Forced out of Salem

Hell Really Exists

Hell Really Exists

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Most of the people who had been ruined by Parris refused to attend his services during the trials, and they were determined not to return to church after the trials were over. Continuing to withhold all financial and public support from him, in 1695 they went before the governing council to seek formal conflict resolution with Parris. In diplomatic terms the council recommended that if Parris could not resolve his differences with the village he should leave, implying that he would not be dishonored if he choose to go. He refused to leave his post, however, and two years later he was again called before the council. This time the Inferior Court of the Common Pleas heard the case. The main complaints against Parris were that he had encouraged the girls' accusations and that he had forsaken (abandoned) his duties as a minister by not showing compassion for the victims of the trials. The court issued a statement that read in part:

His believing the Devil's accusations and readily departing from all charity to . . . persons, though of blameless and godly lives, upon such suggestions; his . . . promoting such accusations; as also his impartiality therein in stifling the accusations of some and at the same time vigilantly promoting others . . . are just causes for our refusal. . . . Mr. Parris by these practices and principles has been the beginner and the procurer of the sorest afflictions, not to this village only but to this whole country that did ever befall them. (From Chadwick Hansen, Witchcraft at Salem.)

Reverend Green Starts the Healing Process

When Samuel Parris was forced to resign as the minister of Salem Village church and leave the community in 1697, he was replaced by the Reverend Joseph Green. More sophisticated and accepting than his predecessor, Green immediately tried to heal the community. He preached forgiveness in his sermons and even changed the seating arrangement in the church, forcing former enemies to acknowledge one another. He also brought justice to victims who had been ignored by the courts. In 1703 Green formally reversed Martha Corey's excommunication from the church, thereby restoring her reputation and assuring the relatives of other executed people that their loved ones would not be damned to hell. In 1712 he revoked (reversed) the excommunications of Rebecca Nurse and Giles Corey. Although Green's efforts eventually helped the community to recover from the devastation caused by the trials, Salem remained a symbol of fanaticism and injustice.

The judicial panel decided to bring an end to the matter, ruling that Parris should be discharged from his post but paid for his property and some of the salary he had lost. By this time Parris had little to lose. His wife had died the year before he lost his job, leaving him a widower. He had sold Tituba to another owner after the trials in order to pay her jailing fees and he had sent Abigail to live with other relatives during the trial. Parris left Salem with young Betty and his son Noyes, who had been named for a witch-hunting parson. Noyes lapsed into insanity during adulthood, and there is no record of what became of Betty, other than the fact that she eventually married and moved away.

Parris went on to another post in an even more remote village, Stow, Massachusetts, which had a population of only twenty-eight families. Located on the border of Native American territory, Stow had a history of troubles with Native Americans and years of poor harvests. Nevertheless, Parris again demanded a high salary and the deed to the parsonage. The people of Stow balked at his requests, and he was discharged within a year. Luckily, Parris had married a wealthy woman and spent the rest of his days in Boston, financed by his new wife's fortune. He tried his hand at several different careers, including teaching, farming, and running a shop, but he left enormous debts when he died in 1720.

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