Question: "What was the population size of Salem in 1692?"Edit

  • By 1750, more than one million people, representing a population increase of significant proportions, were living in the thirteen colonies along the Atlantic coast.
  • The decade census of 1690 says there were 210,400 people living in American colonies.
  • "Massachsetts Bay...did not much exceed, if it equalled, 1,000 souls" - Col. Hoyt in AMERICAN COLONIES by Franklin Dexter (1887) "300 persons in 1630 when Boston was founded...two years later it expanded to 2,000"
  • There were a lot of people! Read more online at this book:

Q: How was witchcraft defined in the 17th century?Edit

A: In the 17th century, witches were both male and female persons who had made a pact to serve the devil. In exchange, the devil passed along certain powers to the witches. According to confessed witch William Barker, the devil promised to pay all Barker’s debts and that he would live comfortably. The devil also told him that he wanted to set up his own kingdom where there would be neither punishment nor shame for sin.

Q: What is the difference between a Puritan and a Pilgrim? Where did they settle?Edit

A: “Pilgrim” is a modern term for a 17th-century Englishman who believed in complete separation from the Anglican church. Pilgrims generally settled in Plymouth Colony, south of Boston, and referred to themselves as “separatists.”

Puritans were 17th-century Englishmen who wanted to purify the Anglican church by removing all traces of Catholic papist trappings, such as crosses, vestments, or anything resembling Catholicism. They generally settled in the Boston area starting around 1630. Plymouth Colony was absorbed into Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1692.

Many other great questions answered here!


Thomas Danforth: "Auger Bit"Edit

Auger- a boring tool, similar to but larger than a gimlet, consisting of a bit rotated by a transverse handle

Augur- one of a group of ancient Roman officials charged with observing and interpreting omens for guidance in public affairs. soothsayer; prophet.


Q: What is the punishment for lechery?Edit

Clarification: Proctor, a married man, and Abigail, a single woman were considered to have engaged in FORNICATION not ADULTERY. Adultery is when the Woman is Married.

"The definition has serious implications not only for the people living under the law, but also for the interpretation of the Plymouth court data. Married men who had sexual intercourse with single women were punished for fornication, not adultery."

VI. Fornication

Fornication was by far the most common sexual offence to come before the Plymouth courts. Between 1633 and 1691, sixty nine cases of fornication were presented. I include "carnal copulation," "uncleans," and births of illegitimate children with fornication. The enactment of 1645 that outlined the punishment for crimes of fornication distinguished between acts committed before and after the time of marriage contract. The fine for fornication after contract was only five pounds per person -- half the fine for fornication before contract. Interestingly, only four of the sixty nine cases clearly occurred during the period of marriage contract. The chart below shows the percentages of fornication cases that occurred during the period of contract, before contract but between couples who eventually married, and completely outside of intended wedlock. The split between eventually married and never married couples is a near fifty-fifty division.

Throughout the history of the Colony, the punishment issued to those committing fornication was most commonly a fine or a whipping. In the event that the woman involved became pregnant with an illegitimate child, the man had to marry the woman or pay regular sums of money to the mother for the keeping of the child. Before the enactment of June 1645, the punishments for fornication seemed to be of a slightly different nature than after this date. Fines were rarely issued. Rather, those accused were sentenced to sit in the stocks or to be whipped. One man was even told to "make a paire of stocks" within the next two months (PCR 1:164). A curious characteristic of several convictions in the early 1640s was the unequal sentencing given to men and women. In each of the cases, the man suffered corporal punishment while the woman either sat in the stocks or stood by watching (PCR 1:162 and 2:37, 85-86). After June of 1645, the distribution of punishments was more equal. However, some cases emerge where only the male appears to have been punished. In these cases, the woman's name is not mentioned and the fine paid was half the amount it should have been (See PCR 4:106 for example). Moreover, the short imprisonments suggested in the 1645 act were either not carried out or did not get written in the records. The first case of fornication heard by the court after the approval of the act best illustrates the upholding of the law, except for the curiosity mention above -- the wife was not sentenced.

Credit to: Lisa M. Lauria with Plymouth Colony Archive here to read more

Q: What is the punishment for Blasphemy?Edit

Blasphemy was a crime, which warranted harsh punishment. At the courts discretion blasphemers could be whipped, put in the pillory, have his tongue bored out with a hot iron or be forced to stand in the gallows with a rope tied around his neck. In 1699 a Virginia statute was designed to eliminate "horrid and Atheistic principles greatly tending to the dishonor of Almighty God . . . "Blasphemers might deny God or the holy Trinity, declare that there are more than one God, or worship another god or goddess. online source here The pillory, or "stretch-neck," called "the essence of punishment" in England, stood in the main squares of towns up and down the colonies. An upright board, hinged or divided in half with a hole in which the head was set fast, it usually also had two openings for the hands. Often the ears of the subject were nailed to the wood on either side of the head hole. In 1648 in Maryland, John Goneere, convicted of perjury, was "nayled by both eares to the pillory 3 nailes in each eare and the nailes to be slitt out, and whipped 20 good lashes."

The device was described by Nathaniel Hawthorne in his Scarlet Letter as an "instrument of discipline so fashioned as to confine the human head in its tight grasp, and thus hold it up to public gaze. The very ideal of ignominy was embodied and made manifest in this contrivance of wood and iron. There can be no outrage, methinks . . . more flagrant than to forbid the culprit to hide his face for shame."

The pillory was employed for treason, sedition, arson, blasphemy, witchcraft, perjury, wife beating, cheating, forgery, coin clipping, dice cogging, slandering, conjuring, fortune-telling, and drunkenness, among other offenses. One man was set in the pillory for delivering false dinner invitations; another for being the author of a rough practical joke; another for selling a harmful quack medicine. All sharpers, beggars, vagabonds, and shiftless persons were in danger of being pilloried. On several occasions, onlookers pelted the pilloried prisoner so enthusiastically with heavy missiles that death resulted.


see here a book source citing the Death Penalty in Virginia "calling on God to damn someone...death was reserved"

Q: How does Hale know Rebecca Nurse?...(perhaps from a family relation with similar features)...Rebecca's maiden name was Towne.Edit

Martha Corey (also spelled Cory) and Rebecca Nurse. They had also been accused by Ann Putnam, Jr. Both women were upstanding members of the community, yet they were also outspoken in their opposition to the witch-hunts. Corey, who was sixty-five years old, was the fourth person and the first church member to be named as a witch. Nurse was seventy-one, deaf, and bedridden. They were arrested and eventually executed on the basis of the Putnams' charges against them.

  • The Putnams had long been bitter enemies of the Towne family, and therefore enemies of Rebecca Nurse, who's maiden name was Towne. Many historians have speculated that many of the accused witches were put to death for these long-standing disputes that they had with some part of the Putnam family or Putnam family friends.

Q: What were the medical procedures in the seventeeth century?Edit

Medicine was based on the thought that everything consists of earth, water, air and fire. Later this notion was applied to the four body fluids, or humors: phlegm, blood, yellow bile, and black bile. Because of the influences the humors had on each other, a certain balance would be created. This was called the temperament, unique for each individual. The treatment of the patient was completely based on his temperament. These ideas would stay essential to medicine throughout the 18th century

Doctors: There were many folk practitioners and quacks among the colonists. The need for medical care was high and academic medicine often could not prevent or cure diseases, so people turned to anyone who claimed to be qualified. The difference between a charlatan and a qualified practitioner had more to do with motivation and fees than with the outcome of the cure

Cures: In a time were people could or would not always turn to a qualified practitioner, many relied on home remedies. Housewives, as well as other practitioners, often had herb gardens that provided medicinal ingredients. Everyone in the 17th century, regardless of sex, class, or status, would have some form of working knowledge of herbal medicine and how to use it.

See here for details

Q: Who was the monarch in England during 1692Edit

William III and Mary II...Details here