Race and Gender in the Salem Witch Trials
My 8th great grandfather, Abraham Haseltine, was a farmer from Rowley, Massachusetts, and when the summons came, he served as the foreman of one of the grand juries that preceded the Salem Witch Trials. His grand jury was in charge of issuing or rejecting four indictments against three people; two against Mary Bridges (both issued), one against Tituba (rejected), and one against Daniel Eames (rejected). Mary Bridges was later acquitted on both counts, Tituba (Rev. Parris’s Carribean slave) was indicted by another grand jury, convicted and executed, and Daniel Eames was not executed, but it is not known whether or not he was indicted by another grand jury or ever tried.
This tells me that my 8th great grandfather Haseltine took his job as foreman very seriously, and that he was not easily swayed by gender, race or superstition. Although they may have misjudged Mary Bridges, it’s notable and commendable that he and his fellow grand jury members did not indict Tituba, a female black slave, in 1692. And it is very sad for Tituba that the outcry against her was so strong that another grand jury was convened that did indict her, and that she was executed. I hope that he asked for and received the forgiveness of Mary Bridges, and that he lived the rest of his life with a clear conscience.