In the small town of Salem Village, Massachusetts in 1692, at least thirty-eight men and one-hundred and six woman where accused of the capital crime of witchcraft.
- Thirty-one people were tried by the Oyer and Terminer court, convened by Massachusetts governor, William Phipps.
- Fifty-four people confessed to the crime of witchcraft.
- Three women, one man, and several infants died as a result of their treatment while in custody.
- One four-year-old lost her mind after a year in custody.
- Two dogs were hanged as witches.
Despite extreme social pressure, physical torture, and what was perceived as overwhelming evidence, fourteen women and five men refused to confess to being witches. One man refused to acknowledge the Oyer and Terminer court and was pressed by stones to his death.
Suffer a Witch is about these twenty people.
Because the serial begins with so many characters, we've decided to, once a week, introduce you to the historic characters in the story. They will appear in their order of appearance in the story. You can find more information on the Suffer a Witch Wiki, where you can also participate in filling in the details from your own research or the story. (You must sign into Wikia to participate.)
Who was Sarah Good?
Sarah Good was a rage-filled, homeless thirty year old. Or was she?
The records in the Salem Witch Trials were written by wealthy, literate men. In this record, Sarah and her husband William seem to be the worst sort. They beg for food and a place to live. They have no place to live and are mired in debt. The good Christians of Salem Village were said to be on their last nerve with Sarah and her family.
What are the facts?
- Sarah was raised in a comfortable, if not wealthy home.
- She married her first husband, David Poole, at eighteen and she married for love. He was an indentured servant. Her father promised to pay off his debt.
- When her father died, her mother remarried and her step-father took over the estate. He refused to pay off David Poole's debt or allow Sarah her inheritance.
- David Poole died leaving Sarah with his indentured debt.
- Sarah married William Good, who took on David Poole's debt and took in her children.
Sarah was one of the first people to be charged with witchcraft. When they interviewed her four year old daughter, Dorothy, they determined she was also a witch. Dorothy and Sarah spent almost a year in prison.
Sarah was subject to the particular attentions of Reverand Nicholas Noyes, one of the officials in the trails. He is said to have worked very hard (meaning torture) to get Sarah to confess to being a witch, and thus saving her life. Sarah refused to confess.
Sarah was pregnant when she was arrested. Because the Puritans believed that evil could not be passed to the child, she was not hanged until after she gave birth. She gave birth to Mercy Good, who died almost immediately after birth most likely due to malnutrition.
Sarah was hanged on July 19, 1692 with Susannah Martin, Elizabeth Howe, Sarah Wildes, and Rebecca Nurse. Given one last chance to confess by Reverand Nicholas Noyes, Sarah is reported to have said:
"You are a liar. I am no more a witch than you are a wizard, and if you take away my life God will give you blood to drink."
Reverand Noyes died some years later of an internal hemorrhage.
At the time of her hanging, much of the testimony against Sarah was known to be untrue. The entire proceedings were said to be "cruel, and shameful to the highest degree."