Little is known about Bridget Bishop's early life aside from her marriages. The public record of Bishop's life begins in England in about 1660 when she was around the age of twenty. She was married for the first time at this point, and she was soon widowed (her spouse died during their marriage) for unknown reasons. Bishop arrived in New England shortly thereafter and was briefly married to Goodman Wasselbee, who died under mysterious circumstances. She then married a
widower, Thomas Oliver of Salem Town, in 1666, but this relationship ended in divorce amid accusations of witchcraft brought against her. In 1687 she married Edward Bishop, her fourth husband, a successful lawyer who would also eventually testify against her in court.
Bishop was known for her unusual sense of fashion and for her friendliness with men. She owned two taverns, one in Salem Village and the other in Salem Town. (Salem Village, near the Atlantic coast, was a bustling, densely populated city. Salem Town, farther inland, was in a poorer, predominately agricultural area.) She got along well with her patrons, especially younger men, as she allowed them to play games like shuffleboard until the early hours of the morning. Bishop's tolerance for this merriment soon aroused suspicion and anger from her neighbors. The fact that she dressed in bright, suggestive clothing also damaged her reputation. Bishop was famous for an outfit that consisted of a black cap and a red bodice (corset, upper part of a dress) looped with laces of various colors, which she had dyed to order by the local fabric dyer Samuel Shattuck. She was also known for her strong temper, an unacceptable quality in women of that day.
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