Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bridget Bishop 1692

Bridget Bishop was born sometime between 1632 and 1637, and during her life, she married three times, but never had any children.  After her first two husbands died, she married Edward Bishop, a sawyer or wood cutter.

During the Salem witch trials, she received the most accusations.  The accusations against her were exceptionally vehement and viciousos - not so much as it pertained to being a witch, but more because of her flagrant and body lifestyle and risky form of dress.  She liked to wear red and kept the rumours flying with tales of her numerous and public fights with her husbands, the wild parties in her home till the wee hours of the morning, her love of drink and her passion for the sinful game of shovel board.  To make matters worse, she, a mere woman, owned two highly successful taverns!

In the Puritan society in which she lived, her blatant disregard for propriety soon brought much unwanted attention to her.  Before long, her dubious character came under speculation because of her shameful conduct caused.  People blamed her for the troubles that arose in other families.  Further, her behaviour corrupted the youth of the down.  She was considered evil.  The charge of witchcraft was soon to follow.

For the times, Briget was a fashion diva.  Her dresses were considered scandalous and it contributed greatly to her conviction.  She usually wore a black cap or a black hat, and a gown with a red paragon bodice bordered and looped with different colors.  Not only did her form of dress incite rumours and spite, it was used as evidence against her in hertrial.  The town dyer gave evidence that she brought him "sundry pieces of lace" outside of the wardrobe of a plain and honest woman.  his dye house "sundry pieces of lace" of shapes and dimensions entirely outside his conceptions of what would be needed in the wardrobe of a plain and honest woman.

After being cleared of witchcraft and being thrown in jail for publically andv violently quarelling with her husbands on previous occasions, another warrant was issued for her arrest on April 18, 1692.  To Bridget's shock, she had never before seen or met any of her accusers.  Her trial was complete with several girls who scremed out in pain caused by her witchcraft.  Here are some of the actual questions posed to her: 

Q: Bishop, what do you say? You stand here charged with sundry acts of witchcraft by you done or committed upon the bodies of Mercy Lewis and Ann Putman and others.

A: I am innocent, I know nothing of it, I have done no witchcraft .... I am as innocent as the child unborn. ....

Q: Goody Bishop, what contact have you made with the Devil?

A: I have made no contact with the Devil. I have never seen him before in my life.

Poor Bridget, even her sister's husband accused her of consorting with the devil.  With the entire town of Salem accusing her, any hope of successfully defeating the charges faded.  It took only 8 days to charge her, conduct a trial, and execute her.  On June 10, before a large crowd, she was transported to Gallows Hill and executed by the town sheriff.  In the seconds before her hanging, she displayed no remorse and continued to profess her innocence.


Numerous other so called witches were executed right after Briget.  Less than a year after her death, her husband married one of her accusers and several others confessed the Devil caused them to accuse her.
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