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The witchcraft hysteria of the 17th century began in Salem Village (now Danvers) when a group of girls became fascinated with the supernatural and overcome with hysteria. John Cotton Mather and other clergymen from Boston determined that they were afflicted with the devil. The girls claimed that their physical manifestations were caused by members of the community. Those that they named were tried as witches. Thus began what became known as the Salem Witch Trials.

In 1692 Elizabeth Ballard of Andover was ill and a cause and cure could not be determined. Her husband John, sent to Salem for two of these girls to ascertain the cause of Elizbeth's illness. The girls maintained that certain members of the Andover community were causing the illness. These people were jailed and tried. Eight were condemned and three were hanged.

  • Martha Carrier (Carrier, Martha), Samuel Wardwell, and Mary Parker were hanged.
  • Ann Foster died in prison.
  • Abigail Faulkner was reprieved.
  • Sarah Warwdell, Elizabeth Johnson, and Mary Lacey were condemned but were not hanged.

The trials and executions were brought to an end when on October 3, 1692 after the girls had accused a number of prominent people, including a judge and the wife of the governor. Then, the Reverend Increase Mather, President of Harvard College, denounced the use of spectral evidence. On October 8, 1692 Governer Phipps ordered that spectral evidence could no longer be used as evidence and the Witchcraft tirals came to an end.

There is some thought that the Abbot House might have been the home of Martha Carrier. The PBS House Detectives researched this in Could a house in Essex County, Massachusetts, have once belonged to an accused witch?


--Eleanor 12:05, November 25, 2009 (EST)

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