Author: Nora
•Thursday, January 01, 2015
Imagine that you are a teenager in a modest household: parents, several siblings, living in Salem Village, Massachusetts Bay Colony, on April 21, 1692.  You hear the following being read as your parents are confronted by the constable, to be taken to the local jail:

There being Complaint this day made (before us) by Thomas Putnam and John Buxton of Salem Village Yeomen, in behalfe of their Majest’s, for them selfes and also for severall of theire Neighbours, Against Wm Hobs husbandman and Deliver’ his wife, Nehemiah Abot Jun’r weaver, Mary Easty the wife of Isaac Easty and Sarah Wilds the wife of John Wilds all of the Towne of Topsfield or Ipswitch:  And Edward Bushop husbandman & Sarah his wife of Salem Village………for high Suspition of Sundry acts of witchcraft donne or Committed by them Lately upon the Bodys of Anna Putnam & Marcy Lewis…..and others, whereby great hurt and dammage hath benne donne to ye bodys of said persons above named therefore Craved justice.
You are therefore in theire Majest’s names hereby required to Apprehend and bring before us..…..above named to Morrow about ten of the Clock in the forenoon at the house of Leiu’t Nath’ll Ingersalls in Salem Village in order to theire Examination Relateing to the premises abovesayd and hereof you are not to faile.
(Read the full arrest warrant in Essex County Archives, Salem, Witchcraft Volume 1, page 53.)

My 6th great grandfather David Bishop would have been just such a youth, a horrified witness as this atrocity beset his parents Edward and Sarah (Wildes) Bishop.

For they were living in Salem, Massachusetts, at the time of the horrendous witchcraft-scare that was rampant in much of New England – but particularly in Salem Town and Salem Village.  That misguided “witch hunt” was to mar or end the lives of wrongly-accused New Englanders numbering about 170 men, women and children in the Salem area alone, mostly women.  There, 20 of those accused met a gruesome end, 19 by hanging and one by being pressed to death.

The first person to be hung in 1692 was Bridget Bishop, who was NOT related to this Bishop line.  Although she’s often been mid-identified as the wife of Edward Bishop of Salem Village, this is not the case.  It’s the studied opinion of several scholarly and cautious researchers of the witchcraft scare in Salem that Bridget was the wife of Edward Bishop, “the sawyer”, who lived in Salem Town, whereas Edward Bishop, Jr. and his wife Sarah resided in Salem Village, as did Edward Bishop, Sr. and his wife Hannah.  I plan to devote a future post to the evidence which I hope will clear up some of the confusion.

Meanwhile, for original documents and accounts of the trials, see: Salem Witch Trials

While Edward and Sarah (Wildes) Bishop were never tried and convicted, they did spend 37 weeks in jail, first in Salem and later in Boston.  It was from the Boston jail that they were able to make their escape, the building not being of the strongest construction, it seems.  Their freedom was not ‘free’, however.  Much of their livestock and household goods were confiscated by the officials to pay for their ‘room and board’ while in jail, property amounting to an estimated £100.

For David and his 10 or 11 siblings, those long weeks of worrying that their parents’ lives would be ended by the hangman’s noose – or perhaps that they’d languish and die while still behind bars, must have been agonizing.

Surprisingly, after a short time of taking refuge some distance from the area, perhaps in New York, Edward and Sarah returned to Salem Village, residing there for about another ten years before moving to far more liberal Rehoboth, Massachusetts.

At least two of their sons, Edward, Jr. and Jonathan, remained in the area even longer.  David had left in about 1701, turning his back on the harsh ways of Essex County to make his new home in the settlement called Mashamoquett and later named Pomfret, in the Colony of Connecticut (see my previous post).  David’s name last appears on the Salem tax rolls for the year 1701.  His parents left for Rehoboth two years later; Edward’s name was last on the rolls in 1703 (see FHL film number 877453).

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