Bishops specter haunts neighbors

Several people came forward during the trial to complain of Bishop's specter haunting them, both in her image and in the shape of bizarre animals. A man named Richard Coman testified that eight years earlier he had experienced a series of frightening hauntings. Over a period of several nights he, his wife, and two friends who were staying at the Coman home had been haunted by Bishop and two other unfamiliar specters. According to Coman's testimony, she:

came in her red paragon bodice and the rest of her clothing which she then usually did wear. . . . She came and lay upon my breast or body and so oppressed me that I could not speak nor stir, no not so much as to awake my wife, although I endeavored much to do it. The next night they all appeared again in like manner and the said Bishop took hold of me by the throat and almost hauled me out of bed. (From Chadwick Hansen, Witchcraft at Salem, p. 67

The haunting apparently ended when one of Coman's friends called out the name of God in the room, but the damage was done.

Apparently, Bishop's reputation struck fear even into those who had never come into conflict with her. They too came forward with hysterical charges. A man named Samuel Gray described an incident that had occurred fourteen years earlier, when he awoke to an apparition (spirit) similar to the one described by Conan although he was not acquainted with Bishop. Gray claimed Bishop's specter had entered his bedroom and caused his sleeping child to go into fits. The child died several weeks later. When Gray finally came across Bishop

During Bridget Bishop's trial, a case similar to her own helped seal charges against her and confirmed the existence of other practicing witches in the Salem area.

A black slave named Candy, who came from Barbados, an island in the Caribbean, was examined on evidence provided by afflicted teenage girls who said she had bewitched them. Candy explained that she had not been a witch in Barbados but instead had learned everything she knew from local women who brought her "The Book," the witches' handbook, and instructed her. When asked how she was trained to hurt people, Candy said she had used puppets to inflict harm. When she was asked to bring these puppets to court she went out and fetched her collection of knotted rags. Some of these rags had grass and cheese inside of them, and all were held together with knots to form a figurine that slightly resembled a person. Historical documents show that when

Candy brought the dolls into the courtroom the accusing girls fell into hysterical fits. She was forced to eat some of the cheese inside one of her bundles and apparently "that night was burned in her flesh" as a result, according to records collected in Witchcraft in Salem.

Other tests were run on the rag dolls to determine their power. One doll was put under water and instantly its targeted victim experienced the sensation of drowning or choking. Another of the female victims apparently tried to run to the river to drown herself as soon as her puppet was immersed, but was held back by neighbors. This brief episode helped confirm the case against Bishop while also leaving a record for contemporary historians regarding the faith people had in these supposed methods of witchcraft. They strongly believed that certain people could inflict damage through magic, a fact that affected all social interactions, particularly conflicts.

in person he claimed he recognized her immediately (again by her clothing) as the specter that had invaded his house.

One of Bishop's neighbors, John Louder, recalled a similar experience in which she came to him in the night and strangled him repeatedly while sitting on him. He claimed he actually confronted Bishop about this event while picking fruit the next day and he immediately became ill. While recovering at home he experienced a vivid confrontation with a black pig that vanished whenever he tried to kick it away but then reap-

peared again and again until he said the name of God. Louder claimed the beast left him alone after that but that it shook all of the apples off his trees on its way out of his house. While this testimony was sufficient on its own, Bishop made the error of claiming she had never met John Louder, despite the fact that they were neighbors.

Not attending church on Sunday was against the law in some communities.

Reproduced by permission of Brown Brothers, Ltd.

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