Corey was an 80 year old farmer who lived with his wife Martha about 5-6
miles from Salem Village. Both were very interested in the afflictions,
accusations and examinations of the witchcraft hysteria taking place in
Salem Village. Although Martha was a firm believer in the existence of
witches, she became quite suspicious of the proceedings and began to speak
openly against the accusers.
March 19, 1692, a warrant was issued for the arrest of Martha Corey. The
following Monday, Martha Corey was arrested and brought to Ingersoll's
Tavern for an examination. For some reason, Giles, Martha's husband, made
a deposition against her. Realizing that he made a serious error, he tried
to recant his deposition. In turn, a warrant was issued for the arrest
of Giles Corey on April 19, 1692 (the same day that Bridget Bishop and
2 others were arrested).
days later, Abigail Hobbs confessed to being a witch and named Giles and
Martha Corey fellow witches of that "infernal congregation". The Corey's
were ordered to be held in jail until dates could be set for their trials.
It was determined that their trials would take place in during the month
of September. On September 19, 1692, Giles Corey was taken from the jail
in Salem and led to a location adjacent to the Court House.
Giles would not enter a plea, he was ordered to undergo the ancient punishment
of "peine forte et dure" (strong and hard punishment). Under this punishment,
a prisoner would have a board placed atop his chest whereupon heavier and
heavier rocks or weights would be placed until the prisoner either entered
a plea or was crushed to death.
while undergoing this torture, still refused to enter a plea. Eventually,
the weight upon his chest became too much to bear. His last and only words
to the sheriff and the authorities attending the punishment were "more
weight". Complying with Giles, more weight was added until his chest gave
way and he expired. Giles Corey is the only recorded person in North American
history to have been legally pressed to death.
21, Martha Corey and six others were taken from jail and brought to Gallows
Hill and hanged. These seven prisoners were the last to be executed by
order of the court.