Herstory: Women of the Salem Witch Trials

Image result for Salem witch trialI wanted to make the subject of this edition of herstory to be about a woman who was the victim of witch trials but the reality is that there were too many women, 78% to be exact. The common belief of the time was that women were more susceptible to evil. Those who didn’t fit the mold of what a woman should be were the first to be deemed evil. There is no witch trial more infamous than the Salem Witch Trials. Here are only some of the stories of the women who fell prey to the mass hysteria.

The first of these ladies was Sarah Good. A woman down on her luck, she and her husband were destitute living on the kindness of her neighbors. Only, she wasn’t all that kind herself when someone wouldn’t help her. This turned out to be the most damning evidence against her during her trial. Everyone turned against her, even her husband, it was assumed that she was guilty before the trial even began. She didn’t have a chance. The minister tried to get her to confess to witchcraft but she admittedly refused. Her famous last words were, “You are a liar. I am no more a witch than you are a wizard, and if you take away my life God will give you blood to drink.”Image result for Salem witches

Another woman was Bridget Bishop, the record is shady on this one but it is believed that
she was a tavern owner, thrice widowed and dressed “provocatively.” During her trial, if she looked up at someone they would convulse, unable to control themselves until she touched them. Numerous people in town testified against her to the point where during her sentencing hearing she was examined by a group of women and found to have a third nipple.

Ann Pudeator was especially susceptible. Not only was she twice widowed, she owned property and was a nurse. All three of these things spelled trouble for a woman in the 17th century. When the trials happened, no one came to her aid to testify on her behalf.
As the Salem witch trials continued more innocent women were put to death. The pious sisters; Mary Eastey, Rebecca Nurse and Sara Cloyce were arrested for witchcraft.  It is believed that they were casualties in a family  feud between the Goulds and the Putnams. First, their mother was accused of witchcraft after defending a minister that was pushed out of the church. The Putnam men were reportedly ill-tempered and always looking for a fight. It’s no surprise that they were some of the biggest accusers….Mary, Rebecca and Sara being among their accused.

At the accusation of Rebecca Nurse there was a public outcry. A number of people testified in her defense bringing about an acquittal. However, it was overturned when her accusers wouldn’t let up with their claims of Satan attacking them on Rebecca’s behalf. Finally, the judge overturned the judgment against her and Rebecca was hanged.

Mary, another respected citizen of Salem, was put to death for witchcraft. Her accusers claimed that she had control over their movements, claiming that every time Mary moved the others were forced to move and injure themselves. When Mary had the opportunity to speak she said, ” I petition to your honours not for my own life for I know I must die and my appointed time is set but the Lord he knows it is that if it be possible no more innocent blood may be shed.”  It is believed that Mary’s petition was one of the reasons why the Salem Witch Trials were finally put to an end.


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