Timeline Description: In colonial Massachusetts between February of 1692 and May of 1693, trials were held to prosecute people accused of witchcraft. The concept of supernatural occurrences was considered a normal part of life from the mid fifteenth to sixteenth century. It spread with the colonists as they moved to North America. Satan was believed to be present and active on earth. The Calvinist church and the village of Salem disagreed with the belief in Satan.
|1629||Salem was settled
Roger Conant and an immigrant group named the first settlement Naumkeag. The settlers preferred to call it Salem, meaning peace in Hebrew.
|1641||English law declared witchcraft to be a capital crime
The laws concerning witchcraft were removed from ecclesiastical court jurisdiction to common law courts. In theory, this permitted those accused of being witches the benefit of criminal procedure. Burning at the stake would be kept for cases including witchcraft and petty treason combined.
|1688||The Goodwin children
Thirteen year old Martha Goodwin started acting out with inexplicable conduct. Only several days later, her brother and sister also presented similar manners. Glover, who recently had an argument with the family, was detained and put on trial for bewitching the children. Glover was hanged.
|January 20, 1692||Williams and Parris
The daughter and niece of Reverend Parris had fits of screaming, throwing items, creating strange sounds, and contorting themselves. They complained of pin pricks and pinches. Other women around town began acting in a similar fashion.
|February 1692||Doctor Griggs diagnoses Williams and Parris
The afflicted girls, according to Griggs, suggested that the strange behavior displayed by the children was caused by witchcraft.
|February 1692||Witch Cake
cake made from the afflicted girls' urine and rye meal was fed to a dog. English folk states that the witch who affected the girls would be hurt when the family dog ate the cake.
|June 2, 1962||Bridget Bishop was tried and convicted of witchcraft
Bishop was accused of bewitching Williams, Parris, and three other children. She was sentenced to death.
|June 10, 1692.||Bridget Bishop was executed
She was hanged at Gallows Hill, a steep hill known for its hanging tree.
|June 30, 1692||Several more suspected of witchcraft went to trial
Sarah Good, Elizabeth Howe, Susannah Martin, Elizabeth Proctor, John Proctor, and Sarah Wildes went to trial and were found guilty. All six were executed on July 19th.
|September 1692||Peine Forte et Dure
Giles Corey rejected to plead at his arraignment. He was exposed to peine forte et dure, a cruel form of torture where he was forced under an increasingly weighty burden of stones in attempt to obtain his plea. Corey died without entering his plea.
|May 1693||The last trial was held
The last trial of the Salem Witches was held in May of 1693. Phipps pardoned those who remained in prison of charges of witchcraft.
|1695||Thomas Maule criticized how the trials were handled
A notable Quaker, Thomas Maule made negative comments about how the trials were dealt with. His comments caused the awareness that the public had not had closure with the events. He was held for twelve months, but found not guilty.
|December 17, 1696||A day of fasting
The General Court held a day of fasting for the "Tragedy raised among us by Satan and his Instruments." Twelve jurors asked for forgiveness on that day.
|1885||Rebecca Nurse memorial
A memorial was erected by the descendants of Rebecca Nurse, an accused witch who was executed. A petition was signed by forty neighbors in her support.Throughout the Salem Witch Trials, over two hundred people were suspected of practicing witchcraft. Twenty people were executed for working the Devil's magic. Eventually, the colony acknowledged that the trials were a mistake and reimbursed the families of people who were sentenced. Today, the trials are synonymous with paranoia and discrimination.