Sarah Pease, the wife of Robert Pease,
was accused of witchcraft in Salem on
May 23, 1692.
Elaine Pease's article in the Essex Genealogist is a definitive study of
not only Sarah's family, but her role in the Salem witch trials.An excerpt from
that article appears below, along with some web links sites concerning the history
of witchcraft in Salem and elsewhere.
Sarah's husband, Robert
(register report link), emigrated from England in
1634 at the age of about 4 years old with his father Robert and his uncle John Pease.
Her family name and origin is unknown until the time of her marriage to Robert in
1658. Of Robert there is more information, as outlined in the register report about
him on these pages. Elaine's article goes into the details of the family, their
living conditions and even the location of their home in what is now Peabody, Massachusetts.
Of her trial, the following is excerpted from the article:
She was accused on Monday, May 23, 1692 of "sundry acts of Witchcraft
committed on the bodys of Mary Warren, Abigaile Williams and Eliz Hubbard."27
She was accused along with Benjamin Procter and Mary Derich. A warrant
for her arrest was issued and she was arrested that day. The following day
was set aside for examinations and the proceedings were recorded by Nathaniel Cary
of Charlestown. He and Mrs. Cary had come to observe and to face Mrs. Cary's
accuser, Abigail Williams. He writes of the prisoners, one of whom surely
was Sarah Pease:
The Prisoners were called in one by one, and as they came in were cried out of,
etc. The prisoner was placed about 7 or 8 foot from the Justices, and the Accusers
between the Justices and them; the Prisoner was ordered to stand right before
the Justices, with an Officer appointed to hold each hand, least they should therewith
afflict them, and the Prisoners Eyes must be constantly on the Justices; for if
they look'd on the afflicted, they would either fall into their Fits, or cry out
of being hurt by them; after Examination of the Prisoners, who it was afflicted
these Girls, etc., they were put upon saying the Lords Prayer, as a tryal of their
guilt; after the afflicted seem'd to be out of their Fits, they would look steadfastly
on some one person, and frequently not speak; and then the Justices said they were
struck dumb, and after a little time would speak again; then the Justices
said to the Accusers, "which of you will go and touch the Prisoner at the Bar?"
then the most couragious would adventure, but before they made three steps would
ordinarily fall down as in a Fit; the Justices ordered that they should
be taken up and carried to the Prisoner, that she might touch them; and as soon
as they were touched by the accused, the Justices would say, they are well, before
I could discern any alteration...28
Sufficient evidence must have been found against Sarah because she was sent to Salem
jail on May 25th, 1692.
27 Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum, Salem Possessed (New York, DaCapo,
1977), p 639, 655-5 (sic).
28 George L. Burr., ed., Narratives of the Witchcraft Cases, 1648-1706
(New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1914; reprind ed., New York: Barnes and Noble, 1946),
Although testimony was brought against her again on August 5th, Sarah Pease escaped
the condemnation of the judges, who sentenced 15 people to the gallows in September.
By the late fall of that year the tide of hysteria had abated, and sympathy was
turning from the "victims" to the accused. Sarah survived the winter and
was released in May of 1693, after suffering a year in jail.
Elaine's article, also listed in the Sources Page:
Pease, Elaine K., "Goody Pease of Salem Town," (The Essex Genealogist,
August, 1984 (vol. 4, no. 3), pp. 126-135.)
Elaine K. Pease is an Associate Professor in the Library Department at Millersville
University of Pennsylvania. She has a B.A. in History from the State University
of New York at Buffalo, a Masters degree in Library Science from Rutgers University,
and a Masters degree in American Studies from Pennsylvania State University. Her
husband Bill is a contributor to these pages and the Pease GenForum. I'd like to
thank Bill for bringing his wife's article to my attention.
- A descendant of Rebecca Nurse, one of the women hanged for witchcraft has an extensive
site about the trials:
17th c. Colonial America
with special emphasis on the Salem Witch Trials
- On that site is an index of over 200 accused witches of Salem
- SalemWeb has several pages on the trials, from the main page to a chronology of the trials.
- Don't miss Joan's Witch Directory - The European Witch Trials for comprehensive
look at Witch Trials. The site is really worldwide Witch Trials, for there is a
section on Salem - see the "places" link. The art links are fascinating.
(Joan's has seeming disappeared (September, 2003), but I'm going to keep this link
as Copy/Paste anyway: