SALEM WITCH TRIALS – Manuscript Document, the deposition of Mary Daniel against Margaret Scott, Rowley, MA, 4 August 1692. Sworn to on 15 September 1692 then introduced as evidence, with autograph endorsement signed by Stephen SEWALL (1657-1725) as Clerk to the Salem Court.
One page, 188 x 155mm.
“I was taken very ill again all over & felt a great pricking in ye soles of my feet, and after a while I saw apparently the shape of Margret Scott, who, as I was sitting in a chair by ye fire pulled me with ye chair, down backward to ye ground, and tormented and pinched me very much, and I saw her go away at ye door, in which fit I was dumb and so continued till ye next morning, finding a great load and heaviness upon my tongue….”
A superlatively rare and thrilling artifact from the Salem Witch Trials. In harrowing detail, the teenage Mary Daniel details the torments she endured, over multiple nights, inflicted by the specter of the widow Margaret Scott. In part, “There appeared to me the shape of some woman, who seemed to look and speak most fiercely and angrily, and beat, pinch’d and afflicted me very sorely telling me I should not have said so, or told such things & to yt purpose … In some of ye fits yt I had afterwards, I was senseless and knew not yt I saw who it was yt afflicted me. In one fitt (upon ye beginning it) I thought I saw Goodw Jackson, and widow Scott come walking into the chamber with yr staves, one of ym came & sat upon me so yt I could not stir … In another fitt I saw ye appearance of sd Scott in ye room who afflicted me, and being speechless, I continued so, untill I went to ye sd Scott, who taking me by ye hand, I had ye liberty of speech again as formerly. The last fitt I had was upon ye last Sabbth day, in which I saw ye shapes of four women or five, of whom widow Scott was one, ye rest I knew not, nor knew yt any did hurt me, unless sd widow Scott.”
On September 22, 1692, less than a week after this document was presented in evidence, Scott and seven others were executed for crimes of witchcraft at Gallows Hill. Not much is known of Mary Daniels except that she was a recent convert to Puritanism (baptized in 1691). She may have been a servant of Edward Payson, the minister of Rowley, whose name appears on this document as a witness to her oath. Margaret Scott (1616-1692) was the only person from Rowley to be executed. As an elderly, poor widow who had had several children die young, she had long been the subject of rumors in her community and was exceedingly vulnerable when the witch hunts began. Extremely little original material from the 1692 Salem Witch Trials survives in private hands and the present is a quintessential example. Provenance: Alfred Tredway White (1846-1921); by descent until c.2001.