THE TRAGEDY ENDS
 
 
 
     The stories presented on the previous pages offer only a glimpse into the terror and human tragedy of the Salem witch trials of 1692. From the first arrest warrants on February 29, 1692 to the last executions on September 22, 1692 over 150 people were accused and jailed on suspicion of witchcraft, 4 people plus 1 infant died in prison, 18 people were executed by hanging, 1 person was pressed to death and 2 dogs were also hanged.

     On October 29th, 1692, Governor Phipps officially closed the court of Oyer and Terminer. The Supreme court of Massachusetts was to convene in January 1697 to try the remaining cases. On December 29, 1692, Governor Phipps called for a day of fasting and prayers for the townsfolk. In January 1693, the Superior court met to begin the remaining trials.

     By order of Governor Phipps, spectral evidence could not be used against the defendants. Of the 52 persons tried, 49 were cleared of the accusations and 3 were found guilty. The last sitting of the court was held in Boston in May, 1693 and by this time Governor Phipps revived a letter from England which convinced him that there was no need to continue with the trials.

     The Governor issued a proclamation that pardoned everyone and granted amnesty to those who fled to escape persecution. By the end of the trials, some of the most important citizens of Massachusetts would be accused of witchcraft including Governor Phipps wife. A few years later, the girls who started the hysteria as well as many of the accusers who took part in the accusations asked for forgiveness for their actions.

     On October 17, 1711, an Act of the colonial legislature returned all property taken from the victims and their families and were paid compensation for their losses. This Act officially ended all government actions relating to the trials of 1692. However, in Salem, accusations and resentment would be felt for years to come.
 

 

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