Guilty Before Trial

The story of Sarah and Dorcas Good

by Alina C.

 

“You are a liar. I am no more a witch than you are a wizard, and if you take away my life God will give you blood to drink,” were Sarah Good’s last words at her execution. On July 19, 1692, a noose was pulled, and desolate wails of sheer terror and despair could be heard from the Salem Town Prison.

    It all started on March 1, 1692, when Sarah Good was charged with witchcraft, along with Sarah Osborne, and Tituba. Sarah Good was an easy target for witchcraft. She was a beggar, almost at the very bottom of the social ladder. However, Sarah was not born poor. Her father was a successful Wenham innkeeper, named John Solart. Sadly, Solart committed suicide in 1672, when Sarah was only 17 years old. After paying back his debt, Solart left an estate of 500 pounds. Each of his daughters were supposed to get part of the estate. Unfortunately, Mrs. Solart remarried quickly; her new husband got her share of the estate and the daughters’ share of the estate. So, Sarah’s life was off to a rocky start.

Sarah Good married a former indentured servant named Daniel Poole. Sadly, Poole died in 1682, leaving Sarah with nothing but debt. Sarah then married William Good. She and her new husband were responsible for paying off all of the debt. Because of all this debt, the creditors seized all of their land. By 1692 (the beginning of the Salem Witch Trials), Sarah and her husband were homeless, penniless, and with a desolate future. On top of all that, Sarah was also accused as a witch.

When Sarah Good was charged, she was a complete wreck. Because of all the stress, when she was charged at age 38, she looked as if she were 70 years old. To top it all off, she was pregnant, and also had a four and a half year old daughter, named Dorcas Good. She gave birth to the infant she was pregnant with in jail. The infant died quickly.

Sarah Good’s trial was not successful. The verdict was decided before her trial. She was a witch. Many people testified against Sarah Good, including her husband, and her daughter, Dorcas Good. Sarah was an easy target for witchcraft. She was a beggar, often muttered to herself, and cursed people who did not give her charity. During her trial, she said that she was muttering psalms to herself. Unfortunately, she could not come up with any of the psalms during her trial. Some think that was too much of a coincidence. She also never attended church. Even the most trusting Congregationalists would find that a bit odd. In court, Sarah said that she did not attend church because she did not have clothes good enough for church. Unsurprisingly, she was found guilty, and because she refused to confess, she was sentenced to death. She stayed in jail until July 19, 1692, when she was executed.

During Sarah Good’s trial, Dorcas said that her mother had given her a snake. She showed the judge a red spot where she said that the snake bit her and sucked her blood. That was a big part of why Sarah was found guilty. Unfortunately for Dorcas, that snakebite also got her accused. The fact that her mother was an accused witch put and even bigger target on young Dorcas’ face.

Dorcas was “examined” by officials for two weeks. Finally, she broke down crying and confessed. It is said that she confessed because she wanted to be with her mother. Little did she know that her mother, Sarah Good was to be taken away to be executed soon. Then, Dorcas was really alone. She spent several months in prison, unable to walk, and seeing little to no sunlight. None of the prisoners or wardens cared for her. All she could do was play with a little piece of cloth. If she moved any body part except her fingers, she would feel pain. At first she shouted and sobbed, but eventually, her spirit died, and she would just be silent.

Dorcas was in jail for eight months. Her father was a poor laborer, so he didn’t get enough money to bail her out of jail until early October. When she left jail, she was a sad five-year old girl who later grew up to be a mad woman who could not do anything. Her father had to help her do everything.

Sadly, no one seems to care that Sarah died. Everyone seems to think that justice was served, and that Sarah Good was a witch. Even those who didn’t believe in witches were glad to get rid of her. It was Dorcas Good who got people to take a closer look. For starters, she was only four and a half years old. A four-year-old child got held in jail for over eight months. That poked at several people’s consciences. Fortunately, Dorcas has not gone mad in vain. She is remembered. Sarah’s husband will receive compensation money, and Dorcas’ madness and young age is one step closer to the ending of the witch-hunts.

 
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