Bridget Bishop, Hanged, June 10, 1692
Hysteria, wrongly accused for a crime you didn’t commit, tried, and hanged; try and picture what life was like in Salem Village, 1692. The people of Salem Village had to face an immeasurable number of elements that constantly worked against them: unpredictable weather with no protection against the bitter New England cold, performed back-breaking daily chores their farmland needed, and maintained the mindset of the Puritan religion: the fear that the devil exists and might very well walk among us.
The courts during that time functioned completely different than the ones we know today, and allowed the inclusion of spectral evidence. Spectral evidence was when the witness would testify that the accused person’s spirit or spectral shape appeared to her/him in a dream at the time that their physical body was at another location. It was because of this “evidence” that 19 people were hanged and one man was pressed to death during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.
The first person to be tried, found guilty, and hanged on June 10, was the innocent Bridget Bishop. Bridget was known throughout the Salem area for her un-Puritan like behavior of flamboyant dress, tavern frequenting, and multiple marriages. In an effort to avoid being hanged, Bridget admitted guilt and denounced her good name in the community. She was found guilty by the testimonials of numerous townspeople (more than any other defendant) and was therefore executed on June 10, 1692.
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