The Salem Journal: The People

Witches' Remise

Similar Articles

Bridget Bishop

By Aden G

This image is broken!

Bridget Bishop has been the first person killed in the Salem witch trials. She was killed on June 10th 1692. A tragic death it was. Bishop was hanged on gallows hill. Nobody knows if she was or was not a witch, but we do know that she had been accused of witchcraft before and after that her life was never the same.

Bridget Bishop had an unusual personality. She wore a showy costume of a red bodice. This style of dress is odd to the Puritans. When Bishop had guests over she would keep them until late at night. She entertained them by drinking, gambling, and playing a forbidden game of shovel board. She would also gossip about her various fights with her husband.

Bridget Bishop had been married twice before she married Edward Bishop. Bishop and her second husband, Thomas Oliver, fought frequently. Bishop often had bruises from Oliver's beatings. In 1678 Bishop was accused of calling her husband offensive names and both Bishop and Oliver were sentenced to be gagged at the market place. In 1679 Both Bishop and Oliver were sentenced to be whipped for their fighting. In 1680 Oliver died.

After Oliver's death, Bridget's stepdaughters accused her of bewitching Thomas Oliver to death. Bishop went to court, and her stepdaughters said that Bishop worshiped the Devil at night instead of God. Bishop was not found guilty and she was let free with no punishments. After the trial she married her third husband, Edward Bishop.

I interviewed many people about what they thought about Bridget Bishop. The first person I interviewed was Samuel Gray. Gray was about 42 years old and he didn"t speak highly of Bishop.

I asked Gray, " Do you think that Bridget Bishop is a witch and why""

Gray said, " about fourteen years ago I had been going to bed one Lord's Day at night, and after I had been asleep some time, I awakened and looking up, I saw the house light as if a candle of candles were lighted in it and the door locked and that little fire there was raked up. I did then see a woman standing between the cradle in the room and the bedside and seemed to look upon me so I did rise up in my bed and it vanished of disappeared. Then I went to the door and found it locking and unlocking the door." Gray also said, "I felt something cold come to my mouth or lips and thereupon started and looked up and again I did see the same woman with something between both her hands. She was holding before my mouth upon which she move and the child in the cradle gave a great screech out, as if it was greatly hurt and she disappeared." Gray testified that the woman was the same woman that is now called Bridget Bishop.

The next person I interviewed was a man named Samuel Shattuck. He was about 41 years old and he thought that Bishop was a witch.

I asked Shattuck, " Do you think that Bridget Bishop is a witch and why""

Shattuck replied, "I asked very little for and for all her pretended want. She went away with out it and sundry. Other times she came in a smooth flattering manner in very slightly errands: we have thought since on purpose to work mischief. At or very near this time our eldest child who promised as much and understanding, both by countenance and actions as any other child of his years, was taken in a very drooping condition. As he came oftener to the house he grew worse and worse. He would be standing at the door he would fall out and bruise his face upon a great step stone as if he had been thrust out by an invisible hand oftentimes falling and hitting his face against the sides of the house."

I knew John Londer was against Bridget Bishop because he spoke up against her at her trial. Londer was about 32 years old.

I asked him, " Why do you think that Bridget Bishop is a witch""

Londer replied, "I was going well to bed and in about the dead of the night I felt a great weight upon me, and awakening I looked and it being bright moon light did clearly see Bridget Bishop or her likeness sitting upon my stomach. Putting my arms off of the bed to free myself from that great oppression, she presently laid hold of my throat and almost choked me. I had no strength or power in my hands to resist or help myself and in this condition she held me to almost day.

The Bly family was also against Bridget Bishop. John Bly was about 57 years old and he was married to Rebecca Bly. William Bly was about 15 years old and he was John Bly's son.

I asked the Bly's, " Why do you think that Bridget Bishop is a witch.

The Bly's said " I was employed by Bridget Bishop alias Oliver of Salem to help tear down the cellar wall of the old house she formerly lived in. We the said deponents in holes in the said old wall belonging to the said cellar we found several puppets made up of rags and hog's bristles with headless pins in them." The Bly's think that the dolls represent the victims that Bishop wanted to kill.

The next person I interviewed was Susana Sheldon. Sheldon was about 18 years old and she thought that Bishop was a witch.

I asked her, " Why do you think Bridget Bishop is a witch""

Sheldon replied, " On the 2nd of June 1692 I saw the apparition of Bridget Bishop and immediately appeared to little children and said that they were Thomas's two twins and told Bridget Bishop to her face that she had murdered them in setting them into fits whereof they died."

Next was John Cook. Cook was also about 18 years old. He too thought that Bishop was a witch.

I asked him, " Why do you think that Bridget Bishop is a witch."

Cook said, "About five of six years ago, one morning at about sunrise as I was in bed, I rose. I saw goodwife Bishop alias Oliver stand in the chamber by the window and she looked on me and grinned on me and presently struck me on the side of the head which did very much hurt me. Then I saw her go out under the end window at a little crevice about so big as I could thrust my hand into. I saw her again the same day at about noon walk across the room and having at the time an apple in my hand it flew our of my hand into my mother's lap who sat a six or eight foot distance from me. Then she disappeared and though my mother and several others were in the same room yet they affirmed they saw her not.

Bishop had more people against her in her trial than any other person accused of being a witch of wizard. Because there were so many people against Bishop, and Bishop was not confessing to being a witch, Bishop was hanged. On June 10th 1962 she was taken to Gallows hill and hanged from a branch of an oak tree.

Bridget Bishop died a fighter. Nobody knows if she really was a witch but we do know that she was the first to be killed. She introduced a new aspect to the Salem witch trials. She introduced death. From then on more and more people were hanged on gallows hill, but she was the first. She was the first hero to die.

Back to Top