BRIDGET BISHOP
 
 
 
     Bridget Bishop was born in England during 1640. She married George Wasselbe in 1660 and then emigrated to Salem, Ma. While in Salem, she got married again, this time to Thomas Oliver around 1664. Bridget was well known for her argumentative ways and her sharp tongue. On one occasion, Bridget and Thomas were required to stand in the town square back-to-back and gagged because of their disruptive fights.

     Eventually, rumors circulated amongst the townsfolk that Bridget's "spirit" or "specter" could be seen wandering about. A black servant of the Putnam family claimed to have seen Bridget's specter in the rafters of the Putnam barn. The servant also claimed that the apparition threw pears and apples at him. When Thomas Oliver died in 1678, an accusation of witchcraft was leveled against Bridget. The circumstances surrounding his death led people to believe that she might be practicing witchcraft.

     She was tried by the Court of Assistants and it is speculated that the case was dismissed as there are no colonial records which contain the trial. After her husband's death, Bridget found herself destitute. Even though Thomas had left her with the house and land, any money that was provided for Bridget was taken by her husband's creditors. Because of these circumstances, Bridget was forced to petition the town for relief.

     Bridget married again, this time to a well-respected man named Edward Bishop. He had served on various town committees and boards while living in Salem. He moved to Beverly, built a saw mill and became one of the founders of the Church in Beverly. Many people thought the marriage between Edward and Bridget was strange and, like the first two, did not escape heated conversations and violent arguments.

     Bridget opened an unlicensed tavern in their house, and was suspected of entertaining some of the local townsmen after hours. Her flagrant actions and sharp tongue would soon bring about the warrant for her arrest and the charge of witchcraft on April 18, 1692. Bridget was executed by hanging in Salem on June 10th, 1692. Bridget was the first person to be executed for witchcraft in Salem.

 

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