For 300 years, the Witch Trial lasted. But, during the Salem Witch Trial happening long after the end of the 300 years of terror, one minister suffered the fate of the witches.
A Salem Witch
The Salem Witch trial is a popular name and term. However, not many people know the true story behind the trial that occurred more than four hundred years ago.
In the colonial Massachusetts town of Salem, the trials took place between February 1692 and lasted until May 1693. Mass hysteria marked the beginning of the witch trial in Salem. The accusations revolved around a group of youngsters falsely shaking and trembling until they saw the witch in their mind.
Salem and surrounding villages were mostly isolated from other more significant settlements. Their regime was vigorous when it came to religion and traditional ways. Witchcraft was a sin and the work of the devil. While all accusations came from young ladies, every person they named suffered terrible consequences due to their actions.
The Salem Witch Trials
Those accused of witchcraft have next to no hope to redeem themselves. Some victims were elderly, teachers, mothers, sisters, husbands, and doctors, and good men. The group of young ladies somehow managed to remain “victims of those so-said witches” and pointed their finger toward the next witch.
In the end, thirty people were guilty of witchcraft. Nineteen out of those people had a horrifying execution with public hanging. If you believe that death by hanging is a quick way to go, it is a false misconception.
Unless a victim drops from high above the ground by a push, one is in for a long agonizing death. Most victims die of suffocation after a rough minute to two or three even as long as air can find its way to the lungs. Some would agree to have guards pull on the body to help the victim die and break the neck.
The man accused of witchcraft, Giles Corey, elderly and frail, for the sake of his wife and his name, plead innocent. His torture had people cry and change their routine. His died by a pile of stones on his body and took several days. Everyday they asked him to confess but he never did.
Add to this list another five people who drew their last breath in a filthy dirty jail. Some were children, other elderly, slaves, and highly rich people. No one was safe as long as the group of girls spreads their lies.
Beyond Salem Witch
Towns now named Danvers, Andover and Topsfield didn’t escape the wrath of the group of young people. The Salem Witch Trial remains to this day the deadliest witch-hunt of North American history, including Canada.
The Salem Witch Trial remains proof of what mass hysteria can cause to people and what education can prevent from happening. As a quick conclusion to the overview of the Salem witch trial, nothing happened to the group of girls because, after so many deaths in small villages, people decided to disregard their acts and accusations.
After too many deaths and traumas, among the group of girls, some committed suicide. The village took a long time before realizing they were pawns to the game. The girls used their act as a way to condemned those mean to them. Power corrupts, and that is the moral of the story.
Happily, centuries later, the families of those accused of witchcraft received exoneration. Not all of them received it, but the monument in the victims’ names is still sanding in the city of Danvers.
The Minister of Salem
George Burroughs, born in 1650, died on August 19th, 1692. Burroughs was the sole “witchcraft minister” while the witch-hunt took place in Salem. His execution as a minister was the only one on record.
He is also maybe one of the reasons why the group of girls lost their power over the village. George Burroughs followed through with his execution reciting the Lord’s Prayer, one thing a witch could not do according to the town.
After Burroughs’ graduation in 1670 from Harvard College, he became an American Congregational pastor. He received many honors as well as a great athlete of his time.
However, when he moved to Salem—now Danvers, in the year 1680, his life changed quite drastically. Little did he know he became the minister who died a Salem witch.
His cynical thoughts toward the dwellers as they could not pay his salary fell deeper in his head. When Burroughs became a widow, he resulted in borrowing money from other villagers to pay for his wife’s funeral but failed to repay his debt. The man moved from one town to the next.
“George Burroughs was confident, strong-willed, and decisive, a man of action as well as a preacher, unusually athletic and clever enough to do well at Harvard. Short of stature, muscular, dark-complexioned, he was highly attractive to women, as his shown by his winning the hand of a rich widow as his second wife when he was a mere village minister.”— Frances Hill
The Salem Minister Accusations
The charges of witchcraft date back to 1691, and on April 30th, 1692, the arrest of George Burroughs took place. Following what happened before, the accusations came from personal enemies. Everyone from the former congregation he owed money to and most likely reinforced by the group of youngsters.
During the trial, which happened in May, Burroughs’ accusations were entirely original to prove his witch ways. The mention of his strength at lifting a musket with his finger placed into the barrel—yes, quite witchy. However, it was the failure to baptize his children or attend communion that sold him as a witch.
The abominable part of his trial was accusing him of being the killer of his previous wives. However, testimonies showed that he treated his wives harshly.
The Trial of A Witch Minister
The hanging of George Burroughs at Proctor’s Ledge, otherwise known as Salem, took place on August 19th, 1692. In American history, Burroughs was the only minister who suffered this fate.
There was no witch mark on his body after the inspection of the selected jury, and yet, he came out as a witch and someone who conspired with evil.
George Burroughs did not hesitate to recite the Lord’s Prayer before the crowd while he waited for his cruel fate. It was something impossible to do according to the court at the time.
If that wasn’t enough, it took Minister Cotton Mather from Boston to remind the people of Salem that following the trial, four more people suffered execution after Burroughs. He was the minister who died a Salem witch.
The Salem Witch Minister
Now, here is the initial publication account in 1700 by Robert Calef.
Mr. Burroughs was carried in a cart with others, through the streets of Salem, to execution.
When he was upon the ladder, he made a speech for the clearing of his innocency, with such solemn and serious expressions as were to the admiration of all present; his prayer (which he concluded by repeating the Lord’s Prayer) was so well worded, and uttered with such composedness as such fervency of spirit, as was very Affecting, and drew tears from many, so that it seemed to some that the spectators would hinder the execution.
The accusers said the black man [devil] stood and dictated to him. As soon as he was turned off [hung], Mr. Cotton Mather, being mounted upon a horse, addressed himself to the people, partly to declare that he [Mr. Burroughs] was no ordained Minister, partly to possess the people of his guilt, saying that the devil often had been transformed into the Angel of Light.— Robert Calef
And this did somewhat appease the people, and the executions went on; when he [Mr. Burroughs] was cut down, he was dragged by a Halter to a hole, or grave, between the rocks, about two feet deep; his shirt and breeches being pulled off, and an old pair of trousers of one executed put on his lower parts: he was so put in, together with Willard and Carrier, that one of his hands, and his chin, and a foot of one of them, was left uncovered.
In Salem Witch Conclusions
Burroughs most likely saw many men, women, and children die during his time as Minister in Salem. He probably condemned some himself and felt the power it gave him.
Then, humbled, he suffered the death of those he watched hanging before him. The witch trials were a horrifying part of human history and not unique to North America.
However, the Salem Witch Trial is undoubtedly the one that reminded everyone that false accusation is not without victims and repercussions. No one is safe in mass hysteria, not even a minister.
There it is, George Burroughs, the minister who died a Salem witch.