Side Trips from Boston Feature


The First Witch Trial

It was in Danvers, not Salem, that the first witch trial was held, originating with the family of Samuel Parris, a minister who moved to the area in 1680 from Barbados, bringing with him two slaves, including one named Tituba. In 1691 Samuel’s daughter, Betty, and niece, Abigail, began having fits. Tituba, who had told Betty and Abigail stories of magic and witchcraft from her homeland, baked a witch cake to identify the witches who were harming the girls. The girls in turn accused Tituba of witchcraft. After three days of questioning, which included beatings from Samuel and a promise from him to free her if she cooperated, Tituba confessed to meeting the devil (in the form of a black hog or dog). She also claimed there were other witches in the village, confirming the girls’ accusations against Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne, but she refused to name any others. Tituba’s trial prompted the frenzy that led to the deaths of 20 accusedwitches.

Updated: 2014-04-16

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