Tituba

Date of birth unknown Barbados, West Indies Date and place of death unknown

Slave and accused witch

Tituba was a female Carib (Native South American) slave in the household of Samuel Parris, the minister of Salem Village church (see biography entry). She told voodoo stories to Parris's young daughter Elizabeth (called Betty) and his niece Abigail Williams. Betty and Abigail invited other local girls to join Tituba's storytelling circle, and before long all of the girls were lapsing into fits and accusing local residents of bewitching them. Many historical accounts credit Tituba's stories with starting the Salem trials in 1692-93. Nevertheless, Betty and Abigail also dabbled in childish magic tricks that were traditional to New England and not to Tituba's native Barbados, suggesting that these events may have occurred even without Tituba. When the girls started having fits it seemed natural for them to point an accusing finger at Tituba. Although it is not certain what her actual involvement was prior to this point, she played a central role in fueling the hysteria in the courtroom during the trials. Tituba was jailed as a suspected witch, but she was not executed, although twenty other accused witches were. She was released after a general reprieve of 1693, and Parris sold her to another owner in order to pay for her jailing costs.

Tituba's entertaining stories were the foundation for the witch hysteria in Salem Village.

Reproduced by permission of North Wind Pictures Archive.

Titubas Circle
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