I was born in 1713. Whoops, that’s not right. My family settled in my home town of Oxford, MA in 1713. But the first baby in the Rich family was born in Salem in 1636. So I have witchery in my blood. The Salem Witch Trials are remarkable in that they have such a hold upon our minds, even today. When you consider that in Europe they were burning witches well into the 18th century, Salem is a little hiccup in our history. Twenty people were judged and died – all by hanging and one man, Giles Corey, was pressed to death. Make no mistake, the “witches” were tried by a legal jury, according to English Law manuals. One of the magistrates who judged dropped out – he couldn’t take it and became a drunkard. Another judge, Samuel Sewall the diarist, stood up in open confession and repented his role. Most of the judges went happily on their way with no thought that they might have done something wrong.
Because my books were written in order, I could not reach 1692 and not touch upon the Salem witch trials. I even use some of the actual transcript in my book, DEATH OF A BAWDY BELLE. When an extra body is found upon the gallows, Salem sheriff George Corwin is very upset. How dare they hang someone without his authorization? From my studies, that is how George Corwin would have reacted I often use historical people in my books, in fact I often have famous minister Cotton Mather start off my books. He was only 26 at the time of the witch trials, and although he is often accused of being the cause, there is no proof that he was ever at the trials. Certainly he did not oppose the trials, if only because the judges were all friends of his father and Cotton Mather would never oppose his father, Increase Mather. As a matter of fact, Increase Mather was in England when the hysteria began. He put a stop to it when he returned; he got the ministers of Boston to protest the use of “spectral evidence” ie: ghosts! Without the testimony of ghosts the accused could not be convicted! It didn’t help when the Governor’s wife was accused – Governor Phips put a stop to the trials then and there. As for the causes, there are many books propposing a differnt cause, but the main cause was a group of bored adolescent girls looking “to have some sport,” as they said. Any questions? Please ask!