Sarah Savage Higginson (1652-1713) was the daughter of Boston merchant Thomas and Mary Savage. She married the Boston merchant and later Salem magistrate, Col. John Higginson (1646-1720), on October 9, 1672.
The cup was left to Sarah Higginson by her mother, Mary Symmes Savage who, upon her death in 1710, left £13 12s. 0d. of silver plate to her daughter, including this cup. Sarah Higginson left the cup, in turn, to her husband Col. John Higginson, on her death in 1713. Higginson bequeathed it to the First Church in her memory in 1720.
John Higginson was a prosperous merchant and was made a Freeman of Salem in 1677. He was a leading member of the community and as such had an important role during the Salem Witch Trials. As official Examiner, he interviewed numerous accused witches and witnessed and recorded their confessions. Both his father, Rev. John Higginson, and his mother, Sarah (Whitfield) Higginson, defended several accused witches, most notably First Church member Rebecca Nurse who was found guilty and hanged. John Higginson's own sister, Ann Higginson Dolliver, was accused of witchcraft because she had made wax puppets--an indication of magic that the Puritans regarded as witchery. She admitted to having practiced witchcraft in 1678 to protect herself and her family, but denied any current witch activity in 1692 and was ultimately released. Her father, Rev. John Higginson, described her as suffering from "overbaring malloncolly, crazed in her understanding."
Generations of Higginsons were important in Salem and in the First Church. The donor's grandfather, Rev. Francis Higginson (1588-1630), was one of the founding members of the First Church in Salem and served as their first minister in 1629. The Reverend's son, Rev. John Higginson (1616-1708), was also a minister at the First Church in Salem from 1660 to 1708.
The Examination and Confession of Samuel Wardwell before John Higginson, 1692
Courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem