Timeline of Events in Witchcraft in America

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15,000 b.c. Ancient peoples revere healers, known as witches, who practice magic.

600 a.d. Christian pope Gregory the Great proclaims "all the gods of the heathens are demons."

1200s Christianity has replaced traditional religions, which Christians call paganism.

1300s Women are singled out as witches in Europe.

1484 Pope Innocent VIII issues an edict that calls for the eradication of witches and other heathens.


The Dominicans, the Order of Preachers, is founded.


Gutenberg prints the first Bible. It is only 42 lines long.


William Tyndale is strangled and burned at the stake. He was the first to translate the Bible into English. _I_




1486 Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of Witches) triggers witch-hunts in Europe.

1580-1660 The war against witches reaches a peak in Europe.

1639 The Putnams start a land feud with the Townes near Topsfield, Massachusetts.

1647 Alse Young is executed as a witch in Wethersfield, Connecticut.

mid 1600s Ninety-three people are accused of witchcraft— fifty in Massachusetts and forty-three in Connecticut. Sixteen are put to death.

1684 The English government revokes the Massachusetts colonial charter.

Massachusetts minister Increase Mather publishes Remarkable Providences, a handbook for identifying witches.

1687 Rebecca Clinton is convicted of being a witch in Ipswich, Massachusetts.

1689 Samuel Parris is ordained as minister of the Salem village congregation.

1692 Witchcraft accusations begin at the Parris household.

January Betty Parris and Abigail Williams try a voodoo fortune-telling experiment. They begin having fits.

February Ann Putnam, Jr., Elizabeth Hubbard, and other Salem village girls join Betty Parris and Abigail Williams in having fits. They accuse Parris household slave Tituba, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osborne of casting spells on them.

March 1- 5 Tituba, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osborne are brought before judges.


Anne Hutchinson is forced to leave the Massachusetts Bay Colony because of her outspoken nature and religious beliefs.


George Fox founded the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).


John Eliot published the Bible in Algonkian, a Native American language.


The Edict of Nantes is revoked, making Protestantism illegal again in France.




March 6-19 The girls accuse Martha Corey of bewitching them. Betty Parris is sent to live in the home of Stephen Sewall.

March 21 Martha Corey is questioned and sent to jail.

March 21-23 Ann Putnam, Sr. begins having fits. She and the girls accuse Rebecca Towne Nurse of putting a spell on them.

March 24 Rebecca Nurse is questioned and sent to jail.

April 30 Thomas Putnam has joined in the accusations. Twenty-three accused witches have been jailed.

May 14 Puritan minister Increase Mather and the new Massachusetts governor, William Phips, arrive in the colony with a new charter from England.

May 31 Thirty-nine other people have been jailed as suspected witches.

June 2 Governor Phipps appoints the Court of Oyer and Terminer to try accused witches. Deputy governor William Stoughton is the chief judge. Bridget Bishop is convicted of witchcraft and sentenced to death.

June 10 Bridget Bishop is hanged. Nathaniel Saltonstall resigns from the panel of judges.

June 29 Sarah Good, Rebecca Nurse, Susannah Martin, Elizabeth Howe, and Sarah Wildes are put on trial. Although Nurse is acquitted, the judges ask the jury to review their decision; return a guilty verdict. Governor Phipps gives Nurse a reprieve, but later withdraws it. All the women are sentenced to death.

July 19 Sarah Good, Rebecca Nurse, Susannah Martin, Elizabeth Howe, and Sarah Wildes are hanged.


William Penn receives the charter for land he plans to call Pennsylvania.


William and Mary take the throne in England. Puritans are free to establish their own churches.


Increase Mather writes Cases of Conscience Concerning Evil Spirits, about how wrong it was to accept spectral evidence in witchcraft trials.


The first public library opens in

Charleston, South Carolina.



August 19 George Burroughs, John Procter, John Willard, George Jacobs, and Martha Carrier are hanged. Elizabeth Procter receives a reprieve because she is pregnant.

September 19 Giles Corey is pressed to death.

September 22 Martha Corey, Mary Easty, Alice Parker, Mary Parker, Ann Pudeator, Margaret Scott, Wilmot Redd, and Samuel Wardell are hanged.

October 3 Increase Mather gives a sermon in which he questions the validity of spectral evidence. The sermon is later published as Cases of Conscience concerning Evil Spirits Personating Men.

October 12 Governor Phipps forbids the jailing of more suspected witches.

October 29 Governor Phipps dissolves the Court of Oyer and Terminer.

November The "bewitched" Salem girls are called to Gloucester to identify witches, but they are ignored when they have fits.

1693 Cotton Mather publishes Wonders of the Invisible World in defense of the witch trials.

January 3 A Superior Court, headed by William Stoughton, is formed to try accused witches. After three are found guilty, Phipps gives them a reprieve; he also gives reprieves to five others sentenced previously.

January 31 Stoughton resigns from the court in protest against the reprieves.

May Governor Phipps orders all remaining accused witches released from jail after payment of their fees.


Francis Makemie founds the first Presbytery in America in Philadelphia


Benjamin Franklin starts the first circulating library in Philadelphia.


New England theologian Jonathan Edwards delivered the famous sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God."

January 14 The Massachusetts General Assembly declares a Day of Fasting to commemorate the victims of the trials. Twelve trial jurors sign a statement admitting they convicted and condemned people to death on the basis of insufficient evidence. Salem trial judge Samuel Sewall makes a public apology for his role in the executions.

Robert Calef writes More Wonders of the Invisible World, in which he attacks accusers and judges in the Salem trials.

Samuel Parris is forced to resign as minister of the Salem village church.

1703 The Reverend Joseph Green formally reverses Martha Corey's excommunication from Salem village church.

1706 Ann Putnam, Jr. makes an apology for her role in sending innocent people to their deaths.

1710 The Massachusetts General Court grants the sum of 578 pounds as compensation to the families of Salem trial victims.

early 1700s The Enlightenment begins to displace Puritanism and traditional superstitions.

1782 The last European witchcraft execution takes place in Switzerland.

1800 Belief in witchcraft lingers in New England.

1846 American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne writes Young Goodman Brown, one of many stories and novels about Puritan bigotry and repression.


The first black Baptist church is founded in America in Silver Bluff, South Carolina


The First Amendment was drafted to protect the freedom of religious choice.


Joseph Smith founds the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.


Joseph Smith founds the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.


Timeline early 1900s The British Order of the Druids revives the practice of Wicca.

1921 British archaeologist Margaret Murray writes The Witch-Cult in Europe, sparking an interest in witch covens.

1951 Anti-witchcraft laws of 1735 are repealed by the British Parliament. English writer Gerald B. Gardner declares himself a witch.

1960s Neo-paganism spreads throughout North America and Europe.

1975 The Covenant of the Goddess is formed to incorporate hundreds of separate Wiccan covens. It is officially recognized as a church in the United States.

1985 The District Court of Virginia declares that Wicca is a legitimate religion protected by the First Amendment.

1999 A Wiccan vernal equinox celebration starts a controversy at Fort Hood, Texas.


A deadly influenza epidemic grips world and an estimated 40 million people die.


Scope's Monkey Trial brings national attention to Fundamentalism


The House Committee on Un-American Activity starts what is later called a "witchhunt," trying to uncover Communists in the United States.


A series of children's books about a boy becoming a wizard takes the United States by storm.




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