By Pilar Baumann
Mr. Brock, Instructor
East Whittier Middle School
The witch trials of Salem, Mass. which lasted from March to September of
1692 was a sad and horrifying event . Hundreds of people waited to be
tried after being accused of witchcraft. Nineteen people were hanged at
Gallows Hill. One man was pressed to death by stones and several women
died in prison. All the hysteria started with two little girls bored
during the inactive winter . Nine year old Elizabeth Parris, the daughter
of Reverend Samuel Parris , and her cousin, eleven year old Abigail
Williams began to act very strangely. They would bark like dogs and stare
into space for long periods of time. The people of the town began to think
that they were possessed by the devil. Pretty soon more and more girls
began acting strangely. The Girls started to accuse women and men of being
witches. One of the accused women was Mary Easty.
Mary Easty was the Daughter of William Towne. She was Baptized in Yarmouth, Norfolk County, New England on August 24, 1634. Two of Mary's siblings were Rebecca Nurse and Sarah Cloyse. She Married Isaac Easty and had seven Children with him. He owned and lived on a large valuable farm.
Mary was around the age of 58 when she was first questioned about her involvement with witchcraft. During her examination one of the afflicted girls, Mary Lewis, would mimic her. When Mary clasped her hands so would the girl. When Mary inclined her head the girls would cry out that Mary was breaking their necks. This made the court think that Mary was the witch affecting Mary Lewis. She was put in jail after the examination. On May 18 after two months in prison Mary was discharged . Her family thought they had nothing more to fear.
On May 20th Mary Lewis, one of the afflicted girls had a series of fits in which she claimed she was being strangled . She said that they will kill Easty outright. Several of the girls said that they saw Eastys ghost afflicting Mary Lewis. A second warrant was issued for Mary's arrest. During the middle of the night Mary was taken from her family and put back in prison. When Mary was put back in jail Mary Lewis fits stopped . Mary was tried and sentenced to death. On September 22 she was hanged on Gallows hill. Later, Mary Easty's family was given 20 pounds from the government for her wrongful execution.
Not only do we have Eastys examination and trial transcripts but more important, we have a copy of Eastys letter to the Massachusetts authorities written from prison. This is important because in the letter she doesnt try to save her life, but requests that the government improve the method of discovering witchcraft and that the government exercise more caution against shedding the blood of innocent people. Shes also important for being one of the few Americans that wrote from prison. Martin Luther King wrote a very famous piece from the Birmingham prison and Henry David Thoreau wrote against the Mexican American War. Americans can point out these people and see that our courts arent always just.
Mary Easty was the wife of Isaac Easty and the mother of seven children. She was wrongful accused of witch craft and sentenced to death. Easty was hanged on gallows hill on September 22 1692. I agree with Easty because I also think that the Government was very unjust during the Salem witch trials . I also think that Mary Easty was an important figure in the Salem witch trials because she was more concerned with the government wrongly using it authority and the government exercising more caution against shedding the blood of innocent people than she was in saving her own life. Mary Easty will always be an important part of American history.