A Tale Of Sarah Hood And The Salem Witch Trials

 

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Richard Hood was born in England in 1625. He, along with his parents, made the long voyage to the Americas sometime before 1650 and they settled in Lynn County, Massachusetts. He met and married Mary Newhall here in 1652. Over the next several years they added 13 children to their family. Among these were 2 girls by the name of Rebecca and Sarah. Rebecca is my 8th Great Grandmother and the younger of these two girls. This story is not about her, but about my 8 times Grand Aunt.

In the spring of 1692 there was an increasing rise to accusations of Witchcraft in and around Salem, Massachusetts. The hysteria had actually started over in England several years earlier and spread across the sea, brought over by ever increasing newcomers. Several young girls of the village began having “fits”. They screamed, threw things, uttered peculiar sounds and contorted themselves into strange positions, and a local doctor blamed the supernatural. As a result over 150 people were accused of being a witch, having supposedly signed their souls over to Satan to obtain power.

In 1675 Sarah Hood married William Bassett Jr who was the brother of Elizabeth Bassett Proctor, wife of John Proctor.  On the 23rd Day of May 1692, Sarah Hood Bassett was accused of witchcraft and was immediately sent to prison. She had to take her two year old daughter Ruth with her as she had no one to care for her. Just being associated with Sarah was dangerous during this time. Sarah was also about 2 months pregnant at this time.

(Indictment v. Sarah Bassett )

Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England Essex ss          Ano RRs & Reginae Gulielmi & Mariae Angliae &c Quarto Anoq’e Dom 1692

The Juro’rs for o’r Sov’r lord & lady the King & Queen p’rsent

That Sarah Bassett wife of William Basett of lyn in the County

of Essex aforesaid upon or about the 23’d day of May last Anno: 1692 aforsaid

And Divers other days & Times as well before #[and] as after Certaine

detestable Arts Called Witchcraft & Sorceries wickedly mallitiously

& felloniously hath used practised & Exercised at & in the Towne

of Salem in the County of Essex aforesaid upon & Against One

Mary [“M” written over “El”] Walcott of Salem Single Woman By which Wicked Arts The

Said Mary Walcott is Tortured aflicted Tormented Consumed wasted

& pined the day & yeare aforesaid & divers other days & times as

well before as after Contrary to the peace of o’r Sov’r lord & lady the King

& Queen their Crowne & dignity & the Laws in that Case made

& provided

Wittness

An Putnam

Marcy lewis

(Reverse) Sarah Bassett

Ignoramus

*Robert: Payne foreman

Salem Court 3’d Janu’a 1692/3

( Suffolk Court Records, Vol. 32, Case No. 2701 Page 24 )

The month before Sarah was accused; her husband’s sister Elizabeth and brother-in-law John Proctor had also been accused, arrested, tried and convicted of witchcraft. They had been sentenced to hang. They all three spent the next few months together in the prison in Salem. On the 19th of August, despite no evidence to the charges and in spite of numerous testimonials to the character of John Proctor he was hung on Gallows Hill for the crime of being a wizard. This left Sarah and Elizabeth to care for each other. Sarah spent a total of 7 months in this prison and she was pardoned because the charges against her could not be proven. Within 2 weeks after being released she gave birth to a son which they named Joseph. She was later granted payment of 9 pounds by way of compensation and her next child, a daughter, was named Deliverance. Elizabeth Proctor was also pardoned and released.