightmarish fits and telling tales of witchcraft and
of being possessed of evil spirits amongst them in Salem. On 20-Jan-1692, nine-year-old
Elizabeth Parris and eleven-year-old Abigail Willams began to exhibit strange
behavior, such as blaphemous screaming, convulsive seizures, trance-line states
and mysterious spells. Within a short time, several other Salem Girls began
to demonstrate similar behavior.
Doubtless at the outset, all this was innocent enough, until it attracted the
attention of the elders who were at first mystified and then alarmed. Instead
of keeping the children quietly at home and breaking up the meetings, their parents
called in the local physician, Dr. Griggs. The doctor, who knew nothing about
nerves and believed in witchcraft, finally decided, as was usual when the diagnosis
was in doubt, that the actions of the girls in their fits and contortions could
only be explained on the basis of witchcraft.
This group, know as the afflicted children, included:
1. Elizabeth Parris, nine years old, daughter of the Reverend Samuel Parris.
2. Abigail Williams, eleven years old, a niece of Mr. Parris and member of
3. Ann Putnam, twelve years old, daughter of Sergeant Thomas Putnam, clerk
4. Mercy Lewis, seventeen years old, who had been in the family of the Reverend
George Burroughts while he was at the Village, but now was a servant in Sergeant
5. Mary Wolcott, seventeen years old, daughter of Captain Jonathan Wolcott,
of the parish.
6. Elizabeth Hubbard, seventeen years old, a niece of Mrs. Griggs, wife of
7. Elizabeth Booth, eighteen years old.
8. Susannah Sheldon, eighteen years old.
9. Mary Warren, twenty years old, servant in the family of John Proctor.
10. Sarah Churchill, twenty years old, servant in the family of George Jacobs,
These ten, with the occasional help of three married women, Mrs. Ann Putnam,
mother of one of the girls, a Mrs. Pope, and Goody Bibber from Wenham, provided
all the initial testimony on which nineteen persons were hanged, and well over
a hundred more were cast into prison.
During the early spring of 1692 these children continued to have fits and convulsions
at their meetings and attracted considerable attention to their antics and actions.
They were all attributed by the people to witchcraft, and presently the children
under this favorable notice began to extend their activities to the meeting-house
on Sundays, crying out that they saw yellow birds sitting on the minister's hat,
and other similar nonsense. It is not on record that Mr. Parris tried to suppress
his niece and her friends and some of the parish grew annoyed and stayed at home.
In late February Mr. Parris sent for the neighboring ministers to come to his
house to conduct solemn services to try to rescue the children from the clutches
of the Evil One. Prayer services and community fasting were conducted by Reverand
Samuel Parris in hopes of relieving the evil forces that plagued them. They corroborated
the opinion of Dr. Griggs that the children's actions were the work of witches.
In an effort to expose the "witches", Indian John baked a witch cake
made with rye meal and the afflicted girl's urine. This counter-magic was meant
to reveal the identities of the "witches" to the afflicted girls.
Pressure was put on the children to tell who afflicted them an they began to
name various people: Goody Good, Goody Osburn, and the old Indian woman Tituba,
and warrants were obtained for their arrest. They were arrested on February 28,
On March 1, 1692, John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin, the magistrates, proceeded
in state to the Village to hear the cases, escorted by the marshal of Essex and
the constables, and stopped at Nathaniel Ingersoll's tavern, but the gathering
was so great that they had to adjourn to the meeting-house.
The three accused women were brought to Salem Town and examined by Magistrates
Jonathan Corwin and John Hathorne. Corwin's home, the "Witch House",
still stands at the corner of North and Essex Streets in Salem, providing guiding
tours and tales of the first witchcraft trails.
Before an excited crowd, all of whom believed in the possible existence of witchcraft
and in a personal devil, Sarah Good, Sarah Osburn, and Tituba were brought in.
In spite of the "afflicted children" who charged them with hurting
them, the first two steadfastly maintained that they had made no compact with
the Devil, had not hurt the children, and were innocent; but the surprising thing
is that Tituba admitted that she did serve the Devil; that her fellow prisoners
were witches; also that they rode around on broomsticks accompanied by familiar
spirits and did all sorts of injury. Tibuba confessed to seeing the devil who
appeared to her "sometimes like a hog and sometimes like a great dog".
What's more, Tituba testified that there was a conpiracy of witches at work
in Salem. For five days the examination continued, and then the magistrates committed
all three of the women to the jail in Boston.
The girls, under the lead of the elder girl, started to tell lies about different
town folks which included Witchcraft accusations.
Over the next weeks, other townspeople came forward and testified that they,
too, had been harmed by or had seen strange apparitions of some of the community
members. As the witch hunt continued, accusations were made against many different
Frequently denonuced were women whose behavior or economic circumstances were
somehow disturbing to the social order and conventions of the time. Some of
the accused had previous records of criminal activity, including withchcraft,
but others were faithful churchgoers and people of high standing in the community.
Sarah Osborne and Sarah Dustin were both convicted of witchcraft and sentenced
to be hung. Both died in the Salem Dungeon from exposure, ill treatment and
lack of adequate food before the sentences could be carried out. It is also
said that Sarah Osborne died two months later, May 10, in the Boston jail.
Sarah Good was tried and convicted in June and hanged on the nineteenth of July,
while Tituba lay in jail over a year and was finally sold as a slave for her
board bill, as the Reverend Samuel Parris, her master, refused to redeem her.
John Willard early assisted in arresting the accused, but he had expressed sympathy
with those under condemnation, and said, "Hang them, they they are all witches."
It was latter reported that Mercy Lewis and Mary Walcott, while investigating
an illness in the Wilkins family, that they "saw the apparitions of Sarah
Buckley and John Willard upon the throat and breast of Henry Wilkins," and
saw them press and choke him until he died.
A warrant for the arrest of Willard was issued May 10th on complaint of Thomas
Fuller and others; but he could not be located until the eighteenth, when he
was produced in court, having been found in Groton. He was given a preliminary
examination at Beadle's Tavern, in Salem, at which the deposition of Mrs. Ann
Putnam was probably put in evidence. The deposition concerned Willard, but finished
with these words:
. . . Joseph Fuller's apparition also the same day came to me and told me that
Goody Corey had killed him.
March 19th, a warrant was issued for the arrest of Martha Cory, wife of Giles
Cory, and she was immediately taken into custody. She was examined before Justices
Hathorne and Corwin. A woman of superior judgment and discretion, from the beginning
she resolutely and persistently denounced the whole witchcraft proceedings.
She endeavored to persuade her husband not to attend the hearings, nor to countenance
the prosecutions in any manner. It is said that once she took the saddle off
his horse to prevent him from going to an examination.
Martha Cory was generally disliked by her neighbors, something that may have
been a contributing factor to her being accused. Years earlier she had given
birth to an illegitimate child which apparently had not been well-received by
the Puritans of Salem. When the girls first mentioned the name of Mrs. Cory,
Edward Putnam and Ezekiel Cheever went to see her about the matter, March 12th.
They saw Ann Putnam on the way, and asked her what clothes Mrs. Cory wore when
her apparition appeared to her as Ann had said. Ann said that she was so blinded
she could not see. Arriving at the Cory house, Mrs. Cory said to them, "I
know what you have come for. You are come to talk with me about being a witch,
but I am none. I cannot help people talking about me." She inquired whether
the afflicted had attempted to describe her clothes. This last statement was
deemed to be supernatural, and was used in her trial later on. She told them
that she did not think there were any witches.
Martha Cory, Giles third wife and Rebecca Nurse were arrested March 19th. Probably
the arrest of Rebecca Nurse was instigated by the enmity of the Putnams, who,
mother and daughter, were among the chief accusers though the following months.
Overwhelmed by the accusations against two such respected persons as Goodwives
Cory and Nurse and inflamed by a sermon preached by Rev. Deodat Lawson, which
was interrupted by the antics of several of the prosecuted children, popular
feeling reached a degree of panic, which precluded any possible control of the
On March 28 Elizabeth Proctor was denounced as a witch and on April 3, Sarah
Cloyce, Rebecca Nurse's sister, was accused of witchcraft.
On April 11, the colony as a whole took cognizance of the trouble, and the Deputy
Governor Thomas Danforth and six magistrates, James Russell, John Hathorne, Isaac
Addington, Major Samuel Appleton, Captain Samuel Sewall, and Jonathan Corwin
appeared in Salem to hold court.
Elizabeth Proctor and Sarah Cloyce were examined before Hathorne, Corwin, Deputy
Governor Thomas Danforth, and Captain Samuel Sewall. During this examination,
John Proctor was also accused and imprisoned.
In the examination of Martha Cory, the following colloquies occurred:---
You are now in the hands of authority. Tell me, now why you hurt these persons?
I do not.
Pray give me leave to go to prayer. (This request was made at sundry times.)
We do not send for you to go to prayer, but tell me why hurt these.
I am an innocent person. I never had to do with witchcraft since I was born.
am a gospel woman.
How could you tell, then, that the child was bid to observe what clothes you
wore when some one came to speak with you?
(Cheever interrupted her and bid her not begin with a lie, and so Edward Putnam
declared the matter.)
Who told you that?
He said the child said.
You speak falsely. (Then Edward Putnam read again.)
Why did you ask if the child asked what clothes you wore?
My husband told me the others told.
Goodman Cory, did you tell her? (The old man denied that he told her so.)
Did you say your husband told you so?
Cory --- no answer.
You dare thus lie in all this assembly. You are now before authority. I expect
the truth. You promised it. Speak now and tell who told you what clothes.
Once the children cried, "A man is whispering in her ear.
What did he say to you?
We must not believe all that these distracted children say.
In his report of this trial, Mr. Parris said: When she bit her lip, several of
the afflicted were bitten; when her hands were at liberty, they were pinched;
Mrs. Cory was badgered by Hathorne, badgered by Corwin, badgered by Rev. Mr.
Noyes, badgered by the Marshall and others.
Her own husband testified against her, and said that in the evening, sitting
by the fire, she asked him to go to bed; he told her that he would go to prayer,
and when he went to prayer he not utter his desires with any sense nor open his
mouth to speak; she perceived it and came toward him. In a little while, he
prayed. Sometime in the previousweek, he brought an ox well out of the woods
about noon and the ox lay down in the yard. When he went to yoke him, he could
not rise, but dragged his hinder parts as if he had been hip shot, but afterward
rose. Cory had a cat the same week which was strangely and suddenly taken sick
and he thought she would die. Mrs. Cory asked him to knock her in the head, but
he did not, and she recovered. Mrs. Cory was wont to sit up after he had gone
to bed, and he had seen her kneel on the hearth, as if she was at prayer, but
During her examination, Mrs. Pope threw a shoe at her and it struck on her head.
After the same absurd scenes and alleged evidence, Sarah Cloyse and John Proctor
and his wife Elizabeth, with Rebecca Nurse, Martha Cory, and Dorcas Good, the
little five-year-old daughter of Sarah, who had been held in Salem, were sent
to Boston Jail.
Rebecca Nurse was first granted a reprieve by the jury in her witchcraft case.
Judge John Hathorne refused to accept the verdict and he convinced the jury to
change their verdict. Judge Hathorne is now known as Salem's "witch hanging
judge" and also was the great-great-grandfather of Nathaniel Hawthorne,
author of the "House of Seven Gables." John Hathorne is buried in the
Charter Street "Old Burying Point."
He was a Farmer in Salem, Essex Co, MA. This examination was most
unfortunate, as it immediately gave the matter importance throughout the colony,
whereas it had been a local affair up to that time.
As if there was not excitement enough, the Reverend Deodate Lawson was invited
back to preach a powerful lecture-day sermon on the text, "And the Lord
said unto Satan, the Lord rebuke thee, O Satan! even the Lord that has chosen
Jerusalem rebuke thee; is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?" As
may be supposed, he handled the Devil in a way to let no one doubt his reality,
or the utter damnation that would follow any association with him. This did
not tend to allay the excitement.
The accusers were not satiated yet. Warrants and commitments now followed in
rapid secession. The next victim was Giles Cory, eighty years of age (Really
71 years old.). He was infatuated by the storm of witchcraft, and attended the
hearings. At last the girls did not think that he was as strong as he ought
to be in some of his evidence in a case, and cried out upon him, declaring that
he afflicted them with fits and pinches.
On April 18th, Giles Cory and Mary Warren of the Village, Abigail Hobbs of Topsfield,
and Bridget Bishop of Salem were arrested. On April 19th, they were examined.
Only Abigail Hobbs confessed.
The court ordered Cory's hands to be tied, and they asked him if it were not
enough to "act witchcraft at other times, but must you do it now in face
of authority?" He replied, "I am a poor creature and cannot help it."
Again, a magistrate exclaimed, "Why do you tell such wicked lies against
witnesses?" One of his hands was loosed and the girls were afflicted.
He held his head on on side, and the heads of the afflicted were held on one
side. He drew in his cheeks, and the cheeks of the afflicted were sucked in.
This was a preliminary examination. He was never formally tried, as he would
not plead. He was committed to jail.
Two days later, April 22th, nine more, Nehemiah Abbott, William and Deliverence
Hobbs, Edward and Sarah Bishop, Mary Easty, Mary Black, Sarah Wildes, and Mary
English were examined before Hathorne and Corwin. Only Nehemiah was cleared of
May 2, Sarah Morey, Lydia Dustin, Susannah Martin, and Dorcas Hoar were examined
by Hathorne and Corwin.
Several other arrests followed.
Reverend George Burroughs had earlier been pastor of the Salem Village church
but had left for a parish in Wells, Maine after arguments with Ann Putnam, the
mother of the 12-year-old of the same name. In 1692, daughter Ann Putnam testified
that Rev. Burroughs had appeared before her in an apparition one night asking
her to sign the Devil's books. Two women also appeared in this apparition, Ann
Putnam reported that they were the Rev. Burroughs' first and second wives. These
wives "told" Ann Putnam that Rev. Burroughs had murdered both of them.
Based upon this apparition, on May 4, Rev. George Burroughs was arrested in Wells,
Maine and brought back to Salem. Burroughs was examined by Hathorne, Corwin,
Sewall, and William Stoughton on May 9. One of the afflicted girls, Sarah Churchill,
was also exammined.
May 10th, Geoge Jacobs, Sr. and his granddaughter Margaret were examined before
Hathorne and Corwin. Margaret confessed and testified tha her grandfather and
George Burroughs were both witches.
On May 14th, several more warrents, including one for Elizabeth Cory of Charlestown,
were issued. This continued through the first week of June.
Also on May 14th, Increase Mather returned from England, bringing with him a
new charter and the new governor, Sir William Phips.
Now the trouble took a new turn. A woman in Andover was sick of some fever not
understood, so her husband posted down to Salem Village to get a couple of the
"afflicted children" to come up and say who was bewitching her. They
came and trouble spread like wildfire. Dudley Bradstreet, son of the old Governor,
was the magistrate, and at first went along with the excitement, but, when some
fifty persons had been arrested, he declined to go further. He was, of course,
suspected, so he and his wife and brother fled and escaped. A dog supposed to
have been bewitched by the brother was executed!
May 18th, Mary Easty was released from prison. Yet, due to the outcries and
protests of her accusers, she was arrested a second time.
May 27th, a new court of primarly Boston men was appointed by the new Governor,
Sir William Phips. The special Court of Oyer and Terminer comprised of seven
judges to try the witchcraft cases. Appointed were Lieutenant Governor William
Stoughon, Nathaniel Saltonstall, Bartholomew Gedney, Peter Sergeant, Samuel Sewall,
Wait Still Winthrop, John Richards, John Hathorne, and Jonathan Corwin.
These magistrates based their judments and evaluations on various kinds of intangible
evidence, including direct confessions, supernatural attributes (such as "witchmarks",
and reactions of the afflicted girls. Spectral evidence, based on the aaumption
that the Devil could assume the "specter" of an innocent person, was
relied upon despite its controversial nature.
Martha Carrier, John Alden, Wilmott Redd, Elizabeth Howe, and Phillip English
were exmined before Hathorne, Corwin, and Gedney on May 31.
John Alden, son of the couple John Alden and Priscilla Mullins, was a resident
of Boston when accused by the young girls of Salem of witchcraft. Alden was arrested
and brought to Salem to face the girls. When Alden approached them in court,
the girls who had accused him all fell to the floor in a faint. Alden then turned
to Judge Hathorne and said, "What's the reason you don't fall when I look
at you?" Hathorne had no answer, but he imprisoned Alden anyway. Three months
later John Alden managed to escape from jail and he was never apprehended.
On June 2nd, the initial session of the Court of Oyer and Terminer was held.
The court held its meetings in the town-house and began its sessions the first
week in June. They tried and sentenced Bridget Bishop.
Soon after Bridget Bishop's trail, Nathaniel Saltonstall resigned from the court,
dissatisfied with its proceedings.
Bridget Bishop was the first to be hung for witchcraft. There is still debate
today as to whether or not she should be included in the list of Salem witches
of 1692. Bridget Bishop had been tried for witchcraft in 1679 and acquitted.
She was a twice-widowed tavern owner, owning "an ordinary" on the road
between Salem and Beverly. She served a new and powerful drink called "rum"
to many of the sailors who frequented her place. The sailors also played an evil
new game called "shuffleboard that upset many of the neighbors. Bridget
wore bright clothes, a major offense in the eyes of the Puritans of Salem. Bridget
apparently was condemned more for her lifestyle and for the veiled accusations
of prostitution that cannot be proven or disproven today. Bridget Bishop was
hanged June 10 in Salem, the first official execution of the Salem witch trails.
Following her death, accusations of witchcraft escalated, but the trials were
not unopposed. Several townspeople signed petitions on behalf of accused people
they believed to be innocent.
During this time, two dogs were also hung by the neck at Gallows Hill because
one of the girls said they had appeared to her as the Devil's disciples and gave
her the evil eye. On June 29-30, they tried and sentenced five more, Rebecca
Nurse, Susannah Martin, Sarah Wildes, Sarah Good, and Elizabeth Howe.
The following dialogue is based on the exmination of Sarah Good by Judges Hathorne
and Corwim, from "The Salem Witchcraft Papers", Book II, page 355.
What evil spirit have you familiarity with?
Have you made no contract with the devil?
Why do you hurt these children?
I do not hurt them. I scorn it.
Who do you imploy then to do it?
I imploy no body.
What creature do you imploy then?
No creature. I am falsely accused.
In mid-July an effort to expose witches afflicting his life, Joseph Ballard of
nearby Andover enlisted the aid of the accusing girls of Salem. This action
marked the beginning of the Andover witch hunt.
July 19, Rebecca Nurse (age 70), Susannah Martin, Elizabeth Howe, Sarah Good,
and Sarah Wildes were executed.
August 2-6, the court condemned six more, George Jacobs, Sr., Martha Carrier,
George Burroughs, John and Elizabeth Proctor, and John Willard.
All were executed on the nineteenth except Elizabeth Proctor by hanging on Gallows
The September sitting of the court began the sixth and ended on the seventeenth.
The trial of Mrs. Cory occurred September 10th, and she was convicted and sentenced
on the same day. Mary Easty, Alice Parker, Ann Pudeator, Dorcas Hoar, and Mary
Bradbury were also tried and condemmed.
Mary Bradbury of Salisbury was found guilty of witchcraft, but managed to escape
the jail before execution. She apparently had assistance in this from her friends
and relatives, she was never re-captured. By Sep 17, Margaret Scott, Wilmott
Redd, Samuel Wardwell, Mary Parker, Abigail Faulkner, Rebecca Eames, Mary Lacy
and her mother Ann Foster, and Abigail Hobbs were tried and condemmed.
Mary Lacy of Andover was accused of witchcraft and admitted to it. She said "me
and Martha Carrier did both ride on a stick or pole when we went to witch meetings
at Salem Village." Ironically, those who confessed to being witches were
not executed, but many of those who denied witchcraft were hung. Mary Lacy was
allowed to go free after her "confession" but she had damned Martha
Carrier in the process. Martha was hung a few weeks later. Mary Lacy's mother,
Ann Foster, died in a Salem Dungeon due to ill treatment from Sheriff George
At the September sitting of the court, Giles was arraigned. The following deposition
is by one of the girls who accused Giles of witchcraft. The document is from
the records of the Court of Oyer and Terminer, September 9, 1692, property of
the Supreme Judicial Court, Division of Archives and Records Preservation, on
deposit at the Essex Institute, Salem, Essex Co, MA.
Mercy Lewis v. Giles Cory
The Deposition of Mercy lewes agged about 19 years woh testifieth and saith that
on the 14th April 1692 I saw the Apperishtion of Giles Cory com and aflect me
urging me to writ in his book and so he contineued most dreadfullly to hurt me
by times beating me & almost braking my back tell the day of his examination
being the 19th April and then allso during the time of his examination he did
affect and tortor me most greviously: and also several times sence urging me
vehemently to writ in his book and I veryly believe in my heart that Giles Cory
is a dreadfull wizzard for sence he had ben in prison he or his apperance has
com and most greviously tormented me.
Mercy Lewis affirmed to the jury of Inquest. that the above written evidence:
is the truth upon the oath: she has formerly taken in court of Oyer & Terminer:
Septr 9: 1692
He was asked to plead, that is, to appeal to his country, to a jury trial, which
at that time all persons charged with crime must do before a jury could try them.
He "stood mute," and would not plead. The old English Law of "Peine
forte et dure" furnished but one remedy for this situation. The prisoner
be remanded to the prison from whence he came and put into a low dark chamber,
and there be laid on his back on the bare floor, naked, unless when decency forbids;
that there be placed upon his body as great a weight as he could bear, and more,
that he hath no sustenance, save only on the first day, three morsels of the
worst bread, and the second day three droughts of standing water, that should
be alternately his daily diet till he died, or, till he answered.
Giles Cory suffered this rather than to appeal to his countrymen, as he was fully
convinced that he must die anyway, and he was obstinate enough to cheat the gallows.
So to avoid giving the prosecution any advantage, he would answer nothing,
whereupon he was sentenced to be pressed to death. Hence, refusing to put himself
on trial (no trial actually took place). Giles reportedly was a stubborn, fiery
man who realized that he would not get a fair trial. By not pleading one way
or the other, English law dictated that a person could not be tried, but the
penalty for standing mute was "slow crushing under weights" until a
plea was forthcoming or the person died. His death was the result of his obstinacy
and firmness with scarcely a parallel---certainly not in American annals.
On September 17, the Sheriff led Giles to a pit in the open field beside the
jail and before the Court and witnesses in accordance with an English procedure
of the "Peine forte et dure". They striped Giles of his clothing,
laid him on the ground in the pit, placed boards on his chest, six men lifted
heavy stones, placing them one by one, on his stomach and chest. Giles Corey
did not cry out, which perplexed Sheriff Corwin whose duty it was to squeeze
a confession from the old man.
After two days, Giles was asked three times to plead innocent or guilty to witchcraft,
to which he would say more weight. "Do you confess?" the Sheriff cried
over and over. More and more rocks were piled onto him, and the Sheriff, from
time to time, would stand on the boulders staring down at Corey's bulging eyes.
Robert Calef, who was a witness along with other townsfolk, later said, "In
the pressing, Giles Corey's tongue was pressed out of his mouth; the Sheriff,
with his cane, forced it in again."
Three mouthfuls of bread and water were fed to the old man during his many hours
of pain. Finally, Giles Corey cried out at Sheriff Corwin, "Damn you. I
curse you and Salem!" Giles Corey died a few seconds later.
Sewell's diary states, under date of Monday, September 19, 1692:
About noon at Salem, Giles Cory was pressed to death for standing mute; much
pains was used with him two days, one after another, by the court and Captain
Gardner of Nantucket who had been of his acquaintance, but all in vain.
In the whole history of English law very few people had had the fortitude to
"stand mute" and endure a penalty expressly designed to discourage
such obstinacy. This is the only instance in the history of New England where
this law was applied. The execution of Giles Cory by this process had nothing
to do with witchcraft. If he had refused to plead to a charge of burglary, the
penalty would have been the same.
Except in the cases of treason, conviction could not be obtained on a prisoner
who stood mute. With out conviction his property could not be confiscated by
the crown or provincial government. Many of Corey's friends believed he remained
silent in court because his conviction for the came would have meant the forfeiture
of his estate. Otherwise, the Sheriff would confiscate it. But the fact is that
he had executed a deed before this to his sons-in-law. Civil and criminal charges
had followed him most of his life.
The day following Cory's death, Thomas Putnam sent to Judge Sewall the following
Last night my daughter Ann was grievously tormented by witches, threatening that
she should be pressed to death before Giles Corey, but through the goodness of
a gracious God, she had, at last, a little respite. Whereupon there appeared
unto her (she said) a man in a winding sheet who told her that Giles Corey had
murdered by pressing him to death with his feet; but that the devil then appeared
unto him and convenanted with him and promised him that he should not be hanged.
The apparition said, God hardened his heart that he should not hearken to the
advice of the court, and so die an easy death; because, as it said, it must be
done to him as he had done to me. The apparition also said that Giles Corey
was carried to the court for this and that the jury had found the murder; and
that her father knew the man and the thing was done before she was born.
On Sep 21, Dorcas Hoar was the first of those pleading innocent to confess.
execution was delayed.
For the forth and last time, the procession left Salem jail for the place of
execution of those persons condemned for witchcraft, on Thursday, September 22d.
There were eight victims this time. Samuel Wardwell of Andover was the only
man to thus suffer, the women were Mrs. Martha Cory, wife of Giles Cory, Alice
Parker, wife of John Parker, and Ann Pudeator, widow of Jacob Pudeator, all of
Salem, Mary (Towne) Easty, sister of Rebecca Nurse and wife of Isaac Easty of
Topsfield, Margaret Scott, widow of Benjamin Scott of Rowley, aged about seventy-five,
Wilmot Reed ("Mammy Red"), wife of Samuel Reed, of Marblehead, and
widow Mary Parker of Andover. Upon the ladder, Mrs. Cory, protesting her innocence,
concluded her life with an earnest prayer. After the sheriff had done his part
in the affair, Rev. Nicholas Noyes, of Salem, turned toward the suspended bodies
of the victims, and said: "What a sad thing it is to see eight firebrands
of hell hanging there."
After 20 people had been executed in the Salem witch hunt, Thomas Brattle wrote
a letter on October 8th, criticizing the witchcraft trials. This letter had
great impact on Governor Philps, who ordered that reliance on spectral and intangible
evidence no longer be allowed in trials.
On Oct 29, Governor Philps dissolved the Court of Oyer and Terminer.
The General Court of the colony created the Superior Court on Nov 25 to try the
remaining witchcraft cases which took place in May 1693. This time no one was
In the spring of 1693, Sir William Phips, Governor of Massachusetts, liberated
168 people in Salem's Witch Dungeon who awaiting the hangman's noose. Several
of these people died shortly thereafter from their neglect and abuse while in
the dungeon. By 1710, the General Court had begun to "reverse some of
the convictions, judgments and attainders and declare them null and void,"
and in the next year or two some compensation, if inadequate, had been paid to
the families of some of the sufferers. The First Church in Salem erased from
their records and blotted out the excommunication of Rebecca Nurse and Giles
The Reverend Samuel Parris, after a long acrimonious struggle with the men whose
wives, mothers, and friends he had helped to drag to the gallows, was driven
from the Village in 1697, and, after unimportant service in the frontier towns,
died in Sudbury in 1720. His wife died and was buried in Danvers before he left
One of the young girls, Ann Putnam confessed her fraud 14 years later at the
age of 26. She had her minister read the confession at Sunday service "It
was a great delusion of Satan that deceived me in that sad time whereby I justly
fear I have been instrumental to bring upon myself and this land the guilt of
innocent blood." The following is a list of those hanged at Gallows Hill,
Salem, Massachusetts for witchcraft:
Name Village or Town Date
Bridget Bishop Salem 10-Jun-1692
Sarah Good Salem Village (Danvers) 19-Jul-1692
Susanna Martin Amesbury 19-Jul-1692
Elizabeth Howe Ipswich 19-Jul-1692
Rebecca Nurse (or Nourse) Salem Village (Danvers) 19-Jul-1692
Sarah Wildes Topsfield 19-Jul-1692
George Jacobs Salem Village (Danvers) 19-Aug-1692
Martha Carrier Andover 19-Aug-1692
Reverend George Burroughs Wells, Maine 19-Aug-1692
John Proctor Salem Village (Peabody) 19-Aug-1692
John Willard Salem Village (Danvers) 19-Aug-1692
Martha Corey Salem Village (Peabody) 22-Sep-1692
Mary Easty Topsfield 22-Sep-1692
Alice Parker Salem 22-Sep-1692
Mary Parker Andover 22-Sep-1692
Ann Prudeater Salem 22-Sep-1692
Wilmot Reed Marblehead 22-Sep-1692
Margaret Scott Rowley 22-Sep-1692
Samuel Wardwell Andover 22-Sep-1692
While the term "Salem Witches" is common nowadays, it ignores the fact
that most of the accused were not from Salem. The jail and site of executions
were in Salem, but the accused were mostly from other towns and villages in the
area. Only 10 the 134 who were accused and were held in Salem's Jail were from
Salem Towne. The complete count was:
1 Great Island
1 Romney Marsh (today called Revere)
30 Salem Village (today this is part of Danvers and of Peabody)
7 Topsfield & Ipswich
1 Wells, Maine
In addition to the 134 above, another 34 were accused and in various jails awaiting
trial when Governor Phips released all the prisoners.
The only person who seemed to profit from the witchcraft hysteria was Sheriff
George Corwin who confiscated property and pocketed fees collected from the accused
and their relatives.
It is remarkable that the original 552 documents recording court testimony during
the witchcraft trial have been preserved and are still stored by the Peabody
There is a popular theory today that mouldy rye was the real cause of the Salem
hysteria. An article in "Science Magazine," April 2, 1976, by Linda,
Caporael, a University of California graduate student, reveals that the physical
afflictions of the accusing girls might have been caused by "Convulsive
Ergotism", a disorder resulting from the ingestion of contaminated rye grain.
"Rye, which grows in low, wet ground, yields ergot," wrote Miss Caporael.
Rye was known to be a staple in the diets of the Salem Puritans. Rye was a common
ingredient of bread and was eaten as a cereal. Judge Sewall's diary for the summer
of 1692 states that the rye harvest was during a time that was "rainy and
warm, hot and stormy." Ergot (claviceps purpura) is spread by a fungus that
causes symptoms of hallucination, violent fits, choking, pinching, itching, a
crawling sensation in the skin and muscular contractions. Linda Caporael adds
that "females and children are more likely to get ergot poisoning than the
Giles Cory and Margaret were married. Margaret
was born about 1610 in England. She died between 1660 and 1664 in
Salem, Essex Co, MA. Giles Cory and Margaret had the following children:
Cory and Mary Bright were married on 11 Apr 1664 in Salem, Essex Co, MA.
The marriage of Mary and Giles is recorded in the Salem V.R. where Mary's name
is spelled "Brite". This is the first and only instance of this spelling
that I have been able to find. It would appear that this is either an old spelling
that was changed to Bright in later years or just another misspelling. There
are many entries in the Salem and surrounding Townships of the name Bright.
As with many other names, the name "Brite" and "Britz" has
been incorrectly, recorded in several genealogies.
Mary Bright was born about Sep 1621 in England.
She died on 27 Aug 1684 in Salem, Essex Co, MA. She was buried in
Salem Grave Yard, Salem, Essex Co, MA.
Giles Cory and Martha Penoyer
were married on 27 Apr 1690. Martha Penoyer2,3
was born in Sep 1615 in England. She died on 22 Sep 1692 in Salem,
Essex Co, MA. She was buried in Salem, Essex Co, MA.